VALOR, Veterans Alliance of Orange County, a major promoter of a Veterans Cemetery at Gypsum Canyon, makes the following claim on their website’s homepage:
“To promote the common good and general welfare of the community by educating the public about veterans issues, advocating for veterans rights, and engaging in activities to promote the interests of veterans.”
However, regarding the State Veterans Cemetery in Orange County, nothing could be farther from the truth, as their actions have shown, because:
- VALOR officers are Nick Berardino, President; and Bill Cook, Treasurer
- Nick Berardino is a registered lobbyist with developer FivePoint Communities
- Form 460, a “Recipient Committee Campaign Statement” shows that VALOR PAC received $800,000 from FivePoint (Heritage Fields…) in 2018 to support “Yes on Measure B.” Measure B was a Referendum, which, if successful, would have killed the already-approved Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site, and moved it to an unstudied site at the noisy and polluted I-5/I-405 freeway interchange. FivePoint would have also gained ownership of the ARDA site for their own development. Fortunately, that Measure B lost by a 63% to 37% vote, resoundingly announcing that Irvine voters want the Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site.
- VALOR has been promoting [read this email from Bill Cook] an alternative site to the ARDA site at Gypsum Canyon (a site fraught with problems), near the Riverside County Border. The Gypsum Canyon site is unstudied and so far has no supporting State legislation. It is also very inconvenient to Orange County residents. In fact, for South Orange County residents, it is located 75% of the distance to the Riverside National Cemetery.
Notice that there is no mention on Bill Cook’s email or on the list of Gypsum Canyon supporters that they are supporting a State Veterans Cemetery. You might ask Bill why! You might also ask why he isn’t promoting a State Veterans Cemetery on the already-approved ARDA site that is ready to begin construction planning with just approval of the Irvine City Council. Have all these supporting officials and organizations been hoodwinked by a developer special interest trying to keep a cemetery off the ARDA site?
- VALOR’s website has a disclaimer that says: “Paid for by Veterans Alliance of Orange County (VALOR) PAC.”
- Supervisor Don Wagner is a major proponent of putting a Veterans Cemetery at Gypsum Canyon. He held a Press Event at Gypsum Canyon on July 1 with elected officials, veterans and others who got scammed into attending, including Irvine’s Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Michael Carroll (opponents of the Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site, although Kim supported the ARDA site during her election campaign.)
Wagner, when he was Mayor of Irvine, called an emergency City Council meeting on June 6, 2017, to, astonishingly, reject the $30 million in State funding for the State Veterans Cemetery on the ARDA site, that had been added to the State budget just 11 days earlier. At that Council meeting, the Council abandoned the ARDA site in favor of a vaguely described land-swap with FivePoint Communities that would put the Veterans Cemetery at an unstudied, noisy and polluted I-5/I-405 freeway interchange site referred to as the “Strawberry Fields.”
By October 10, 2017, Wagner, FivePoint and the Council majority had solidified their plan and passed Irvine City Ordinance 17-08, a rezoning measure that had a dependent land-swap of the ARDA site for the “Strawberry Fields.” That measure immediately provoked the launching of a Referendum Petition that gathered 19,125 signatures, far more than enough to being placed on the ballot as Measure B (overturned by a 63% to 37% vote!).
- Various City Councils, veterans organizations and others have been persuaded by lies and misleading information [City of Brea example-See Item 9. Matters from the Audience, beginning at 1:32] (to see item #9 click immediately under the video where it says in black type "GENERAL SESSION..." and choose item 9 from the dropdown list) to support a Veterans Cemetery at Gypsum Canyon, and it’s not even a State Veterans Cemetery that’s being promoted. You should be aware that only a State or National Veterans Cemetery burial is entitled to a fully paid-for burial. Burials in an ordinary cemetery are entitled to a miniscule reimbursement of only about 10% of the burial costs, which seems to almost entirely defeat the purpose of a Veterans Cemetery!