Open Forum/Community Voices
The July 10th Irvine City Council meeting presented an opportunity — in the form of a five-part resolution by Councilmember Jeff Lalloway — to implement the June 5th voter mandate to immediately begin construction of the Veterans Cemetery at its originally designated site in the Great Park. Instead, Mayor Donald Wagner and Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox once again managed to delay and derail the Great Park Veterans Cemetery project.
During the past two months, the mail we’ve received at Irvine Community News & Views reflects elation following the June 5th “NO on B” vote, and then disappointment and anger following the Council’s July 10th disregard for the Irvine voters’ June 5th mandate.
Ed Pope, Chair of the NO on B committee — now renamed the committee to Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery — reports a similar response. Many residents are urging the recall of Councilmembers Fox and Shea; others are more focused on replacing Wagner at the November 6th City election.
We take this opportunity to publish a sample of these letters and comments from your neighbors throughout Irvine. I’m guessing you’ll agree with much of what they have to say.
Finally, in listening to Mayor Wagner at the July 10th meeting, I was offended by his deceptive attempt to portray himself as a leader in reining in the rampant overdevelopment that afflicts our City. Take a look at my own editorial and accompanying “1-2-3-4” graphic that we created.
Letters & Comments following Council Rejection of the Voters’ Will
I have lived in the same house in Irvine for over 45 years. I am a Vietnam Era Army veteran. Ever since former Irvine Mayor Mike Ward suggested it to me, I have had a very strong desire to be buried in a Veteran’s Cemetery in the Great Park.
I have worked and donated to put the Veterans Cemetery back in the Great Park and the NO on B ballot measure in June. Since all the lies by FivePoint with support by Fox, Shea and Wagner, I have wondered why it’s taken so long to come up with a recall effort. I think we should have gone about it sooner, but nonetheless, I am prepared to donate both time and money to a recall election for those three.
— Donald A. Berezin
Whichever way we can get those three out of office, you have my support.
— Daniel Yau
I sincerely hope we can change this decision. Apparently, Mayor Wagner went on TV and said it was unlikely a Cemetery would be built, which further illustrates the disingenuous nature of his proposal. As Councilmember Lalloway said, that is what you do to kill something, and Wagner obviously had that intent all along.
— David Lara
I’m sorry, but it sure looks like our Mayor and two City Councilmembers are ignoring the majority vote of the citizens of Irvine and trying to somehow allow FivePoint to grab the land that is supposed to be our Veterans Cemetery. I only hope they don’t start the swap and allow any building before we can vote Don Wagner out of office. We must vote for someone who will follow the will of the people. I am an Army veteran and served a year in Vietnam.
— George Mors
I believe that the current Council as constituted cannot and will not deliver a Veterans Cemetery no matter what the voters decide. For whatever reason, Mayor Wagner and Councilmembers Fox and Shea have decided (before the Council meeting even began) that they were going to side with FivePoint and deny the citizens of Irvine what they actually voted on. It was discouraging and disheartening, but I will not let them defeat us on the issue of the Cemetery.
As someone who has been a registered Republican for most of my life, I was truly ashamed to be part of a party that included Mayor Wagner and Councilmember Shea. They do not represent me or my family. They have betrayed the voters for their own self interests. I believe July 10th was their last chance to prove they are truly elected officials by the people and for the people.
I have talked to my husband and my brother who are the last surviving veterans of my family. We are all in agreement that we feel very strongly that any official that flouted the will of the voters, particularly on the issue of the Veterans Cemetery, should not continue to hold office. Please let me know what I can do to help.
— Michelle Johnson
I think we should try and recall Fox and Shea. I am sure this will cost a lot of money, unless there is another way to force this group to do the right thing. Or, go for a ballot measure to force the Cemetery to be in the Great Park, where it was originally located.
— Susan Finn
Wagner, Fox and Shea do not deserve to be elected officials. Ignoring the will of the people so clearly is a valid reason for them to be recalled. Instead of delaying the Veterans Cemetery, they should delay any further FivePoint projects, since they are behind the destruction of one of Irvine’s best assets. Vote them out! Recall them, ASAP!
— Cor Lageweg
While I really don’t like the idea of another fight on our hands, I do feel that our elected officials must listen to the will of the people. This has gone on long enough. I don’t think we have any other choice….RECALL. B’shalom (in peace)
— Linda Shoham
I attended July 10th’s very long and very frustrating Council meeting. Thanks for all your hard work to get Measure B defeated and rally everyone for the meeting. I agree with Councilmember Lalloway that the Wagner motion they passed was designed to stall or kill the Cemetery. I also agree we should pursue a Recall of Shea and Fox, as well as defeating Mayor Wagner, this fall.
— Brian Woods
Definitely Recall! Definitely vote out Wagner. This is so appalling.
— Tiffany Lewis
When the people’s vote is ignored, then it is time to remove people from office. What politicians want most is to stay in office.
— Gregory Springer
Is ignoring the votes of Irvine citizenry even legal? This is unbelievable! If this is how a democracy works, then the City Council is nothing more than a farce! Can’t this be taken to the State? I am absolutely appalled and disgusted with those three CRIMINALS!
— Fran Carman (Irvine resident since 1977)
Please start a Recall movement.
— Robert MacArthur
I support the Recall of all three of these anti-Americans! It’s time to drain the swamp and rid ourselves of these corrupt, unaccountable politicians!
I’ll even donate money to support the Recall efforts of all three!!!
— Gary James
The ONLY path that I can see now is a RECALL of Shea and Fox. Strong candidates need to be available to provide positive alternatives to the wolf pack in power now.
— Don Ambroson
July 10th, we all got a good look at these three corrupt individuals! How they can just ignore what the people are telling them makes it so blatantly clear that they plan on still making a deal with FivePoint, as if the “NO” on Measure B never happened!
— Dee Fox
Absolutely. Out. Now. A great NO on B campaign got us this far. Everyone who voted NO on B just got pissed on by these three. I have a feeling you’d get a million signatures for a Recall.
— Scott Montgomery
I have never heard of the government being able to ignore the results of a ballot measure. This sounds more like a dictator in a third-world country.
Wagner never should have been elected as Mayor in the first place. I don’t even know where he came from. He’s obviously a well-paid puppet placed here by FivePoint to do their bidding. The biggest red flag was his campaign funding at over a million dollars at the Mayor level. Of course, FivePoint again!!
Shea and Fox have gotten way too comfortable and obviously are following the money, too. The three of them need to be voted out.
— Ken McEwan
We are beyond disgusted and distressed that our elected officials exhibit absolute hubris and arrogance flaunting their disdain for the will of the people.They must be held accountable for their manipulation and the true reasons for their actions must be exposed. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
— Ashok and Kathleen Tahilramani
Mr. Mayor, Show Some Backbone!
At the July 10th Irvine City Council meeting, Mayor Donald Wagner sought to defend himself against charges that he is disregarding the interests of Irvine veterans and Irvine residents, while doing the bidding of his principal campaign backer, multi-billion-dollar developer FivePoint Communities.
Wagner claimed — as he has before — that he has voted for “no new development approvals” as Mayor. This is a demonstrably false and misleading statement. Wagner, of course, was for ballot Measure B, FivePoint’s unpopular land-swap proposal which would have replaced the planned Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park with zoning for accelerated development, including houses and massive apartment buildings. This, in turn, would have put 10,000 more cars and trucks on Irvine’s roads every day.
Moreover, in the two years since Wagner was elected in 2016, his administration has accelerated the issuance of building permits for residential units — now up to 4,000 per year, roughly double the City’s historic average of 1,500 to 2,000 new houses and apartments each year.
Not once has Wagner or his Council majority publicly shown any interest in slowing and controlling the issuance of residential building permits — something the Council can legally do — to meet the overwhelming traffic emergency that is diminishing the quality of life in Irvine.
Mr. Mayor, it’s time to show some backbone and say NO to developers, especially to your chief benefactor, FivePoint.
– Franklin J. Lunding
Publisher Franklin J. Lunding is a lawyer and businessman. He served on the Irvine Planning Commission and was Chair of the Irvine Transportation Commission during the 1980s.