I have had the good fortune to get to know Beth Krom, Sukhee Kang and Larry Agran over the years. The constant Republican spin is that both Kang and Krom have their puppet strings pulled by Agran. And while the three may vote alike, Agran has no control over either of them. The three bicker but usually arrive at the same place when a vote comes down. The Republican apologists from Pat Rodgers to Frank Mickadeit would insist this isn’t true, but frankly, none of them know their progressive troika as well as they think they do.
However, Irvine Republicans have a real puppet master. Councilman Jeff Lalloway, the engineer of the Team Irvine partial victory, will say “jump” and Mayor-elect Steven Choi will say “how high” and Councilwoman-elect Christina Shea will say “how many times?” And Lalloway will sit back and command the Mighty Mickadeit and Mini-Moxley to carry his water in the press as they have already. Choi’s been effusive of following Lalloway’s lead in the campaign and since Lalloway is already comfortable signing Choi’s name to city issued memos, Choi is a mayor in name only. The power behind the thrown is Lalloway.
After the Chamber of Commerce Candidate’s debate, Choi left the dais and headed straight for Lalloway to ask “how did I do?” like a 3rd grader wanting that “You Did Great” sticker on his report card. It happened right in front of me and you’d think a man in his 60s would have a little more shame to a man in his 40s, but Choi clearly kowtowed to his superior.
Shea owes her political life to Lalloway. After offering to be Katherine Daigle’s campaign manager for a reduced rate of $75/hr, Shea dumped her neighbor, called on Republican operatives to encourage Daigle to quit a council race and then refused to come clean as Moxely painted Daigle as an Agran plant. I have more records than Moxley has and I’ll stand by my story that he was played and Republicans in Irvine are bragging about it.
Shea was left for dead by the OC GOP in 2010; Lalloway buried the hatchet to bring her back for a council run. Now unlike Choi, Shea may feel a sense of entitlement here. The over/under on when she asserts herself and manages peace with Lalloway has the shelf-life of a Tuna sandwich on a dashboard of a car in August. But Shea owes her political life to Lalloway now. From that Voice of OC story in 2010, this: “The insiders go on to say that she’s been slowly destroying support from the party for years. They argue that her relationships with public employee unions and votes against private property rights on projects like the Irvine Business Complex run counter to GOP values.”
When I commented on an OC Register story about the formation of “Team Lalloway,” and mentioned Shea had threatened two Irvine City employees as a mayor and councilwoman, she denied she had done any such thing. But we backed that up with links to stories in the LA Times and here which featured PDF letters of complaints from city employees, so Shea has a short memory or early onset dementia.
Now Lalloway and I have a cordial relationship. I’ll remind the councilman that in the next two years, Irvine will swing to a Democratic majority in voter registration. Agran gets another run at council having reset in 2008 with a third place finish. If we can convince Sukhee Kang to run against Choi, it negates the Korean vote enjoyed this time around. That 3-2 majority may have a short shelf life.
But we’ll credit Mr. Lalloway with a reason to start building a deeper bench for 2014 with a goal of making Mr. Lalloway a one-and-done councilman. But when you see an animated Mayor Choi or Councilwoman Shea, look for Lalloway behind the curtain. But is Scott Baugh or Jim Righeimer pulling Lalloway’s strings?
Note to readers: I’ve edited a descriptor used that some of you found over the top. I apologize if it offended anyone.