Newspaper Editorial: VA Land Protection for Los Angeles Not Considered by Democratic Party

Santa Monica Mirror (California)

November 20, 2008 – A resolution that would have called for protection of the West Los Angeles VA property from any uses by “a non-veterans organization or for any non-veterans-related purpose” was barred from consideration at the California Democratic Party Executive Board Meeting in Anaheim on Saturday, November 15.

Because of recent rule changes advancing the deadline for submitting such resolutions, the VA property resolution was filed two days late, explained Bob Handy, who chairs the California Democratic Party Veterans Caucus and who was one of the resolution’s authors.  The Resolutions Committee agreed to entertain the resolution nevertheless, said Handy, with the proviso that any one member of the Committee could veto its consideration, and that is what happened.

Julie Dad, a Santa Monica delegate at the gathering, said that John Hanna, a Resolutions Committee member from Orange County, objected to the consideration of the resolution, and so it never made it to the General Session.  The next time the resolution can be considered by the statewide party will be at the party’s state convention in Sacramento April 24-26, 2009, Dad said.

Handy said that he personally had not been pressured to abandon the resolution, but that he had been told by other supporters that considerable political pressure was being brought to bear against the resolution.

The resolution grew out of concerns by Handy and others who object to an August 2007 “Sharing Agreement” between the VA and an organization known as the Veterans Park Conservancy whereby approximately 16 acres of the VA property at the northeast corner of Wilshire and San Vicente Boulevards is to be used as a park “for the benefit of veterans and the general public.”  The 20-year agreement provides for no rent to the VA, but provides that the Conservancy shall undertake certain capital improvements “as resources become available.”

In a statement in support of the resolution, Robert L. Rosebrock, Co-Director of We the Veterans and Director of The Veterans Revolution, said, “This land is under the stewardship of the 30th U.S. Congressional District, Henry Waxman’s District, which he has represented over the past 35 years.  It is imperative that Congressman Waxman decides if he is looking out for Veterans “needs’ at the largest VA healthcare in the nation, or the ‘wants’ of one of the wealthiest Zip Codes in the nation.”

The resolution stated that “a public park, despite its value to the whole community, is inconsistent with the exclusive use for veterans envisioned by the donors [of the property in 1888], and the trust conveyed in their deed to the United States.”  Handy said the resolution had been signed by over a hundred persons from across the United States and across party lines, including Sen. Art Torres (Ret.), Chairman of the California Democratic Party and Santa Monica City councilmember Bobby Shriver.

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