The mayor of Richmond, CA is under fire for her decision to skip a Veterans Day memorial to attend an Occupy Rally.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin sent an email to the San Jose Mercury News explaining why she would not be attending a Veterans Day salute that included a re-enactment of the launch of a World War II-era ship at the Richmond shipyards.
“I choose to honor our veterans, not only on Veteran’s Day, but daily, but supporting an end to military warfare to prevent further fighting and dying in needless wars,” she wrote. “I am a strong supporter of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Vets Against the War.”
The mayor said that since the city is not sponsoring the Veterans Day salute, she chose to attend an Occupy rally – an event that she has been actively promoting.
“I think it’s disgraceful,” said Jeff Rubin, who organizes Pinole’s Veterans Day memorial. ““This is not a war issue. This is an issue of honoring people who sign up to protect your rights.”
Rubin told Fox News the mayor has ties to the Richmond Progressive Alliance and has a history of creating controversy in the city.
“It’s disrespectful,” he said. “Just because you’re in politics doesn’t mean everything is political. There are some things that transcend politics and this is one of them. Regardless of your feelings about America’s involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan, you have to respect the troops.”
Rubin sent the mayor an email urging her to reconsider.
“What a thoughtless thing to do,” he wrote. “What a shame that Richmond’s elected leader has no respect at all for the people who have fought for her right to have a ‘speak out’. Absolutely disgraceful.”
In her reply, McLaughlin told Rubin that she was not responsible for her schedule.
“I had no input whatsoever in scheduling the event,” she wrote. “I was invited to attend and accepted the invitation.”
But Rubin told Fox News that wasn’t entirely accurate.
“Her chief of staff, husband and campaign manager organized the event,” he said. “It’s hard to believe the mayor had no input or knowledge.”
Michael Klasno, the director of Gold Star Dads of America, told Fox News that the mayor’s decision is a “slap in the face” to veterans.
“I think she’s insulted every veteran that’s ever fought for this country – every veteran who’s signed on the dotted line even during peace time,” Klasno said.
Klasno is a Marine veteran. His son was a member of the California National Guard. He was killed on Mother’s Day 2007 in Iraq. He said veterans across the region are very upset over the mayor’s actions.
“Blowing off Veterans Day is one of the last things I would ever do,” he said. “She could pick any day she wanted to attend these protests. Why choose Veterans Day?’
The Contra Costa Times blasted the mayor in an editorial – calling her decision a “bad choice” and wished “our elected leaders would show more respect for veterans.”
“McLaughlin should set aside her hard-core politics for just one day,” read the editorial. “Sadly, she doesn’t seem to understand how her planned actions undermine the very cause she’s trying to promote by alienating some of the people it’s trying to attract.”