Some of were present to observe the full range of opinion on display at the Utica council meeting Wednesday evening, September 6. Our “no” friends were in the majority, offering a presentation and several testimonials detailing their objections to the downtown site, the tax burden they believe it will create, and offering criticisms of MVHS (for its “lack of transparency”), the mayor, the governor, the county, the Genesis Group, the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation.
This last group, the Foundation, was represented by one of its board members who spoke briefly, urging council support for the downtown hospital. His appeal that the community put aside its differences in favor of the city and area’s future greater good fell on mostly deaf ears. While some treated all those who spoke with respect, the Foundation board member, who introduced himself as “the Reverend Robert Umidi,” was rewarded with boos and jeers.
His treatment by many in the crowd reminded us of what inspired our Facebook page and website, in addition to the persistent negativity of a few that we have already mentioned. It was, in great part, the Community Foundation’s newspaper column a few weeks ago that convinced us to collectively express our belief in the new hospital’s great promise for downtown and area-wide transformation.
And it appears our modest efforts, inspired in part by the Foundation, may have helped inspire others to advance the public dialogue. In addition to your many affirming comments and messages, WIBX’s Bill Keeler spoke about our new website and our aims yesterday on his show. If memory serves, part of what he said was something like this:
“It’s about damn time that everyone stand up and support the hospital like these people have done.”
As we have written before, some of those in the “no” column are sincerely opposed, and their passion was evident at the council meeting. Others at the meeting revealed varying levels of self-interest, political ambition and longstanding grievances, as their exercise of free speech and righteous appeal to government slid toward ugly rhetoric and pettiness.
We continue to hope that the positive voices in our community will prevail, and that others will speak up in support of our future.