Editorial: The cart before the horse

We hope that Hospital of Central Connecticut president Gary Havican decides to follow through on his promise to give a presentation at a Town Council meeting in September, but it would be understandable if he decided against it. After all, the council has already made known their position on Bradley before allowing HCC to get their side on the record.

It was refreshing to hear Councilor Mike Riccio as a voice of reason in the latest discussion. At the Aug. 27 meeting, Riccio and the Republicans made a motion to table a resolution about Bradley until HCC offers its side of the story—a motion quickly squashed by the Democrats along party lines.

Once again, Town Council chair Chris Palmieri tried to stifle differing viewpoints  by calling his opponent “disingenuous,” a rally cry that he uses all too often. We feel that it’s disingenuous for Palmieri—who rose to power on a platform of open government—to continually squash opposing views. Government is open, it seems, only to those who agree with the chair’s opinions.

Conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” This is a perfect example of that.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut Bradley Memorial Campus
81 Meriden Ave, Southington, CT 06489
Phone: (860) 276-5000
www.thocc.org

What was the rush to adopt a resolution about the Bradley property before the HCC presents its own view? How does this promote a good faith discussion? GOP councilor Tom Lombardi said that the resolution “does nothing but create friction and unnecessary divide,” and we agree. It appears to be a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

The squeaky wheel in this case is the Community Committee to Save Bradley. Peopled almost entirely by Bradley employees and ex-employees, their emotions sometimes cloud their judgment. It seems that no change to the current structure is the only solution they’d accept, but that goal seems unrealistic. We feel that town officials should carefully consider all sides before greasing one squeaky wheel.

We, too, have felt pressure from this well-meaning group. Recently, a Bradley lobbyist called one of our staff members during his vacation and berated the Observer’s coverage of the hospital talks, calling our integrity into question, and charging that there were factual errors throughout our stories. When pressed, it was determined that the “fake news” was published by another newspaper entirely. That’s an example of how emotions can cloud rational thinking. We feel it’s the job of town leaders to be the calmer heads in this discussion, sifting through each fact presented to determine the truth before coming to a resolution. That did not happen here.

As Riccio pointed out at the Aug. 27 meeting, the only authority the town has over medical care at Bradley has to do with ambulances. Of course, with a recent town seal ordinance and this resolution, it’s clear that this council has no problem passing laws and resolutions outside its authority.

We are not defending HCC, but the Bradley problems came long before HCC’s systemic dismantling of staff and resources. Why not hear them out before making a decision on how to proceed? Bradley’s current problems aren’t entirely new. The hospital was low in public opinion long before  merging into the HCC, and that merger was in financial straits when Hartford HealthCare stepped in to bail them out. It’s unfair to say that Bradley’s failures are the sole responsibility of the current owners. It’s been ongoing for decades.

How will this firm stance help the town with ongoing negotiations? How can the chair and vice chair claim to speak for the entire town when the 5-3 decision shows that they don’t even speak for the entire council? We expect better.

To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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Town seal public hearing on July 23

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