City leaders in email spat over chairs at health care meeting
BATON ROUGE - City leaders became caught in a petty email thread Tuesday over chairs for a meeting that's become a controversial and complicated debate over politics, health care and business.
In messages circulated to officials and the media, Metro Council member Chauna Banks accused the mayor's office of trying to derail a meeting about health care in North Baton Rouge slated for later in the day. The mayor's office fired back that Banks-Daniel's intentions for spearheading the effort are likely not in the community's best interest.
This meeting comes a week after the council erupted into race–baiting chaos in a discussion about a council resolution requesting that private hospitals already running emergency rooms work with an out-of-state company to establish care in North Baton Rouge. The emergency room would be operated by Champion Medical Center near the airport.
The company believes it can break ground on the emergency room in three months if the state appropriates about $15 million over the next three to five years. Banks said she envisions the money to be part of the state's public-private partnerships with hospitals to provide care for patients who previously used the now-shuttered charity hospitals. The mayor's office and other members of the council have argued against the project, saying the proposal is not organized correctly.
At the May 25th meeting of the Metro Council, blogger Gary Chambers was removed from the meeting when he exclaimed to those against the proposal "Y'all the most disrespectful bunch of white boys I've ever met."
Tuesday morning, Banks wrote she learned the city was not going to assist with providing chairs for the health care meeting at Champion Medical Center.
"Mayor Holden and William Daniel are refusing to provide a community service for District 2 residents," Banks-Daniel wrote in an email exchange between city officials and reporters. "Their refusal is another example that the tax payers in District 2 where the mayor resides and is located in the northern portion of the parish are neglected and punished," she wrote.
Daniel, who is the city-parish chief administrative officer, fired back to the councilwoman: "It is unfortunate you are trying to turn this issue into a personal vendetta against you when nothing can be further from the truth. You were advised last week the City-Parish could not furnish the chairs you requested because it was not a City-Parish event."
Banks said in her email that she expected to have the meeting at the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, but couldn't because of repair work being done there.
Daniel's response reads, "I know your desire to have the meeting at Champion's is in no way due to the work on the community center."
The mayor's office argued the event was not sanctioned by city government but, instead, was being hosted by Banks in her capacity as the developer of the #NBRNOW Blue Commission – a group Banks described in an announcement about the organization on Facebook in March as "exceptional people appointed to study and recommend policy to address the scarcity in economic development and health care opportunities [in the] northern part of the City of Baton Rouge."
The meeting about health care proposals for North Baton Rouge is set for Tuesday. Doors open at 5:30 at Champion Medical Center, 7855 Howell Place Blvd.
The email thread is attached to this story HERE.
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