While much of the news in recent years has focused on the erosion of democratic norms and values at the national level, here in Irvine we’ve also witnessed an extraordinary assault on democracy by Mayor Farrah Khan and her appointed Vice Mayor, Anthony Kuo, who are now running together for re-election to the Irvine City Council.
As soon as she took office in December 2020, Khan teamed with Kuo to implement the undemocratic “Rule of Two” with regard to City Council business, preventing duly-elected Councilmembers from placing items on the City Council agenda for discussion unless another Councilmember supported that discussion.
Khan and Kuo then repeatedly used the “Rule of Two” to silence fellow Councilmember Larry Agran, preventing him from placing critical discussions on the Council agenda regarding numerous important issues — including the voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park at the Great Park; the public health emergency from the asphalt plant in north Irvine; and the higher electricity rates forced upon Irvine businesses and residents by the Khan and Kuo-backed Orange County Power Authority (OCPA).
After spending most of the past two years preventing City Council discussion of these and other matters, Khan and Kuo also sought to stifle the public’s right to participate in local democratic government by pushing the public comment part of each City Council meeting to the very end of the meeting, often well past 10pm. After months of public outcry, Khan and Kuo backed off and allowed citizen comments to be made earlier during each meeting. However, they cut the time limit for each speaker from 3 minutes to a measly 90 seconds and instructed the City Attorney to interrupt speakers who stray, even slightly, off topic. So much for the First Amendment!
Thanks to a 2020 citizens’ initiative — signed by nearly 20,000 Irvine residents — Irvine’s zoning laws have officially been changed to set aside 125 acres at the Great Park for a Veterans Memorial Park. Although both Khan and Kuo publicly claim to support veterans and their families, they have done everything in their power to block construction of the popular voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park. In fact, Khan and Kuo have completely ignored Irvine voters and are now moving forward with an entirely different plan for the Great Park, without any input from residents.
Even worse, Khan and Kuo voted to transfer every Irvine resident and business out of Southern California Edison (SCE) and into the new — and significantly more expensive — Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) electricity plan. And, they did it without a vote of the people!
The Orange County Grand Jury report charged OCPA with incompetence, cronyism, and corruption. The Power Authority is also being investigated by the FBI and there are currently three separate audits underway (City of Irvine, County of Orange, State of California). Even though corruption and cronyism at OCPA has been uncovered, Khan and Kuo have so far refused to take any responsibility or even publicly acknowledge that these investigations are underway.
In the upcoming November 8th election, the citizens of Irvine can put an end to the Khan-Kuo assault on our local democracy. Vote them out!
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