THE FAILED BALTIMORE MEDICAL MART SAGA

Submitted by Roldo on Fri, 11/21/2008 - 16:51.

The Medical Mart being pitched to us is an old idea, an old failed idea. Ask Baltimore.

Cleveland has been excited about the unique development of a Medical Mart here for some time. The movers and shakers have been pushing for the concept and Cuyahoga County Commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora have voted us a sales tax to fund it.

The medical mart has been the magic elixir that downtown boosters have been peddling to taxpayers as a potion to revive a sagging city.

It’s nothing of the sort.

How realistic is it?

Here’s a 1991 story from a Baltimore newspaper:

“Just about every major industry is served by a trade mart – from furniture and apparel to computers to gifts.

“But the developers of a $600 million medical mart for Baltimore say there is nothing like a 2.5 million-square-foot complex they are planning for the medical and health-care industry – and that’s why they believe it will be a success.”

It’s now 2008, slipping to 2009, and there is no Medical Mart in Baltimore.

Oh, the same certainty of Cleveland’s corporate community has that this would be an obvious gain for Baltimore was floated there in 1991.

“They (developers of the scheme) say the proximity of the John Hopkins Medical institutions and the University of Maryland Medical System (substitute Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals), the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (we don’t have these) makes the city a highly desirable location for a medical mart.”

Gee, did they have the same public relations firm? It sounds like the same bill of sales as here.

“If we don’t do this,” said one promoter, “somebody relatively soon, in a major city, will do it. A Philadelphia will do it, or an Atlanta will do it, or a Chicago will do it. It’s too big an industry for it not to be done at some point.”

By 1993, a follow-up article began:

“It would seem incongruous that the developer of a medical trade mart that has been unable to get off the ground for three years is seeking more land for expansion.”
The story notes that “nothing of the kind currently exists in the world.”

By 1997 it was forgotten dream in Baltimore. Nothing ever happened to the wonderful $600-million idea born in 1991.

“They could never make the project work,” said Heywood Sanders, Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Political Science at Trinity University at San Antonio.

Sanders studies the convention center business and he is working on a book on the business.

The truth is that the Greater Cleveland Partnership and its Downtown Corporate Gang (Sam and the Ratners) have been using this hokey idea of a medical mart to obtain funding for a new convention center.

It’s been the pump primer for people like Hagan to pass a tax for an unnecessary new convention center to be constructed on Sam and the Ratners’ land behind Tower City.

These creeps never give up and never stop wanting “More.”

It is time that the quarter-percent tax is suspended by Commissioners Hagan, Dimora and Peter Lawson Jones. The $40 million or so already collected could be used for a reasonable purpose – like helping non-rich people in need.

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Don't let bird brains outsmart us

So what made Baltimore realize it was unworkable? And how can we face reality here and not have them show us up again? The PD reports the County Comms have just hired another, another MediMart consultant (that business, at least, is thriving) with the wonderful name of Conventional Wisdom. Guess we can guess what they'll recommend:

"Conventional Wisdom's broad experience from an owner and operator's perspective allows it to excel in providing "common sense solutions for complex problems."

Obviously the 'common sense solution' is wise up, get out. But you (I mean we) don't hire a consultant to disagree with us. Besides, I'm sure the interest income on our unvoted tax is easily covering the cost of consultants which then keeps adding to the sunk money fallacy.

Roldo... who is paying for all this?

The last time I saw Ed Hauser was at the last MedCon public hearing hosted by Peter Lawson Jones, where Joe Roman was supposed to explain to the public why the MedCon is not a con, and Roman couldn't even get the projector to work to show his out of date Powerpoint. Ed was furious with how he and the public were treated... this con took years off Ed's life.

In addition to the harm the MedCon has caused the trust and health of the public here, it seems at this point someone's spent $ millions here to learn what Baltimore learned in the 1990s. Whose money has been paying for all the consulting and travel and lies and infuriation the Con has cost us so far?

Disrupt IT

LEVELAND SMARTER THAN BALTIMORE

There are a number of good reasons why the medCON will work in Cleveland while it failed to take flight in Baltimore:
1. The cliff behind the Ratner's Tower is a much better site for construction than anything Baltimore had to offer.
2. Cleveland has guys like - Dennis Madden, Fred the FixerNance, Tim Hagan, Dimora, Joe Roman, and Chris Kennedy - who in the aggregate are much smarter and more dedicated to Cleveland's success - than anyone Baltimore could throw at their project.
3. Back in the early 90' when the internet wasn't as expansive as it is now, no one wanted to go to Baltimore because they couldn't keep in touch by email with the business for whom they were going to look at the medical apparatus. And since today the medical industry around the world is still unable to use the internet to view new products and/or view videos of products in use - the busy professionals in the medical industry will choose to take an airplane to Cleveland instead - especially in the winter.
4. Businesses around the globe have more money right now - than in the 90's - to operate and staff and stock a satellite sales office at a MedCon. Especially with large and expensive medical machines like PET and CAT scanning equipment, Just in Time supply management philosophy advocates that each manufacturer leave a few of their unsold products gathering dust in a showroom in the old Halles building just in case someone walks by.
5. With about 200 FBI agents crawling all over Cleveland/Cuyahoga government, visitors to the MEDCON will feel safe and secure. Baltimore has crime. Cleveland has a better image.
6. Cleveland/Cuyahoga has a positively plus image because of all of its successful civic experience and projects - like Gateway, Browns, and Wolstien's Flats. Baltimore doesn't measure up.
7. Cuyahoga has a greener future than Baltimore because the sub-prime housing collapse started here sooner - more and more empty lots in Cleveland will provide lots of open green space.
8. Cuyahoga knows how to put the Cart Before The Horse and collect an illegal convention center tax before anyone even knows what to do with the money. This is probably the smartest TRICK Cuyahoga has ever pulled out of its sleeve. It isn't just any government that knows how to make the cart go before the horse.
9. The citizens of Cuyahoga really support this project. That's why the Commissioners didn't have to put it to a popular vote. Because the commissioners are clairvoyant in this way, it proves that Cuyahoga is really smarter than Baltimore.
I COULD GO ON AND ON....

dripping with sarcasm

You have been missed JeffB.  We have to laugh to keep from crying over the "leadership" in NEO.

running in place

I COULD GO ON AND ON....

 

you need to - to keep up with our beloved leaders who have gone on and on, heedless of the facts, blind to all but the claims of a self-interested few. Whatever ails the region it will be cured by a new ... convention center. Public won't fall for that any more? Call on the medical community - they owe us and own us - if we build MediMart then we can justify a new convention center. They go on and on, but only travel in a circle. The consultants' job is to change the backdrop scenery so it looks like we're moving.