Arrogance, fraud and waste at top of VA

first_imgYet when a government investigator reached the Invictus organizer, Victoria Gosling, she was unable to recall Bari’s name. Some “personal friendship.”The basis on which Bari’s expenses on the trip were covered was also phony – an email, apparently doctored by Shulkin’s chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-ranking official, to make it appear that he would be receiving an award in Denmark.There was, in fact, no such award, but the assertion was adequate to justify his wife’s travel at government expense, according to the VA inspector general’s report.Following these revelations, Simpson announced her retirement Friday. Shulkin said he would reimburse the government for his wife’s travel and would also write a check to the treasury for the Wimbledon tickets, which cost thousands of dollars on the secondary market.Shulkin, the lone holdover from the Obama administration in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, was summoned by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for a talk on Thursday; he is now fighting to keep his job.If straight talk and transparency are essential qualifications, the optics are not good. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in The Washington Post.Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who oversees an agency of some 375,000 workers and more than 1,200 health-care facilities, issued a directive last summer instructing managers to cut costs by limiting employee travel to “essential” trips.Not two weeks later, he undertook a taxpayer-financed boondoggle to London and Copenhagen in the company of his wife, top-ranking officials and a half-dozen security personnel.In addition to a few meetings and a conference, the 10-day trip featured several days of shopping, sightseeing jaunts through castles and palaces, a river cruise and freebie tickets to the women’s tennis finals at Wimbledon.His European adventure, which cost the public at least $122,000, plainly violated the spirit of government rules and almost definitely the letter.center_img Now, after months of arrogant, evasive and plainly dishonest statements from both Shulkin and VA employees seeking to justify the trip, followed by a government investigation that found “serious derelictions” involving the trip, the VA secretary has allowed that “the optics of this are not good.”The “optics”?Try the facts.“There’s nothing inappropriate about this,” Shulkin said last fall, after The Post reported that about half his trip involved sightseeing and shopping, and that the government had also paid the flights and a per-diem for his wife, Merle Bari.He dismissed the story as “poor reporting.” In fact, The Post account was accurate.Shulkin doubled down on his dissembling by denying that the Wimbledon tickets had been given to him by organizers of the Invictus Games for wounded and disabled soldiers and veterans, which would violate government rules barring gifts to public officials.In an ethics review triggered by The Post report, he insisted the tickets had been presented legitimately – yes, by a top organizer of the Invictus Games – not because of his position but owing to his and his wife’s “personal friendship” with the organizer.last_img read more

Ft. Lauderdale Garage Shooting Leaves One Dead, Three Injured

first_imgOne man was killed and three others sustained non-life threatening injuries in a shooting that took place early Sunday in a parking garage near the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.According to Fort Lauderdale Police spokeswoman Casey Liening, the incident happened around 4:15 a.m. at 101 S.W. Fifth Avenue.The parking garage also serves the Museum of Discovery and Science, as well as nearby restaurants and clubs.Debbie Anestor, the aunt of one of the victims, says that her 25-year-old nephew, Bidline Vil, and his girlfriend got into a dispute with someone at one of the adjacent nightclubs, when the argument carried over to the garage. She says her nephew then shot and killed the other man in self-defense, adding,”He saved many lives by killing him. He’s a hero.”Anestor says her nephew, who has a concealed weapons permit, was shot five times during the altercation, and his girlfriend was shot once.The three victims who were injured were treated at Broward Health Medical Center.The investigation is ongoing.last_img read more