FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O IS STILL SMARTING OVER REPORTS THAT HE'S SPENT $150 MILLION TAX PAYER DOLLARS ON HIS VACATIONS.
SPEAKING TO THESE REPORTERS THIS AFTERNOON, BARRY O INSISTED THE MONEY WAS WELL SPENT, "WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? WASTE IT ON EDUCATION? ON SENIORS? THIS WAS $150,000,000 WELL SPENT."
WHEN IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT $150,000,000 WOULD BE AN ALL TIME RECORD, BARRY O SIGHED, "SURE I COST A LITTLE MORE, BUT I'M WORTH IT."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
In the latest scandal for the Dept of Veterans Affairs, they're turning away homeless veterans. Senator Patty Murray (Chair of the Senate Budget Committee) wants to know what the Dept thinks it's doing. Her office issued the following today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Monday, March 31st, 2014 202-224-2834
Senator Murray Introduces Emergency Bill to Reverse New VA Policy Change that Has Shut the Doors of Homeless Shelters to Veterans
Veterans have been turned away in the wake of sudden VA policy change made in February that limits eligibility for indispensable grant program that supports homeless shelters and providers
After Murray introduces legislation, VA NOW says it will temporarily rescind the policy change but final legal opinion could still shutter access for homeless veterans
(Washington D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, on Thursday introduced emergency legislation that would reverse a sudden and largely unexplained Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy change that has restricted homeless veterans' access to housing and services. Senator Murray’s bill, The Homeless Veterans Services Protection Act (S. 2179), reverses a new VA policy by allowing community organizations who receive funding through the VA’s Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program to once again count veterans who don’t meet certain length of service or discharge requirements when calculating the federal GPD allotment that often allows these facilities to operate.
Just two weeks ago, a VA memo went out to these programs forbidding them from counting new homeless veterans who didn’t serve for two years or were given certain “other than honorable” discharges from service. That instruction meant that community organizations in many instances had to begin denying homeless veterans housing, and reversed the standard that VA and these providers have used for two decades. No contingency plan was given to provide for the veterans who would be turned away.
“This is federal bureaucracy at its most heartless,” said Senator Murray. “For the VA to suddenly tell homeless providers that they are limiting a successful, 20 year-old program in a way that will put more veterans on the streets, defies all common sense, particularly when this Administration has set the bold and commendable goal of ending veterans homelessness by 2015. If this is a question of cost the VA needs to come forward and say that and I will fight just as hard for funding as I will to restore eligibility.”
The change also affects the critical Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which allows VA to award grants to organizations that assist very low income families living in or transitioning to permanent housing by providing them with a range of supportive services.
UPDATE: Monday morning VA announced that they would temporarily place a moratorium on the policy change after Senator Murray introduced legislation to reverse it. However, the VA has indicated that change is only temporary until a final legal opinion, which is expected to reaffirm this ban, is issued.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct
It would appear the VA doesn't grasp concepts like accountability or transparency. This is a huge change they made and they did so without informing Congress. As Senator Murray notes, this impacts a significant number of veterans.
Along with hiding it from Congress, the VA hid the move from the public. The last time the VA felt the need to inform the public about the issue of homeless veterans was in the January 14th press release entitled "Grant Program One of Many VA Initiatives to End Veterans' Homelessness." The Secretary of the VA Eric Shinseki is quoted in the release, "Those who have served our Nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope. These grants play a critical role in addressing Veteran homelessness by assisting our vital partners at the local level in their efforts. We are making good progress towards our goal to end Veterans’ homelessness, but we still have work to do."
Those words ring hollow. Eric Shinseki promised to keep Congress informed after the first big scandal of his tenure. We covered it here, the House Veterans Affairs Committee on October 14, 2009. When the country was aghast to learn the veterans attempting to attend college on the GI Bill were instead taking out loans and suffering because the VA couldn't get the checks out. The press, so eager to prop up the White House, looked the other way and refused to report this statement Shinseki made in the hearing:
I'll be frank, when I arrived, uh, there were a number of people telling me this was simply not executable. It wasn't going to happen. Three August was going to be here before we could have everything in place. Uh, to the credit of the folks in uh VA, I, uh, I consulted an outside consultant, brought in an independent view, same kind of assessment. 'Unless you do some big things here, this is not possible.' To the credit of the folks, the good folks in VBA, they took it on and they went at it hard. We hired 530 people to do this and had to train them. We had a manual system that was computer assisted. Not very helpful but that's what they inherited. And we realized in about May that the 530 were probably a little short so we went and hired 230 more people. So in excess of 700 people were trained to use the tools that were coming together even as certificates were being executed. Uhm, we were short on the assumption of how many people it would take. We based our numbers on the Montgomery GI Bill which is about a 15 minute procedure. The uh chapter thirty-three procedures about an hour on average, maybe an hour and 15 minutes. So right off the bat, we had some issues with assumptions. Uh, we are still receiving certificates of enrollment. This week alone, we received 36,000 certificates of enrollment coming from schools who are working through the process and we put them into the execute of providing those checks -- three checks.
Get it? He was told there were problems, he then hired a consultant who said the same thing. But he refused to tell Congress, he refused to tell the public. Some veterans were still waiting in December and those with a child or children noted repeatedly that since they were still waiting for the checks they should have received the previous August or September, there would be no Christmas for their kids.
Heads should have rolled.
And in all the subsequent scandals we've heard Shinseki do the Accountability Comedy Routine. That's when a government official says, "I take accountability." They say that -- and here's the joke -- then they don't resign and they're not fired. "I take accountability" really just means, "I'm bored, let's move on."
In March of 2013, Robert Rosebrock (Veterans Today) noted:
General Eric K. Shinseki (Ret. USA), Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), has continuously failed our Military Veterans, including failing to file and execute disability claims in a timely manner and to provide quality healthcare and housing for disabled homeless Veterans, particularly in Los Angeles where there’s already a National Veterans Home established 125 years ago, but the buildings are vacant and rat-infested while the land is misappropriated for non-Veteran use.
It’s well-documented that nationwide the VA has a shameful back-log of over 900,000 disability claims with Veterans waiting up to 650 days to get necessary healthcare care and disability benefits.
During a recent Senate Hearing, members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee demanded the VA turn over its internal performance data to give Congressional lawmakers direct insight as to why the agency is so dysfunctional.
Consistent with the VA’s modus operandi, Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, was evasive, vague, dismissive, non-cooperative and refused to turn over requested data.
Think about it: If the VA openly and defiantly stonewalls the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and denies them pertinent information, what must it be like for lonely disabled Veterans in the isolated office of intimidating and confrontational VA bureaucrats?
Shinseki, Kathleen Sebelius and so many others think it's hilarious to stand up in public and perform the Accountability Comedy Routine because they long ago realized that no one gets fired in the current administration. Even Lois I'm-a-public-servant-but-I-plead-the-5th-and-refuse-to-testify-to-Congress-about-the-work-I-did-work-the-taxpayers-paid-for Lerner was allowed to retire when she should have been fired.
But no one gets fired.
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