It isn’t Oversight, it’s Obstruction

Under the category of Thin Skinned Republicans comes a letter to the Irvine World News from Irvine City Council member Christina Shea, the council member best known for attacking any idea the council majority has but still showing up for the photo op for the groundbreaking. 

Of course, Shea and fellow council member Stephen Choi (Dr. No) consistently vote against just about every proposal that moves the city forward.  Is the sky blue? The vote was 3-2 with Shea and Choi dissenting.  She was against Centerline, stating “people in Irvine like their cars” yet campaigned on solving major traffic problems.  Shea says she is for mass transit but is squishy on what sort of mass transit she supports.  There is a pattern here.

Other Irvine residents see it too.  This letter from resident Sandy Klein in the May 3 edition of the IWN:
    Having attended the last City Council meeting, I felt obliged to add some perspective to Sonya Smith’s article about the City Council/Redevelopment Agency action (“Council moving on land deal for park funds,” April 26).
    As someone who has watched in awe as “The three member council majority of Mayor Beth Krom, Larry Agran and Sukhee Kang,” as the reporter characterizes them, have consistently applied themselves to supporting the vision of a wonderful Great Park, I appreciate their leadership and creativity in seeking ways to increase the funding for the park without burdening local taxpayers.
    I witnessed exactly that kind of innovative thinking at the council meeting. Council members Christina Shea and Steven Choi, on the other hand, seemed far more interested in challenging the intelligence and intentions of other council members, the city staff and the city’s own legal counsel for the sake of creating political hay and getting more camera time.
    For anyone watching this or many other council meetings, one thing is abundantly clear: without Krom, Agran and Kang, the Great Park project would not be moving forward.
    Sandy Klein

Of course, Christina couldn’t let that go unchallenged.  This letter appeared May 10, but I’ve bolded a couple of items worth noting:
In response to letter May 3 letter by Sandy Klein:
    Lessons of the past protect future blunders. Orange County faced humiliation and years of financial setbacks in 1993 because one man and so many legal professionals and financial advisors followed the Pied Piper into financial insolvency, creating one of the most embarrassing financial fiascos of our local history.
    In 2006, the City Council majority voted to stop following a “voted intended plan” to empower the Great Park Corporation with 1,400 acres of park land and 200 million development dollars. This intended process would have created a firewall and a more independent fully operating corporation, to protect the city of Irvine in case of potential liability, and financial overruns.
    Based on the council majority’s ill-advised action, in my opinion and the opinion of the Orange County Grand Jury, I proposed a resolution, June 2006, to protect our residents and our general fund from over-zealous electeds that may, in the future, want to build the park faster and endanger our present financial solvency.
    I articulated this concern at the City Council meeting and the resolution passed. We agreed not to loan money from one city fund account to another or use General Fund or Asset Management funds to build the Great Park.
    Presently our Great Park budget numbers are less than believed to be available for more expansive development of the Great Park. Our remaining funds will be used for the future grading of the park site, and pay contracts and salaries.
    Now, the Redevelopment Agency staff brings forward a new financial funding plan to build the park faster. Their proposal: to loan money from one city fund to another city fund, which violates our 2006 resolution, and to purchase land, unsecured, with a promissory note, at a purchase price of $135,000,000. Land deals of this magnitude should require a deed of trust, to protect a city asset.
    Questions need answering about this creative fast-track financial plan, and attacking responsible elected officials for their proper oversight is unconscionable.
    Christina Shea

Since Shea wasn’t on the city council when the Measure W vote came down, it’s easy to see how she’s a little confused.  Measure W said nothing about empowering the Great Park Corporation; it was a vote to decide between a commercial airport and a park.  That’s it. 

And you can’t continue to claim to “lead” the effort to defeat the airport, as Shea frequently doies, if you were just an ordinary citizen from the early part of the decade when the airport really was defeated.  The “leading” here was done by Beth Krom, Larry Agran and a host of committed South County public officials and citizen advocate groups.  I don’t think Shea chaired any committee against the airport.

And nice of Shea to bring up the 2006 Grand Jury report she so supports which calls for the County Board of Supervisors to take control of the Great Park from the City of Irvine.  She and Choi are counting on citizens to “take their word for it” on the details of the Grand Jury report instead of readig it for themselves.  I have.  The Grand Jury said the BOS “should want to” assume control of the Park.”  But the report also states that “Irvine owns the land.”  So in spite of her campaign promises that the City would never cede control of the Park to the County, she advocates this approach in her letter. 

Some facts here:

  • Irvine’s fight with the county over the airport cost the city about $27 million dollars.
  • The City Attorney disagrees with Shea on the use of RDA funds to purchase City land. 
  • He has a law degree. 
  • Shea does not.
  • The use of RDA funds would generate about $130-135 million that could be invested directly into the Great Park’s design and infrastructure.
  • This action is not in conflict with any city ordinance.
  • I’ll repeat that  — NOT IN CONFLICT
  • This transaction did not commit Irvine’s General Fund dollars to the Park’s planning or development.  

For someone who put the Orange Balloon stamp on her campaign, in my opinion (hey, if it works for her, it works for me), Shea has done more to delay, hinder and obstruct the park planning process than anyone.  With Park supporters like these……
Again, Larry Agran and Beth Krom led the effort to defeat the airport and secure the Great Park.  Having it built faster will be their legacy, not Shea’s.
There is one line of her letter I agree with: attacking responsible elected officials for their proper oversight is unconscionable.  And so is attacking them when you aren’t armed with the facts.
I get the sense that the scope and size of this project is just too big for her.  Perhaps she should concentrate on something more suitable.  Let’s fire up that Romance Task Force again and put Shea in charge.