Listening to Irvine Mayor Steven Choi manage an Irvine City Council meeting is a lot like getting a root canal without adequate pain killers; it takes longer than you want and after a while, you’re numb to the pain. But every so often, he’s the source of great unintentional comedy.
Yesterday afternoon’s special city council meeting at 3PM (does a regular schedule exist anymore?) featured a presentation by the OCTA’s Sarak King about pending closures of the 405 Freeway this summer for a 22 Connector construction project. Go to the 31:25 mark in the video for context prior to Choi’s comments at the 39 minute mark in this link to the video of the April 9th meeting.
When King concludes her presentation, Choi asks about the bottlenecks after construction referencing large equipment still lingering on the project site, and then — with a straight face — asks why there are so many cars on the 405 between Jamboree and Euclid between 5-6PM and why there’s so much traffic on the 5 Northbound between Culver Drive and the Chapman/Katella exits (there’s a reason it’s called the Orange Crush).
Seriously? The Mayor, a PhD no less, can’t understand why there’s traffic at rush hour? After a momentary pause of astonishment, I laughed for at least three minutes. Is there an Open Mic night for this guy at the Irvine Improv?
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, playing Abbott to Choi’s Costello, cut off King to address several OCTA projects for widening the 405 and the 5 through 2018-2020. You could almost see the embarrassment in Lalloway’s face as he tried to salvage a stupid question from Choi. King, displaying grace and humility to not laugh out loud, complimented Lalloway on his answer and further explained traffic management is an ongoing concern but there are a number of things to study and review before projects are finalized.
I got an email after the last time I used this photo of Choi asking for context; when he was a City Council member, Choi wore a photoshopped image of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s face Photoshopped on Josef Stalin’s body and later posed with a Tea Party member member with Pelosi’s face Photoshopped with a Nazi SS Officer when Pelosi attended the Truman Dinner in Irvine in 2009. Choi refused to apologize for his action then and has never apologized for it. So we had this image developed and, predictably, Choi’s friends sent emails to us criticizing the image. This is a simple “what’s good for the Goose…” play here. When the Mayor apologizes, publicly, for his poor judgement and his behavior during a visit from the third most powerful member of the federal government, we’ll stop using the image.