The ACCD Bonds:
Vote em' Down, Bring 'em Back, Get it Right!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 20, 2005
Last Monday on Martin Luther King's Birthday, we celebrated a victory of freedom and dignity. One of the last vestiges of the past if not a current challenge for many Americans is powerlessness. Back in the 1960's when the University Health System went to just north of Oak Hills with our indigent hospital and in the 1970's when the UT Board of Regents located UTSA nearly as close to downtown Boerne as to downtown San Antonio, we were powerless to locate those institutions in a more convenient central location. But today we have a greater voice in the affairs of the larger community. In contrast with the past, we have single-member districts not at-large county-wide elections for our representatives in the Texas House and on the City Council that can lend their influence to issues requiring justice.
Unfortunately today, we find the Alamo Community College District following the vestigial practice of proposing disempowerment and disinvestment in our central city. These are factors that create urban and eventually suburban decline. Of even greater importance in the current ACCD Bond Proposal, ACCD a community college should be dedicated to accessibility for the students it is designed to serve. By insisting on a Medical Center location for the proposed new Health Campus, it works an undue and unacceptable hardship on the community that is its most natural base of students for the Health Campus.
In their attempt to gain public input on the Proposal, at least 50 people testified for a central city location and against the Medical Center location for the health campus at two separate public meetings. Senator Leticia Vandeputte, Representative Robert Puente, Dr. Roberto Jimenez and I also spoke against the Medical Center Location and the cannibalizing of nursing/health care courses at SAC, St. Philip's and Palo Alto. Not one single speaker at the public hearings on the bond issue testified "for" the Medical Center location of the Health Campus.
The ACCD Board was asked to consult with the University Health System Board of Managers. They did not. All seven members of the University Health System Board, one of the natural allies of the Health Campus and the cornerstone of the South Texas Medical Center, voted unanimously in favor of a central city location for this campus.
The harm in the current ACCD bond proposal is twofold: 1. it consolidates most if not all of the nursing/health courses into the Medical Center Health Campus; and 2. in the process, it cannibalizes the existing health programs at St. Philip's, Palo Alto and SAC in order to establish the Health Campus.
Proof of ACCD intent to remove health care classes in our community is that of the money allocated to St. Philip's, Palo Alto and SAC at least $17 million is for the purpose of reconstructing existing health education classrooms into conventional classrooms.
$15 million that is allocated to land acquisition does not square with the stated intentions of ACCD to lease the Health Campus land from the Medical Center Foundation.
The Health Campus should be near the heart of the county's largest concentration of premiere health care facilities that serve the majority of our community, especially the poor, the working poor and middle class of the near north, the southside, eastside, and westsides of the County.
The central city location has the largest array of health care services- far greater than in any other area of town.
The central city location is easily accessible to all regions of the county, especially the northside.
The central city is the area where all the innovative programs are taking place in the health care delivery in our community.
Clinical (hands-on) work such as that which the Health Campus students need is done in the central city and downtown as opposed to academic research, which is done at the Medical Center. The greatest number of practicing physicians in Bexar County is in the central city area. Many physicians in the Medical Center teach or perform research.
The Medical Center location is based upon narrowly looking at location relative to their student body without regard to need for access of students.
In the Central City the Health Campus would be viewed by most as the loss of a priceless asset; in the Medical Center area given the current traffic congestion, this surely has to be viewed by many area residents as a mixed blessing, at best.
As a result, this bond proposal is a divider not a uniter by fundamentally extracting a price from the students most in need of access to this particular education.
Half the Northside is from the South, East and West sides of town and if they along with people of vision and goodwill get a good look at this proposal they will resonate with their families and former neighbors and vote these bonds down, bring them back and get them right! We should all win in this process!