A Pious Man's Impious Acts
Demolition by Neglect
“The war stories have all been told – in all their myriad versions - and now the main topic of conversation for many is the final battle, a solitary one at that.”
"Residents of the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington, DC, fought in every American conflict since World War II. More than 95 percent served in combat in at least one war. The home is for the average GIs, the grunts who followed orders and did the dirty work all around the globe from D-Day to the Bataan Death March to the Tet Offensive. There aren't many hellholes in modern times that they haven't borne witness to.
All of them fought their share of battles, but once they rolled into the home, they thought the fight for survival, for a plain old place to hang your hat, was over…”
Rick Santorum had a different idea...
"In 1997, Catholic University coveted a 49-acre parcel of the Soldier’s Home for an expanded campus. Soldiers' Home officials had been counting on the valuable property for a leasing arrangement, so the land could be developed for a steady flow of revenue. Last October (1999), though, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) made a flanking maneuver and sneaked an amendment onto the defense-spending bill that would force the home to sell to the Archdiocese of Washington." (1)
"The Armed Forces Retirement Home had conducted an in-depth study to decide how to maximize income from the land, and insure the long-term viability of the Home. In a Congressional subcommittee meeting, they unveiled their choice of options: they wanted to lease the land, and retain it as an asset. The valuation of the 49 acres under this income scenario approached approximately $102 million.
In the midst of the AFRH study, there was an amendment to public law that imposed restrictions on how the Soldier’s Home might dispose of the 49 acres that abutted Catholic University next door. Specifically, section 1043 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 directed the land be sold and the provision of that act appears to restrict the buyer to the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington or entities related thereto." (2)
“(Ordered to lie on the table.) Mr. SANTORUM submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill, S. 1186, supra; as follows:
On page 37, strike lines 25 and 26.” (3)
SEC. 1043. CLARIFICATION OF LAND CONVEYANCE AUTHORITY, ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME.
Section 1053 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201; 110 Stat. 2650) is amended—
(1) in subsection (a), by striking out `may convey, by sale or otherwise,' and inserting in lieu thereof `shall convey by sale'; and
(2) by striking out subsection (b) and inserting in lieu thereof the following new subsection (b):
`(b) MANNER, TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF DISPOSAL- (1) The sale under subsection (a) shall be made to a neighboring nonprofit organization from whose extensive educational and charitable services the public benefits and has benefited from for more than 100 years, or an entity or entities related to such organization, and whose substantial investment in the neighborhood is consistent with the continued existence and purpose of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
`(2) As consideration for the real property conveyance under subsection (a), the purchaser selected under paragraph (1) shall pay to the United States an amount equal to the fair market value of the real property at its highest and best economic use, as determined by the Armed Forces Retirement Home Board, based on an independent appraisal.' (4)
Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. In 2005, she argued that Senator Rick Santorum, in representing the interests of the Catholic Church, has disserved the greater public good:
“…. Catholic University, had its own designs on the property; that in itself was fine. What was not fine, was that CUA did not feel like paying market price for the property it sought; in other words, no free-market bidding. Thus, it approached Santorum and Kennedy, who were all too willing to slip in the amendment that forced the Home to sell to CUA alone, with CUA the only bidder.
Retired soldiers were outraged when they learned what had happened. A group called me, and, after consultation, we held a press conference. Once outed, neither Santorum nor Kennedy defended their attempt to get CUA a discount at the expense of veterans, because they had no leg to stand on. Instead, they agreed to amend the law.
The right result would have been to open the bidding to every potential buyer, and to let the Home take the offer of the highest bidder. Instead, a bidding process was instituted wherein CUA obtained the right of first refusal on any "high" bid.
In the end, CUA got a deal, but not nearly the deal Santorum and Kennedy would have underwritten. And this is the one sweetheart deal we discovered. One can only cringe, wondering just what financial privileges for the Church Santorum and Kennedy have managed to push through, during their years in the Senate. (5)
Hamilton represented veterans challenging the directed sale of the Old Soldiers' Home to Catholic University, see infra notes 176-79 and accompanying text, and church and state, see Marci A. Hamilton, Power, the Establishment Clause, and ... (6)
"Meanwhile, the $22 million from the land sale hardly stanched the flow of red ink at Armed Forces Retirement Home. Financial records, court documents, and government reports from the 2000s show how the Home cut back on the services it provided veterans as it grappled with funding problems.
For years, the veterans’ home struggled to make ends meet. The lease would have helped it keep up existing structure maintenance and potentially expand to meet further demand. Instead, the home has been forced to allow structures to fall into disrepair and to decrease the quality of care veterans receive. Meanwhile, Catholic University is enjoying its almost 50 acres and the veterans’ home continues to fall into disrepair.
As longtime resident, and Navy vet, Robert Devaney says, “I like to call it demolition by neglect.”” (7)
To the Tea Party, Evangelicals, and Christians, What are you doing, and have you forgotten? Do you remember the fire you felt, the fearlessness, the resolve to only send to Washington DC people of like minds, with expertise and proven records of fiscal prudence? Rick Santorum is not a fiscal conservative. He has consistently advocated big-government solutions for many of America’s most difficult problems. Rick Santorum is not a principled man. He's a politician, like every other politician; only he wants you to think he isn't. Almost 4 years ago, Americans fell in love with a wet-behind-the-ears Senator, untested, untried, a democrat team player, with a record that was spotty and inconsistent, who pushed all their hot buttons, over and over again. Rick Santorum, by his own admission, is not a visionary, not a manager, he’s just a regular guy. Times are perilous, if we don’t get it right in 2012, we may not get another chance. Newt Gingirch has bold solutions and a grand vision for America. He has led republicans to historic victories, with historic accomplishments, before... he is ready to do it again.
GINGRICH - Solutions, Not Talking Points.
1) http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/17046 The Coldest War April 1999 2) http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has076030.000/has076030_0f.htm 3) http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/C?r106:./temp/~r106N9mQq5 4) http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/olc/docs/1999NDAA.pdf 5) http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20050811.html 6) http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/wmlr42&div=30&id=&page= 7) http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/01/20/how-rick-santorum-ripped-off-american-veterans/ 8) CUA Completes Purchase of 49 Acres Adjacent to Campus April 29, 2004 http://publicaffairs.cua.edu/news/04FortyNineAcresFinal.htm 9) http://www.disabledveterans.org/2012/01/22/santorum-put-the-screws-to-elderly-veterans/ 10) Diocese stifles plan for Soldier's Home National Catholic Reporter October 30, 1998 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_n2_v35/ai_21279993/