Many voices against Issue 64

Lakewood residents are taking up pens and keyboards to argue against Issue 64. In the past week, parents, financial experts, business owners, progressive activists and regular citizens have dispatched letters to local newspapers urging a vote against the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Local CPA Bill Call examines the claimed benefits of Issue 64 and writes that “The people of Lakewood should reject a very bad deal and vote against Issue 64.”

Tara Peppard, Lakewood resident and CSU Physics Laboratory Operations Manager, writes “Other parties were indeed interested in running [Lakewood Hospital]. Do your due diligence to remove the restrictive covenant that limits healthcare in Lakewood and demand a genuine RFP process for the best possible deal with your vote AGAINST ISSUE 64.”

Tristan Rader, Operations Director of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, writes “What is happening, here in our community, is symptomatic of a larger problem… We are moving away from more accessible healthcare… I am voting AGAINST Issue 64.”

Matt Kuhns, owner of design studio Modern Alchemy LLC, writes “a vibrant city twice the size of Avon has other options for our hospital besides leaving it unused. Issue 64 will only hold Lakewood back.”

Attorney Brian Essi analyzes Issue 64 and concludes that this deal “has caused $107M in taxpayers’ healthcare assets to leave Lakewood, it will cost taxpayers $22M in income taxes over the next 11 years, and… gave away $55M in capital improvements to taxpayers’ assets.”

PJ Bennett points out that recent statements by Lakewood’s fire chief confirm that emergency care in Lakewood—already diminished without a hospital—is not guaranteed under Issue 64.

Publicist and Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young sums up the conclusions of many, writing that “With all of the positive things happening in Lakewood, we shouldn’t be about settling for less. Our city has an obligation to protect lives, an opportunity to restore jobs and a duty to keep Lakewood strong. …Vote AGAINST Issue 64.”

Be part of your campaign this Saturday

This Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m., help get out the vote against Issue 64

Join State Senator Michael J. Skindell at our GOTV kickoff Sept. 24. Enjoy pizza & snacks, as we outline the many ways that volunteers can help us repeal the deal that threatens the strength of our community.

Afterward we’ll roll up our sleeves and get started together. If you haven’t campaigned before, this is a great chance to get help from friends who know the ropes. See you Sept. 24 at noon—rain or shine!—at at 11910 Detroit Ave.

Issue 64 is our first and only direct public vote on the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital. Your help can make the difference!

Lakewood & the strong cities movement

The deal on this fall’s ballot as Issue 64 is a bad deal by itself: a closed hospital, downgraded local services and a financial soaking. But it’s also an important choice about our broader future as a city. Is Issue 64’s junior-partner role the best that Lakewood can do now? Or will we remain a vibrant Lakewood, that can stand on its own in a competitive environment?

We believe that Lakewood can and should keep fighting to make the best we can of our city. It’s for this reason that our current campaign encourages voters to vote against 64, and to keep Lakewood strong.

The campaign for a strong Lakewood draws on important work taking place locally, and in other cities making progress with similar challenges. The Strong Towns project, an independent national nonprofit, is a powerful advocate for this work. Their web site, events, podcasts and videos offer rich context for the need to keep our cities—including Lakewood—strong.

Strong Towns emphasizes values and ideas which inform our campaign against 64, and which outline a better path to follow instead. Some characteristics of a strong city:

  • “Obsessive about accounting for its revenues, expenses, assets and long term liabilities (do the math)”
  • “Building at a scale, and with a level of detail and nuance, that creates a sense-of-place for a person on foot.”
  • “Inspired by bottom-up action and not top-down systems.”

Above all, “Strong cities, towns and neighborhoods cannot happen without strong citizens (people who care).” Please help keep Lakewood strong, too.

A great city set to reject a bad deal in November

City Officials Set Course for Decline

In Lakewood, there are signs of a city on the rise. Property values are up, city parks are beautiful and trendy new restaurants are opening. Hanging over this positive trend is a a plan for a city in decline: the plan that closed Lakewood Hospital. Oddly enough, it was designed and advocated by city officials. As court documents and public records requests bring more and more disturbing facts behind the closure to light, citizens can’t help wondering if city officials are careless or flat-out corrupt. More and more citizens plan on voting against the ordinance in the upcoming November election.

Here are some of the facts that, more and more, reveal a process as bad as the deal.

  1. An offer from MetroHealth to operate Lakewood’s hospital was hidden from voters. It was only after public records request were made that it was uncovered.
  2. Revelations of improper bid-steering, that gave The Cleveland Clinic an inside track to build a much smaller “Family Health Center” and abandon the hospital, while blocking all competitive operators who could have kept the hospital open.
  3. In a move that limits health care options and increases prices for Lakewood residents, city officials negotiated a restrictive covenant, keeping other health care operators out of the now empty Lakewood Hospital while the Clinic operates its “Family Health Center” across the street.
  4. With 10 years left on the lease, Lakewood released the Clinic of its obligation to operate the hospital, effectively torpedoing over one thousand jobs averaging $59,000 a year. What community leader would close a city’s largest employer? It defies rational explanation.
  5. Why did public servants allow the Clinic to mismanage the hospital and strip it of profitable, life-saving services.

Many people assumed that the closing of Lakewood Hospital had to do with national trend towards centralized health care. But time and investigation is proving that this is not the case. The city’s hospital has been closed by city officials, whose interest in pleasing the Clinic has for suspicious reason taken priority over the interests of the citizens they are pledged to represent.

As the vote to overturn the ordinance that closed the hospital looms in November’s election, determination to reassert the people’s role in keeping Lakewood strong is growing.

Read More