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Executive excess

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Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010

Veterans Affairs executives in Pittsburgh are setting a standard -- for outrageous abuse of tax dollars that should assist wounded warriors.

Director Michael E. Moreland and his Veterans Integrated Service Network 4 colleagues oversee VA operations in Pennsylvania and parts of four neighboring states. Despite being leased at a cost more than 40 percent in excess of the average for prime Pittsburgh office space, their new digs in the Del Monte Building on the North Shore apparently weren't palatial enough -- so they spent nearly another $1 million to install their own customized fitness center.

It's public money, of course.

Meanwhile, the VA closed a swimming pool and athletic facilities used by disabled vets at the Highland Drive facility.

And what's worse is that the VA just doesn't get what's wrong with that picture -- defending this indefensible use of tax dollars by saying the lease "followed all applicable federal rules and regulations" and the fitness center was "necessary to create an efficient work environment."

Clearly, what should be the VA's top priority for its limited resources -- doing the most good for veterans -- isn't. That's a sad indictment of the agency and an insult to all who've worn a U.S. uniform.

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