Under California state law, City Council meetings are required to allow for public comments on both agendized and non-agendized items.
During Irvine’s 50+ year history, residents have used the non-agendized public comments portion of Council meetings to voice their opinions on just about anything — including wars involving our nation and conflicts taking place in other parts of the world.
During the past two Council meetings, hundreds of residents have shown up to speak about the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Some of the comments have included very emotional testimony regarding family members who have been injured, taken hostage or killed in Israel or Gaza.
Irvine is not unique. Hundreds of cities across America are allowing residents to make public comments regarding the Israel-Hamas war during Council meetings.
Mayor Farrah Khan has designated 30 minutes for non-agendized public comments at the beginning of each Council meeting. The Council then moves on to the agendized business portion of the meeting. Once all Council business has been concluded, those who were not heard during the first 30 minutes of the meeting are allowed to speak. Residents have sat through hours of Council business just so they could have their allocated 90 seconds to address the Council.
Council business has not been impacted by the larger crowds, and all residents who wish to speak have been allowed to do so. Sounds fair, right? Not according to Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Kathleen Treseder, who have decided to skip out on Council meetings once the business portion has concluded and before residents have a chance to speak.
In fact, Councilmember Kim has attacked Mayor Khan for allowing residents to speak at all about the Middle East. Last week, Kim spent several minutes yelling that City Hall is no place for residents to offer comments regarding the violence in Israel and Gaza. Ironically, Kim has used her seat on the dais to condemn the war in Ukraine, the ongoing genocide in Armenia, and a host of other international matters that had little or nothing to do with Council business.
The Irvine City Council meets just twice per month. I don’t think it’s too much to expect Councilmembers to sit and listen to residents’ concerns during those two meetings.
Vice Mayor Larry Agran and Councilmember Mike Carroll have joined Mayor Khan in supporting the right of residents to speak. As Agran recently said: “Non-agendized comments are allowed under California law, and we have a long history here in Irvine of allowing citizens to speak during Council meetings — even on matters that are taking place half-way around the world. It is our job as City Councilmembers to listen to what our constituents have to say.”
I applaud Mayor Khan, Vice Mayor Agran, and Councilmember Carroll for following the law … and doing their job!
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