Kevin And Don Respond To Being Self Loathing

Looking back at their journey from the Stonewall Democratic Club to Log Cabin Republicans, they claim it was one that was actually started by the democrats. After being told that marriage as not a priority on the agenda in 1995, they became disillusioned with the DEMS. For a decade they felt like they did not belong until they met the republicans of the Log Cabin Republican Club and discovered they too shared a dream of marriage equality. This blog is now a digital time capsule of their time as Republicans and moderated by a friend and supporter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Supporting Our Veterans: Sale of Los Angeles Veterans' Property May Not Occur

The following is a very biased article by the SF Chronicle. If one reads the actual deed, it states that the specif property was given to the US government for disabled veterans.
I was given the deed from a person who wishes to remain anonymous. The deed has express restrictions in it. I gave the deed to my partner, Don. Don PDFed the deed.
After that Don took a copy to the governor because he is on the Governor's Committee for Labor of Persons With Disabilities. Don and I believe the property would be perfect for helping the disabled veterans that are returning from the wars.
I forwarded the deed to Senator Fienstein's office along with Representative Henry Waxman's Office and LA City Council member Paul Koretz's office.
While I was at it I sent a copy to the Bush White House.
Don and I let everyone involved know that if the land is disposed of in violation of the deed, we would hunt down the original heirs. You see, the government can't sell the property. If they try to, it reverts back to the heirs of the original grantor.
It must be used for that until the need ceases. PERIOD. That was the condition of the gift.
Feinstein fights criticism of stand against selling VA real estate
Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Thursday, September 20, 2007


(09-20) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- A watchdog group has named Sen. Dianne Feinstein "porker of the month," but the California Democratic senator and her supporters are fighting back, saying the label is politically motivated because she won't let the Department of Veterans Affairs sell off prime Los Angeles real estate that has been a medical center and veterans cemetery for generations.

The watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, pointed to Feinstein's provision in a military construction spending bill that would bar the administration from selling or leasing parts of the 388-acre property on Wilshire Boulevard - a developer's dream located between Brentwood and Westwood - which officials contend is underused and could be leased to generate $4 billion in revenue for the government.

"Critics have speculated that Sen. Feinstein is going to bat for wealthy constituents concerned that development on the land would ruin the views from their homes and hurt property values," the group said. "The VA center is surrounded by the ritzy towns of Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Bel-Air, home to many celebrities and country clubs."

A mere query to Feinstein's press office unleashed a barrage of outraged e-mails from Los Angeles. Within minutes, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chairman Zev Yaroslavsky called, accusing the Bush administration of "a naked land grab" in the heart of West Los Angeles.

The acreage was originally donated in 1888 by private owners to be used forever as "an old soldiers home," Yaroslavsky said, and now houses the largest veterans cemetery west of Arlington, along with a hospital and other facilities. The cemetery is filled up, he said, and if anything needs to be expanded.

The facility also provides 300 to 400 units of housing for the homeless, so property values are not the issue, he argued.

"I've represented this area for 32 years," he said. "I know a NIMBY issue when I see it."

In any case, he said, $4 billion is probably lowballing the property's value.

President Bush promised to veto an Iraq spending bill a few months ago, specifically citing, among other things, the Feinstein provision to keep the VA land from commercial development.

"There were deal breakers, and this was one of them, which I found remarkable, given that the entire war effort in Iraq that they believe in so strongly was being held up because they wanted to take care of a handful of their real estate friends," Yaroslavsky said.

Developers, he added, "are lined up licking their chops to get an opportunity to develop land in the middle of Brentwood, Calif., that nobody in their right mind for the last 100 years dreamt was developable."

The provision was removed from the Iraq legislation, but Feinstein attached it to a military construction bill earlier this month, and it survived a GOP effort to strip it by a 66-25 vote. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said the VA generated $50 million for selling some property in downtown Chicago two years ago - money that it put to better use. Feinstein's provision awaits a conference on the bill with the House.

The White House has objected again, saying the Feinstein provision "circumvents the recommendations in VA's nationwide infrastructure study ... it is likely that the restrictive Senate language would eliminate more than $4 billion of revenue, which would be used to improve facilities around the country for our nation's veterans."

Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber denied that the provision is an earmark, which is generally what provokes the ire of Citizens Against Governmental Waste.

"It doesn't direct any funding anywhere," Gerber said. "The Congressional Budget Office looked at it and said there is no cost associated with it. She's proud of her effort to protect this land from commercial development."

Feinstein is backed by California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles.

But Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, called Feinstein's move a classic case of congressional interference to protect parochial interests at the greater public's expense.

"These are facilities that are probably never going to be used for veterans," Schatz said. "You're talking about 21 of 91 buildings on the campus, VA says they don't need them, so it's unlikely Congress is going to appropriate enough money to use all 91 buildings - really unlikely."

Congress directed the VA to review its properties under a process called Capital Asset Realignment to Enhance Services, known as CARES; in 2004, CARES identified 18 properties to be examined further, including the West Los Angeles facility. These and the accompanying studies are listed on the VA Web site at www.va.gov/cares/locationSite/default.asp.

"A larger problem is that other members of Congress will view this as an opportunity to interfere with this process in other parts of the country," Schatz said. "It's the reason the (military) base closing commission was established, to get around the politics, get around the local protectionism, and allow a system to develop that would determine in case of bases which ones could be closed or realigned. What the VA is doing is similar, but there's no mechanism to stop members of Congress from intervening."

The government is frequently attacked for not disposing of its excess property, Schatz said. If the VA is not allowed to lease unused property and use the money to provide services to veterans, taxpayers will have to provide the money, he argued.

"I think if a veterans facility in San Francisco could benefit from the lease of some of this land, they'd be pleased about that," Schatz said. "It's not about just West L.A., but what veterans need around the country."

The Wall Street Journal editorial page set off the fracas a week and a half ago, comparing the situation to the infamous Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere" and saying large portions of the area are "a veritable ghost town."

A flood of letters from residents argued that the VA process has not been as transparent as promised, and that the area is not surrounded by glamorous mansions but by a freeway, apartment and office buildings, and homeless encampments. They also cite potential traffic problems and say if the land is underused, it is only because of VA mismanagement. They contend local officials have been calling for years for a master plan for the property.

Yaroslavsky argued the lease structure under consideration would allow the land to be sold and possibly developed in violation of county zoning laws. This, he argued, is no more a good idea "than saying the Gettysburg property in federal hands that is not a burial ground should be sold off for God knows how many thousands of dollars, or the property that fringes Arlington National Cemetery - or better yet, Lexington and Concord north of Boston that could go for a pretty penny."

E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at clochhead@sfchronicle.com.
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