As we know now, Lakewood City Council opted not to place the Lakewood Hospital referendum on the March ballot. What that means for the future is unclear.
On one hand, the Save Lakewood Hospital crowd has pointed out that 2,868 certified signatures remain on file and in support of a ballot issue.
With the March election set to pass with no mention of the hospital matter, SLH leadership warns that the city’s voters will have to wait until a possible special election later this year — or until November. At that point, of course, Lakewood Hospital and its services will look much different. Were the measure to pass sometime later this year — signalling residents’ will to maintain in-patient hospital services, among other services — the state of the hospital would be further deteriorated and that much more difficult to restore to its former condition.
On the other hand, Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler has said that the contract in place with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation — one ratified unanimously
by council in December — cannot legally be reversed by a vote of the people, whenever and however that might take place.
“By now the moving parts of the contract approved by Ordinance 49-15 are certainly moving,” Butler said Feb. 11. “The hospital is now closed. The employees have largely been moved to other facilities or have found other work.”
In other words, what’s done is done, the city asserts. Or rather, to paraphrase Miles Straum in LOST
: “Whatever happened, happened.”
So what’s to come? Both sides of the issue — the city and the SLH campaign — will continue to stake their claims and make moves to enact them as the year goes on. Stay tuned.