In his first state of the city address in 2013, Mayor Steven Choi outlined an ambitious plan to build a great public library at the Great Park and in two years since the idea was first proposed, the project has generated a lot of busy work for city staff and there hasn’t been a lot of progress. A major concern is Choi wants to finance the construction of a huge library through Irvine’s philantrophic community. Costs range from $50 million to $150 million.
The premise is “every great city needs a great library” but there are some inherent problems with Choi’s legacy (a topic the Mayor is particularly obsessed with at the moment–his legacy is winning Mayor twice with less than 50% of the vote and defaming the speaker of the house when she came to Irvine…end of story).
In response to Choi’s renewed push for a Great Library at the Great Park, a citizen group has emerged in opposition to the Library idea. The Irvine Villages for Fiscal Responsibility sent an email Monday calling on residents to oppose Choi’s Library idea, claiming Choi would put taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars to preserve his legacy. Here’s the email:
|Dear Irvine Resident:
We need help today to STOP Mayor Choi from spending millions on a new library and leaving Irvine taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions more.
We have nothing against libraries, in fact we support our libraries as places for reading and learning and studying. But our world has changed since Mayor Choi received his Ph.D. in Library Sciences and spending millions on new buildings to house books is not the way of the future.
|During the last two years the City of Irvine has been busy finally working on building the Great Park and conducting a forensic audit to find out what exactly happened to the more than $200 million dollars that was spent by the previous Larry Agran-council majority, money that never made it to actually building the park.
As a result, the citizens of Irvine elected a new majority to straighten out the finances, complete the audit and work more cohesively together on a plan for the Great Park that includes goals, transparency and a better structure of accountability.
Unfortunately, at the City Council meeting on January 13 Mayor Steven Choi ignored this progress. Mayor Choi placed an item on the Council Agenda for the City to conduct a study for, what is sure to become, at least a $150 million dollar plan, to build a municipal library for what Mayor Choi calls his ‘legacy.’
Why is Mayor Choi’s trying to set his ‘legacy pet project’ above other projects that have been waiting in line for approval; such as a new police facility, new animal shelter or community center at the Great Park? Is Mayor Choi becoming another Larry Agran, believing his priorities get special treatment?
We ask you to please send Mayor Choi a message by a writing a letter, email or calling the Mayor’s office and stating your concern and asking the Mayor to remove his ‘library pet project’ from getting special treatment for approval by his colleagues at the February 10, 2015 City Council meeting.
This is not a partisan issue, everyone of every part of the political spectrum can easily understand that squandering money on a public building, salaries, and employee pensions when those dollars would be better spent elsewhere and with no additional overhead which puts Irvine taxpayers at risk. Unfortunately, self-styled conservative Councilwoman Schott seconded spending the money on the Mayor’s misguided study. We expected more out of Schott and will be watching to see if this was an isolated incident or a sign of her becoming another bureaucrat. Councilwoman Beth Krom, who is no stranger to voting to throw public dollars in the trash can, also voted to study the Mayor’s boondoggle.
|The newspapers report everyday about California municipalities mismanaging taxpayer money on frivolous studies and projects that don’t matter (Bell, Pasadena, Buena Park, Stockton, San Bernardino, etc…) that eventually lead to catastrophic ruin. Let us stand together and demand that this doesn’t happen in Irvine and that no politician or his ‘pet projects’ are ever more important than the financial health of our City.
Contact all three express your opposition to wasting more money at the Great Park. Without three votes, there is no library, each yes vote will be held accountable.
As Irvine taxpayers, let us stand together for out City.
We’ll note some things from this email; language attacking former council member Larry Agran and other text that denigrates sitting council member Beth Krom makes this highly unlikely that this group was organized from the Left. The entire taxpayer funding issue and appeals to non-partisanship, and the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway from the attack on Choi and the city council is also telling.
It looks like a shot across the bow for those who would like Jeff Lalloway to replace Don Wagner in the Assembly instead of Choi should Wagner win Mimi Walter’s empty State Senate seat. Both Lalloway and Choi reside in AD-68 with Lalloway having closer ties to new GOP chair Fred Whitaker in Orange. Not including Lalloway in the message seems like a deliberate move and not an oversight.
In today’s Internet age, is a Great Library really something relevant today? Choi wants the library, presumably named after him, to be a place where students can go to study which works if they have a car or access to one. These days, students seem to use Starbucks or Barnes and Noble for a socialized student environment. Choi’s library plan would divorce Irvine from the county’s library system and require millions for ongoing operations with no revenue stream to support ongoing operations even if Choi manages to raise enough for construction. Frankly, I’d rather keep writing checks to IPSF to maintain great quality schools which are far more important to me than a massive library. A smarter move for be for Choi to improve the libraries already in Irvine by expanding facilities and providing more services.