Want Smaller Local Government; Progressive Leadership in Irvine Delivers

Republicans long claim the mantle of being the party of small government, but when in power, they seldom (if ever) actually deliver on this principle.  The last US president to shrink the size of the Federal Government? Why that would be Bill Clinton of course.

Want smaller local government? Look to Irvine where the policies of the progressive City Council majority have managed impressive economic and population growth and actually shrunk the size of local government.

Details after the jump:

Im 2000, the last year conservatives were in power, Irvine’s population stood at 143,072.  There were 545 full time jobs and about 247 part-timers so the city’s workforce came in at around  811.  That’s roughly 176.5 residents per city employee and the cost of services provided to each resident amounted to $609 each (police, fire, parks, etc.). 

Today, Irvine has a population of 212,793.  The city’s work force totals 967 (rounded up) with 733 fulltime employees and abou 234 part-timers.  That’s a ratio of one city employee per 220 residents (smaller government right there).  The cost of services for the current budget year is $684 per resident, but that number isn’t adjusted for inflation. Go to this site for a handy-dandy inflation calculator and punch in a couple of simple numbers.  And we’ll note that $609 spent on each resident in 2000, accounting for inflation in today’s dollars, is really $763.32 each.  That means the city is actually spending about $79 and change less today on services than we were in 2000.

So to recap:

Since 2000, Irvine’s population has grown by nearly 33 percent.  The city’s workforce grew only by 19.2 percent at the same time.  The amount of money spent by the city per resident grew by about 11 percent, but adjusted for inflation, actually fell by about 25 percent.  There are no cuts in services and a number of initiatives were expanded to help the community in areas of education, healthcare, transportation, and other community services.

In 2000, the city didn’t provide any funds for Irvine schools.  Today, they do.  In 2000, there was no citywide effort to help children get healthcare services.  Today, there is. In 2000, a commercial airport at El Toro was a strong probablity.  Today, it’s an impossibility.  In 2000, our mayor led an effort to make the City “More romantic.” In 2009, our Mayor fights to keep illegal guns off the streets. 

With the conservative minority frequently voting “no”on many items before the city, you can fully credit the progressive council majority of Sukhee Kang, Larry Agran and Beth Krom for the smaller, more efficient and more effective government in Irvine.  Funny what some research and a little math will and can do to knock the wind out of the sails of Republicans in town.  The fact is, progressives are better at shrinking goverment than Republicans are, and we do with it without cutting essential services to people who need it most.

  25 comments for “Want Smaller Local Government; Progressive Leadership in Irvine Delivers

  1. Chris Moore
    September 25, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Lies! You conveniently forgot to mention the Agranistas’ pet projects. Most notably is the $1.7 billion Great Park and the $254 million iShuttle. Everyone knows that Larry Agran is notorious for his urban planning and large government rhetoric. This outright deception is ridiculous. 2010 is going to be the year Larry Agran lost.

  2. Eric Hall
    September 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    That’s exactly what comes to mind when I hear “progressive!” “Less government!” Not.

    What do you suppose is happening right now with tax revenue? Would you say it’s down more than 7%? Because that’s about the size of the cuts City of Irvine approved without a single layoff. That $30MM surplus will be gone in no time.

    Balloon ride for no one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7WFcyVRvbE

    Shuttle for no one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5ELNtVncb8

  3. September 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Eric and Chris — I have provided links to the stats from the city’s website and used stats provided by the city’s PIO. How is this deceptive? How are the stats lies? And Bill Clinton inheireted a budget deficit and left with a budget surplus.

    Thanks for reading and for proving Reagan right; “Facts are stupid things”

    Hate to break it to you, Irvine is a top 100 city by population. We’re more Urban and Suburban.

  4. jose s.
    September 25, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    i would love nothing more than a maximum security prison to be built in irvine. they can build it where the great park is supposedly gonna be.

  5. September 25, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    The statistics you provided were completely accurate, but so are mine. You left out the separate $97 million budget for the Great Park. When added with the general city budget, your paltry figure of $684 per person increases to $1139.84 per person. Adjusting for inflation, that means the liberal council majority has spent $376.52 MORE than the conservatives did in 2000. Even simple arithmetic proves that progressive leadership does not equal smaller goverment.

  6. Ltpar
    September 25, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Dan, clearly you never tire of writing fiction for the Agranistas. Next, I guess you will be signing on as Chief Spinmaster for Beth Krom and her fantasyland quest to Washington D.C. Save your breath, because voters will be looking to unload some of those socialist leaning folks in 2010, not add to the number. There is no amount of make up and disguise you can apply to Beth Krom, to make her look like a conservative. Perhaps your time might be better spent pumping up Larry Agran (again) for President in 2012. I suspect the Democrats will be needing a new candidate there as well.

  7. kenlaysnotdead
    September 25, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    A fishtank without water.

  8. September 25, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Chris Moore:

    When did the Great Park become a city service? While it is located in Irvine, and all of the Council members sit on the Great Park board, it is not a city project. It is therefore not appropriate to include in this comparison.

    The facts are not spin, they are simply facts. And one more thing. If I remember correctly, there is zero city revenue contributiuon to the Great Park. Its funding is self contained and separate from funding that the city gets now.

    Based upon your standard of measure, John Wayne Airport expenditures should be included in the City of Santa Ana per capita costs, even though it is a County facility. That would be nuts.

  9. September 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Pat — If the taxpayers of the city want to be angry with someone wasting their dollars, it should be against you for your failed lawsuit. Did you owe late fees for paying the bill late.

    Argue the facts Pat. The stats come from the city’s PIO office. Do the math.

    How is shrinking government and getting the same or more services for less socialistic Pat? And what exactly did I write was fiction? Pat, you paraphrase Jack Nicholson, “you can’t handle the truth.”

  10. September 25, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    The Great Park is not part of the general city budget Chris Moore.

    But if you want to go that route, the cost of the Iraq war is not on the books, so President Bush’s handling of the economy is even worse than the budget reveals. Underlining my point. When do Republicans actually shrink government? Never. Richard Nixon didn’t. Ronald Reagan didn’t. George H.W.Bush didn’t and George W. Bush didn’t. Pete Wilson didn’t. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t.

    See a pattern?

  11. September 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Chris Prevatt:
    The Great Park became a city service the moment the City formed the Great Park governance corporation. The following facts prove my point:
    (a) The City formed the Corporation.
    (b) As stated in the Articles of Incorporation, the residents of the City of Irvine are specifically named as the beneficiaries of the Great Park project.
    (c) The Great Park Corporation was specifically formed to protect the City’s General Fund from liability.
    (d) All of the decision making is done by the Irvine City Council members (City-Directors). The other four directors are in a subordinate class (Independent Directors), as designated in the by-laws, and do not have authority.
    (e) Upon dissolution of the Corporation, all of the assets are returned back to the City.
    (f) The corporation’s offices and meetings are at City Hall, and are broadcast on the City TV station.
    (g) Great Park literature is available at all City facilities, amongst literature describing other City programs and services

    It isn’t hard to connect the dots and prove that the The Great Park Corporation (including it’s budget)are a legal entity of the City, and it would be inaccurate to state that the City’s spending is isolated to it’s General Fund.

    The funding sources of the Great Park are irrelevant to it’s status as a entity of the city. Furthermore, Great Park revenue is not expected to surpass spending untill 2014. Even then, the meager developer taxes and rental income expected, falls short of the 1.3 billion dollar price tag.

    PS. The JWA-Santa Ana relationship is COMPLETELY different and could never be compared to the Great Park-Irvine relationship

  12. September 25, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Dan, the fact that the Iraq war is off the books is an excellent example that proves my point. Also, I completely agree that past Republican presidents are hypocritical. That is why we need Ron Paul to be President. However, you confuse your point by referencing the City of Irvine as a model of limited government. If you are suddenly such a fan of limited government, the fact that you edit a liberal blog is baffling.

  13. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Chris — Ron Paul never had a prayer to become president and he never will be. I think you missed the point of my post. I think government should be there to help those must vulnerable in society – the very young, the very old and those in the shadows of society. The free market and private charities alone don’t do enough and frankly, how one judges a society is best left to how we help those who need it most. The principal Republican argument is to shrink government so you can drown it in a bathtub, yet elected Republican leaders never shrink government nor do they decrease government spending. And as my statistics state, Irvine is serving more residents with less….fewer employees and smaller dollars per resident for services rendered.

    If you lump in the Great Park budget and tie it to city expenses should you also tie in the revenue received for the Park? An error of omission on your part?

    My information request to the PIO’s office was a comparison of 2000, the last year that conservatives were in charge, through today. The Great Park budget is not part of the city’s general budget no matter how badly you might want it to be.

    You remind me of my Republican friends who rail against the $9 trillion the federal debt will rise to while forgetting $6 trillion of it was the result of policies inacted by the Bush administration.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I stand by my reporting

  14. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Pat — It strikes me that you continue to repeat the same mantra over and over again. Larry Agran is evil and the voters of Irvine are going to kick him to the curb next time around; does that sound familiar? I have only been hearing this from people like you for about 8 years now and Larry keeps getting elected. It also seems to me that the further to the right Republicans move in Irvine, the worst you do in elections.

    And electing Beth Krom to Congress is not a fariy tale; we’d finally have Congressional representation in DC with someone who does more than nothing? I got a postcard from John Campbell this week touting an education bill he supports. PTA parents here certainly remember Campbell’s lack of action on any education issue while he represented us in Sacramento (much like Chuck DeVore’s lack of any record of achievement on education) and Campbell’s acknowledgement that “No Child Left Behind” is a failure — that program being one touted by Conservatives.

    So what I’m trying to say Pat is over the years, I’ve been consistently right about issues of political important to the voters of Irvine while you have been wrong.

  15. please
    September 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Dan is a “reporter” the way the Orange County Register is a “respectable newspaper.”

    • September 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      The Register is a respectable newspaper. But you don’t have to love every story. And I stand by my reporting of the facts here. I have provided links back to document the numbers.

  16. September 26, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Chris Moore:

    This particular part of your point explains why the Great Park should not be included in the comparison of budgeted city services.

    c) The Great Park Corporation was specifically formed to protect the City’s General Fund from liability.

    You cannot count something as part of the budget unless both the assets and liabilities are counted. The employees of the Great Park are not city employees. The liabilities of the Great Park are not city liabilities. The assets of the Great Park are not city assets.

    And the Iraq war funding is off-budget, not off the books. It is still a cost to the government, and is still ultimately counted in the bottom line.

  17. September 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    The Great Park is even included in the 2009-2010 City of Irvine Budget, however the appropriations are from the “Special Fund”, as opposed to the General Fund. Even the City Organizational Charts show that the Great Park is part of the City. That means all of the Great Park’s assets and employees are indirectly part of the City, since the Great Park is part of the City. It is illogical to assume that Irvine and the Great Park are not connected. The only distinction is that the Great Park is bankrolled by a different fund. Therefore it would be an error of omission to try to define city spending as that of the General Fund alone. You standing by your reporting is like Commander Smith standing by the Titanic as it sank.

  18. Dan Chmielewski
    September 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Chris — if I have an error of omission, so do you. Your statistics add the costs associated with the park but do not reflect the dollars that fund the park.

    This story is an apple-to-apples comparison of city statistics on population, city staff and the cost of services from 2000 to 2009; your argument is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    Sounds to me like you don’t have enough lifeboats on your yacht.

  19. Ltpar
    September 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Dan, funny thing about Spinmasters, when they can’t deal with reality, they always try and cloud the water. I am not the issue here. Once again, I will say what you already know. I lost the lawsuit, was directed by the court to pay half of the City’s and Maguire’s legal expenses and promptly wrote the checks when our attorney told me to. There was no late fees and the Irvine taxpayers paid not one dime for Greg Smith and my efforts to do the right thing. On the other hand, your Agranistas cost the taxpayers $200,000 on their ill fated attempt to keep certain Great Park documents from other Board Members. Now you tell me, who is guilty of wasting tax money here, Greg Smith and I, or Larry Agran? I am sure you have another of your flim flam answers for this one too. Bottom line is, people could care less about Greg Smith/Pat Rodgers and their failed law suit, it is ancient history, so quit beating a dead horse.

    What does concern people, supported by many comments in your article as well as others is, the continued pattern of mismanagement at the Great Park, waste of millions of dollars and no accountability for anyone’s actions out there. Then, within the City come the waste on a number of Agran special interest projects, many which you list as achievements. Because of Steven Choi, getting more votes than Larry in the 2008 election, your “bud” is going to have to run again in 2010. Instead of being right on political issues over the years my observations are that through propaganda resources like the Hometown Voters Guide and Irvine Community News, you and the other Spinmasters have screened the voters from the truth about the Agran Political Machine. As someone once said, “Ignorance is bliss.” The twin sisters “Truth and Justice” have been kicked to the corner in Irvine for far too long. I strongly suspect they will make their comeback in 2010 and send Agran into retirement once and for all. Well ok, we all need a fantasy, just as yours is seeing Beth Krom in Congress. If I were a betting man, I’d say my odds were better than yours. Only time will tell.

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    September 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Pat —
    Being a little selective about the whole $200K judgement, aren’t you.

    Let’s review some of the stuff not reported by the Reguister on this case. The entire board decided to hire an executive recruiter to solicit resumes for the Great Park CEO (I have a request in about the cost of this), which is not an uncommon practice for a C-lebel search.

    That recruiter interviews each member of the Great Park Board including Shea and Choi about the qualities they want in a CEO. The recruiter interviews candidates, reviews resumes and comes up with a list of finalists for the selection committee (that Shea and Choi were not a part of). And theose finalists were selected with input from the whole board, including Shea and Choi.

    Shea constant claim that the Board “selected the chairman’s best friend” is: 1. wrong. 2. a surprise to Agran’s best friend who was notr a candidate. 3. Someone Larry knows but has had limited contact with in the past 20 years. 4. Very qualified.

    The lawsuit was politically motivated. I think it was wrongly decided and have encouraged appeal. So Agran and company wasted $200K? What about the money wasted by Shea and Choi for objecting to a process that they had agreed to? That money to the recruiter was also spent unwisely.

    I wonder Pat, if you had any onjections to the way OCTA recently selected their CEO. They had a review committee, just like the Great Park. The review committee went over resumes and made recommendations of candidates to the full board, just like the Great Park. The candidate was voted on and was offered the job. No lawsuits. No drama.

    Pat, with all the negative press Agran, Krom and Kang get in the OC Register and Irvine World News. if you honestly believe the Hometown Voters Guide pulls more influence that the right wing media here in OC, I think you’ve been smoking some of that stuff left in the evidence room.

    One more thing; Had Larry won second place in the last election, he’d be termed out in 2012; as it stands, he resets in 2010 and could be on the City Council through 2018 if that is what he and the voters of Irvine wish. I’ve been hearing your claims that the voters will get rid of Agran in the next election since 1998. He’s won 5 elections since then.

    But try not to let your persona hatred of Larry or the projection of Shea’s dislike of him color your perception in any way Pat.

    And yes Pat, everytime you bring up the issue of wasting taxpayer money, I will remind our readers here of how you and Greg Smith did just that.

  21. Ltpar
    September 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Dan, I recognize trading words with you is like the guy who fought windmills, the more you swing your sword the more it spins. I know that this will come as a surprise to you but I don’t hate Larry Agran, or anyone else for that matter. Larry has done many good things over the years for the City of Irvine and deserves credit for that. Somewhere along the line, he got off track and is not today, the man I knew back in the 1970’s.

    You can rationalize all day why you are right and Shea, Choi and the Judge are wrong on the $200,000 verdict. I can also do the same as to why what Greg Smith and I did was the right thing and the Judge was wrong. The bottom line is that it is history. The only difference between the two comparisons is that Greg and I, paid for our folly out of pocket. With Larry, Beth and the GP Gang, they didn’t pay for their folly, the taxpayers did. Color it, spin it any way you want, but it still comes out to, cost to taxpayers – $0 on my account and cost to taxpayers on Agran’s side – $200K dollars.

    As far as the musical chairs game on the Council, you and I both know that as long as Larry continues to get the votes, he will rotate between the Council and Mayor’s position, for as long as he wants. I am sure he has done polls to see where and why he had less votes that Beth and Sukhee in 2008. All things said about Larry, he continues to be a master politician. However, you can only use smoke and mirrors for so long before people wake up and smell the smoke. Will it be 2010, only time will tell? As one who has invested many years of my life in this community, I only want honest, open and fiscally responsible government. At this point, we have none of the above.

  22. Dan Chmielewski
    September 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Pat — Irvine is one third larger than it was in 2000 and many of these new residents are registered to vote. They only know the city under Progressive government and many people like what they see.

    I’d like to see what ideas Shea or Choi have brought forth in the past few years that hold any merit other than voting No on certain issues and walkikng out on meetings altogether. Sorry, but I don’t think either of them possess the honesty and integrity you give them credit for..espeically in light of the flyers distributed by your ticket calling Todd Gallinger a radical muslim and using pictures of Hamas.

    Do NOT claim the high road because its clearly a path you and your ticket did not choose to take.

  23. Northcountystorm
    September 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    While I am not defending the withholding of the information, I thought the lawsuit was much ado about nothing and a big pay day for the lawyers involved.

    The cold hard reality is that a few partisans and a few disenchanted former supporters of Agran can’t get over the fact that a majority of Irvine voters like the way the city is run and support Agran. Anything can happen in an election but I my money is on Agran frustrating these same opponents again.

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