GORDON DUFF: ACLU SIDES WITH VETS AGAINST VA LAND SCANDAL IN LOS ANGELES

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screenhunter_138_nov._20_14.12_150ACLU MOVES TO STOP VA POLICE FROM VET ABUSE

CONGRESSMAN FILNER DISAPPOINTS VETS

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

This week, the ACLU informed Veterans Today that they will be representing Robert Rosebrock, a well know veterans advocate, who is, along with many Veterans groups including the American Legion and Military Order of Purple Heart, protesting VA polices that are harming homeless vets in California.

VA security guards had, according to the ACLU, illegally ticketed demonstrators on public property.  These demonstrations were protesting attempts by wealthy homeowners in Brentwood and West Los Angeles who, according to spokesman Robert Rosebrock, advocate a “not in my backyard” policy toward homeless vets.  Vets land is good enough to steal but veterans aren’t good enough to have nearby.

This move by the ACLU to defend the rights of veterans protesting mistreatment by their own government is tied to nearly 2 years of protests by aging veterans who had become the target of an aggressive program of “protest suppression” by VA security forces who ticketed demonstrators on city property with violations of Federal law, this putting them in Federal court.

The heart of the protests have been attempts for more than 20 years to use the massive West Los Angeles veterans facility, donated, not to the government but “California’s veterans” to be held in trust for housing homeless vets, its original purpose and not to be leased out to prep schools, local homeowners groups or for wine tastings for the elite of the area.

Vets have been locked out of this 388 acre facility for years.  This led to protests on Veterans Day led by WW2 vet and well know financier, Daniel Overmyer, who demanded the removal of the huge fences and locked gates keeping veterans off their “sacred ground.”

In an open letter to Congressman Filner, ranking member of the Veterans Affairs committee, failed to meet with veteran representatives and support moves toward ending veteran homelessness, a top priority of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Rosebrock writes:

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An Open Letter to Congressman Robert Filner

Dear  Congressman Filner:

Last week, November 13-15, the California Democratic Party (CDP) held its Board of Directors meeting at the Hyatt Regency-Mission Bay, in San Diego.  As a Democrat representing the 51st Congressional District in the San Diego area, you were one of the approximate 350 who attended the meeting.

On Friday, the Veterans Caucus of the CDP met between 8:00 – 10:00 PM, and as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, you were invited and scheduled to attend.

As a concerned Veteran but a non-member of the CDP, I drove 125 miles from Los Angeles to attend the meeting, principally because I know that Bob Handy, a Veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and Chairman of the CDP’s Veterans Caucus, is a tell-it-like-is advocate for America’s Veterans in defending their rights.

In fact, I’d drive a thousand miles to hear Bob Handy because he is not afraid to speak the truth, a rare commodity when it comes to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Moreover, I thought that your presence at the meeting would be a great opportunity for you to hear the truth about Veterans issues, and my 250 mile round trip that evening would be a very worthwhile investment of time and gas money.

As usual, Bob Handy didn’t disappoint fellow Veterans and friends of Veterans who attended the meeting, but you sure did by walking out after only a brief stay.

Mr. Congressman, if you do not have time for the Veterans Caucus of your own political party in your own backyard, why should any Veteran, regardless of his or her political beliefs, think that you would have time for them in Washington D.C.?

It seems that a perquisite for being Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is that you not only see what is truly going on, but that you listen to America’s Veterans and seriously address their issues that are being compounded by the minute.

As an example, Veterans’ sacred land at the West Los Angeles and Sepulveda VA’s is being pillaged, plundered and prostituted at an alarming rate. Just recently, Ralph Tillman, the VA’s “contracting officer” who has facilitated and accommodated the long line of non-Veteran land-grabbers, by giving away the 20-acre revered “Vets Garden” to another “non-profit” organization, and he did it without consulting any VSO’s, particularly AMVETS Post 2, which has been a financial supporter of the “Vets Garden” project.

Next on Mr. Tillman’s list of giveaway property to non-profit organizations is the Veterans Golf Course that is already open to the public. More than $200,000 has been reported embezzled from green fees, yet Mr. Tillman refuses to divulge the accounting records of this fiasco as well as income from other leases that he has negotiated and entered into as “director of asset management.”

What is going on with Veterans’ property is a tragedy and insult beyond comparison.  This hallowed land was exclusively deeded 121 years ago as a safe place for America’s Veterans to heal from war, yet if Mr. Tillman isn’t  giving it away rent free for a public park, then he’s leasing it for 75 years at $1 a-year to a non-profit developer, an oxymoron if ever there was one.

How can anyone possibly believe that you are looking out for the best interests of Americas Veterans when Mr. Tillman is contracting out Veterans billion-dollar property and getting a pitiful $75 return over three-quarters of a century, and you do absolutely nothing about it?

Tragically, 20,000 Veterans are homeless in Los Angeles because hundreds of acres and a multitude of buildings at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home have been leased out to a very wealthy private school, a Hollywood entertainment group, a car-rental agency, a hotel laundry service, an oil company with royalties going to the Department of Interior, to UCLA for research, to a wealthy homeowner group for a rent-free public park, to the City of Los Angeles for a $1 a-year “dog park,” and the disgraceful list goes on and on.

As an Independent, I was invited to be a guest speaker at Friday’s CDP Veterans Caucus meeting to discuss the land-grab situation and the overwhelming response was naturally very much opposed to it. The night before, I spoke before the Los Angeles Republican Club and the response to the abuse and misuse of Veterans property was also overwhelming in opposition to it.  Clearly, Veterans issues and rights will be a major issue in the upcoming 2010 elections. In brief, preserving and protecting Veteran’s property is not a political issue, it’s an American responsibility!

Mr. Congressman, you have been personally notified about these egregious land heists over and over but you refuse to step in and stop it because … “it is out of your Congressional District,” i.e., it’s in Representative Henry Waxman’s 30th District.

Well, if that is your position, then please respectfully step down as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and let another member of Congress who is not afraid of Henry Waxman take over and allow him or her to honorably undertake this highly noble calling to represent the very best interests of America’s Veterans.

Under Bob Handy’s leadership, the CDP’s Veterans Caucus took proper action and authored a Resolution opposing the public park and other land giveaway at the Veterans Home. The Resolution was subsequently adopted by the CDP’s Board of Directors on July 18, 2009 and forwarded to you and Rep. Waxman, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and the California Congressional Delegation.

Your silence and non-action regarding this “Resolution To Protect a National Trust” and your walkout at the Veterans Caucus, speaks volumes as to where your allegiance appears to be, and that is on the side of the public park.

As for Rep. Waxman, he’s firmly on record for being a major “government supporter” of the public park and has become a sad disappointment in protecting Veterans’ sacred land from his wealthy West LA campaign donors who want this property as their own fiefdom for a public park and entertainment center.

Mr. Congressman, what is your honest position on the Veterans Resolution adopted by your own Democratic Party? Either speak up and take proper action now, or please respectfully step down from your Veterans Affairs Chairmanship. There’s just way too much at stake for America’s Veterans to be playing political games.

Veterans will drive a thousand miles to listen to the truth and defend what is rightly theirs, but they will not walk across the street to listen to any more mistruths.

On behalf of our fellow Veterans, this is to respectfully request that you do the right thing as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and direct General Shinseki, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to immediately rescind the public park agreement in its entirety, including the immediate termination of all other leases and agreements that violate the Congressional Act of 1887 and the Land Grant Deed of 1888.

Lastly, Secretary Shinseki announced that President Obama and he are committed to ending homelessness amongst Veterans in five years. Accordingly, they have budgeted $3.2 billion for next year to assist in this mission. Since 25% of homeless Veterans are in the State of California, this is to respectfully request that you ensure California gets 25% of the $3.2 billion and the money goes specifically to tangible investments with tangible results, including building new residence and dining halls at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home.

Following is a partial list of supporters who are opposed to the abuse and misuse of Veterans land and are in support the CDP’s “Resolution To Protect a National Trust”

Robert Rosebrock

Political Organizations

California Democratic Party, Board of Directors

North Carolina Democratic Party Veterans Caucus

Los Angeles Democratic Central Committee

Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

San Fernando Valley Republican Club

Westside Republicans (Los Angeles)

Veteran Organizations

American Legion, California Department

American G I Forum of California

AMVETS, Department of California

National Veterans Coalition

Veterans United For Truth, Inc

Los Angeles County Veterans Advisory Commission

We the Veterans

The Veterans Revolution

The Old Veterans Guard

Gathering of Eagles

Veterans For Common Sense

Military Spouses For Change

Veterans for Peace

Vietnam Veterans Against the War



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