Years ago, I served on the Irvine Planning Commission and, prior to that, as Chair of the Irvine Transportation Commission. Through those roles I saw firsthand how, with the right leadership, our City can do big things — preserve thousands of acres of open space, ban harmful chemicals in our air, establish thousands of attractive affordable housing units, and build a beautiful Community Parks system.
None of those “big things” happened without plenty of input from the entire Irvine community. Back then, City leaders encouraged Irvine citizens to become actively involved in the legislative process and to participate in public discussions on critical issues.
But, that is no longer the case! I watch City Council meetings and it is clear that our new Mayor and her Council majority have no interest in hearing from residents, particularly when it comes to a number of issues directly impacting Irvine citizens.
The Mayor and current Council majority have intentionally prevented public discussions on important issues facing our City — including the long-promised Veterans Cemetery, district elections, toxic emissions from the asphalt plant in north Irvine, and how Great Park special assessment taxes are being spent. The Mayor also hasn’t held a public discussion regarding the Orange County Power Authority, which the City of Irvine is bankrolling through taxpayer money.
So far, the only Councilmember who has requested these issues be discussed publicly — Councilmember Larry Agran — has been shut down by the Mayor’s undemocratic “Rule of Two,” which forces Agran to find another Councilmember to sign on to a submitted agenda item before it can be added to the Council meeting agenda.
When asked for comment, Agran stated: “The Rule of Two was apparently intended as a political weapon aimed at me, but the real victims here are the thousands of Irvine residents who have been silenced. The Mayor and her Council majority are using the Rule of Two to shut down our representative democracy by refusing to publicly discuss any issue they find politically uncomfortable.”
If you review the items that the Mayor and her Council majority do put on the Council agenda, you will notice that they are predominantly light in substance. Perhaps that is intentional so that the Mayor and Council majority don’t have to address the big issues facing our local community.
In a City like Irvine that has a long history of doing big things, we cannot allow the undemocratic Rule of Two to turn us into a City of small ideas.
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