Irvine Council member Christina Shea has been one of the biggest sticking points in placing a Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial at the Great Park in Irvine. She insists she supports the idea, but in March, she offered an alternate motion to delay consideration of a memorial at the Great Park which was defeated and then was the sole vote against a proposal to support locating a cemetery at the Great Park. Shea’s defense is that the city has contractual obligations with the developer and there’s a landfill that needs $50 million to clean up before a cemetery could be placed there which she says the state or feds won’t pay for. Before he was for the Great Park as the site, Mayor Steven Choi was against it claiming he would speak to the FBI about locating the memorial north of Irvine Blvd on land owned by the feds. Mulder and Scully didn’t come through for the Mayor who is on the ad hoc committee but his busy public schedule preventing him from attending any meetings until last month allowing the Republicans running the show to run out the clock.
And if you attended the first meeting of the ad-hoc Committee for the Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial, FivePoint Communities made a presentation fully supporting a cemetery and memorial — just not one at the Great Park. The developer identified a site off the 5-freeway owned by Saddleback Church as an idea site. But the obvious problems for the committee is no one had contacted San Juan Capistrano at the time, and the city of Irvine and FivePoint have no claim on that land at all (the committee meets again this Friday at 10AM in the multi-purpose room of Los Lomas Park) if you’d like to speak your mind — why let the developer have all the fun.
You get the impression there’s no room for a Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial at the Great Park. The ad hoc committee’s second meeting marks 4 months since the City Council voted to make a Great Park site a reality and since then, progress is painfully slow.
So that’s the set up.
Meanwhile, Broadcom is looking at a greenlight from the City’s Planning Commission (I’m surprised that wasn’t turned over to FivePoint to save time) for a new foot research and development corporate campus near the Great Park that would be done by 2017. The land was zoned for such development so it’s hardly a surprise.
But there’s a proposal to place a California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center at the Great Park, and organizers need some sort of commitment from the city on this so they can begin raising the nearly $16 million they need to build the 32,000 square foot facility on about 5 acres of land. The council suggested a mini-museum to be placed near the new fire station. But the OC Register reports Shea made this interesting statement from the Dais: “There’s plenty of land out there. We could find a spot for it,” said Councilwoman Christina Shea, chairwoman of the Great Park board.
Now I realize 5 acres for a museum and 100 acres for a Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial are apples and oranges, but if there’s “plenty of land out there,” then why is it so hard for the City to make real progress towards the cemetery and memorial? The Park is between 1300 and 1400 acres according to published reports. The FivePoint development of the Park is less than 700 acres.
More proof that developers own the city government comes in the form of a site run by Lobbyist and former State Senator Dick Ackerman, who is pushing new online poll of Irvine residents called IrvineCares.org and one of the questions asks Irvine residents if we should accelerate development of Heritage Fields around the Great Park. By accelerating development, you’ll find that things like a Veteran’s Cemetery can quickly run out of room.
In researching this post, I came across a feature story on Council member Shea in a publication called TheNotice, published by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County in May. The story about how Shea got involved in politics and what she sees are the biggest concerns in the city is pretty run of the mill. The reporter writes very nicely, but could have asked for more specifics in the context of the interview. She could have done more research. Shea recounts how she got into politics, but leaves out a key detail on Measure N.
From the piece:
“Eventually, her long-standing interest in civic engagement evolved into a professional career.
After assisting with local candidates’ campaigns for several years, she was asked to serve on the Irvine Community Services Commission in 1990. During her time on the commission, she worked to establish parks, senior programs, and childcare centers. “Having my own kids and being a woman, I found that was really important to me,” she says—with regard to her campaign for establishing childcare centers throughout Irvine. “Knowing that the city was going to be developed out over the next 30 to 40 years, we made sure that, within our proposals, the land developer set aside a certain amount of acres in all new developments for a childcare site for the local community.” After two years of serving on the commission, Shea was invited to run for city council.
At first, she turned down the offer. Although Shea loved engaging in community service and interfacing with residents, she was “literally petrified”—as she puts it—of public speaking, a core component of any political career. “Isn’t that so funny? I know I’m very outgoing, but I hated to publicly speak,” she admits. However, the night before the filing deadline, Shea finally committed to running for city council. Her landslide victory came as a shock, especially since she remembers her opponent had televised his win before all of the ballots had been counted. “I’m so pleased I made the decision to do it. … I tell folks that you cannot let your fear control you. I was letting that happen to me… and I would have missed out on so much,” she says.
After Shea was elected, she began working on issues related to domestic violence. Within six months of her career, the Laguna Beach Human Options Center, the first battered women’s shelter in south Orange County, closed. Collaborating with various nonprofit groups, Shea led the charge to build a new domestic violence shelter in Irvine, which opened in 1996.”
Wow, there’s absolutely no mention of Shea’s engagement on Measure N which targeted gays and lesbians who worked for the city of Irvine. Specifically, Measure N repealed what was a 15-month-old city provision banning bias based on sexual orientation in such areas as employment, housing and city services.
Shea offered her thoughts on this to the LA Times in 1989 writing:
“Before we insulate any special interest group for special legislation we need to take into account its behavior. Recent studies generated by the AIDS epidemic reveal that homosexuality is characterized by a wide range of sexual perversions, varying degrees of promiscuity and a disproportionate percentage of sexually transmitted diseases.
The Orange County Health Department disclosed that more than 86% of all reported cases of AIDS in Orange County have as their origin the homosexual and bisexual communities. The reason that these statistics are so high is that the average homosexual who has been tested for and found to have AIDS has had approximately 100 different sexual partners per year before testing positive to the HIV virus.
Many homosexual groups lobby for political prominence by playing the “victim role.” In the Oct. 9 issue of U.S. News & World Report, John Leo states, “More and more aggrieved groups want to magnify their victim status.” Homosexuals seem to understand this clearly; that is why many homosexual activists have turned “gay bashing” into a media campaign.
Several openly professing homosexuals continually play the “victim role” on our own stage in Irvine. They express fears that if this ordinance is amended they will not be able to get adequate housing or jobs. This is completely unfounded. The gay community has not experienced discrimination in Irvine, as the Human Rights Committee study has shown. In fact, their standard of living is excellent.
Contrary to what the homosexuals want us to believe, they have gained more acceptance in the last 20 years in the United States than ever before. A Washington Post article (April, 1979) confirmed this point by indicating that “the homosexuals in our country have become a new ‘power block,’ a block that has both power and money.”
As the homosexual community is quite aware, portraying itself as a victim can gain political and social recognition. This stance, however, can be deceptive and destructive to society.
Support equal rights for all citizens, not special rights for a few. Vote yes on Measure N.”
The LA Times editorial supported a No on Measure N vote. From the editorial: “It is ironic that a city ordinance intended to unite the community is being used by some misguided residents and crusading outsiders instead to divide it with appeals to people’s baser fears.
No one’s rights are safe unless everyone’s rights are secure. Proponents of Measure N like to argue that homosexuals are not a bona fide minority group. But any group being discriminated against deserves the protection of the law and the support of the community.
In considering how to vote on Measure N, whether you believe homosexuals can change their life style at will is not important. What you think of the homosexual life style, even if you find it abhorrent, is really of no consequence either. The issue is that everyone has the right to seek jobs, and housing, without being subjected to prejudice. Nor can the community pick and choose what people it wants and does not want–and, by protecting some groups and excluding others, whom it may discriminate against.
Irvine’s human rights ordinance was an attempt to oppose such discrimination. And to send a message to all minorities that they are wanted, needed and, indeed, are welcome in the city. A no vote on Measure N will endorse that message in the strongest terms possible.”
Shea was the ring leader of what the LA Times called “an anti-gay group,” the Irvine Values Coalition’s initiative, submitted to the city clerk, would exclude homosexuals from protection against discrimination. The initiative, which narrowly won in 1989 when the city was much smaller, prevented the City Council from adopting any future ordinance that “defines sexual orientation as a fundamental human right” without a vote of two-thirds of the people. The LA Times described the Irvine Values Coalition is a group of about 75 residents who call themselves “family oriented” and against infiltration of gays in the community.
The quote that will always define Shea for me is in this story: “Consulting with anti-gay leaders such as Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) and Oregon activists who had opposed an executive order allowing homosexuals to become foster parents, the Irvine Values Coalition plotted a strategy that focused on homosexuality and included graphic depictions of extreme behavior.
“We tried to show we were normal people. I’m a mom with three kids and I don’t want gay pride festivals or public sex in bathrooms in my city,” Christina said.
So no mention of anti-gay discrimination in TheNotice but lots of detail in getting a battered women’s shelter open in Irvine. That, we applaud. But for Shea to leave out significant details of how she rose to power on a platform of hate in this city that shouldn’t forget her past intolerance is pretty remarkable.