El Dorado County: No Heaven, No God, No Money

Our friend Tom Soike is still having problems with El Dorado County. After winning the right to inscribe his memorial bench the way he sees fit, county officials neglected to inform Mr. Soike that they no longer have the money he paid to inscribe his bench. Now they want more. What a bunch of bull-shit. The following is a letter from Tom to the people of El Dorado County. Please join The Georgetown Divide Blog in support of Tom Soike.


How Does Winning Cost Us 2 Grand?

By Tom Soike

On Monday evening March 1, 2001, I was informed that despite the Board of Supervisors unanimous decision to approve the inscription of my family bench, that it would cost us an additional $1900.00 over and above the $3,500.00 I had already paid in 2005 for the purchase of my bench. I had requested to have the following inscription carved on the bench at the beautiful El Dorado County Veteran’s Monument!!!

“God, I’ve tasted your Heaven through Freedom and fought through the pain of these wars and wondered if somehow the something I’ve given could somehow have been something more.”

It seems that the El Dorado County Veteran’s memorial Committee (aka Friends of the Veteran’s Monument) has just recently determined that they do not have sufficient funds available for my bench to be completed. Every other bench that was bought and paid for was inscribed for the contracted price of $3,500.00.

I was stunned, shocked, hurt and amazed. How could an apparent victory turn so quickly into another series of impediments, designed to keep me from honoring my family, in a time honored and inoffensive American way?
The next day, Tuesday March 2, I made the following statement to the El Dorado county Board of Supervisors:

“Last evening I was totally amazed and disheartened to learn that apparently the Committee have stated that they do not have the $1900.00 necessary to inscribe the Soike family bench. Where in the world did my mom and dad’s money go???

Since the project is on county property, and therefore the county and your board have a very serious fiduciary interest and responsibility, I would like to know if an audit was performed of the project on behalf of you and/or all who have invested tens of dollars to produce the wonderful Veteran’s Monument; and if not, why not? Doesn’t that seem to be a best business practice?

Thank you,

Finally, it has become apparent that I need an attorney. We are still financially strapped do to the economy and related employment issues of our children. The county has very deep, taxpayer supported legal pockets. Obviously, we do not. If anyone out there knows a well qualified, well funded constitutional law firm who would take this on for us, while fronting our costs, please let us know as soon as possible. Frankly, we do not believe we can appropriately deal with this matter by ourselves anymore. Contact us at: katlibicki@aol.com subject – legal help.

Tom Soike

Email Supervisor Ray Nutting at: bostwo@edcgov.us

visit El Dorado County Veteran’s Affairs

One thought on “El Dorado County: No Heaven, No God, No Money

  1. From the El Dorado County Veterans Monument 2010 Annual Report, the entire document can be found on the El Dorado County Veterans Service Office web page;
    Dear Friend:

    For the Friends of the Veterans Monument, Inc. (Friends), preserving the legacy of the Veterans Monument goes beyond the ceremonies, activities, and programs we conduct. Throughout 2010, we were vigilant in our efforts to preserve the high standards of the El Dorado County (EDC) Veterans Monument.

    As most EDC veterans are aware, one of the duties of the Friends is to determine the eligibility of individuals seeking to be honored as one of those who “served the cause of freedom” in the EDC Veterans Monument that was initiated, designed and significantly funded by the Friends.

    In 2006, a non-veteran and former member of the EDC Board of Supervisors (BOS) bypassed the approval process and had her name engraved on a bench alongside the distinguished veterans in her family. Accordingly, the Friends formed a committee that worked diligently to establish eligibility criteria to ensure that non-veterans will not occupy ground in the Monument that is exclusively reserved for veterans and that inscription content meets national standards. A detailed process was approved by EDC County Counsel (Counsel) in 2007.

    Proof of eligibility of veteran status is verified through a veteran’s DD214 or equivalent discharge certification. Approval of inscription content is to be accomplished through the resources of nation wide monument affiliations, state/national veteran’s services and federally chartered veterans organizations. Additionally, under the 2007 guidelines, Friends may request that the EDC Veterans Service Officer (VSO), “convene a committee including, one representative from each of the federally chartered veterans organizations in EDC to hear and settle the issue.” “The decision rendered by the committee may be appealed to the BOS.”

    In 2010 this process was challenged by Supervisor Ray Nutting on behalf of an individual, who in 2005 purchased a granite bench with engraved inscription for display at the Veterans Monument. The proposed bench inscription wasn’t submitted until late 2009 and was at that time questioned by the Friends Recognition and Honoraria Committee because of its religious content and the lack of qualifying discharge certification for the individual whose name would appear next to the inscription.

    Friends turned to EDC Counsel with the inscription issue. The Counsel’s position was, “once a forum is opened up to allow messages to be expressed by the public, then the law makes it difficult to make future content-based distinctions between individual messages that would be allowed.”

    Friends committee then applied specific directions as called out in the approved 2007 guidelines, “any issue that arises in regard to inclusion, inscription, or location of honoraria in the monument” can be directed to the EDC VSO who upon request, “will convene a committee including, one representative from each of the federally chartered veterans organizations in EDC to hear and settle the issue.” Friends made the request and the committee convened on 2-18-10 with three of the county’s eight qualified veterans’ representatives in attendance and the proposed inscription was approved. During the committee meeting Ray Nutting produced the individuals discharge certification which was discussed but omitted from the minutes taken by Ray Nutting’s assistant.

    The following Tuesday the issue of the inscription, which had already been concluded by the representatives of EDC’s federally chartered veterans organizations under approved guidelines, appeared on the EDC BOS regular agenda item # 3 authored by Ray Nutting. What followed next was unusual: item # 3 was amended to the consent calendar and conceptually approved by a motion made by Supervisor Sweeney and seconded by Supervisor Knight, then unanimously approved for the second time in five days.

    Supervisors Sweeney and Knight’s efforts to avoid a public debate of this contentious topic failed. The inscription issue was allowed to be debated once again, first by a standing room only crowd of whom many had been motivated to attend by Ray Nutting’s office, and then in the media, all to the embarrassment of the veterans and the many of the citizens of El Dorado County.

    In the following four months, the issue of the in dividuals certification appeared each month on the EDC Veterans Affairs Commission agenda. And each month an effort was
    made by the Interim Director, EDC Department Veterans Affairs to downgrade the monument’s eligibility standards by allowing the individuals name to appear on his bench even though his veteran’s status eligibility had never been clarified and his discharge certification document was no longer available.

    On August 13, 2010, the Veterans Affairs Commission defined and determined that the discharge certification submitted by Ray Nutting on behalf of the individual during the 2/18/10 Commanders’ committee meeting did not meet the definition of the Veterans Service Organizations, the Friends or the Federal guidelines Title 38-101 for inclusion into the veterans monument and voted unanimously, “to uphold the rules as defined in the criteria, due to the lack of proof to review official documentation.”

    While local veterans and even their national organizations and affiliations are subject to local rule, this issue and its accompanying theatrics and cost should have never gone to the Board of Supervisors. It was best left to veterans helping veterans, consistent with the rule of law and policy long established by precedent across the nation.

    In the future we hope that all members of the BOS will let the veterans’ process take its normal and natural course with discretion and dignity.

    With respect,

    Richard W. Buchanan, NC, USMC


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