by Max Brantley
Griffin admits the vets deserve better than what they now have. He proposes, however, nothing but objection to the VA plan to move to 10th and Main. He at least, for once, didn't noise about the non-starter of an idea to commingle money for vets in the dump the city is trying to rig up for non-vet homeless on Confederate Boulevard in remote southeast Little Rock. Talk about a slap to veterans.
Griffin admits what I pointed out was missing from yesterday's Democrat-Gazette article about the visit from the House Veterans Affairs Committee chair. He's a Republican, coming at Griffin's invitation. You may be sure their comments are coordinated to beat up on the VA for failing to adequately broadcast the move. There's been community talk for months now, however, and even with a year of advance notice and discussion it is unlikely to move here or anywhere the embedded NIMBY attitude certain to greet such a facility no matter where it is put. Also missing from Griffin's recitation is the VA's real estate agent, who said he told the city of Little Rock about the move in November. Missing too is the fact we reported that Mayor Mark Stodola is on record as being inalterably opposed to an earlier VA proposal to move — IN 2007!!!! — not to Main Street, but directly across the street from a Salvation Army shelter. If not there, where exactly would the city welcome veterans? Alcatraz?
Five years later, the VA has been thwarted at every turn and the mayor and Tim Griffin want to delay a better place for veterans yet again.
Moral: It is easy for Tim Griffin to say vets deserve better, but hypocritically empty when he offers no solution. He fails to note, by the way, that the downtown community is not unified against the idea of renovating a currently derelict building on a commercial stretch to staff it with professionals serving military veterans committed to improving their civilian lives.
In the face of this solid idea for the improvement of the lot of veterans, Griffin wants to stop theclock and start over again. And he claims to be interested in something better for veterans? Talk to the hand, congressman.
PS -- I wrote about the City Board's handling of this issue in my column this week.