Sunday, November 30, 2014

Union Square Developers Want Out-- At A Profit

Friday's News & Record editorial, Still Fertile Ground raised interesting questions about the planned downtown Union Square Campus. From the editorial:

"And at a less prominent site at the corner of Arlington and East Lee streets, as opposed to the original location at the corner of South Elm and East Lee."

Why? Why move the campus just because the project is smaller? Is something else being secretly planned for the corner of Elm and Lee?

"Union Square still will represent an unprecedented partnership among N.C. A&T, UNCG, GTCC and Cone Health."

That's 3 universities/colleges and 1 hospital but originally 7 universities and colleges were involved-- why did 4 back out? Obviously the partnership isn't as unprecedented as it was once thought to be.

Now let's look at pay scales, shall we:

Anesthesiologist median $260,497 per year. Not bad.

Nurse Anesthetist, the job the Union Square program will be training for: median $132,538. Still not bad but as one of our put it to me, "Yes, once again a traditionally male career is moved to a traditionally female career path for half the salary."

But even for my more conservative readers out there who don't really care about equal pay for women, the News & Record Editorial continues:

"Out of a total of 450 students, the rad-tech program represents only 40."

From the Business Journal:

"Contributing at least $10 million to the turnaround were the steps Cone Health took to trim 300 positions from its staff, a plan that was announced in June 2013. At year-end, the health system was operating 236 full-time positions below budget."

So if Cone is doing massive layoffs to cut costs then why are they funding a school to train new people? Our staff researchers had the following to say:

"There is no way they are going to grow this to 80 graduating Dr. Nurses per year. Their PhD in nursing produces 5-7. They don't have a medical school and Moses Cone is not a teaching hospital. I suspect that part of Moses Cone's interest is tool sets and reducing labor costs."

That would be one explanation, wouldn't it. Now for some news no one in High places in Greensboro wants you to know:

NC A&T might not even have a nursing program in a couple of years as they've twice had to get special dispensation to continue probation in the last ten years. The last major collaborative graduate program, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) was supposed to be a 24 hour/ 7 day per week operation at this point with 160-180 full time students and spin off companies at the current campus and downtown. The coming Spring semester nanoscience program only has 10 students registered in it's first year labs.

Nothing they've promised us has come to be.

And to add insult to injury,  Bob Isner and Bob Chapman, the developers of the Union Square project, are now wanting to back out of the project and still collect a profit without so much as having moved a single shovel of dirt, laid a single brick or plant a single tree. And they have the audacity to try and push City Council into paying them $Millions to get out.

Everything we've been told is a lie. Here's the revised Union Square Campus Plan as of April 2014. It will be interesting to see what we actually get. You see, when hospitals and schools would rather invest in real estate development than their core initiatives of teaching and health care they end up as targets for unscrupulous developers and politicians. And we, as consumers, taxpayers and even their employees, patients and students, end up paying the bills.