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Cracker Squire

THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am glad I did not write that resolution -- Governor & lawmakers balk at terms committing to extra state funds; board members deny making demands.

From the AJC:

On a day when Grady supporters should have been triumphantly plotting a bright future for the rescued hospital, Grady board members instead deflected angry blowback on Tuesday from the people whose support they need most.

With Gov. Sonny Perdue joining the chorus of criticism, the board members' ambitious $500 million plan to create a nonprofit governing board and save the hospital appeared to be badly damaged by the language of the resolution they passed Monday.

State and county officials whose financial support is crucial attacked the plan, which some view as demanding money from them.

Board leaders stressed Tuesday that they are making requests, not demands, and that not all the conditions in the resolution must be fulfilled to move forward.

Most of the public conversation has focused on a Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce proposal to shift operating control of the hospital to a private nonprofit corporation, accompanied by promises of an influx of private funding. And that's the focus of the resolution.

But the language of the document conditioned the change on commitments of money. Again and again, the resolution requests and, in some cases, demands more money from county, state and business leaders.

"To throw out conditions without advanced discussion is presumptuous," Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley said. She added that it creates an "adversarial relationship, not a collaborative one."

So some Grady board members spent Tuesday trying to smooth ruffled feathers and get the plan back on track. Board leaders tried to soften their message.

"We do need to sit down and have further discussions with members of the state Legislature, so they can come to a better understanding of what the resolution says," said the Grady board's vice chairman, Dr. Christopher Edwards. "I think there are some clarifications that are ongoing."

Board Chairwoman Pam Stephenson, who also supports creating a nonprofit management board for Grady, added, "We don't take what we said as demands."

The angry responses marked a shift in what had been a conciliatory tone among Grady leaders and these political leaders. Grady has been under pressure for months to create a new governing body, and the positive vote Monday was expected to be a coming together of the medical community, Atlanta business leaders and state officials who favored such a change.

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