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Since The Irvine City Council IS the Great Park Board, Why Should Taxpayers Pay Extra?

When the new Irvine Council Republican majority of Choi, Lalloway and Shea consolidated their power by eliminating independent members off the Great Park board, there were claims out there that by doing so the new Great Park Board was accountable to the voters.  So part of Tuesday night’s council meeting is for the city council to approve the vote made by the Great Park Board to start charging for events like the Ballon Ride and the Merry-Go-Round.  Does this sound like efficient government to you?

When Irvine had a progressive council majority, those four independent members off the Orange County Great Park board used their influence and vision for the park and saw their roles as serving greater Orange County’s public.  But in three short months, Mayor Steven Choi, Council members Christina Shea and Jeff Lalloway have shut the public out of the decision making process.  The people who show up for the meetings to speak publicly never seem to show any support to the point where the OC GOP is sending emails out to rally the troops in support of the conservative council majority.

And by charging for the events, watch attendance at the Park plummet.  I was chatting about this with some Irvine friends and there is a school of thought out there that by charging what they want to charge for rides and events is designed to prevent low to middle income families in Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, from having a reason to come to the Great Park. But when attendance does drop, it’s going to be clear who’s policie are responsible for the decline.

But since the City Council and the Great Park Board are one in the same, why are taxpayers shelling out an extra $800 a month for city council members to manage The Great Park?  When the board was bigger, there was considerable reasons to pay extra.  But if the new GPB wants to jettison most of the Park’s programming and start charging for events and such, is there a reason to shell out what amonts to nearly $50,000 a year extra?

Why get paid twice?

We’ll note, Larry Agran recommended doing away with the compensation when the Republican majority reduced the size of the board, but Choi, Shea and Lalloway said no. Half the work for twice the money–not exactly the “good government” mantra these folks say they live by (though we’ll cut Lalloway some slack as he refuses much of the compensation he’s due for public service).  But while we’ll cut Lalloway slack on this, it’s worth reminding people that it wasn’t that long ago that he took Shea to task for “suckling at the public trough.”

For what it’s worth, I think public officials ought to be compensated for their time.  I think they are generally underpaid for their services.  But when you run campaigns on one set of standards (saving taxpayers money, not accepting compensation by making it true public service, promote transparency while holding public meetings at inappropriate times or trying to quash your political opponents with cease and desist orders) and then govern by an opposite (accepting every penny due you), well, that’s hypocritical.

In a post on the Orange Juice Blog after Shea had fired Lalloway as a finance commissioner, Lalloway made this statement: ”

I have no intention of resigning and abandoning my mission of uncovering wasteful spending at City Hall.

Christina Shea is so desperate to hold on to power after decades in public office that she is willing to disparage me, her own Finance Commissioner.

Shea’s habit of accepting money from public employee unions and the voting on big pay increases and pension spikes finally caught up with her when I exposed it.

I started asking tough questions about her spending. Shea could not defend the $700 a month car allowance she takes from the taxpayers.
Apparently, I got too close for comfort.

I am proud to be a Republican but I will not let party registration get in the way of doing my job as Irvine Finance Commissioner. Christina Shea has taken tens of thousands in taxpayer funded subsidies (her $700+ a month car allowance is just one example). Shea has taken money from public employee unions and then voted to increase their salaries and spike their pensions.

When I uncovered these facts, Shea threatened to remove me in order to end my investigation.

I fully support the Republican ticket from Meg Whitman for governor to Congressman John Campbell and here on the local level too. But I will not campaign side-by-side with candidates who do not share my values of limiting the size and scope of government and individual property rights.”

So Lalloway convices Shea to join “Team Lalloway,” they win, and Shea gets her checks in a business as usual fashion while Lalloway forgot about his values of limiting the size and scope of government…”   So who blined first? Shea or Lalloway? 

I’m guessing that in exchange for getting her vote of support on whatever draconian cuts Lalloway serves up he has promised to let her have the extra $800 a month to supplement her work as a lobbyist and real estate agent. Shouldn’t the Irvine City Council’s work on the Great Park be a part of their council duties?