At the last Police agency where I worked, a new evidence/crime lab building was built. I was delighted to find, on my first tour of the completed building, that small plastic signs with the number of each room, including the number in Braille, were attached to the top of each doorframe. No doubt, that was very helpful for the very tall, blind police officers working there.
Obviously, there were no blind police officers, and the signs were required by the local building code for all new public buildings. We hadn’t quite gotten into ensuring really tall, blind, transgender officers could use female restrooms yet. Such things, more than 15 years ago, were mildly funny. This, from Fox News, is not:
The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.
‘In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,’ wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. ‘Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.’
‘Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,’ Andrzejewski said.
The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 ‘local image’ pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for ‘art consultants’ for the Palo Alto facility.
A ‘rock sculpture’ cost taxpayers $482,960, and more than a half a million dollars were spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.
Government has no conscience. It cares nothing for individuals. Abraham Lincoln said it best in his second inaugural address, when he said it was our sacred duty: “to care for him who shall have borne the battle…” This is one of government’s most solemn responsibilities, yet it depends entirely on the individual honor of people we hire to care for our veterans. Too many of them have no honor.
In an ironic vignette, at a healthcare facility dedicated to serving blind veterans—the new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center—the agency wasted $670,000 on two sculptures no blind veteran can even see,’ Andrzejewski said. ‘The ‘Helmick Sculpture’ cost $385,000 (2014) and a parking garage exterior wall façade by King Ray Studio for the ‘design, fabrication, and installation of the public artwork’ cost $285,000 (2014).’
‘Blind veterans can’t see fancy sculptures, and all veterans would be happier if they could just see a doctor,’ he said.
This is an unquestionable failure of government that Donald Trump may be able to fix. Where government agencies are concerned, there appears to be no one in charge. When an outrage like this is made public, there seems to be no way to determine who is responsible for sculptures for the blind. Yet someone had to come up with the idea. Someone had to engage the “consultants” and the artists. Someone had to authorize the expenditure. Someone had to oversee the installation, and someone had to sign the checks, yet these people are virtually never found, and if they are, they’re put on ice and brought back when the public furor dies down.
If the President Of The United States wanted to fix this, it would be fixed.
Trump is the kind of man used to working on budget and on time. That means strict accounting and strict accountability. With Trump it’s possible. Not so with Hillary Clinton, whose hatred for the uniform and those that wear it is legendary.
This is truly a situation where competent management would never have allowed such unconscionable expenditures. It is good for hospitals to look welcoming, but not at those costs, and not when the VA is actually killing veterans through lack of staff and neglect.
Government has no conscience, and even less than none when Democrats are in control.