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Suspect in Siskiyou murder case is aprehended 3-2-15

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

**March 2, 2015**

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Investigate Homicide

***Update***

A suspect matching the description of the person of interest named in the homicide investigation conducted by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) during the early morning hours of March 2, 2015 has been apprehended by Talent, Oregon law enforcement authorities after a massive multi-agency manhunt. Mr. Mathew Raye Baker, 27 years-old, most recently of Spokane, Washington, will be detained in the Jackson County Jail (Oregon), pending the filing of murder charges in Siskiyou County (CA). On March 2, 2015 at about 7:07 am, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) units responded to an address in the 400 block of Birch Lane in the unincorporated area of Siskiyou County, in vicinity of Truck Village Drive, in response to a call that a person may have been killed at the location. Upon arrival, SCSO units discovered the deceased body of a male adult at the location.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the victim may have been violently attacked in his home. Almost immediately, Mr. Baker was named as a person of interest and a dispatch “be on the lookout” message was disseminated to all law enforcement authorities in Siskiyou County and the region, including all of California, Idaho, and Oregon. The vehicle Mr. Baker was reportedly driving (Kia Soul) was later located abandoned in the city of Weed shortly after the last report this morning.

A follow-up investigation revealed that Mr. Baker boarded a bus in Weed and subsequently got off of the bus in Medford, Oregon. A multi-agency search by all law enforcement agencies in the vicinity was conducted and a suspect matching Mr. Baker’s description was detained and arrested by alert Talent, Oregon law enforcement officers.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “I would like to thank all of the federal, state, and local agencies in Siskiyou County and other agencies in California and Oregon for their professional and prompt response, assistance, and support that helped lead to the apprehension of what is now believed to be a dangerous homicide suspect. We also received significant support from the media and they helped us get Mr. Baker’s photo out there to our citizens and law enforcement officials, who helped assure the safe and successful resolution of this tense and rapidly-evolving apprehension effort.”

The case is still under investigation and anyone who has any other information about Mr. Baker’s activities prior to or after this reported incident is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour dispatch center at (530) 841-2900.

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Homicide suspect photo of Mathew Baker 3-2-15

Siskiyou Sheriff's report

From Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office

Here is the latest photo of the homicide suspect Mathew Baker, it was obtained from the Greyhound bus station. Mr. Baker rode on a Greyhound Bus headed North and he got off the bus in Medford Oregon this morning. He still at large in that area. All local authorities have been notified and are searching for him. If you see him please contact your local law enforcement immediately.

Mathew Baker suspect 3-2-15

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Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Investigate Possible Homicide

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

**March 2, 2015**

On March 2, 2015 at about 7:07 am, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) units responded to an address on Birch Lane in the unincorporated area of Siskiyou County in vicinity of Truck Village Drive, in response to call that a person may have been killed at the location. Upon arrival, SCSO units discovered the deceased body of a male adult at the location. A preliminary investigation revealed that the victim may have been attacked in his home by an unknown suspect. A person of interest in the case has been identified as Mr. Mathew Raye Baker, 27 years-old, most recently from Spokane, Washington. Mr. Baker may be driving a late model Kia Soul SUV, silver in color, with an unknown license plate.

An extensive crime scene investigation is underway and area residents are being interviewed by deputies and on-scene detectives. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) assisted responding deputies with the initial investigation and helped secure the crime scene. There is no reason to believe that the person of interest (Baker) is still in the area but citizens are reminded that if they see a vehicle or person matching the descriptions depicted below they are urged to report their observations by calling 9-1-1, which will connect them with the SCSO or nearest law enforcement agency. The person of interest (Baker) should not be approached or contacted. It is unknown if Mr. Baker is armed with any weapons. As a person of interest, if located, he will be detained and questioned by SCSO. This case is under investigation and is rapidly developing. Anyone who has any information about Mr. Baker’s activities prior to or after this reported incident is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour dispatch center at (530) 841-2900.

 

 

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California lawmakers seeking national monument designations for landscapes

Federal gov & land grabs

California lawmakers and advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to win national monument designation for four scenic vistas in the state, from vast stretches of the Mojave Desert to redwood stands along the Pacific Coast Highway to canyons and mountains near the state’s famous wine country.

The designation typically takes lands already owned by the government and walls them off from new mining, roads and power lines. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding are commonly allowed, though each national monument has its own dos and don’ts.

Supporters of the proposed monuments in California are pursuing two paths. The first is through legislation. Many Republicans are wary, though. So, supporters are also placing greater emphasis on Plan B: Executive action from President Barack Obama. The narrowing window for that option is adding urgency to their efforts.

Presidents have the authority to designate new national monuments through the Antiquities Act, and Obama has approved 16 so far, including three more last week. California groups took notice.

“We think that’s exciting, and we merit the same consideration in the near term,” said Bob Schneider, senior policy director for Tuleyome, a conservation group that seeks to preserve 360,000 acres in northern California as a national monument.

The group has worked with Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who has filed bills in three consecutive congressional sessions calling for what would be named the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. In December, he brought in Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for a tour and to hear from local residents.

“The majority party is not willing to participate in the debate,” Thompson said. “If the president is willing, I’m all for him protecting the land through an executive order.”

Many of the communities in Thompson’s district support his efforts. One local chamber of commerce projected that a national monument designation would generate an additional $50 million in economic activity in the subsequent five years though increased visitors. But another local chamber has fretted that a national monument designation could impose additional requirements on already overburdened agencies with no guarantee of additional resources.

Any national monuments legislation moving through the House would likely have to go first through a subcommittee chaired by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock of California. He’s clearly skeptical.

“The Republicans want to preserve and enhance the public’s right to enjoy the public’s land. Democrats are seeking to further restrict public access,” McClintock said. “That’s the fundamental, core issue.”

Like Thompson, Sen. Dianne Feinstein also is getting restless. She first proposed legislation in 2009 calling for two new national monuments in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts and reintroduced a version of the bill in early February. Feinstein favors legislative action, but she said in an emailed statement that executive action may be necessary if the bill stalls.

Feinstein, a Democrat, said she would prefer the legislative route because an executive order would simply create two new national monuments while her legislation includes more land for national parks, wilderness and off-highway recreation. Numerous compromises crafted over the years would be lost.

The Wildlands Conservancy helped the federal government acquire large segments of both proposed monuments in Feinstein’s bill through donations of money and land. The group was delighted when Jewell visited the proposed Sand to Snow National Monument last year and a vehicle in her security detail had to stop to let a bighorn sheep cross the road.

“You can’t beat that,” said David Myers, the organization’s executive director.

Interior Department spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw declined to directly answer whether Jewell has recommended that the president use his executive authority on any of the four California projects. But she said Jewell regularly briefs the president on her travels and has talked to him about “the local vision for conservation around the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region.”

Kershaw also noted that the Obama administration has testified in favor of Feinstein’s legislation back in 2010 and Thompson’s legislation in 2013.

McClintock says an executive order creating any monuments in California would be “a complete overreach” by the president and an abuse of the Antiquities Act, which was designed to protect small archaeological sites from looting.

MORE

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/01/california-lawmakers-seeking-national-monument-designations-landscapes/?intcmp=latestnews

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Yreka Tea Party moves to new meeting place

TEA Party

Please Note We Have a New Meeting Place

Yreka Tea Party Patriots

Meeting for Tuesday, March 3rd.
6:30 PM

at the Covenant Chapel Church

200 Greenhorn Rd. Yreka, CA

“Silent Epidemic” The Untold Story of Vaccines – Documentary

Silent Epidemic, by award winning film director Gary Null, is the first documentary to investigate thoroughly the true medical record and the historical evidence about vaccine marvels. Conventional medicine has herald the invention of vaccines as a miracle of modern science. It claims that vaccines have been proven to prevent and eradicate infectious diseases. We are told that vaccines are safe and effective, and that “herd immunity” can be achieved if a high percentage of a population is vaccinated.
However, does the science support these claims and what are the untold consequences?

Become informed: Parents and grandparents are encouraged to attend.

Everyone Welcome
Free….Contact Louise for more information at 530-842-5443

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LaMalfa & Garamendi Introduce Legislation to Build Sites Reservoir, Store Water for Millions of Californians

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA, Water, Resources & Quality

Washington, DC – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) today announced the introduction of H.R. 1060, which will accelerate the completion of a feasibility study of Sites Reservoir and authorize the project should it be found feasible. Located in Colusa and Glenn counties, Sites Reservoir is a proposed off-stream reservoir that would store as much as 1.8 million acre feet of water for cities, agriculture, and the environment.

“Californians have spoken strongly in support of investing in new surface storage, with over two-thirds voting to invest in projects like Sites Reservoir,” said Rep. LaMalfa (CA-01). “Sites provides more storage per dollar invested than any other proposed project, ensuring that California has water available for cities, farms, and the environment during future droughts. It’s time to fulfill the promises made to voters, move forward on Sites, and build the infrastructure that will allow our state’s economy to continue growing for generations to come.”

“California is famous for bouncing back from adversity and emerging stronger. Sites Reservoir will play a key role in making our state drought resilient by expanding our water reserves. The Sites project would help meet the water needs of our communities, farms, and environment. It has galvanized bipartisan support across California. The water bond, which provides significant funding for storage, was passed by an overwhelming majority of California voters. Let’s continue this momentum, pass this bill, and start building California’s water future,” said Congressman Garamendi (D-CA-03).

David Guy, President of the Northern California Water Association, urged support for the measure: “This bi-partisan effort promoting progressive water management is a step forward for California. The dry years in California have shown the importance of surface storage for all beneficial purposes–water needed for cities and rural communities, farms, fish, birds and recreation. An off-stream regulating reservoir on the west-side of the Sacramento Valley (Sites) is critical for all these beneficial purposes in the Sacramento Valley, as well as providing state-wide water system operational improvements.”

Fritz Durst, Chairman of the Sites Joint Powers Authority (Sites JPA), supported the Congressmen’s action: “Once again, our representatives, Congressmen LaMalfa and Garamendi, have exercised leadership by advancing this legislation and project. Sites Reservoir will improve statewide water reliability so desperately needed in drought years to protect and enhance the lifeblood of our economy, while also providing the necessary water to conserve our rich wildlife and natural resources.”

Sites JPA Vice Chair Leigh McDaniel highlighted the importance of expeditious Congressional consideration of this measure: “With the eyes of the country focused on California’s historic drought, it is vital that we work jointly to seize this opportunity to develop the infrastructure needed to store additional water at Sites Reservoir and beyond. Doing so will go a long way toward enhancing operational efficiency of the Central Valley Project and serve to mitigate the impacts of similar droughts going forward.”

The California Department of Water Resources recently reported that Sites Reservoir would generate an additional 900,000 acre feet of water during droughts, enough water to supply millions of Californians for an entire year.

The California Alliance for Jobs has also profiled Sites Reservoir and released a video detailing the project’s benefits to cities, farms and the environment. As an off-stream reservoir, Sites has the ability to recapture water released upstream, allowing improved conditions for salmon and reuse of water for urban and agriculture purposes.

The Northern California Water Association produced an infographic on Sites Reservoir and its operation in conjunction with other water infrastructure.

Attached photo: Congressmen LaMalfa and Garamendi respond to questions at a forum sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies (Photo Credit: ACWA).

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

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Editorial: LaMalfa should keep pushing VA

Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA, Veterans & soldiers

Redding Record Searchlight

http://www.redding.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-lamalfa-should-keep-pushing-va_95449997

6:00 PM, Feb 25, 2015

We may not always agree with Rep. Doug LaMalfa, but he gets major points for his persistence on behalf of veterans who for years have literally been ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The congressman has been interested in veterans’ issues since his days in the state Assembly and he took on the VA almost as soon as he took office in 2013. He went into “hounding” gear after receiving complaints from veterans who were applying for service connected benefits at the VA’s regional office in Oakland. That office processes claims from North State and other Northern California vets.

In one case, that of Army veteran Edward Defilippis of Redding, it was 36 years before full disability benefits were awarded. That’s an outrage.

When an office has 300 employees, all on the federal payroll (our tax dollars at work), we expect better.

The VA’s Office of the Inspector General agrees. Last Wednesday the office issued a report blaming sloppy bookkeeping, inadequate training, poor oversight and other problems for the gargantuan “lapses” in service offered by the office. It was LaMalfa who prompted the investigation, with the help of Rep Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

True, some of Oakland’s shortcomings were known even before LaMalfa took office. A Veterans Benefits Administration team visited the office in 2012 to help square away some problems. The team reported finding about 14,000 unprocessed benefit claims, some dating back to the 1990s, in a filing cabinet.

The 1990s? How many of those vets are still alive today?

That should have been a tipoff, but apparently it wasn’t enough. And when the Inspector General’s office went back for an unannounced visit in July, those records has disappeared. Were any of them processed? Apparently nobody knows for sure, but the Inspector General’s report acknowledged that “a significant number” of informal requests for benefits “dating back many years” had not been processed, depriving those vets of benefits many of them have earned.

It’s cruel. It’s incompetent. And it should be downright criminal.

To complete the caricature of unaccountable bureaucracy, Oakland’s regional office staff topped its incompetence with arrogance. When LaMalfa and his staff started nosing around, asking questions staffers didn’t want to answer (for good reason, now that we know the truth), they became deliberately unhelpful, he said.

At one point a LaMalfa aide went to the office to hand-deliver a North State veteran’s disability claim and the Oakland security team wouldn’t even let her into the building. Just who do those people think they are? And who do they think they work for?

Those questions deserve answers, but the Oakland staff couldn’t be troubled to return reporter Jim Schultz’s calls last week.

LaMalfa says he has many more questions. He wants to know how those benefits claims were “lost.” He and McNerney vow to continue to push for more transparency in that department. LaMalfa’s calling for more oversight, too.

Let’s just hope the VA doesn’t send the fox to investigate the henhouse. Who knows what might disappear next?

LaMalfa’s advocacy represents a ray of hope to veterans who have been victimized by laziness and arrogance. We salute him and hope he turns up the heat.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Wildland firefighting in Western Alaska hit by proposed budget cuts

FIRES, Forestry & USFS

PNP comment: Guess Alaska is joining the lower-48 states and the USFS plan to just let fires burn — no matter what! Just think of the wildlife that will die, besides the threats to humans. — Editor Liz Bowen.

Alex DeMarban

February 27, 2015

Alaska Dispatch News

The Walker administration’s proposal to slash staff at a wildland firefighting camp in Western Alaska will increase the danger to people and property across a massive swath of the state, villagers said.

But the forester behind the decision to cut 16 seasonal positions from the base in McGrath said the state’s staggering $3.5 billion deficit precipitated the need for big changes.

“We were asked to look at programmatic reductions and not shave off the top,” said Chris Maisch, the state’s forestry director. “We were looking for the biggest bang for our buck.”

The McGrath camp covers the state’s largest firefighting region, a New Mexico-size expanse representing more than half the wildland protected by the state. The camp is in full swing during late spring and summer, when fire danger is highest.

But the camp, 250 miles northwest of Anchorage across the Alaska Range, is also the priciest per employee, said Maisch. It consists of several stand-alone facilities requiring lots of maintenance, and workers in the remote village receive large cost-of-living adjustments. The jobs to be cut include cooks, maintenance staff and about a half-dozen frontline firefighters.

By leaving six positions to manage the seasonal facility, it can be run as a forward-operating base ready to be ramped up if weather and lightning forecasts indicate increased risk of fire, Maisch said.

A helicopter that had been based in McGrath will rove across the state but will return if needed.

“It’s not the way we’ve done business for the last 30 years but the state cannot afford to operate like it has for the last 30 years,” he said.

Residents in McGrath, a community of 315, said the proposed cuts won’t just increase fire risks. If they come to pass — in the new fiscal year starting July 1 — they’ll also gut an economy with few jobs left.

MORE

http://www.adn.com/article/20150227/wildland-firefighting-western-alaska-hit-proposed-budget-cuts

 

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Southeast Alaska town bristles over Canadian decision to cut border hours

Enjoy

PNP comment: Hyder looks like Siskiyou County’s Sawyers Bar nestled below steep, forested mountains. Only, do to the loss of the timber industry by environmental and government tyrannical regulations, the grocery store and gas station are now closed in Sawyers Bar. But the road is paved! — by the County. — Editor Liz Bowen

The border between Stewart, British Columbia, and Hyder. Photo from  Creative Commons

Laurel Andrews

Alaska Dispatch News

A Canadian decision to close the border at night between the Southeast Alaska community of Hyder and the British Columbia town of Stewart has residents in both communities bristling about potential economic and safety impacts.

“It’s got everybody kind of up in arms right now,” Wes Loe, president of the Hyder Community Association and owner of Hyder General Store, said Friday.

Hyder is a community of roughly 87 people on the southeastern tip of Alaska’s panhandle. About 2 miles northeast sits the B.C. community of Stewart, population roughly 400.

Hyder phone numbers use a Canadian area code, not Alaska’s. Electrical services are provided by Canada, Loe said, and residents use both U.S. and Canadian currency. Loe said at his business currency is “at least 80 percent Canadian.”

“We consider ourselves one community,” said Angela Brand Danuser, former mayor of Stewart. “We do everything together, and everything that Stewart does, we promote it as Stewart and Hyder.”

Loe said closing the border overnight has been compared to “putting a chain across your own driveway.”

The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed Friday that the border’s new service hours would be 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

The decision came after the CBSA determined the station was “underutilized outside of primary operating hours,” agency spokesperson Stefanie Wudel wrote.

“While the CBSA recognizes that the change in hours will affect some, the agency remains committed to the free flow of legitimate goods and people across the border,” Wudel wrote.

The decision will not result in a loss of jobs, Wudel wrote.

The border crossing is staffed on the Canadian side. U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not have a presence there, spokesperson Frank Falcon confirmed.

Sharon Burke, accounting clerk for the District of Stewart, said that the CBSA informed the Stewart Mayor’s Office on Monday about the decision to close the border.

“Everyone’s talking about it,” Burke said.

Residents on both sides of the border echoed two major concerns: safety and the economy.

They question how Hyder residents will seek medical attention between midnight and 8 a.m. when the facilities are located in Stewart.

Wudel wrote that CBSA emergency services to Hyder would not be affected. “Provisions have been made to ensure emergency vehicles will continue to have access to the roads 24/7.”

Residents question whether that’s enough.

“The road from here to Stewart is our evacuation route,” said Hyder city clerk Carol Denton. “For a tsunami or any other kind of disaster.”

And while emergency vehicles will have access roads, oftentimes residents choose to drive themselves to the clinic to receive medical care. Waiting for an ambulance can take longer and costs money, Brand Danuser said.

“I can’t believe that the Canadian government would be willing to turn their backs on a community that relies on Canada for their emergency services,” said Brand Danuser, a Canadian.

MORE

http://www.adn.com/article/20150227/southeast-alaska-town-bristles-over-canadian-decision-cut-border-hours

 

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Rep. LaMalfa Demands Answers to Oakland VA’s Failure to Account for Nearly 14,000 Claims

Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA, Federal gov & land grabs, Veterans & soldiers

Washington, DC – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) released the following remarks regarding the on-going investigation into nearly 14,000 Veteran benefits claims that were discovered in a filing cabinet at the Oakland VA and the subsequent report that was released last Wednesday from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Last year, these claims were brought to my attention by Oakland VA staff members. The VA’s OIG report confirmed the discovery of nearly 14,000 claims in a failing cabinet,” said LaMalfa. “However, during an onsite review, OIG could not verify the existence of these claims due to the Oakland VA management’s ‘poor record keeping practices’. Sadly, this report sheds very little light on who is being held accountable for these failures. This type of dysfunction and complete lack of oversight and accountability cannot continue. Not in Oakland, and not at any of the VA regional offices across the country. We must continue to demand answers.”

Video of LaMalfa’s Floor Speech may be viewed at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_TJ7p6k8Wc&feature=youtu.be

The growing scandal at the Oakland VA office has received national media coverage and was the subject of a segment on CBS This Morning earlier today:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/veteran-benefits-administration-mismanagement-uncovered-in-investigation/

CBS NEWS February 25, 2015, 7:49 AM

Whistleblowers: Veterans cheated out of benefits


The Veterans Benefits Administration provides $95 billion of entitlements each year to veterans, including disability money, pensions to vets and their surviving spouses and death benefits — even American flags at veterans’ funerals.
But a CBS News investigation has found widespread mismanagement of claims, resulting in veterans being denied the benefits they earned, and many even dying before they get an answer from the VA, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.
The problems at the Veteran Benefits Administration have been uncovered in the wake of last summer’s scandal at a Phoenix VA hospital, that rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dorrie Stafford said a letter, obtained by CBS News, shows how badly the VA claims system is broken.
It’s dated July 29, 2014, and thanks Dorrie’s husband Wayne — an Army veteran — for the disability claim he filed in July of 2004. The decade-long delay is just one problem; the other is that Wayne died in an accident seven years ago, without hearing a word from the VA.
“It upsets me,” Dorrie said. “Why would you suddenly, after all these years, send a letter to a dead man?”
Five whistleblowers at the Oakland, California, Veterans Benefits office told CBS News that Stafford’s claim is one of more than 13,000 informal claims filed between 1996 and 2009 that ended up stashed in a file cabinet and ignored until 2012.
Informal claims are letters from veterans expressing a desire to apply for benefits, and by law, the VA must respond with an application.
“We were getting letters from elderly veterans and from widows who were literally at the end of their life, begging for help,” Rustyann Brown said.
She was part of a team finally assigned to process those claims two years ago and the job began, she said, with a disturbing discovery.
“Half of the veterans were dead that I screened. So almost every other piece of paper that I touched was a veteran who had already passed away,” Brown said.
She said that means they died waiting for their first answer from the VA.
But whether the veteran was dead or still alive, brown said VA supervisors in Oakland ordered her team to mark the claims “no action necessary” and to toss them aside. Whistleblowers said that was illegal.
“The VA didn’t help them. The VA didn’t care about them. They took them, they put them in a file, and they stuffed them away,” Brown said.
There were 13,184 veterans who were, Brown said, “begging for help.”
When she raised her concerns, she said she was taken off the project. Then, this past summer, Brown and former VA employee Tony Silveria found a cart full of these same claims, ignored, yet again.
“We pulled 15 indiscriminately to look at; just 15,” Brown said. “Eight of them were owed money. One was owed $36,000.”
She said that was just a few months ago.
Last week, the VA inspector general confirmed that because of, “poor record keeping” In Oakland, “veterans did not receive… benefits to which they may have been entitled.” How many veterans is not known, because thousands of records were missing when inspectors arrived.
Lost claims and missing records are a problem nationwide. In the last year, the inspector general has found serious issues in at least six VA benefits offices, including unprocessed claims documents in Philadelphia, 9,500 records sitting on employees’ desks in Baltimore and computer manipulation in Houston to make claims look completed when they were not.
Dorrie Stafford now lives with friends in the mountains of Northern California, in a home with no electricity.
“They owed him an answer,” she said.
It’s an example of what happens when the VA conceals a file. It doesn’t just harm the veteran, it could also hurt the family. Typically a surviving spouse is offered an American flag, help with burial expenses or even a modest pension. But none of that happens if there’s no file.
“I wasn’t even aware there was widow benefits, I really wasn’t,” Dorrie said.
Even if it was a modest pension of $400 a month, she said it would help.
To the whistleblowers, the lost files also raise serious questions about whether the VA is accurately reporting the true number of disability claims it receives.
Brown said many of the claims she discovered never even made it into the official backlog, and that was a deliberate attempt to hide them — to make sure they never even appeared in the system.
The VA declined CBS News’ repeated interview requests. It did admit to widespread problems in the handling of claims, but blamed that on the transition from a mail based system to a new electronic system. The VA said in a statement, “..electronic claims processing [has] transformed mail management for compensation claims … greatly minimizing any risk of delays due to lost or misplaced mail.”
As for the backlog, the VA promised to fix any problem that comes to its attention. “For any deficiencies identified, steps are taken to appropriately process the documents and correct any deficiencies.”

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

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