The proposal for the City of Irvine to fly the Pride flag at City Hall lost on a 3-2 vote at the last city council meeting and there was significant heckling from the audience directed at Council member Farrah Khan because of her decision to vote for the appointment of Mike Carroll who is a former Republican and now an NPP registrant.
This criticism is misguided and wrong. If Khan had opted for the special election this fall, the Pride flag measure would have failed anyway on a 2-2 vote. Khan voted exactly as any progressive Democrat would have wanted on this issue. If we’re going to assign blame for the failure of the vote, point a finger at Council member Melissa Fox for failing to check the pulse of her council colleagues on this measure or, worse, knowing it would fail and pushing it forward anyway. And let’s not forget, Fox has been on the council since 2017 yet this is the first time this measure was brought before the council.
Activist Maria Olivieri Minney suggested that residents who support the LGBTQ Community simply order their own pride flags and fly them from their homes. Order yours at Amazon.com unless readers can suggest a local shop.
And there’s a suggestion of volunteers holding Pride flags outside Irvine city hall in shifts in defiance of the city council’s ruling. The Irvine Heritage Library has a section of Pride books for young people to read, so its encouraging to see long time institutions in this city embracing Pride month.
The vote last Tuesday presents a compelling contrast of the values of the Irvine city council. There’s lots of online venom directed at Mike Carroll. His stance on the Pride flag, his substitute motion and his votes are a double edge sword for his election campaign (not a re-election campaign) in 2020 and that of his wife Betty who is an IUSD trustee; as a voter, I want to know if she shares his opinion about the Pride Flag. Perhaps its time to ask our Irvine schools to fly the Pride flag at middle school and high school sites to send a signal
And more venom ought to be directed at Mayor Christina Shea, who apparently has learned nothing since the days she was a leader for Irvine’s Measure N that targeted the LGBTQ community in Irvine. The city had a population of less than 120,000 back in 1989; Irvine is about 270,000 today and the city is not nearly as conservative as it used to be. A strong mayoral candidate against Shea is actually the easiest way to a 3-2 majority.
There should be plenty of motivated Democrats seeking to run for Mayor and City Council. Melissa Fox is running for State Assembly and her seat is up. Carroll and Shea are both vulnerable. Khan is the only lock on a blue seat in Irvine after 2020. Do we want Democratic candidates who divide Democrats in Irvine or Democratic candidates who will unite Democrats in Irvine? It is hard enough to get any Democrat elected in Irvine — ire should be directed at Republicans. But the city’s blue wave is divided between the Khan and Fox camps — I hope this disappears by the time 2020 rolls around.
Lastly, DPOC North Vice Chair Jeff LeTourneau has again — on video (while wearing his party leadership badge) — embarrassed the party for his behavior at the Irvine City Council meeting. Anaheim council meetings can be boisterous; Irvine’s seldom are. LeTourneau was there seeking council votes for permitting the Pride flag and, forgetting the rule you get more flies with honey than vinegar, used his three minutes to launch an attack on Shea rather than encourage the council to vote for the flag instead of against it.
LeTourneau frequently uses the expression about “holding people accountable.” Who holds him accountable? His outburst against Khan resulted in the City’s sgt-at-arms coming downstairs to remove him from the meeting (though he clearly left of his own accord to Anthony Kuo saying “Drive safely home to Brea, Jeff.”). Khan was escorted to her car by Irvine Police after the meeting. This is completely unacceptable.
LeTourneau’s previous incidents of a recall petition against former State Senator Josh Newman resulted in a video that went viral which Republicans used to raise significant money to recall Newman. And then there’s the admission Letourneau made at an Anaheim city council meeting of stuffing a teddy bear with medical marijuana products for a relative in Upstate NY which — while certainly humane — is a felony especially since these products are available in Upstate NY. Never a censure. Never a reprimand.
I took a few calls from my Irvine friends and neighbors who don’t know him asking who he is. The questions they asked weren’t kind. And the impressions of him even less so.
So Irvine friends and family, this is our moment build a strong bench