“Cancelled” Town Hall Meeting Attracts Dozens of Great Park Chinese Homeowners; Veterans Greet Them Over Cemetery

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The Town Hall meeting scheduled for Monday night at Cypress Park was officially cancelled but that didn’t stop about three dozen Chinese residents of the FivePoint Neighborhood homes near the Great Park from attending what was considered a “private meeting” in a room rented by an unnamed “private individual.”  The Chinese residents were greeted by a dozen Veterans from every branch of the service.

The Vets asked, “Are you here for the meeting about the Cemetery?”  When the neighbor nodded in the affirmative, the Vets directed them to the correct door with instructions, “down the hall and all the way to the right.”

At the end of the hall, visitors to the Cypress neighborhood clubhouse were greeted by an Irvine City employee, Darin Loughrey, who managed the facility.  When we asked, “if this the meeting about the cemetery?” he responded saying that meeting was cancelled and the meeting inside was a private affair.  There was no apparent guest list, but in a nutshell, if you were Asian, you got access.  If you weren’t Asian, he asked you to leave.  We asked who rented the room, and Mr. Loughrey would only say, “a private party rented the room.”

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One Irvine resident, a local realtor, did manage to get in and sit down 30 minutes before the start of the meeting and she said Loughrey actually grabbed her red purse as a means of getting her out of her chair so he could get her to leave.  It worked.  Some of the Asian residents brought their children to the meeting.

It’s unclear who was running the meeting and no one was sure if Mr. Loughrey keeps such late hours.  But the Vets and TheLiberalOC were denied access to the meeting.  We did a head count at 6:25 PM by walking up to the windowed doors and counted at least 36 people in attendance to discuss the cemetery.  Many attending carried fliers promoting the Town Hall meeting in their hands as they walked in.  The number of seats prepared for the meeting was well over a hundred.

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The Veterans who attended totaled about a dozen.  Some wore their colors.  All were peaceful and courteous.  But what’s clear is how can any sort of “win-win” scenario happen if the Veterans and the neighbors have no means of talking to each other.  One Vet there, who asked not to be identified, said he’s tried to speak to the Chinese about why the Cemetery and Memorial needs to be at El Toro and “they won’t budge an inch.  There is no compromise.  They won’t even listen.”

“I’m 61 and thought I’ve heard it all until I read the OC Register article concerning the proposed Veterans cemetery at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro where Asian neighbors in the area say the graves of our national military heroes would create bad feng shui and hurt their property values,” said Greg Raths, a member of the Mission Viejo City Council and a retired USMC Colonel.  “I spent over 20 years at El Toro serving my country as a fighter pilot.  I have literally thousands of takeoffs and landings there, with a handful of emergency landings where the crash and rescue crew saved my life with quick responses.  I took off for Operation Desert Storm on runway 07 in 1991and left from runway 34 to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to return to the Middle East for Operation Southern Watch over Iraq sand Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993.  On my final flight, when I slip the surly bonds of this earth and touch the face of God, I want my body to rest in peace at the El Toro Cemetery.  I promise that I will be a good quiet neighbor for those living in the area.”

 

 

 

  10 comments for ““Cancelled” Town Hall Meeting Attracts Dozens of Great Park Chinese Homeowners; Veterans Greet Them Over Cemetery

  1. David Vasquez
    June 8, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Replace the word CHINESE with MEXICAN and the world would be turned upside down.

    Irvine (and OC) needs sensible leadership. The gap between the homeowners and the Veterans should be closed. WITHOUT RACE BAITING and vicious attacks.

    Maybe, Young Kim (SQS’s successor) could step up.

    This is an emotionally charged issue, let’s not allow it to become campaign fodder.

    • June 9, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Oh it’s already campaign fodder.

  2. Kehaulani
    June 9, 2015 at 1:44 am

    This article lacks impartiality. Please refrain from referring to Chinese American residents as “Chinese,” as you do not know their citizenship status, which is unrelated to their language ability or insistence on feng shui . Also, diminishing the local resident’s perspective to “bad feng shui” exoticizes an ethnicity and cultural tradition that does not conflict with an American identity. Overall, I do not see how the original ethnicity of the local residents has anything to do with the “feng shui” argument, as people from different cultures have adopted this cultural tradition. After all, American identity is not synonymous with whiteness. Moreover, veterans include not only Caucasians, but Chinese Americans, and other Asian Americans as well. By positioning “Veterans” against “Chinese,” you are implying that the “Chinese” selfishly view their own property values as of greater importance than our soldier’s lives. However, local AMERICAN residents do have a vested interest in their community, especially if their investment is in their property. This situation is not ideal for anyone, but please, try to report this situation in a more politically correct way.

    • June 9, 2015 at 7:42 am

      If you attended last night’s event, just about everyone who walked into the meeting was clutching documents from the “I LOve Irvine” website with text that was Chinese. And without knowing anyone’s immigration status, “Chinese” seems to be a better way of describing those who attended given that most of the opposition to the Cemetery and Memorial is from Chinese neighbors.

      I’m glad you brought up the “American Identity” portion because its not like there was a snap decision to make that portion of the Park a Cemetery; there was a long process. The opposition claims it happened with little or no notice and that’s simply not true. And I will point out on the Veteran’s standing up for the Cemetery and Memorial at the Great Park last night is Asian. And has far as implying that the Chinese view their own property values of greater importance than solider’s lives — well, read the flyer issued by the anti-Cemetery crowd again.

      There are large cemeteries throughout Southern California near sizable Asian populations that do not diminish property values.

      Actually, the situation as it stands today is ideal for the Veterans who fought for this country and died for it. They entered into a long process to get a Bill passed that targeted the Great Park site for a final resting place. Going through that process is consistent with the American identity.

      And when you discuss Whiteness, are you referring to Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, English, Dutch, Swedes….?

      When the Memorial is designed, I’m certain steps will be taken so the Asian neighbors won’t even see evidence of a cemetery unless you went looking for it.

  3. June 9, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Ideally America would be populated by Americans without any hyphen. We would be one homogeneous band of people whose love of personal liberty and willingness to obey Constitutional law without coercion would form far stronger bonds than any difference in ethnicity, color, race, religion, or national origin. The immigrants who came to America during the later part of the Nineteenth Century and the early part of the Twentieth Century came closest to meeting this mark, or at least their children did. Today’s immigrants seem to be coming to take something back and remain separate and apart from the established community. Sadly, many politicians and other hucksters seem to be using these differences, to play with the rivalries that they produce to further their personal agendas.

    The Chinese in Irvine who are now objecting to the National Cemetery slated to be developed in the OC Great Park seem to archetypal of these latter arrivals. They don’t even appear to be happy with “hyphenated” status. They are Chinese and thus referring to them as such seems appropriate. Vietnamese-Americans who arrived as refugees from the Communism that China helped foist upon their homeland resent being grouped with them. When the article in the OC Register ascribed the opposition movement to Asian-Americans, they complained that they were being treated unfairly inasmuch as they would never object to such disrespect of American veterans, especially those who repelled the Communist invaders until Congress decided to snap defeat from the jaws of victory. I suspect that Chinese-Americans and those of Chinese descent who have integrated even deeper into the great American Melting-Pot would share the Vietnamese attitude.

    I suggest that we all sit back now and focus on the greater lesson. Will a very small but influential minority in Irvine be able to derail the cemetery project? Will their wealth prevail over the natural respect that Americans have always paid to those who sacrificed all or some of their lives to this nation?

    • Ltpar
      June 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      Very well stated Jack. The answer is “No,” there will be no derailing of the Veteran’s Cemetery at the Great Park. Seems to me the Council has made it very clear, at least that is what I heard, that it is a done deal. Now, Irvine is just waiting for the State/Feds to get their act together on funding the project.

      My impression was the Town Hall Meeting was an attempt by members of Council to meet with unhappy citizens, let them vent their frustrations and to inform them why the cemetery would be moving forward at the Great Park. Part of open government is to let all people have their say and to try and mediate differences which may happen. Contrary to all the cheap shots by liberals, I have seen absolutely no wavering on the original decision by the Council as to the cemetery placement. Instead of ragging on the Council every two weeks, perhaps more energy should be directed at Sacramento to get them moving on the planning and development phase of the Veteran’s cemetery.

      • Dan Chmielewski
        June 10, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        except Shea still wants a “win-win” scenario and FivePoints has all those homes to sell

  4. Tony Arrigo
    June 9, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Bad Feng Shui you say ??? I think Communism lowers property value a lot more. Such short memories from a group that Americans died freeing….Chinese in WWII, Koreans in Korean war, Vietnamese in Vietnam war. Perhaps the Japanese community has suffered memory loss too regarding the Bashido code. As for living near the dead being a taboo…this is US soil not Asian soil. Wake up and smell the freedom. This is not an Asiaphobic rant but a statement from a Vietnam veteran, Perhaps the departed may not Rest in Peace with such ungrateful neighbors.

  5. Manuel Serrano
    June 9, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Re David Vasquez remark about “replacing the word Chinese with Mexican” reminded me of my mom and dad, both who were born in Mexico and brought here as babies during Mexico’s revolution. They both spoke Spanish but learned English, of Mexican birth but proficient in English, married and had three children who they taught us to be proud of our Mexican heritage but, in fact, were American of Mexican heritage. Whosoever wishes to be an American may keep their traditions, but please don’t interject their traditions with American ones. We, Americans, bury our dead where we wish in accordance with city, county, state and the Constitution.

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