The City Council shot down a request by Vice Mayor Tammy Kim to have the City of Irvine contribute $50,000 for an event that will be held in Anaheim next month.
Kim’s request to contribute the money in return for booth space at the World Korean Business Convention in Anaheim was considered at the Council’s September 26th meeting.
The convention is being hosted by the Overseas Koreans Foundation (an affiliate of the Korean Foreign Ministry); Overseas Koreans Economic Organizations; and the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County.
Kim’s request was criticized by public commenters as subsidizing an event outside of Irvine and with no strong connection to the City.
Mayor Farrah Khan, along with Councilmembers Larry Agran and Mike Carroll echoed the public’s concerns while also questioning the propriety of using Irvine Recovery Fund money for the event. That fund consists of federal dollars that the City received to help it recover from the COVID pandemic.
“The money should be spent on assistance to renters or to small businesses, or in some manner to help the people of Irvine,” said Councilmember Larry Agran.
Mayor Farrah Khan noted that early in her term “$5 million in funds were allocated to small businesses in Irvine. That of course included Korean-owned businesses.” But, Khan said that she did not see a significant return on investment for the City to make a contribution to the Anaheim convention.
In the end, the Council rejected Vice Mayor Kim’s request by a vote of 2-3, with Khan, Agran and Carroll opposing the $50,000 contribution. (Councilmember Kathleen Treseder voted to support Kim’s motion to allocate federal recovery funds to the Anaheim convention.)
Earlier in the meeting, the Council approved a separate contribution request from Vice Mayor Kim to provide $5,000 to the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. The donation will come from Kim’s discretionary community-support fund. All members of the City Council have a Community Partnership Fund budget of $10,000 per year from which they make contributions to local nonprofits that are routinely OK’d by the full Council. Kim’s request for the contribution from her office to the Korean American Chamber was approved by the Council on a 5-0 vote.
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