When I first saw the text of the Wishard Memorial Hospital ballot question -- the one that will determine the fate of a new $754 million complex -- I was bothered.Tully then goes on to offer three reasons why it's okay to misrepresent the question to voters: 1) It meets the technical requirement of the law state lawmakers inserted into the state budget at the last minute without any public debate; (2) it's written in plain English; and (3) voters will be informed because they won't have any other decisions like, who is the best candidate, to ponder when they go out to vote in the costly special election. By that sound logic, can we expect a future column from Tully saying something like, "Yeah, I know it was wrong for that guy to hold up a bank at gunpoint, but he only did it so he could pay the hospital bills of his dying mother so there's really no harm done here."
It seemed slanted, and written in a way that essentially guarantees it will pass on Nov. 3. Separate from the debate of the project's merits, I questioned the question itself, and worried that it lacked the neutrality expected from a referendum.
But the wording, while imperfect, accurately sums up the role Wishard plays in Marion County. As Matthew Gutwein, head of Marion County's Health and Hospital Corp., which runs Wishard, said: "Just because a project sounds like a good idea doesn't mean the question is biased."
After all, as the question says, the project would allow the hospital to "provide access to care for all residents of Marion County, including people who are seniors, poor, uninsured or vulnerable, regardless of their ability to pay." . . .
Critics argue the question has been written in a way that too favorably defines the project. Their complaints are not out of line. And there is validity to the argument that the overall cost of the project should be included in the question. That seems like a bottom-line detail.
Gutwein argued that there is another side to the financial issue. The question also leaves out one of the best arguments for the project -- that it will not increase property taxes. If the goal was a slanted question, he said, that would have been included.
Again, he's right.
House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, supports the project. He said advocates should have included more financial detail in the question, but he doesn't intend to spend much time quibbling over it.
Neither will I.
When the state's largest newspaper's political columnist dishes up drivel like this, his bosses at Gannett should not be surprised that long-time subscribers are cancelling their subscriptions. Great political columnist likes Chicago's Mike Royko and Washington's Jack Anderson were so popular with their readers because they knew they were on their side and didn't care what the politicians and insider elites thought of them. Royko wrote five columns a week for nearly a quarter of a century? How many columns does Tully write a week? Being popular with those folks, Matt, isn't going to save your job at the end of the day. Think about it.