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Political Analysis: Irvine City Councilmember Tammy Kim’s Inconsistent Record

by

Irvine City Councilmember Tammy Kim

In the February 21st controversial City Council 3-to-2 vote for a large 14,000-seat amphitheater in the Great Park — which was vehemently opposed by Irvine residents — Councilmember Tammy Kim cast the deciding vote.

Councilmember Kim began the meeting saying that she supported a smaller 8,000-seat amphitheater venue, stating that her job is “protecting citizens” from undue noise and traffic and that the residents of Irvine clearly want a smaller amphitheater. “It’s what I believe is right for the residents,” Kim said.

An hour after making that statement, Councilmember Kim voted for the much larger 14,000-seat venue, joining Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmember Mike Carroll. Kim’s gyrations were nothing new to people who have dealt with her or followed Kim’s record as a Councilmember.

Below are more examples of Kim’s inconsistent record:
 
Veterans Memorial Park
In the run-up to the 2020 City Council election, the publisher of Irvine Community News & Views, Franklin J. Lunding, interviewed then-candidate Tammy Kim. During their discussion, Kim stated that she fully supported the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the 125-acre “ARDA” site in the Great Park. Kim’s promises of support for the project were a key factor in this publication’s endorsement of Kim’s candidacy.

However, once she took office, Councilmember Kim flipped — voting to push the voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery out of the Great Park and out of Irvine entirely. She then began advocating for a giant botanical garden to completely replace the voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park.

Even now that Councilmember Larry Agran’s plan for a Veterans Memorial Park has been approved and is moving forward, Kim continues to refer to it as a “botanical garden” and threatened to vote against the project if the words “Veterans Memorial” were included in its name.

All American Asphalt Company
When Kim was campaigning for her seat on the Council in 2020, she promised to help residents affected by toxic emissions from the All American Asphalt plant. In fact, during a campaign forum, Kim vehemently denounced the plant and promised to shut it down.

But, just months after taking office, in an interview with the Voice of OC, Kim referred to the health concerns raised by north Irvine residents as “hysteria,” and she spent nearly two years blocking Councilman Agran’s repeated requests for the Council to take aggressive legal action to shut the plant down.
 
Political Consultant Melahat Rafiei
There is also the case of Melahat Rafiei, the campaign consultant who was arrested by the FBI in 2019 for attempted bribery and has since pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Kim — whose 2020 campaign was guided by Rafiei — initially posted a message of support for her campaign consultant. Within hours, Kim reversed course and posted a tweet abandoning Rafiei altogether and promoting herself as a warrior against corruption.
 
At a City Council meeting earlier this month, Kim tried to further distance herself from Rafiei, stating: “Melahat was one of my many consultants.” But, according to her campaign finance disclosures filed with the City, Kim hired only two political consultants for her 2020 race, with Rafiei being her chief consultant.
 
Kim’s 2024 Campaign
The pattern of politically expedient reversals revealed itself once again in Kim’s new campaign. In announcing her 2024 run for Irvine Mayor, Kim touted that she could make history — by becoming the nation’s first female Korean Mayor of a large city. But, last year, when she had the chance to help make history by endorsing Branda Lin — who could have become the City’s first female Korean Mayor — Kim wasn’t interested. Instead, she endorsed and supported Mayor Khan’s re-election.

Roger Bloom

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