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.
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.