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Councilmembers Kim & Treseder Shut Down City Council Meeting … Again

by

Councilmembers Kim & Treseder at the March 26th Council meeting

Yet another Irvine City Council meeting was cut short by the walkout of two Councilmembers opposed to hearing public comments regarding the violence in the Mideast.

This time, however, Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Kathleen Tresder bizarrely walked out to stymie discussion of two measures placed on the Council agenda by Treseder herself.

As has happened twice in the past two months, with Councilmmember Mike Carroll out sick, Mayor Farrah Khan had to adjourn the official Council meeting for lack of a quorum after Councilmembers Kim and Treseder abruptly left the meeting.

Mayor Khan and Vice Mayor Larry Agran, as they have done in the past, stayed on the dais for nearly 90 minutes listening to commenters who had waited all evening to speak, in an informal continuation of the meeting.

“Thank you for your patience,” Mayor Khan said as she and Agran returned to the dais after a brief recess that was called when Councilmembers Kim and Treseder abruptly got up and walked out of the Council meeting. “Unfortunately, two of our colleagues have decided to leave and therefore we no longer have a quorum to conduct the meeting.… I know you have waited a long time to speak. I apologize. This is really the most immature action I’ve ever seen.”

Treseder had proposed a measure to effectively prohibit Khan and Agran from informally listening to the public comments. Treseder’s proposal would require that upon adjournment, the Council Chambers be cleared and closed, the live television feed be ended, and City staff sent home. Treseder also proposed an ordinance to prohibit protesters from coming within 300 feet of the home of a City official or other protest target.

Treseder’s proposals drew a lot of criticism when they were unveiled a week before the meeting, with critics calling them undemocratic and unconstitutional. Many had signed up to speak on the items at the Council meeting. While they did not get a chance to voice their objections to Treseder and Kim in person, the two absent Councilmembers still figured prominently in the discussion.

Alan Meyerson, a longtime Irvine resident who attends virtually all the Council meetings and comments on many subjects, said, “I’m not always on the side of the majority of public commenters here, but I am on the side of democracy and freedom of speech, and everyone should be allowed to speak their mind.”

An unidentified commenter said, addressing Treseder and Kim, “Why did you choose to be a public official in a democracy if you’re not willing to listen to all of your constituents? If you’re so threatened and annoyed by our comments, I suggest you step down from your current position.”

A commenter who identified himself as Michael Wu, thanked Khan and Agran for staying, and said, “This is democracy in action.”

After all the comments, Khan spoke about the proposed measures that the Council did not have a chance to debate, calling them “a shameful attempt at silencing the public. I have sat in this seat and I’ve heard everyone out, whether they were with me or against me. That is the right you all have.”

Agran closed the meeting by calling the proposed measures “quintessentially anti-democratic.” Agran noted that the City has a Free Speech Ordinance that says, in part, “No person shall interfere with the exercise of free speech rights within areas open to the general public.”

And that remains the law of the land in Irvine, for now.

Roger Bloom

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