Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway has a reputation for being a bully at times, especially when he doesn’t get his way. And his council colleagues voted against him last week in approving security cameras at the soccer fields and parking lots at The Great Park. So after my week in Vegas, I had several emails about this “social media event” without ever touching anyone’s Facebook page.
So while we were gone last week, Lalloway posted this on Facebook.
I’m deeply disappointed in my Irvine City Council colleagues for authorizing a massive police surveillance effort at the Great Park with over 35 cameras being used to watch over 175 acres. That’s one camera for every 3 soccer fields. On a 3-2 vote, Councilwoman Schott and I dissenting, my colleagues joined with liberal Beth Krom to unnecessarily watch our citizens as they go to their kid’s soccer and baseball or softball games. When does the government need to watch its citizens ever end?
What makes this complaint somewhat odd is Lalloway was a big proponent of banning sex offenders from Irvine City Parks back in 2012 and used his position to paint then Mayoral candidate Larry Agran as a “pervert protector” for taking a position that this ordinance was unconstitutional. And a judge agreed with Agran. After that court ruling, we quoted Lalloway’s reaction:
“I am disturbed by an activist court finding the Ordinance to be preempted by California Law. In my opinion, Irvine and other cities should be allowed to govern our parks, especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”
Also from our story:
Irene Pai, a lawyer with the Orange County public defender’s office, said “child safety zones” give parents a false sense of security, punishing many offenders who are not dangerous without actually stopping predators from entering parks.
Ms. Pai said she had a stack of cases involving people who were arrested for urinating in public in the 1970s and pleaded guilty to indecent exposure without realizing they would have to register as sex offenders.
“The very notion that a park ordinance could in any way protect children, more than an attentive caregiver’s presence or any other way we protect our children, is absurd,” she said.
The basic problem with Lalloway’s position, fueled by stories from the gone and good-riddance former OC Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, is that there’s no real way to stop a sexual predator from entering a park short of making them wear electronic monitoring devices and have some sort of warning system in place to warm parents and kids of “stranger danger.” Most kids molested by child perverts are abused by someone they know (typically a family member).
Surveillance cameras are by no means perfect, but they do give Irvine Police a tool to place someone inside the Great Park who intends to commit some sort of vandalism, theft, kidnapping or whatever. If Lalloway wants no cameras at the Great Park, how about banning them from intersections/traffic lights or banning security cameras from stores?
So what did Lalloway do after the vote? He unfriended his council colleague Christina Shea (I should feel lucky; Lalloway only deletes my comments he doesn’t like…and yes Reagan sold weapons to Iran dammit). Now Shea has the thinnest skin of anyone on the city council. The thinnest skin ever. Criticisms are met with emails from her (or phone calls) demanding corrections, retractions or even nasty lawyer letters threatening litigation.
She wrote this:
I am posting a response to Councilmember Lalloway, because he unfriended me and I couldn’t respond to his post attacking me and Mayor Choi.
Jeff, the facts are simply, we are building a 1400 acre national park. We will be experiencing hundreds of thousands of visitors on a regular basis. As a single woman, raising a young child, I want to know our largest public works project in the country, right in our back yard, provides our residents and visitors with proper security. This is a public safety concern., proposed by our public safety department. We don’t live in a world, sadly, any more, that allows us to,plan such a massive development project, without taking proper steps to protect our community. We have regular issues with car thefts, problems in our smaller public parks and restrooms. We additonally, being surrounded by open space, have issues with coyote attacks, and wild life intrustion. We aren’t immune to crime in Irvine or wild life intruding into our communities and parks. The cameras will help our department protect our visitors.
We disagree, I am sorry when you lose a vote, you decide to publicly admonish your colleagues. Your desire to protect civil liberties is important, but criminals don’t care about my civil liberties or yours or our community or visitors coming to the Great Park. In time,there will certainly be folks that will thank us for our proactive steps.
For those who might think Shea’s a little old to be a new mother, we understand she has custody of her granddaughter. And for someone who was the Great Park chair, it’s not a national park…it was to be a regional park, but it’s clearly not national.
And Shea’s comment prompted more social media fun from Supervisor Todd Spitzer and Irvine Mayor Steven Choi. Spitzer started it on Lalloway’s page:
Todd Spitzer Christina and Steven are good conservatives. Pretty high profile slam if they have a difference of opinion after being recommended by Chief Maggard.
Jeffrey Lalloway Looks like you would have voted to put up a massive surveillance system at the Great Park.
Todd Spitzer Steven and Christina have been your majority for a long time it just seems really unthoughtful to slam them like this we don’t get everything we want in politics or public policy that doesn’t mean we walk away from our supporters
Jeffrey Lalloway I’m confused. I shouldn’t put on my Facebook page public votes that I disagree with? Are we in the Soviet Union where I need to tow the party line or be slammed by a Supervisor for being “unthoughtful?” On the other hand, I feel strongly that this vote was a mistake and I’m exercising my First Amendment right to tell Irvine’s residents what’s happening in their city.
(Editor’s note: Facebook isn’t a government communications platform; people can and do censor. Mr. Lalloway does often on his page because he can…it’s his page; we find his reasoning funny because he talks the talk about “First Amendment” free speech but doesn’t walk the walk).
Mayor Choio chimed in on Shea’s Facebook page:
After reading my colleague Jeff Lalloway’s comment on the Irvine City Council public policy matters in the FB, I am compelled to respond.
His claim was that it was a bad policy to install security cameras in the OC Great Park which is under construction. Upon Irvine Police Department’s careful study and recommendations, the City Council voted to approve the security cameras in strategic locations after an hour-long full discussion. Among the five members on the Council, it is anticipated to see differences of opinion on any agenda item. However, once a decision is reached by the majority votes, we honor it and live by it. That’s the beauty of the democratic process.
In this free society, one can do anything to please him/her. But, I can raise my own question what’s the purpose of my colleague to bring it up on the social media other than demonstrating the ugly side of Republican divisiveness.
Furthermore, speaking of the public safety, it is an utmost top priority for the City of Irvine. Irvine did not earn the safest city in America status for the past ten straight years by an accident. It was achieved by a careful and continuous effort by the police department under the City Council policy. Cameras without a question will deter criminal activities and possibly prevent crimes in the OC Great Park where many visitors are anticipated once the Park is constructed. Our 175 acre-sport park is under construction and expected to be completed by the end of 2016, with national championship tournament scale amenities for soccer, tennis, and baseball/softball among other amenities for basketball and golf. You can imagine the types of crowd and the numbers that will pour into the Great Park sports field – the players, spectators, friends and parents with children.
Above and beyond the sports park, 688 acres currently under construction will include Upper Bee Canyon, wooded Bosque are, the golf course the wild life corridor, and the agricultural area. Policing this vast area will be certainly a challenge and demand so much policing manpower and cost. The security cameras will play a big role for effective surveillance for the safety of the crowd. Furthermore, those cameras are proactive measures, not an reactive one after possibly painful crime incidents in that they will also play the role of crime deterrence.
You may not realize that security cameras are all over your head when you walk into any store, small or big nowadays. But, they are there to protect the store, employees and the customers. We never question so-called “my civil liberty” to the store manager or owner. Unfortunately, this is the day and age that we live in that the personal safety matter outweighs the “privacy” issue in the public setting. I believe that City must take the public safety issue more seriously over the “privacy” issue in the open public setting.
I strongly believe that the Irvine City Council decision was a correct one for the safety of our citizens and visitors to the Park by placing the security cameras in the strategic locations.
Lalloway often cites his two small daughters as a driving factor in decisions he makes. I get that completely. Both of them play soccer. And game day is hectic with lots of people and lots of distractions. I’d sure hate to see anything bad happen to either one of them at the soccer fields of the Great Park (sincerely, I mean this); perhaps a security camera would help the Police if something did.