The Orange County Register’s Editorial Board has endorsed Irvine Council Member Steven Choi in his race for Mayor, against his colleague, Larry Agran. Here are a few excerpts from the Register’s Op-Ed:
We would like to see a less-divisive, more open and transparent Irvine City Council, which may be achieved by breaking the majority power that has dominated the council for too long. On the issues, Mr. Choi has been a responsible councilman, too. He questioned a recent council majority decision to authorize 6 percent pay raises for city staff, who had been subject to a pay freeze, because, as he said, “We are not totally out of the woods.”
“Our city employees were gracious enough to understand” the city needed to tighten its belt and freeze their pay, Mr. Choi said, adding he believes a 6 percent increase “to catch up is not the right message to send to the public.”
Mr. Choi has also been a vocal critic of the management of the Great Park noting that its board, which includes Irvine council members, “is dysfunctional.”
The O.C. Register’s editors also came out against Agran’s ridiculous Measure BB. Here are a few excerpts from that Op-Ed:
Irvine’s Measure BB asks voters whether city funds should be used to supplement local schools. On its face, this appears to be an easy question, but using city funds this way is not necessarily a customary practice. That does not make it a bad idea, but the process and approach of the measure are questionable.
The foremost responsibility of any council – or any layer of government for that matter – is public safety. After councils ensure safety, they have a great deal of discretionary prerogative as to where taxpayer monies are spent. Residents of Irvine value their safety but also their children’s education, and that is why Measure BB will likely pass with overwhelming support. If and when it does it will inject $4 million into schools serving Irvine residents without raising taxes. Also, voters ought to note that school boards in the city are also elected, possess funding mechanisms and ultimately should be responsible for education not the council, otherwise elected school trustees serve little function.
While we understand support for Measure BB we do have a few cautionary gripes. First, city councils are elected to make tough budget decisions. So, handing off this decision to Irvine voters was an imprudent decision by Council members Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Mayor Sukhee Kang – especially considering the entire council supported the use of funds, including Councilmen Steven Choi and Jeff Lalloway. Mr. Agran and Ms. Krom, in meetings with the Register’s Editorial Board, said they wanted to put the initiative on the ballot rather than vote it into law from the council dais because they wanted a renewed commitment to education by Irvine voters.
Lastly, the O.C. Register also endorsed Irvine Council Candidates Christina Shea and Lynn Schott, who are running as a slate with Choi. That article is not yet posted on the Register’s website.
The Register’s editors wrote that Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom has led a council that has been “too divided for no other reason than political ideology.”
The Republicans in Irvine always have a hard time trying to beat the Agran faction. Much of that is due to the way Krom and Agran have used hundreds of thousands of Great Park dollars to buy off key Republican consultants, hiring them to do PR for the Great Park, conduct polling, etc.
But Team Agran will have a hard time this year with an unpopular President dragging down their ticket. This isn’t 2008. Obama will lose Orange County badly, with the exception perhaps of Santa Ana.
This election will be up to the people of Irvine. Will they keep buying Agran and Krom’s spin? Or will they finally vote for change?