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Hold hearing on neutral ground

We cheered when Illinois officials scheduled a second public hearing on the proposed move of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital so the people who didn’t have time to testify at the first hearing would have their chance. Now the Illinois Facilities and Services Review Board needs to choose a different venue for that hearing.

The Nov. 18 hearing was originally scheduled at Belleville West High School; the High School District 201 board is on record as being opposed to the move. St. Elizabeth’s officials naturally questioned the site selection; we completely understand and agree. This is a heated issue with lots of concerns on both sides about the process being impartial and fair. Holding the hearing at a neutral location is the best way to demonstrate that.

The trouble is, the second venue choice, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in East St. Louis, is questionable also. The pastor there sent a letter of support to the state for moving St. E’s from Belleville to O’Fallon.

How did state officials settle on Mount Zion, and why didn’t they see they were trading one problem for another?

The logical, only alternative is to move the hearing yet again. That’s a pain, but not impossible. The state has to give 48 hours advance notice of a public hearing, so there’s still time to get it right and choose a neutral location.