Unintentional Comedy at Irvine Council Meeting: Choi asks OCTA about Traffic Jams at Rush Hour

kimjongchoiListening 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.

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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.

  6 comments for “Unintentional Comedy at Irvine Council Meeting: Choi asks OCTA about Traffic Jams at Rush Hour

  1. Ltpar
    April 10, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Dan, here you are still ragging on Steven Choi and Jeff Lalloway about petty issues which have no relevance to anything, nor anyone cares about. At least is it refreshing to see a meeting not run under the authority of Larry Agran, where the session is nothing more that “rubber stamping” the Agranista agenda which had been made in advance.

    It might have been more interesting for you to report on the Northwood Park Construction fiasco, where your BFF’s Larry and Beth were all too willing to sign off on cost overuns of a half million dollars for a project approved and started on their watch. As I understood the numbers, the additional $500,000 would come in addition to the already approved one million dollar cost overrun, bringing the project to a million and a half dollars higher than the original bid price. Of course to Larry and Beth, a million and a half dollars in taxpayer money is “chump change” when compared to the tens of millions of dollars they mismanaged at the Great Park. The Council majority was right in requestiing an independent investigation to determine whose fingers were in the pie on project additions, change orders and other assorted things that ran up the price. Perhaps after the facts are in, the new Council may do something unusual, that is hold someone accountable for not doing their job.

    It the Construction project was not to your liking for reporting purposes then you could have taken on your “Bud” Larry Agran trying to move the High School at the Great Park at the last minute and without justification. While Agran is babbling on about the proximity of the jail site, Larry seems to forget (but we don’t) that he was the one who torpedoed the agreement with Sheriff Mike Corona a number of years back, which would have resolved the expansion issue. Just another in the long list of the Larry Agran failed leadership examples. Would have made a good story.

    In closing, I heard a rumor you might want to do your next expose on? Steven Choi was running late for the Council Meeting yesterday and neglected to floss, when brushing his teeth. Now that’s a scandal you can get your teeth into Dan?

    • April 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Well, as far as the Northwood Park clubhouse, I don’t see how Beth and Larry can be held accountable for a project staff is managing from a vendor would can’t seem to get the work done for the price they quoted in a competitive bidding process. The current council majority has had the ball and this project for five months now. Change orders are not uncommon. Perhaps it’s Agran’s fault that Choi is so dumb he doesn’t get the concept of rush hour.

    • April 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Pat, interesting that you never criticized Choi committing $100K of taxpayer money without input form the council for the Dorner Reward, but a building that will be a lasting benefit to everyone runs over projections, and its the Democrats fault? I think the builder needs to eat the overages. They won the bid and if it winds up costing more, well, there goes the profit margin. If, however, the city requested significant changes to the project after the bid was accepted, a change order is completely legitimate.

  2. Ltpar
    April 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Dan, I have mixed feelings about rewards, but considering the two murders in our city, I can understand Mayor Choi’s desire to participate. Granted, he jumped the gun on the committment, but we all know the Council would have approved it, even if the idea had come from Larry and Beth.

    On the Northwood issue, without the investigation being done and shooting from the hip,I will venture a guess the the fault lies with the Community Services Project Manager and Community Services Director who should have been on top of the project. Projects like this one are common in the City and there is no excuse for it falling in the cracks. Someone needs to be held accountable and properly disciplined for his/her inactions. I have a little experience in contract bidding and construction rennovation and what this smells like is; an unreliable Construction Company, cut corners and came in with a low ball bid, knowing they could make up the difference with overuns and change orders in the future. Because of the low ball bid, the City snapped it up, failing to adequately check out the Company, their past record, and/or the exact specifics of the bid.

    I liked the fact that the City Manager stood up in public and stated the “buck stops with him.” That takes guts and is what a good manager does. While you are right in that Larry & Beth were not directly responsible for the hands on screw ups, it started and progressed primarily on their watch. One might surmise that wih all the “No bid” contracts the City has done, they got sloppy in their checks and balances. What I didn’t like the most about Larry & Beth was their laissez-faire attitude in wanting to pay the extra money and write the million and a half dollar overun off to business as usual. Beth was right in her comment, “in the end we will pay the money and finish the construction.” But, before the process is complete, the full scope of the errors, who committed them and how those people will be held accountable should be made public. The investigation requested by Jeff Lallooway will provide that and enable the City Manager to put policies in place to prevent future occurrences.

  3. Gail
    May 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Irvine is the safest city in America with the lowest unemployment rate and Irvine is also the 3rd best managed city. Gosh doesn’t sound like Larry and Beth did such a bad job. We will see if Lolloway and Choi can match that. For a bunch of guys who are suppose to hate taxes they have decided now to tax everything in the Great Park. Lolloway, Choi and let’s not forget Shea must hate music, art and exercise for they are will be a charge for them now thanks to the gang of 3.

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