Wednesday, December 19, 2007

West LA VA land descendant of donor speaks out

Descendant of VA land donor responds to park controversy
By Carolina Winston Barrie
I would like to respond to a letter in your December edition from Robert Rosebrock and Francisco Juarez which contained distortions and false charges about the Veterans Park Conservancy. I am a member of the Board of Directors of that organization, but more to the point, I have a family obligation to insure that the intentions of the original gift of land are faithfully carried out. My name is Carolina Winston Barrie. I am a descendant of Arcadia Bandini de Baker. In 1888, the United States government, by a special act of congress, accepted 300 acres of land for the benefit of veterans of foreign wars. This gift was from Arcadia and Senator John Percival Jones for the sole purpose of providing Veterans with a place to heal from war. Never has that desire to heal been more important than today as our sons and daughters return home with scars of battle in their bodies and minds.Three generations of my family have fought to maintain the healing mission of the original gift (which became the V.A Hospital and recreational facilities). The physical and mental facilities of the V.A. have always been overwhelmed and under-funded. The Government's neglect of our Veterans has been a national scandal long before Iraq. Yet over the years, the more valuable the acreage became, the more land developers plotted to steal it and convert it to profit. Our family has resisted schemes for shopping malls, condominiums, even an NFL Stadium. And we might not have prevailed had it not been for the formation of the Veterans Park Conservancy.Founded in 1986 to protect and enhance the land, the organization's director, Susan Young, and its Chairman, retired three-war hero Gwynn Robinson, have led the efforts along with other groups to save and re-vitalize the VA property. Buildings were rebuilt, rusty fencing was replaced, decayed monuments revived, and a Chapel, first used by veterans of the Civil War, was restored to it's original beauty with the help of the Bob Hope family.Had it not been for the dedication and hard work of Veterans Park Conservancy, Senators Alan Cranston, Pete Wilson, Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Henry Waxman, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and others for the last two decades, the deeded land, the VA facilities and the open parkland space would have been sold to the highest bidder by the Federal Government. Indeed the new State Veterans Home and the expansion of the National Cemetery would never have happened. These achievements are a clear example of how a caring, non-profit, private sector group can raise the large sums of money necessary to do work that the Bureaucratic Federal Government can never find the budget for. THE BRENTWOOD NEWS accurately chronicled the achievements in its November cover story, "Home of the Brave." In the light of that long overdue tribute, my family and I find it distressing that anyone who read it would attack the motivation and the achievements of Veteran's Park Conservancy under the guise of being a Veteran's spokesperson. To call VPC "a modern day Trojan Horse designed to subvert the deed" is to insult not only its membership (one third of whom are Veterans), but all the nationally recognized veterans organizations who have passed resolutions of support, as well as all the donors, large and small, whose contributions have saved the land and enforced my family's original intentions. Very truly yours, CAROLINA WINSTON BARRIE

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Veteran Patient Advocate said...

As a principal in this story, Francisco Juarez, I take offense to your posting her letter but not our written point of view. This descendent of the Bandini family contradicts what her visionary ancestors specified in the Grant Deed of 1888. Read the Deed, there is no call for public access park. What would be appropriate is saving that land for a model Comprehensive Veteran Patient Health Care Plan for all VA facilities across the country. Veteran issues must be a-political!

mike said...

then please send me your version of events I took this from a newspaper as you can see I am an independent there is nothing politcal about the veterans issues I go thru Google news and pull a lot of the veterans articles and post both sides of the issues if you don't want to post it here on your own then please e mail me at testvet at and I will post what you want I doubt if it's in the deed that a football stadium or car rental agency is supposed to be using the land either.....

watchdog said...

How about printing the other side "West LA VA descendant donor speaks out" which follows?

I am Robert L. Rosebrock,the other principal mentioned in the letter by Ms. Caroline Barrie, in which she actually makes false accusations against us without backing them up.

She is responding to our op-ed letter in the "Brentwood News" and says it has "distortions and false charges" against Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC)of which she is a board member.

Our op-ed rebuts VPC's remarks in a previous "Brentwood News" article about VPC wanting to build a public park to "honor our veterans." Our rebuttal is that their claims and statements are "disingenuous and contemptuous," and we backed up our claims in the op-ed.

Nonetheless, Ms. Barrie mentions absolutely nothing about how or why our claims are in any way "distorted" or "false."

Instead, Ms. Barrie only talks about being a descendent and touting all the things VPC has supposedly done, which are contrary to honoring the Deed of 1888 and the very foundation of our op-ed.

Ms. Barrie makes a derogative remark toward Francisco and myself, both Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, by stating that we wrote our letter "under the guise of being a Veteran's spokesperson."

On the other hand, VPC operates under the guise of being a "veterans organization," when in fact, it is a non-profit, special interest community organization whose mission is to "beautify" the Veterans National Home with a public park in order to benefit Brentwood at the expense of America's Military Veterans and their health care needs.

Following is our November, 2007 op-ed in the Brentwood News of which she is responding. None of this is "false"or "distortion" and the title reinforces our mission of honoring the Deed of 1888. Our last paragraph, "Enforce the Dee" summarizes our beliefs and what we believe to be the intent of Arcadia de Baker and John P. Jones,the Land Grantors.

Accordingly, we have authored the "Declaration of Enforcement," which upholds, protects and preserves the Deed and National Home as Granted 120 years ago.

Instead of honoring the Deed as stipulated, VPC's mission is to subvert the Deed through "unprecedented compromises at the highest levels of government" so they can build a public community park on Veterans land.

Veterans need to unite and take back their National Home. The first step is to stop this pretentious public park, "central park west,"which is VPC's mission.

It's not gonna happen on my watch.RLR

Brentwood News - November 2007:

We Honor Our Veterans by Honoring the Deed to Their National Home

Thank you for your “Home of the Brave” interview. Unfortunately, some of the responses by Sue Young, Executive Director of Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC) and Jim Folsom, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens regarding their proposed park at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home were disingenuous and contemptuous.

On March 3, 1888, landowners Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker and Senator John Percival Jones unselfishly bequeathed and faithfully entrusted nearly 800 acres to the United States Government to permanently maintain a National Home for the exclusive benefit of America's Military Veterans. And for nearly a century, every generation loyally enforced and honorably upheld the guiding principles and patriotic spirit of the Deed until recent years, when business and special interest “land grabbing” became an assumed entitlement at the expense of our Veterans.

A Modern-Day Trojan Horse

VPC's proposed “veterans park” is sheer deception as their website specifically declares that the 16-acre parcel will be for the “creation of the first new community park to be built in West Los Angeles in over 50 years. It further states: “What we have in mind is a scaled-down version of a grand community park in the tradition of New York's Central Park. Most importantly, it will attract all segments of our West Los Angeles community: Veterans and civilians, children and adults, featuring numerous activities for everyone.”

Make no mistake; VPC's so-called “shrine in honor of our veterans” is nothing more than a modern-day Trojan Horse designed to subvert the Deed so they can invade, conquer and build a massive public park on the Veterans' sacred land. VPC confirms their plans for an all-encompassing community park by declaring that the 16-acre parcel will “Demonstrate the positive community impact of reclamation of open space for public use, setting a precedent for discussion about the remaining federal property.”

In an attempt to deflect the truth about their Trojan Horse scheme, Ms. Young portrays VPC as a hero riding on the proverbial white horse to save Veterans property from commercial development: “We wanted to make certain that the property could not be sold to the highest bidder.” What she conveniently fails to mention is that in the process of “getting approvals at the highest levels” of government, VPC orchestrated a brazen behind-the-scenes, no-bid, rent-free agreement for a public community park, all under the guise of “honoring our veterans.”

History Repeating Itself

VPC's recent backroom wheeling and dealing in Washington D.C. represents the greatest land heist since the Indians were given $24 worth of beads and trinkets for Manhattan. At least they were given “something” for their land. To the contrary, the expropriation of this hallowed land was acquired “rent free” at the painful expense of America's Military Veterans who will receive absolutely nothing except an onrush of public invasion onto their once exclusive and quiet haven for rest and rehabilitation.

The 16-acre parcel is arguably the most valuable on the West coast and is estimated to be worth more than a quarter-billion dollars, yet not one penny goes to the Veterans. Ironically, not since Benedict Arnold tried to surrender West Point to the British has there been such a selfish act for similar hallowed grounds. Tragically, this land has been finagled from the very men and women who have bravely defended America's freedom and democracy, and particularly deprives those who are disabled and need privacy and quietude during their convalescence.

Veterans will never forget VPC's degrading slur against the time-honored “Duty, Honor, Country” creed of West Point and the watchword for all who serve in the military when they irreverently engraved “Beauty, Honor, Country” in stone at the National Home.

Veterans also remember VPC's inability to finance their “majestic wrought iron fence” to beautify the entryway into Brentwood and subsequently hoodwinked the VA into donating $1 million of Veteran's seriously needed healthcare money in order to complete their pretentious project.

“Such People”

In your interview, Brentwood News asks: “What do you think of the veterans who claim this is just a big 'land grab.'“ Mr. Folsom responded: “What such people are saying is that our veterans don't deserve a kinder, gentler environment for healing.” What a slanderous remark against Veterans who responsibly disagree with this gratuitous public park. No, Mr. Folsom, it is you and your VPC cohorts who think Veterans are undeserving by shamelessly trying to turn this century-old Veterans' Home of historic serenity and reverence into a clamorous and raucous public community park.

Equally disturbing is his discriminatory reference to Veterans who morally oppose this land grab as “such people,” which underscores the condescending and pompous attitude that VPC displays whenever the Veterans-at-large disagree with their self-serving mission to beautify and serve Brentwood's “wants” at the expense of our fellow Veterans' “needs.”

Enforce the Deed

There's absolutely nothing in the Deed of 1888 that allows anyone to designate any land for a public park, open space, commercial use, or any other purpose whatsoever, other than for the direct benefit of America's Military Veterans. It's time to stop the manipulative and opportunistic land grabbing at the National Veterans Home and to start enforcing the Deed. That's the only way to truly honor our Veterans.

Robert L. Rosebrock and Francisco Juarez-- Co-Directors, “We the Veterans”