Last Friday, the City of Irvine’s Ad Hoc Committee for a Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial held its first meeting 90 days after discussions at the Irvine City Council meeting in March about placing a final resting place for OC’s veteran’s at The Great Park. The only Democrat on the committee is State Rep Sharon Quirk-Silva (for the first 45 minutes or so) and while she’s surrounded by Republicans who often believe Government should run like a business, the committee waited until Mayor Steven Choi could clear his schedule to attend the meeting (in a real business, the meeting would have happened without him).
Despite the long lead time, those who attended agreed the committee and Irvine City staff didn’t seem well prepared. There was a half-hour discussion about basic Brown Act rules that those on the dais who have been elected for quite some time should have been able to grasp in their sleep. That in itself is a clue for how things would go. The first victim of the night was transparency; after hearing the city’s lawyer explain exceptions to the Brown Act that would allow ad hoc members in Sacramento to discuss this project with city officials in OC, the first item was the removal of the state and county elected officials from the Ad Hoc committee which allows these former members to meet and have conversations with Lalloway, Choi and other committee members, and not violate Brown Act rules. So Quirk Silva, Rep. Don Wagner, a representative from Mimi Walters staff and Todd Spitzer are no longer on the committee in a formal sense, but will participate in an advisory capacity. Secrecy wins.
An Update from Sharon Quirk Silva’s office: “Ex Officio members in this body, of which State Rep. Quirk Silva is one, were not a part of the voting committee to begin with. They have no voting power so the question if theBrown Act applied to all members or just voting committee members. No committee members were removed or added and the only action taken by city staff and attorney were advised to conduct additional research on the capacity on which the Brown Act affects ex-officio members.”
And to all that we say, shouldn’t these elected officials on the committee understand how the Brown Act applies to their work or not?
We attended the meeting briefly and things looked pretty disjointed. Interestingly enough, Register reporter Kim Pierceall was there but only tweeted about the Brown Act discussion and she did not file a story.
The one group that came prepared was FivePoint Communities which made their presentation on where they think the Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial should be located. And for those who remember Gomer Pyle, “surprise, surprise, surprise…” It’s not at the Great Park.
FivePoint delivered this presentation (sorry there’s no script with I t– http://www.cityofirvine.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=25340) where they attempt to identify other properties in OC for the cemetery and memorial. The base at Tustin MCAS was one, Los Alamitos Army JTC and the Seal Beach Navy NWS were all considered along with available space. But the space being pitched as ideal was a large plot of land just west of the 5 freeway in San Juan Capistrano. And what pretty photos of SJC were included in FivePoints pitch (see slide 15).
1. There was no one from San Juan Capistrano’s city council or city manager’s office in attendance at the meeting.
2. If appears no one from FivePoint or the City has even contacted San Juan Capistrano about placing a Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial in their city or to see what they think about it.
“The only action the (San Juan Capistrano) City Council has taken is to state our support for a state Veteran’s cemetery proposal at the Great Park property and we have,” said Lori Doll, senior executive assistant to the City Manager and City Council of San Juan Capistrano. “That is the only communication I am aware of from the city of Irvine and we have not changed our support for that proposal.”
The committee meets against a week from Friday at Irvine City Hall. I’m hoping someone puts together a nice pitch and presentation for where exactly the Cemetery and Memorial would go at the Great Park. But these veterans don’t have the resources for a snazzy PowerPoint like FivePoint does and they don’t have the political clout that Emile Haddad has when it comes to campaign contributions and IEs to benefit Choi and Lalloway for this fall.
The takeaway from the meeting is pretty simple. The Republicans want to run out the clock on the Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial at the Great Park and FivePoint is going to work hard to make sure a single headstone is *never* placed on land near those expensive homes being built; bad Feng Shui after all (even though they insist that’s why even though Mayor Choi says it is; you can figure it out).