CalVet: We Haven’t Weighed in on Land swap

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and American Legion Chaplain Bill Cook at the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday April 29th, 2014

Last August, Bill Cook of the OC Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, sent a letter to the Irvine City Council in support of a land swap for the Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial.  In the letter, Cook says the “CalVet/DGS…presented the details of a privately funded alternative proposal. We can report it (CalVet/DGS) found favor, as it required no additional state appropriations or finance committee actions, and we have determined that necessary legislation could certainly be completed in this session.”

Monday morning, TheLiberalOC blog reports that the CalVet/DGS has not weighed in on the proposal at all.

We sent messages to Cook last summer requesting documentation that CalVet supported his contention, and he did not respond.  Monday morning, June Iljana, deputy secretary for communications at Cal/Vet, confirmed for TheLiberalOC that the organization has not taken a position on the land swap FivePoint has proposed.

Ijana was asked for any and all statements or documentation that backed up Cook’s contention that this group was supportive of the land swap and her comment to this blog was, “we have not weighed in on this issue yet.”

So CalVet has not “found favor’ with the Cook/FivePoint/Land swap plan.

Did Cook knowingly deceive the Irvine City Council or did he lie to favor FivePoint? CalVet has not made a determination on the proposed land swap.  Either he deceived or he lied; CalVet sought documentation responsive to our queries to provide Cook’s claim and found none.

Here’s the letter Cook sent to the City Council last August:

Mayor Choi, Council Members, Candidates,

Regarding our future Southern California Veterans Cemetery, we thank you for promptly posting the latest status on the City’s website thus keeping the community aware and up to date on the evolutionary events and significant milestones as they occur.

The Southern California Veterans Cemetery will become hallowed ground, a revered place of honored rest for those few who have served and sacrificed for our security and freedoms. It will represent the heritage and significance of the location, express the appreciation of the community, and bring a full complementary measure of true greatness to Irvine and Orange County’s Great Park.

CalVet/DGS have completed their cost estimate report and submitted the necessary grant request application to the VA, and we now know from the VA’s reply that we are in queue for the maximum phase one grant amount of $10M. As the VA has stated, further discussions need to be conducted “as a way forward”. We may expect that the Federal, State and community contributions will soon be defined.

With gratitude for divine providence we are indeed blessed to be in Irvine, the recipient of an RDA settlement of $292M from the State of California, a continuation of sorts for Great Park development and completion. Just a fraction of the settlement amount should very adequately provide for the initiation of the greatest segment of the Great Park. Your Veterans and many supportive citizens look forward to celebrating the announcement of your inspired leadership.

The gestation period for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery will not be short.  Demolition and removal, environmental mitigations, site preparations may be expected to consume several years before actual construction and the first of the planned 200,000 internments can begin. We must all have patience (the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery took more than 25 years) as this extended process proceeds.

At the council meeting back on April 12 of this year – prior to the release of the CalVet report – we attempted to bring to your attention the offer of an alternative cemetery site. The detail of this offer was not heard by the council, as they stated reasons for their refusal concern over legislative process and the potential sensitivities of the Federal Dept of Veterans Affairs. Since that date we have consulted with CalVet/DGS and presented the details of a privately funded alternative proposal. We can report it found favor, as it required no additional state appropriations or finance committee actions, and we have determined that necessary legislation could certainly be completed in this session.

We have also met with a representative of the VA Cemetery Grants Program. We have been advised that there is a great deal of flexibility regarding how and when a grant is exercised. And we have been told of a recent precedent of cemetery development by a non-public entity and presented to the VA/State for operations. Again, this is considered by the authorities as a very favorable option.

Now that we all have detailed knowledge on the projected costs, expected contributions, and timeline of the ARDA site Southern California Veterans Cemetery, and the anticipated bureaucratic reception of the very favorable alternative – which would also satisfy many concerned constituent residents – may we Veterans respectfully request that city representatives be available for a detailed presentation of the contents of this proposal?

We believe the alternate site offer to be very gracious and generous, the location preferred by most, accelerates the cemetery timeline, and most importantly greatly reduces costs to the community and involved agencies. In sum, a win-win for all that now deserves full consideration before the council.

We look forward to your reply.


Bill Cook
Chairman, Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation


We bolded certain statements for emphasis.  Now we know why Cook would not respond to our requests for documents supporting his statements that the land swap face little opposition.

It appears he made it all up.

Meanwhile, in Irvine, there’s discussion that if Council member Melissa Fox votes in favor of the FivePoint plan there will be a recall effort made to remove her from office. Organizers have asked for anonymity awaiting a vote from Fox.  They are well-funded and organized.

It is the position of this blog that any landswap on the cemetery should be a dollar for dollar swap and not an acre for acre swap.




  7 comments for “CalVet: We Haven’t Weighed in on Land swap

  1. Sharon
    April 24, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    The developer just wants the land to build more houses. There was a vote by the City Council for the 125 acres at the former El Toro Marine Base and per Sharon Quirk Silva letter recently, if the land swap or swindle happened, the process would start all over again. We already voted on this, we have the money and we need to honor the Veterans and keep it at the base.
    Tired of the greed by developers spending money on IE’s to elect people on the City Council to do the work of the developer and not on behalf of their constituents.

    • April 24, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      I can’t imagine Sharon Quirk Silva is all that happy about this

  2. Jeff Gallagher
    April 24, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    I can tell you, neither are the majority of Veterans. Perhaps they should ask The American Legion,mthey’re largest veterans organization in America along with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, what they think? I imagine the answer would be a resounding NO! The Veterans of this county and the legacy of the military demand the Veterans Cemetery be established on the hallowed ground of the Marine Corps Base who so many veterans, who gave their lives for this country, passed through. Yes, it is hallowed ground. And,metering deserve this over some two-bit developer who is more worried about the Feng shui than the legacy of this county.

  3. Alan
    April 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    After reading that letter it kind makes me wonder if Bill Cook wrote it or did he just sign his name to something that FivePoint wrote for him?

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    April 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    pretty sure it was written for him; there’s spectulation Cook will get a free house out of the deal. no proof . It would not surprise me

      April 25, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      I heard the same and an OC Register columnist heard this as well, but did not want to write about it until he had proof of sources.

      This rumor has been raised and circulating for sometime now and is still floating along. The developer has been paying off Council, AD’s, and other “partners in crime” since the buy out of the 2016 election for $1.5 MIL.

      Unfortunately, the sources are usually correct, WOW.

  5. Anonymous
    May 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Hey Diamond, why not ask Agran where he prefers the memorial instead of guessing? You’re analogy doesn’t work. You want to trade something valuable for something cheap. Enrich a billionaire along the way. Jerk

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