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Author: Roger Bloom

Irvine Rocked by News of Ongoing FBI Investigation Connected to Attempted Bribery of Irvine City Councilmembers

The case of former Orange County Democratic Party Executive Director and political consultant Melahat Rafiei continued to roil Irvine politics this past week, as the press and public strained to figure out which former City Councilmembers Rafiei allegedly tried to bribe in 2018 while the current City Council grappled with the issue of starting its own investigation into Rafiei.

Last May, it was revealed by the FBI that Rafiei — who managed the campaigns of Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Tammy Kim in 2020 — was a “cooperating witness” in its investigation of corruption in Anaheim, secretly recording meetings she had with Anaheim officials. The FBI noted in an affidavit at the time that Rafiei agreed to cooperate after being arrested in 2019 for allegedly attempting to bribe two Irvine Councilmembers on behalf of a client who wanted to establish a cannabis business in the City.

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One Reporter’s Take on the 2024 Election in Irvine

You probably thought the 2024 election campaign would be in … well, 2024. Wrong!

Here we are, less than three months since the November 2022 election, and Irvine has already been served a big helping of 2024 political drama, from City Hall to the U.S. Senate.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the fairly predictable — though extremely early — maneuvering of ambitious politicians eyeing higher office and then move to the unpredictable wild card that is Melahat Rafiei.

Irvine’s just re-elected Congressional Representative, Katie Porter, is running for the U.S. Senate. Our State Senator, Dave Min, is running for Porter’s House seat; and two of our City Councilmembers (Larry Agran and Tammy Kim) are running for Mayor.

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New Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) Board of Directors Meets to Talk about Change

At her first meeting since joining the OCPA board, Irvine Councilmember Kathleen Treseder wasted no time in telling the board that “In order to reform the OCPA … we need to replace the CEO.”

In late December, Treseder was the swing vote against Councilmember Larry Agran’s proposal for Irvine to give notice of its intent to withdraw from OCPA, effective July 1st, with the caveat that the withdrawal would be rescinded if OCPA has taken concrete steps to address the many agency problems identified in the Orange County Grand Jury report. At the time, Treseder said she wanted to fix the troubled agency.

By not adopting Agran’s proposal in December, the City is now locked into OCPA until at least 2024.

As a new board member and Vice Chair of OCPA, Treseder is calling for the removal of the Power Authority’s CEO and the agency’s general counsel.

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The Irvine City Council Finds Consensus on a Number of Issues

Re-elected Irvine City Councilmember Larry Agran and newly elected Councilmember Kathleen Treseder got to work during an 8-hour marathon meeting of the new Council.

The meeting included plenty of prodding, cajoling and sweet-talking the other Councilmembers to move forward with new policies addressing old issues.

The Council unanimously endorsed Councilmember Agran’s conceptual plan for the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park.

In spite of fierce opposition from Councilmember Tammy Kim, who has been a longtime opponent of district elections, the Council voted 4-1 (Kim voted NO) to proceed with the transition to district elections.

And, at midnight, the Council voted 5-0 in support of Councilmember Treseder’s motion to have City staff draft an ordinance that will require most newly constructed homes and buildings in Irvine to be all-electric, with no new gas hookups.

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County Pulls the Plug on OCPA After Audit Reveals Gross Mismanagement and a Continued Lack of Transparency

Just in time for the holidays, the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) got a lump of coal in the form of another highly critical review of the agency’s operations.

The new audit revealed that a whopping 20.4% of OCPA customers have opted-out, choosing to remain with Southern California Edison (SCE). That is triple the average opt-out rate statewide among similar agencies. The loss of electricity sales, or “load loss,” was 16.5%, nearly double the 8.5% that OCPA estimated in its pre-launch planning.

The auditors for the County blasted the OCPA for offering rates that are significantly higher than SCE rates, and making rate information difficult for ratepayers to find.

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