Friday, July 6, 2012

Memorial: Here comes the 'vote yes' campaign

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 1:22 PM

A campaign to urge Colorado Springs residents to support a lease of city-owned Memorial Health System is under way, as we reported in this story about the ballot measure.

The mail-ballot election takes place Aug. 28, when voters will decide whether to OK a 40-year lease of Memorial's assets to the University of Colorado Health System in exchange for $259 million up front, $5.6 million a year plus a revenue-sharing program, an average of $28 million a year for capital improvements, and $3 million a year for 30 years to establish a medical school at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System
  • Finley: Doing a balancing act.

The "Great City. Great Care" committee is being headed by Stephannie Finley of Monument, who had served as president of Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs and Policy Division.

Since April, Finley has been the executive director of UCCS's advocacy and partnerships under its University Advancement Division, a part-time position for which she's paid $57,500 annually.

Which could pose a problem if she uses university time to promote the Memorial issue, because the Fair Campaign Practices Act forbids use of public funds, including public personnel, to promote or oppose a ballot measure.

No problem, Finley tells us in an e-mail. Here's her explanation for how she will juggle both jobs without any cross-over into illegal territory:

I have worked for the taxpayer much of my career, so I have a heightened sensitivity about keeping my time accounted for in this process. I have drawn a bright line between my part time work with the University and the campaign, both with time and resources. I have separate phones, separate email accounts, and I work at a coffee shop, my home, or Fed Ex when I am working for the campaign. I work 1/2 time for UCCS and 1/2 time for the campaign and diligently mark off the time each week to account for the time I need to spend doing my UCCS job. With modern technology, I am able to use my personal iPad and iPhone for the campaign. I don't take campaign calls during UCCS time, instead I focus on partnership and advocacy for the University. I just stay focused on the job at hand and make sure they don't bleed into each other.

So far, the committee hasn't filed any campaign finance reports, so it's unknown how much money has been spent, but a mailer landed in mail boxes this week. The talking points:

1. This plan will pump $1.9 billion into the local economy, which will ensure the long-term financial future of Memorial Hospital.

2. Memorial Hospital will be managed by and grow with a dynamic new health care partnership offering a higher level of care for all who live here.

3. As a not-for-profit, University of Colorado Health is well suited to help Memorial Hospital provide the highest level of care for people in need.

4. The new hospital partnership will result in a higher level of care for our military families and TRICARE beneficiaries.

5. The plan allows for a Colorado Springs branch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine that will attract top doctors and medical students.

6. Nationally renowned Children's Hospital Colorado will manage pediatric care at Memorial Hospital.

Note that there's no claim the city and its residents will maintain local control, which they most certainly will not. There will be a local board, but it will be selected with approval from UCH and will have only limited authority over local operations. (See the link above.) All the big decisions will be made by UCH.

For information on the campaign, see

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