Irvine’s Puppet Master

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.


  13 comments for “Irvine’s Puppet Master

  1. Concerned Parent
    November 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

    “Like special ed kid wanting to get that “Great Job” sticker on his report card.”

    I am curious if you recognize how inappropriate and offensive this comment is, Dan. What next, Dan, are you going to start calling kids people “retards”? “Gimps”? “Cripples”? Your comment would have made absolute sense, and the exact same point would have been made if you had simply said “like a kindergartner . . . ” Instead, your writing seems to display not only an insensitive and bullying attitude, but a true ignorance as to what a “special needs” kid actually is, and the noble struggle these kids face everyday to transcend disabilities that make them a little bit different, and everyday life a little more challenging, and not be perceived a different. Watching kids go to school everyday, and seeing the extent to which teachers and schools are creating a bias free environment is an inspiration. Seeing someone like you making comments like this which detract from their work and engender inaccurate stereotypes is sad, and a poor reflection on the name liberal. Perhaps you should reconsider the name of your blog: The, perhaps? the

    Grow up. Try to act and write to the standards you to which you expect others to hold.

    • November 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Since you don’t seem to know much about Irvine from your perch in Anaheim, the comment is a dig at a statement Dr. Choi made while a member of the IUSD board. He complained to parents of GATE students, and I am paraphrasing, that he’d like to fund the program more but he had to fund special ed instead by law not realizing many parents had kids in both programs. My work with physically and developmentally disabled kids with scouts, and youth sports programs is documented. Sorry you took offense to this statement; perhaps you can visit the FFFF blog and Pedroza’s blogs to complain when they call Chris Prevatt a retard.

      • Concerned Parent
        November 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm

        What Dan just did is called deflection. It is very disappointing. It is also the same thing that Claudia Alvarez did when she used her Nazi and Hitler imagery that offended so many. Just as Claudia Alvarez’s conduct was appropriately condemned, so should Dan’s be.

        You see, Dan is not being honest with you. He used a truly offensive stereotype that is harmful to children. Rather than being a man and simply owning up to his offensive comment, he seeks to recast it as a cryptic insider reference which, by the way, is entirely unrelated and out of context to the offensive comment. (Note that the “dig” is not only cryptic and disjointed at best, but it does not excuse the use of the offensive comment in the first place.) 2 strikes at logic.

        Further, he then follows up with the old “Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank: Black, Mexican, any other group)” defense. Question: If he is so dedicated to these groups of children, how did he miss the comment in the first place, and/or why isn’t he simply acknowledging and explaining his offensive comment in the first place, and use it as a mea culpa teaching moment
        like Chris Matthews did with his Hurricane Sandy comments?

        Then Dan pivots to the old “Art Pedroza is the real slime – why aren’t you on him at his site?” ploy. By the way, very simple answer: I don’t go to his site. Because he is a slime. I also do not go to read or listen to Rush Limbaugh for the same reason. I expect more from the Liberal OC. Dan, if you have to say “Art does it too”, that is not a particularly great endorsement of you.

        Lastly, note that Dan won’t even cop to the comments being inappropriate – instead, he uses the “well some people may have been offended, so if you were, well I guess I apologize if you are that sensitive.” non-apology.

        Finally, note that Dan starts with the “attack and insult the messenger” move. For the record, AGAIN, I am not from Anaheim, let alone some “perch” located therein.

        So, in order: “some pople may have been unreasonably sensitive” followed by “attack and insult the messenger”, followed by “it was really an insider dig you couldn’t understand”, followed by “some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)”, followed by “Art Pedroza is the real slime, why aren’t you attacking him?”

        Deflection, not seeking of absolution.

        Lastly: I am not commenting regarding the political nature of your article. Period. I am commenting because, as a liberal and as the parent of a special ed child, I am appalled at your careless use of a denigrating term which perpetuates a harmful stereotype of my beloved child.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          November 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm

          I apologize for the reference to you personally.

  2. Ltpar
    November 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Dan, don’t know who “concerned parent” is, but they hit the nail right on the head with the analysis of your commentary. Of course, it was nothing but your usual spinning the date, dredging up old history in an attempt to bad mouth conservatives and since your election loss, you incessant whining like a little girl. Get a grip on it Dan, Agran was and is carrying some heavy baggage and he lost not because Steven Choi overpowered him with rhetoric, but because the voters saw Choi as an honest man and Agran as a dishonest one.

    You may be able to suggest to “concerned parent” that they don’t know Agran and the gang because of living in another city, but you can’t say that to me. I knew Larry Agran, worked on his behalf and was friends with him, long before you happened on the scene. I became a Former Friend of Larry for the same reason as did Mark Petracca, Chris Mears and numberous others. Along the way, the power went to Agran’s head and he lost all sense of integrity, honesty and loyalty to the citizens of Irvine. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    While not always seeing eye to eye with Jeff Lalloway in the past, I gained a new respect for him during this election campign. He worked hard for the Team and I now see that we share a lot more in commen than in disagreement. Jeff will serve as a valuable member of the new team and I expect great theing from them. If you think he will be the puppetmaster for the new Council majority, then you in fact do not know the players well. Christina Shea did get into the race at the request of certain people, but it was not Jeff Lalloway. Despite your B/S accusations, Shea brings to the Council a long record of service to the community and people like her a lot. Additionally, if you think anyone, on or off the Council can pull Shea’s strings, you clearly don’t know her. She is her own person and will come down on the side of the citizens who elected her. Too bad you can’t say that about your boy, Larry Agran.

    The moral of this story is that Larry Agran can grasp at straws and try to hold on to his power, like the desperate attempt to change the Great Park bylaws, but it isn’t going to work. People are fed up with Agran and if he is not careful, rational folks could well put together a recall election for his Council seat. Keep spinning Dan, but please quit whining. You lost, now get used to it.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      November 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Pat —
      Choi lied to my face twice on Nov. 4. Shea has lied about never threatening a city employee. You lied about not begging for the city to collect legal fees in the lawsuit you lost. I’ll say this about Mr. Lalloway, he hasn’t lied to me…yet. BTW, Shea voted in lockstep with Agran and Krom on the Great Park with the exception of one contract. Perhaps she can actually attend the meetings this time; she missed 29 GPBM her last time on the council.

      Keep up recall talks and know that is a two way street.

      • Ltpar
        November 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

        Who are you going to recall? You guys lost the election and not just by a few votes. That included trying to fix the election with your “stealth candidate” for Mayor. Your only candidate who did well was Beth Krom who was given a free pass on her sins as a Larry Agran clone? Quit grasping at straws Dan and throwing out past misinformation. There are going to be some changes in the City and in two years, the King will be gone as well? That is unless he is recalled sooner. Try and find some new dirt to whine about will you, your current line is boring. I am still waiting for you to write about the Larry Agran housekeeper story. Come on Dan, inquiring minds want to know…….

        • Dan Chmielewski
          November 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

          Pat —
          you are the one grasping at straws. Katherine Daigle is Shea’s neighbor and one time friend. She is not an Agran plant. I have emails of Shea offering to be Daigle’s camapign manager for a reduced rate of $75 an hour which is probably $65 an hour more than Shea’s advice is worth.

          Pat, point out a single inaccuracy in anything I have written. It either happened right in front of me or its well documented. Perhaps you missed the documentation of the lawsuit filed against Choi by Jerry Amante’s pals. Or the Choi literature with the photocopied Register article that Choi says the reporter gae permission (he didn’t). Then there Shea’s documented threats against city employees, her own voting record on the Great Park with only one vote against the same way Agran and Krom voted, as well as her 29 absences from Great Park Board Meetings. Its documented Pat. Its factual. Boy, there are sore winners and there are whiners. And you Pat are both. Please come to the Dec 11 event. I’m told Daigle will be there and you can accuse her of being an Agran plant to her face…if you have the courage to.

          • Ltpar
            November 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

            Dan, all your references, accusations and insuations about Steven Choi didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the voters did they? Bottom line here Dan is the voters have had enough of Larry Agran’s phony baloney, mismanagement and padding the pockets of his buddies Forde & Moolrich at the Great Park. He lost because people wanted a change. That’s the same reason he will loose his Council seat in two years. It is long time since past for Agran to fade into the sunset and become another bad memory in the history of the City. That is unfortunate, because he did do some good things in his earlier years before the job went to his head.

            I will most certainly be there on December 11. Don’t plan on confronting Ms. Daigle, unless she makes it an issue. She is wter under the bridge and the Agran “stealth candidate” strategy did not work this time around the track. Dan, if you knew me and clearly you don’t, you would know that I never say anything that I am not willing to say to a persons face.

            • Dan Chmielewski
              November 16, 2012 at 8:57 am

              Pat —
              The margin of victory is about the difference in voter registration. I’ll give Choi credit for getting the Korean American vote as this block votes for Korean candidates without regard to political party. No matter how much I debunk the stealth candidate” position you take, you’re either too stubborn or too stupid to consider basic facts. Then again, Shea knows what she wrote to Daigle in those emails and could clear if all up in an instant — if she was an honest person. But we know she isn’t Pat. Will you be attending the first meeting of Shea’s “Make Irvine More Romantic” committee…the thing she gave her energies to instead of defeating the Airport?

  3. Not Pedroza's PR firm
    November 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Irvine is especially romantic for cougars and their cubs. Shea would know

  4. Ltpar
    November 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Dan, considering your long time covering and spinning the truth for Larry, Beth and Sukhee, I can hardly believe you calling someone else dishonest. Kind of like the kettle calling the pot black. Let’s face it, you just plain don’t like Christina Shea and Steven Choi and nothing they could do would ever satisfy you? I can accept that, because after my long exposure to Larry Agran and Beth Krom, I feel the same way about them. Bottom line is, you and I are both biased on our various ends of the poitical spectrum?

    Dan, I will only be serving on that committee, if you join me. Perhaps we could also invite Katherine Daigle and Evan Chemmers? We could all join hands and sing Kumbaya. Just another day in paradise……

    • Dan Chmielewski
      November 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      Pat, I’ve been married for 29 years; Romance isn’t a problem that requires a committee.

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