To indict a federal official, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), for not serving our armed veterans with proper care and concern, and especially during a fraught political campaign, is a serious charge which can smack of crass sanctimonious and sentimentality. Nor should anyone treat veterans affairs merely as a prop for a political candidate or for a political cause. Certainly no one should rush to malign individual legislators as unpatriotic or negligent. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, veterans affairs is an issue that should bring both sides of the political spectrum together for the greater good of our armed forced and our country. However, the exploding population of homeless and marginalized veterans in Los Angeles cannot be ignored, yet it would appear that Congressman Henry Waxman has done exactly that.
Congressman Waxman is responsible for oversight of the Brentwood VA, one of the nation's largest, which resides in his current 30th and the future 33rd Congressional district. Outside of the Brentwood VA and adjacent territories, a group of activists on behalf of veterans, including the veterans themselves, have displayed the American flag upside down. At first, some may assume that the upside-down flag signaled disgraceful protest, for it is a serious matter to present the American flag contrary to its proper presentation. I have since learned that an upside-down flag is a military signal for distress, particularly because Congressman Henry Waxman, who oversees the Brentwood VA in his district, has long ignored the well-being of our veterans and their land.
Following recent media revelations of the Brentwood VA’s private leases and public disrespect to our veterans, many of whom live homeless and marginalized around the Santa Monica Bay, this writer could forbear no longer. Now that major media outlets, including the liberal leaning Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio, have come forward to report on this issue, the rest of the LA community must not neglect to notice this matter.
Better late than never, NPR reported that the Brentwood VA has some of the most valuable real estate in West Los Angeles. Beyond its property value, its moral estate on behalf of our fallen deserves greater attention. However, Carolina Winston Barrie – a relative of the original donors of the land – recounted to NPR that much of the land has been converted to uses which have nothing to do with assisting veterans, including a baseball stadium, laundry facilities, and storage for movie sets.
Congressman Waxman and his colleague US Senator Dianne Feinstein passed legislation to forbid the sale and lease of VA property. Yet a legal loophole in the law still permits private operations on the veterans' property because private interests can still “share” the property in rental agreements. These agreements have generated between $28 and $40 million, yet Waxman has no idea where these monies has gone, and three building slated for $20 million in renovations have seen no action toward the realization of those projects.
According to LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, Waxman claimed inaction on the VA was due to the Congressman's lack of “subpoena power” to investigate what’s going on in the Brentwood VA. Independent challenger Bill Bloomfield commented while visiting the area that Waxman’s lack of interest or lack of bipartisanship has contributed to the poor status of veterans’ housing. No matter who exposes these terrible circumstances, there is no excuse for this lack of oversight. From 2007-2011, Mr. Waxman was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Surely he had subpoena power then, yet never used it.
In previous posts, I have railed against Waxman-Markey, Obama-Waxman
Care, Waxman the Taxman, Waxman all Washed-Up, and even Waxman who says “I Don’t Know!” “I’m Sorry! And “We’re not broke!” Now I write to indict Waxman the politician who has failed our veterans, and thus has failed to earn another term in office.
I commend the good that he has done in going after waste and fraud in Iraq. Still, Waxman is unfit for reelection precisely because of his poor leadership and stewardship on the matter of Veterans Affairs, specifically the Brentwood VA. He had time to go after "Big Government" Bush and his ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, yet Waxman also pushed ObamaCare and Cap and Trade (which was dead on arrival in the Senate), and he did nothing when he had the power and the presence to demand necessary reforms on behalf of our veterans.
To the voters of the 33rd – even those who have received positive response letters from Congressman Waxman, and those who have good memories of the legislator, Waxman has been derelict in his duty on behalf of our veterans, and for that he deserves nothing less than a dishonorable discharge from office.
On November 6th, vote out Waxman and vote for Bill Bloomfield for the 33rd!