Irvine’s Republican Council Majority to Gut Support for Barclay Theater

The Republican Majority of the Irvine City Council is considering gutting a jewel in the City’s cultural landscape by lopping off $500,000 in support for the Irvine Barclay Theater in the proposed new city budget for 2013-2014.  The new austerity measures make little sense as the city has more than adequate reserves through the efforts of the progressive council majority and the proposed budget looks to be nearly a million in the black.

That’s a million in the black if you count the $500,000 cut to the Barclay, a $10,000 cut the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, a $100,000 cut to Orange County Legal Aid that helps families with financial difficulties obtain legal services and more cuts to scholarship programs provided through the Orange County Human Relations Commission.  These cuts might be easier to take if the Council hadn’t, on April 23, cut or froze a number of fees associated with construction and development in the city — cuts not asked for by the Business Industry Association.  This action, passed on a party-line 3-2 vote, was hailed by Irvine Republicans as a victory for the taxpayer — but trust me, you won’t see a dime in lower taxes because of the move nor with the cuts spur added development in a city with significant amounts of open space to develop.  Instead, the taxpayers will receive what sources say will be about $800,000 less in revenue directly out of the general fund.

Defending the cuts and freeze in his blog, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway wrote, “Raising various administrative, business, and building and development fees at a time when lingering effects of the recession are still being felt would have sent the wrong message to Irvine homeowners and businesses. That is why Mayor Steven Choi, Councilwoman Christina Shea, and I voted in favor of a substitute motion to reduce and freeze most city fees for at least another year, not increase them as had originally been proposed on the agenda.”

What Lalloway left out is the city has already lowered and frozen fees associated with processing construction and development projects during the Great Recession to help builders and developers.  But cutting/freezing the fees, the city actually loses money with each transaction.  None of this “benefits” taxpayers in any way but does save a few dollars to developers who won’t pass the savings on to homeowners or property owners.

In Irvine Matters, council member Larry Agran wrote about the fiscal policies of this Republican council majority: “Irvine’s budget matters — it matters a lot. In fact, it affects the quality of life of every Irvine resident every day, in ways large and small. It defines and shapes our community programs, priorities and aspirations. That’s why the annual City Council budget hearing is always important. And this year’s June 11th budget meeting is especially important.  Since his election last November, Mayor Steven Choi has repeatedly said he’s determined to take Irvine in a “different direction.” Choi’s proposed City budget reveals the “different direction” he has in mind: It’s backwards.”

Council member Beth Krom chimed in with this: “On Tuesday, June 11th, the Irvine City Council will be considering the 2013-2014 budget. For the first time in more than a decade, the budget will reflect a very different agenda. No longer will community interests be the highest priority. In fact, Mayor Choi stated at our recent Budget Workshop that he gave the City Manager explicit direction to cut funding for the arts, eliminate funding for Legal Aid services to help Irvine residents and do away with sponsorships for the OC Human Relations Commission and other important community partnerships.  Since Mayor Choi was elected he has made it clear that he wants to take Irvine in “a different direction.” He doesn’t believe in citizen participation and recommended eliminating the Green Ribbon Environmental Committee and reducing public involvement in our Strategic Plan for Children, Youth and Families Advisory Board. He joined Councilman Lalloway and Councilwoman Shea in eliminating the public Board Members from the Great Park board, consolidating power so that they alone would control all decisions affecting the Park. In less than six months, Choi, Shea and Lalloway have voted to throw out our City Attorney and the firm of Rutan and Tucker who have served this city for four decades, imposed charges for the Balloon and Carousel at the Great Park in an effort to “de-activate” the Park and done everything possible to turn the narrative of our City from one of success to one of failure.”

On May 6, Susan Bryant, the interim executive vice chancellor and provost for the University of California, Irvine, sent Mayor Steven Choi and Lalloway a letter expressing concern over the cut in support from the City.

She writes: “As you  know, for over twenty years the University of California, Irvine, has partnered with the City of Irvine to support the Barclay as a crucial part of our commitment to the societal and cultural well-being of our community. 

“The Barclay is an important and highly visible part of our collaboration with the City.  Over the past few years, we are proud that partnership survived the formidable financial challenges of the budget crisis.  Recently, despite many competing claims on our reduced resources, UC Irvine even increased its contribution to the Barclay to keep pace with the City’s continued generosity and in recognition of the key role the Barclay Theater plays in the life of our town and campus.

We hope you can find a way to avoid what would be a devastating reduction in your funding for the Barclay Theater…..”

So it appears the Irvine Council Majority will deliver a budget that cuts fees to their developer friends, while dramatically cutting services to the arts and sciences, and services that impact working class Irvine families — things Irvine residents use and enjoy about their city.

While hailing the cuts and freezes of builder’s fees as a “taxpayer victory,” the council majority left out a small detail.  Now that admission is being charged for the Balloon Ride and the Carousel at the Great Park — fees paid directly by taxpayers mind you — ridership of both attractions is down between 80 and 90 percent.  Revenue taken in to offset the cost of operating these attractions is a joke.

Bring this up to our Republican friends and they’ll say cuts to the Barclay were necessary to pay for “Agran’s giveaway to schools last November.”  This is Measure BB that means the city’s contribution to our dramatically underfunded schools in IUSD and TUSD (thanks to the inaction of our Republican state legislators) will be north of $8 million — more aid than any city in OC provides to the school districts that serve its residents.  Measure BB, of course, was first ridiculed by Choi and Lalloway on the dais before they supported it.  And now allies of the council majority are pointing the finger at Measure BB as the blame for deep cuts to cultural programs and legal/scholarship programs that benefit Irvine’s working families.

We can only point out this isn’t “Agran’s giveaway to schools,” but was a measure passed into law by Irvine voters by large margins.

If you care about the Barclay, and are against taxpayer “cuts” that don’t benefit taxpayers, and the bad priorities of this council majority, step up to the microphone tomorrow as say, “Irvine isn’t Costa Mesa.”

Of course the hard part of tomorrow’s meeting is figuring out what time it will start as the Republicans in charge do what they can to minimize public interaction.





  16 comments for “Irvine’s Republican Council Majority to Gut Support for Barclay Theater

  1. Ltpar
    June 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Dan, I see you are still hard at work spinning the facts and trying to make your Council minority buds Larry and Beth look good. Good luck with that, because while being good at spinning information you are far from being Mandrake the Magician who can create an illusion from nothing.

    Since you had to being up Measure BB, let’s just cut to the chase on that one in case there might be some uninformed citizen in Irvine who doesn’t know the truth. Measure BB was just another in a long string of Agran Campaign Initiatives to provide him with a source of legally laundering a ton of funds. He has done it before, did it again with Measure BB and will most likely try and do it in his campaign in 2014. It was never about the kids or the schools, but rather how money could be used to promote Agran, Krom and Wong.

    Had you done your homework on the Barclay Theater you would have discovered it was originally designed as a Community Theater, for use by local performing groups. The intent was for the City of Irvine and UCI t partner in it’s development for ten years until the Theater could become self-supporting and stand on it’s own two feet. Instead of a Community Theater we ended up with a “White Elephant” so expensive to use that most local community groups cannot afford it, even with City backing. Meanwhile, here we are thirty years later and the City is still pumping one million dollars of taxpayer money into the Barclay each year with minimal returns. I ask you Dan, when was the last time you attended a performance at the Barclay Theater? With the cuts, the Barclay steering group will either have to get their act together or get out of the theater managing business altogether, perhaps finding some who knows what they are doing? I see Community Theaters in La Mirada and Cerritos running great programs with excellent “off Broadway” shows being presented, but not in Irvine.

    On the Legal Aid Society, I believe there was a reduction in the amount of money and not total elimination. I am sure that the Finance Commission took a hard look at what that money was being used for and by whom and the cuts were more than justified.

    Moral of the story Dan is the new Council pledged to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget for the first time in years with out using reserve money and instituting smaller government. In my humble estimation, there is still ample fat in City Programs for additional cuts, but the Council has gotten off to a good start with their first budget. Next year, they can make more reductions.

    Sorry Dan, Larry Agran is no longer i power and the days of the “free lunches” are over. Get used to it.

    • June 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      Pat —
      I attend events at the Barclay about four times a year; my daughter danced on the stage at age 4. I’ll never forget it. You should do your homework on the Barclay; there’s a 40 year agreement between the University and the city.

      If BB was designed for Agran to raise money, why did he loan so much to that campaign of his own funds. The BB effort was an operation run in the red Pat.

  2. Jon
    June 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Pat, I disagree. You are in fact doing the same you thing you accuse Dan of doing, making unsubstantiated claims. Saying you’re sure due diligence was done in cuts is different than knowing for certainty. You didn’t bother mention that BB actually does help schools, you just deflected it by saying promoted Agran. And really, have you been to the Barclay? I have. Support for the arts has always set Irvine apart. Cuts for cuts sake are imprudent at best…

  3. June 10, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    So basically the Council’s Republicans are both penny and pound foolish. They create a reduction in revenue to create a crisis and drum up the false need for austerity.

    These folks are so focused on their one note that they have failed to realize they’re out of tune with the needs of their community.

    Sad. 🙁

  4. Katherine Daigle
    June 10, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    What we don’t need are the elimination and drastic cuts to programs that truly benefit so many in our community, we should question the community programs that will be immeasurably be cut in ways that would be detrimental to our kids and low to middle income families. In their zeal to reshape the local government the Choi and Lalloway has committed many of the mistakes the former majority committed. Irvine government isn’t any more transparent than it was under the former government. Rather than creating a more inclusive and open government, every Irvine citizen who voted Republican in the last election needs to ask themselves if this is what they voted for, Voting for change is ineffective if we get nothing but tone deaf change.

  5. Ltpar
    June 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Katheirne, is Larry Agran or Dan Chmnielewski writing your comments now, because they sure don’t sound like the kind any Republican would make that I would ever vote for. Ops, sorry I had a senior moment for a minute and forgot that you are really a Larry Agran Clone in drag. Keep it up and perhaps Larry will invite you to run on his slate in 2014.

    As far as transparency goes, I’d say the new Council majority has done a pretty good job so far. They very plainly told voters what they would do if elected in reducing the size and cost of government and have taken steps to follow up on that. Don’t know how much more transparent you would have them be? What you really mean is that you have your speical interests and when they cut those, you whine and complain. The Barclay Theater has since Day 1 been a “White Elephant” for the taxpayers of Irvine and while it is a very nice facility, it is too far too expensice for most local groups to use. It is long since time for the City to stop their funding of this Program as well as a few others in the Budget as well.

    • June 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Patrick —
      Perhaps you missed the extensive post I did that debunked the notion Mrs. Daigle was an Agran plant — a story with origins in the OC GOP who threw one of their own under the bus to make for convenient mailers. Ask your friend Christina Shea about the check she cashed for political consulting on Daigle’s campaign for council. When Republicans asked Daigle to drop her bid for council least she hurt Shea’s chances, Daigle did.

      Patrick you are proof positive that no amount of facts can ever get in the way of your position on issues.

      Ms. Shea knows I have every email she exchanged with Mrs. Daigle. If she wants to continue to insist that Mrs. Daigle is an Agran plant, and have her surrogates like you insist that is the case, well, its a provable lie you spread. And one that reveals much about your character, integrity and ethics.

  6. Ltpar
    June 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

    The City Council has little to do with determining how much, or how little revenue the City gets in a fiscal year. Their job is to accurately estimate how much revenue will be coming in and adjust their spending to not exceed that amount. Under the old Council, the budgets for the past four years exceeded the revenue and the City had to take money from the Reserve Fund just to balance the budget. This is called deficit spending and is a very poor way to run any budget, whether personal or public. Add to that the three million dollars in gifts to the schools starting this year thanks to Measure BB and if not for cuts, more money would have to be taken from Reserves.

    The Council majority made it very clear in their campaign that if elected, the days of deficit spending were over and Irvine budgets would be balanced. True to their campaign pledge, the Council has made the necessary cuts to bring expenditures in line with projected revenue. The problem with you liberals is, there is never austerity in government. You never met a program you didn’t like and bigger government is always better. When you look at the state of the nation and until recently the State of California, the cash register contiues to ring and the public debt goes higher. Well, I for one do not want to see that philosophy in my city and apparently a majority of voters agree with me. I am very aware of the City Budget and understand there is still room for a lot of cuts in the future which will continue to shrink the size and scope of government without impacting the residents lifestyle one iota. Sorry Chris, the Larry Agran era is over and with a little luck, we will be rid of him for good in 2014?

  7. Ltpar
    June 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Jon, Yes not only have I been to the Barclay, but have performed there as part of a community group. That was of course before it became too expensive for our group to afford it. I was also around when the Barclay Theater was on the drawing boards and am very familiar with how it was sold to the public and how much financial support the City was supposed to be putting in. The Theater itself rarely serves as the local community place it was supposed to be and as such, sits dark a good portion of the time. UCI no doubt gets more than their share of use from it and that is good for them.

    Bottom line is that the Irvine taxpayers should not have to ante up a million dollars a year to subsidize this “White Elephant.” With the Performing Arts Theater fifteen minutes away in Costa Mesa, the Arts people of Irvine can get their fill of shows there. In reality, they are getting very little of it from the Barclay anyway. The reduction of the funding for the Barclay Theater was long overdue and they should be given a strict timeline to become self-sufficient like originally intended. These are not cuts for cuts sake.

  8. Ltpar
    June 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Dan, I am as determined in my ways as you are in yours and on that I think we can agree. My experience is that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck the chances of it being a chicken are slim and none.

    On the e=mail crap, I am sure that if you had anything incriminating on Christina Shea, we would have seen it in print at least ten times by now. Frankly, that is old news, but the possibility of Katherine being on Larry’s ticket in 2014 is not? Clones of a feather should always stick together.

    • June 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Actually Shea threatened Daigle with a lawsuit to keep the emails private and quiet Pat. Like you said about the duck….Shea knows the truth. You refuse to believe it even if the copies were presented to you. You know the worst part of an argument? The moment you realize you’re wrong. And you’re wrong here Pat. Daigle and Agran have no relationship and no plans to run on a ticket.

  9. Sharon Toji
    June 12, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Believe me, no one needs Dan to make Beth and Larry look very good indeed beside our Mayor! Last night, on the first agenda item, an employee making a presentation to support a routine item to remove a planned road from what has become dedicated open space instead of the housing that was originally planned, had to make patient explanation to our Mayor three times of the simple fact: “No, since the Irvine Company had decided to make this land a nature preserve in perpetuity, rather than developing it, that meant there was no need to put a road there, “just in case” we needed more housing development in the future.

    Finally, we all breathed a sigh of relief, when he said “oh, you mean it is now a nature preserve, so there won’t ever be any houses there that need a road” or something to that effect.

    The Mayor managed to save 15 minutes of his precious time by cutting speakers on the budget down from the planned 3 minutes to 2 minutes — which forced people to abandon prepared remarks — but of course then probably used up at least 30 minutes himself during the budget discussion mostly repeating that he “is so proud” of the City Manager following his orders to cut these programs a few bucks to make a point.

    Anyone present had to feel sorry for Sean, trying not to answer Beth Krom’s clear question: if we restored this $620,000 to the budget, which appears to now have a surplus of $11,000,000, would the budget still be balanced? Finally, taking pity on him, as he tried not to betray his new leader, Beth said, “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.'”

    After the Mayor’s budget speech, I contemplated what appears to be his vision for the City where I have lived for 46 years: Very clean, no potholes, safe, safe, safe and safe, lots of wonderful test scores at the schools, but no spark of real life or soul. But remember, we would all be so wonderfully safe! And we are so proud!

  10. Dan Chmielewski
    June 12, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for the update Sharon; we have reports that the council blinked and restored funding to the Barclay, Legal Aid, and Human Relations as well as the Discovery Science Center; I’m sure Mr. Lalloway is expressing his displeasure to Ms. Shea personally for her siding with Krom and Agran.

  11. Ltpar
    June 12, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Dan, while I know it is a hard concept for you to grasp,especially coming from the Larry Agran puppet show but Christina Shea is her own person and votes her conscience. Jeff Lalloway does not dictate to her, which she adequately proved last night. While I do not fully agree with her vote to restore the funding, I respect her logic and backbone in doing it. Had there not been the amount of carry over money available, chances are her vote might have been different. With money available, it is difficult to justify cutting popular programs, even if they are a waste of taxpayer money.

  12. June 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Pat — hate to break it to you, but Krom, Kang and Agran also vote their conscience too. But never let facts get in the way of your preconceived notions. I’m hearing revenues anticipated for the City in the budget are very conservative and the actual amount will be much much higher. Kinda hard to go on an austerity watch when there is a budget surplus. Then again, this council majority wants to impact pensions for public employees — like the police department. Choi hates public employee unions; I heard him say it at the Chamber luncheon. Why is it so hard for Choi to realize why a road is no longer needed; a PhD he has…just means it’s piled High and Deep

  13. Ltpar
    June 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Dan, speaking of “piled high and deep,” I wasn’t aware you had a degree. Congratulations, because as a piler myself, I worked hard for a number of years to get my pile high enough. Of course, now that I am retired and bored, that piece of paper and a buck eighty five gets me a cup of java at Starbucks.

    On your voting, you got it one-third right, which I guess is not too bad for an Agranista. Larry votes his conscience and Beth and Sukhee also vote Larry’s conscience. That’s a lot of conscience to go around in anybodys book. While you deny it, Beth and Sukhee have been nothing but puppets on a string for Agran their entire time on the Council. Once or twice, I remember seeing Beth get an original idea and Larry slapped her ears back in the blink of an eye. Such is life in the Kingdom of the Agranistas?

    Seven Choi doesn’t hate Employee Unions, he simply does not understand them. He supported IPA for years and voted against the Contract that your BFF, Larry imposed on them a number of years back. Then, the Cops turned around and supported the Agranista slate pumping in thousands of dollars of PAC money in the 2012 election. Steven doesn’t understand that betrayal and frankly neither do I, having warned IPA in advance of the good change of Larry being defeated. As Bubba Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Will there be pay back to the Cops? If you want to play the political action game and back the wrong candidate, you should expect nothing less. Not sure how the current contract negotiations are going, but I don’t expect to see the Cops walk away with a good deal. That is unfortunate, because while the IPA leadership is void of a leader, the men and women of the department continue to do no less than an outstanding job and deserve to be compensated accordingly. Steven understands this and will eventually get over his ruffled feathers.

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