Berardino: Irvine City Council Members, Please Don’t Abandon Veterans

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC Contributing Photographer

Madam Mayor and honorable Members of the City Council,

The purpose of this note is to publicly document VALOR’s (Veterans Alliance of Orange County) appeal to include two sites for a Veterans’ Cemetery on the upcoming November ballot. The two sites are commonly referred to as, respectively, the “ARDA Site” and the “The Golf Course Site.”

It is my understanding that, as of now, there is pressure to only include the ARDA Site on the ballot. However, the construction of a Veterans’ Cemetery on the ARDA Site would prove farcical, demonstrating either a lack of good-faith consideration by the members of this council or a misunderstanding of what requirements for construction pursuant to the law.

I therefore submit four reasons why the Golf Course Site must be placed on the ballot in combination with the proposed ARDA Site.

1). The construction cost for the ARDA Site is exorbitant. This, in conjunction with the State’s unprecedented financial burden due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, will make distribution of additional State funds virtually impossible. Additionally, the generous monetary pledge made by our private partner Fivepoint extends only to the Golf Course Site. There is not a private sector partner as required for the ARDA Site.

2). Selection of the ARDA Site would  demonstrate a blatant disregard for the legal requirements and provisions which are required and set forth by the Governor. The State is responsible for building the Cemetery and therefore sets the terms and conditions regarding the requirements to construct it. Both the law and the Governor could not be more precise. Acting in defiance to these requirements directly undermines the authority of the Governor and the Legislature.

3). The State will not fund Cemetery construction until a study is conducted to determine the most practical site. There is absolutely no flexibility related to the fulfillment of this requirement. VALOR supports the Governor’s requirement and has repeatedly stated that we will support the conclusions of the study.The required study has not been conducted.

4). The fourth reason is a personal appeal on behalf of veterans. I suspect each of the members on this esteemed council knows the TRUTH about what is required for the State to build this Cemetery. Placing only the ARDA Site on the ballot knowing its infeasibility is to doom the entire project to failure. I understand politics and the importance of electability. I also have a keen understanding of the constant pressure elected officials endure from many different interests. But there comes a time to abandon political self-interest and lead; I ask you to make that time now. Stand with veterans by putting the Golf Course Site on the ballot. Do not disregard the dire need for Veterans’ resources, as our nation has so often done. Do not devaluate the sacrifices veterans have made and continue to make each and every day. Do not abandon us who have sacrificed so much for this country, and are now asking for your help and support.

Be principled and courageous !!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Nick Berardino, President VALOR (Veterans Alliance of Orange County)

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