Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Carilion's Involvement: Finally Some Understanding

This morning a Roanoke daily newspaper finally has a story detailing Carilion's lack of interest in a three-acre piece of property on South Jefferson Street, quoting a post that appeared in this blog Nov. 25 as a source. In that piece, Carilion CFO Nancy Agee said bluntly that the health care organization had no interest in developing the property.

It wasn't the first time somebody from Carilion had made that assertion, but it may well have been the first time somebody listened (WDBJ had a similar story on during last night's newscast and even had the professional courtesy to say that I work for Valley Business FRONT magazine. The local daily called us "a regional business magazine," not mentioning that we compete with its own business magazine).

The paper consistently refers to documents from 2000--before the current administration at Carilion was in place (Ed Murphy was appointed CEO in 2001)--as being relevant to what is taking place today. Today's piece quoted neither Agee nor Murphy. In 2000, Carilion was being told by Roanoke City Manager Darlene Burcham that its housing authority would acquire the property and consultant Brian Wishneff, who worked on contract for Carilion as a consultant, said Carilion needed the land. Consultant later became a Roanoke city councilman.

There seems to be great surprise across the land at this development, which is not a development (so to speak) at all. A lack of interest in developing the small piece of property has been Carilion's position for some time, but almost nobody listened when that was stated. There also seemed to be a misunderstanding of what Agee meant in this passage: "... she was opposed to the condemnation of the property and had requested it be dropped." The request was not official because Agee has no official standing in the suit. She had simply expressed her opinion as an observer.

I think that what we can take away from this is simple: Carilion is not involved in this lawsuit and its interest in the outcome is only marginal. The land in question is hard against Carilion's development of the large and important Riverside Center, but is not necessary to any current needs. If the land becomes available at a market price, Carilion might bid. It also might not.

One would hope that references in the future to the court case would not be led with Carilion's part in the process, since it doesn't have one and hasn't for some time.


  1. The only "understanding" is that you continue to grovel to the Carilion hierarchy so that they may throw a few advertising dollars your way. It is pathetic.
    You stand alone as the only person in Roanoke who actually believes that Carilion was not behind the confiscation of that business and property on reserve avenue.
    When will you disclose to your readers all of the Carilion executives and board members who sit on your magazine's board and how much Carilion money flows into your business?
    Vijeh Hardy

  2. Mr. Hardy, Nancy Agee is an editorial advisor to Valley Business FRONT. That is not a new disclosure. It has been part of our mast head pages since the first edition. Carilion has been an advertiser in every issue. That is no secret, either, since you can see its ads. We have a number of other editorial advisors and advertisers and none receives favorable treatment because of that fact. They all advise us about the inside workings of the industry they work in and that gives helps us bring readers better stories--stories from the inside. Carilion is also a Roanoke Times advertiser and has been for years. It advertises in virtually every publication and electronic media outlet in the Roanoke Valley and I have never had a Carilion person tell me to write anything. I have had suggestions for health care stories, but never about The Roanoke Times' coverage. Nor do I expect to. I seem to stand alone in support of much of what Carilion does because The Times is such a large and powerful publication and its message drowns out everybody else's. It is a single-voice monoloith and I think that it finally admitted that maybe some of what it has reported was incomplete with this story. I am not alone in viewing this situation, however, and my view is not driven by money. Anybody who knows me will vouch that money is not a priority (you can see that in the way I live--quite modestly; I drive an 11-year-old pickup truck and live in house that's nearly 100). Is my support of Carilion--often based on facts that you don't see and don't get from The Times--worse than your blind support of The Roanoke Times' position? I think not. But thank you for your note.

  3. By the way, I note in a story in this a.m.'s Roanoke Times that Carilion is now being blamed for NOT WANTING the property.