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Pots and kettles


F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

We admit to failing that test, as we have tried for some time to sort the facts from the spin as debate heats up over a proposed hospital in West Des Moines. As a result, we’ve tried to stay largely above the fray and report the issue as straightly as possible to our readers, hopefully arming them with the information they need to make a decision for themselves.

That said, we were impressed with the Des Moines City Council’s recent decision to take a stand against the Michael R. Myers Hospital that Iowa Health-Des Moines wants to build. We’ve been discouraged by the undeserved “outrage” that has followed.

As this newspaper is hitting the streets Monday and Tuesday, the Iowa Health Facilities Council will be making its choice regarding the $82 million facility (the group is expected to hear testimony and weigh in with a recommendation on whether to grant a Certificate of Need to Iowa Health on Feb. 3). But we thought the cries of “foul” that sprang up last week from all corners of the metro area (well, mostly the western suburbs) from parties who thought the city of Des Moines ought stick to its own business were a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

After all, more than 5,000 citizens from across the metro area have written letters either in favor of or against the facility. Some of Greater Des Moines’ most influential business leaders have weighed in with their opinions.

Politicians, too, have spoken up. West Des Moines Mayor Gene Meyer, a man we admire, wrote a letter to the Health Facilities Council supporting the hospital proposal. Even as we pen this editorial, there are rumors circulating that the backlash against the Des Moines City Council is growing.

We hate to make such a childish point, but that’s the way democracy works. And it works best when people lay their cards on the table. That way, interests are discussed and common ground is found. There is the potential that Des Moines could lose future investment dollars in its health-care infrastructure by way of those dollars being invested elsewhere. To not add its voice to the debate would have been wrong.

This is an intensely emotional issue. Certain hospital executives have even attempted to bring their mothers into the debate to sway public opinion.   But it is also an important community discussion. And the only way a solution is going to be found is through continued dialogue.  

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