Lost in the rancor of Tuesday’s Irvine City Council meeting was a nasty exchange prior to the actual meeting during a time when a council member can provide a report or ask to agendize an item,. Council member Larry Agran attempted to report that there was no progress towards a Veteran’s cemetery. Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway interrupted with points of order, asking the city attorney if Agran could proceed. The city attorney said Agran could and Lalloway kept rephrasing the attorney’s answer to hear what he wanted to hear. Lalloway eventually got a ruling from the city’s lawyer that Choi, as the city’s “ultimate parliamentarian,” could rule Agran out of order. Choi, being Lalloway’s puppet, did just that and cut Agran off. Good luck explaining that one on the campaign trail Dr. No.
From the Irvine Matters website: “At Tuesday night’s (May 13th) City Council meeting, after refusing to allow Councilmember Agran to place a matter relating to the status of the Veterans Cemetery subcommittee on the City Council agenda, Mayor Choi used time during City Council announcements to offer a totally uninformative “update” to create the illusion that he cares about the interests of the public or the veterans in attendance.
When Councilmember Agran used his time under City Council announcements to address concerns that the subcommittee appears to be stalling rather than advancing plans for a Veterans Cemetery, Councilmember Lalloway, who serves on the subcommittee, interrupted Councilmember Agran, calling him “out of order.” When the City Attorney confirmed that Councilmember Agran was within his rights to briefly speak to the matter, Councilman Lalloway insisted that Mayor Choi rule him “out of order” anyway, which the Mayor did.
This is about more than a City Council majority intent on killing the hope for a Veterans Cemetery. Today’s Irvine City Council re-writes the rules as they see fit. They have put the interests of developers ahead of community interests time and again. They think putting a High School next to a toxic landfill is a wonderful idea. Having already approved thousands of new housing units since taking control of the City Council, they may well be planning to support new massive developments before the year is out.”
Lalloway or Choi can’t cut us off. Agran wanted to report to the council and the public that there is NO progress from Lalloway’s committee on placing a Veteran’s Memorial and Cemetery at the Great Park. This is largely because Choi has no time on his calendar until late June. Choi, who initially voted for a substitute motion for a delay in this action citing the developer’s concerns about bad Feng Shui, can’t meet until well past the May 23 date needed to move AB 1453 to the next level.
So by using Choi’s schedule as a rationale, the Five Point-controlled Council majority is giving the developer exactly what they want; a ball-controlled delay game “offense” with no shot clock to effectively let this idea die a slow death and screw Veteran’s out of a cemetery and memorial. It’s not leadership. And its not what the community wants. It is what the developer and their army of consultants want. It’s the sort of action that makes one thing campaign contributions and not the moral or ethical move forward towards a Veteran’s memorial is dictating the council majority’s actions.
Christina Shea is the big winner here; she was the lone vote against moving the project forward even after her alternate motion failed, citing the Developer’s Agreement, and the delays by Lalloway and Choi’s inflexible schedule are giving Shea what she wants…time. Time that Veteran’s don’t have to take advantage of the opportunity that AB1453 presents.
Melissa Fox, a candidate for city council and the daughter of a Korean War veteran who is too ill to address the council himself, has taken this issue head on. She writes this in her Blog:
“At a previous meeting, the Council majority of Mayor Steven Choi and Council Members Christina Shea and Jeffrey Lalloway approved Lalloway’s motion to expand the Veterans Cemetery Committee to include numerous Orange County politicians, including Steven Choi, who had already indicated his opposition to the cemetery. Now it turns out that the committee has not been able to meet – and will not meet until the end of June at the earliest – because Steven Choi has no time in his schedule. How is it that Mayor Choi has no time at all to meet on this important committee? And if has no time to meet, why is he on the committee – which is charged with implementing a veterans’ cemetery that he opposed?”
“At the City Council meeting, one of the veterans observed that “the general consensus is that the delay is a deliberate and bad faith effort” to kill the veterans’ cemetery. The veteran members of the committee offered to meet “weekends, evenings, mornings before breakfast” to move the project forward and prevent the veterans’ cemetery from being the victim of death by delay.”
“I also spoke to the Council, stating again that as a resident of Irvine and the daughter of a Korean War combat veteran, I strongly support the veterans’ cemetery, and that I was concerned, as were others, that when the committee was formed, “the addition of so many players seemed to me a way to hamstring the committee, to actually prevent it from reaching its stated goal, which was to find a suitable location for a veterans’ cemetery in Irvine. This concern is exacerbated by the rancor I’ve witnessed here this evening at the mere mention of a request for a progress report. I hope that my fears are not realized and that this isn’t a way to ground the ball and run out the clock. When I last addressed the Council, I was here with my father, and when the veterans were asked to stand, he could barely stand because he had just had chemotherapy. His passion was to come here and talk to you. He isn’t physically able to do that for himself, so I am his voice . . . Please don’t ground the ball. Don’t let time run out.”
From the Facebook page of the Orange County Veteran’s Memorial Park: