VA honcho to review vet center is Repub, so .... | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VA honcho to review vet center is Repub, so ....

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM

The Democrat-Gazette noted this morning that U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is coming to visit Little Rock to do his own evaluation of the plan to move a day center for vets to 10th and Main. (Correction to article: The center is not solely for homeless veterans.)

In that U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin has joined Mayor Mark Stodola's opposition to this move, it might have been worth noting in the article that Miller is a Republican. In other words, he isn't likely to come down here to make Griffin look bad.

Miller bills himself as a fighter for "less taxes, less government and more personal freedom." His on-line bios don't indicate he's a veteran, by the way. But he serves an area of Florida (the panhandle) that has a heavy military constituency.

He's been a harsh critic of VA officials, such as when he went after the VA Med Center in Miami and the department in general.

In citing this and a host of other errors at the Miami VAMC, Miller identified what he believes to be the root cause of the problems. "At the heart of this issue is leadership at VA at all levels and in all parts of the country," he said.

Whatever happens in Little Rock, don't necessarily expect Miller, a former real estate broker and deputy sheriff, to make perfect sense. Just this week, Miller issued a statement that suggested the Obama administration's decision to provide free birth control coverage for women somehow conflicted with services to homeless veterans.

Miller has generally been supportive of veterans' spending, however, including for two additional clinics in his own district. But, still — a Republican from Florida (home of Tim Griffin's alleged vote caging activities directed at service members) with a record of criticizing VA officials nationwide? I wouldn't expect him to be carrying bouquets.

PS — Homeless advocate Robert Johnston, a downtown resident who supports the center, offered some other suggested clarifications on the D-G article:

Some suggestions and corrections:

* ‘Alcohol and substance abuse facility about two[sic] blocks away’

It is immediately adjacent to the 1000 Main location/ across the alley at 1000 LA. At MOST ½ block away
Stodola asked the VA to consider co-locating at 3000 Confederate. A more complete story would have included: A. VA says they can’t co-locate B. There is insufficient space now and for the future at 3000 Conf. C. VA and Supporters of the 1000 Main location say that building is far superior to 3000 Conf.

* ‘[Some] neighbors say the clinic will be a block away from residential properties’

It is 1 to 2 blocks away from an island [or peninsula] of 7 residential properties, already surrounded by commercial on 3 sides. The 1000 Main location is commercial. It has been commercial for decades. There is a liquor store and hardware store in that block.. Main north and south for at least 8 blocks is commercial. 9th Street east and west is commercial for at least 8 blocks. This location is in a commercial neighborhood. The tiny row [ 7 structures] of ‘historic’ residences [ mainly multifamily apartments] in the 900 and 1000 blocks of Scott are outliers on the western boundary of a small residential area on the edge of a much larger commercial district that extends to Markham and Broadway. The 1000 block of Scott includes an MD office and the parking lot for the liquor store warehouse. The 900 Scott block includes several parking lots.

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