Irvine’s Shameful Role in Weakening Air Pollution Standards

Jeff Lalloway and Christina Shea with Irvine Mayor Steven Choi-2014

Jeff Lalloway and Christina Shea with Irvine Mayor Steven Choi-2014

The Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the agency tasked with regulation air pollution standards, fell victim to partisan politics in the past few weeks and the State of California is about to step in and expand the Board to play partisan Democrats back on the board to right the ship.  It’s all about cleaner air in the smoggiest part of the nation and if we want to point fingers at those responsible for relaxing pollution standards so we’re breathing dirtier air, look no further than Irvine mayor Steven Choi and Irvine’s representative on the AQMD board Christina Shea.

A reminder that Choi is running for state assembly in AD-68, and Shea, who reminds everyone she’s raising her granddaughter, is up for re-election to the Irvine City Council.

Shea replaced Irvine Council member Jeff Lalloway on the Board when Lalloway wouldn’t follow Choi’s orders to appoint a Republican to the board.  The Voice of OC summed it up best:

The clash stemmed from a move by Republicans to gain control of the AQMD board by replacing the OC cities’ representative, Democratic Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, a green energy advocate, with Republican Lake Forest Councilmember Dwight Robinson, seen as more business-friendly.

When Lalloway did not readily commit to the plan, Choi replaced him with Shea, who cast a key vote for Robinson, giving the GOP a one-vote edge on the AQMD.

Lalloway said he would have ultimately voted for Robinson if given the time to do “due diligence.” But he described Pulido as a “decent” vote if not a “great” one, said he prefers “human air quality” to “business-friendly air quality” and called the GOP maneuver “a poke in the eye” to Democrats that he feared could backfire. Indeed, there are rumblings in Sacramento that the Legislature may pack the AQMD board with additional members, restoring the Democratic edge and then some.

In this case, it’s going to backfire on Choi and Shea. Because their actions mean air quality gets worse not better.  Dirtier air to breathe that costs businesses less and dirtier air for kids — like Shea’s granddaughter — to breathe.

From today’s LA Times:

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said he will introduce legislation to add three new members to the South Coast Air Quality Management District board — one public health expert and two environmental justice members — to represent communities suffering from pollution. 

The move comes days after the South Coast air board’s new Republican majority voted to fire longtime executive officer Barry Wallerstein and to reaffirm the panel’s recent adoption of oil industry-backed emissions rules on refineries and other major pollution sources.

“This has been a wholesale takeover, to the detriment of children and families who breathe these harmful contaminants into their lungs every single day,” De León said. “We have progressed on our policies, we cannot go backward.”

Under de Leon’s plan, two of the additional appointees would be selected by state legislative leaders. The public health member would be appointed by the governor, increasing the panel from 13 to 16 members.

Recent appointees to the air board, including Highland Mayor Larry McCallon and Lake Forest Councilman Dwight Robinson, have said they want the agency to give more emphasis to the economic burden posed by tougher emissions regulations. Republicans gained a seven-member majority with the swearing in of Robinson last month following a campaign by GOP leaders to gain control of the regulatory agency.

Irvine Council member Beth Krom reacted to an LA Times article earlier this month on social media, posting: “It was the vote of Irvine Councilmember Christina Shea on behalf of Irvine Mayor Steven Choi that changed the composition of the Air Quality Management District board setting in motion the roll back of regulations and firing of the Executive Director. I am ashamed of my City Council majority for this and many other actions that place public health and the welfare of people well below the interests of corporate profiteers.”

So if you’re voting against pro-pollution Republicans this June and November, don’t forget to vote for someone other than Choi and Shea.


  10 comments for “Irvine’s Shameful Role in Weakening Air Pollution Standards

  1. Ltpar
    March 9, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Dan, just when I think your political rheotric can’t get piled any higher or deeper, you always surprise me. Let’s see now, what damage has Shea done to the environment. Oh yes, she voted to replace Santa Ana Mayor, Miguel Pulido, an Agranista from the Great Park Hall of Shame who has had his honesty and ethics issues in Santa Ana. How outrageous of new replacement Dwight Robinson to suggest that the Board consider the economic burden of strict regulations imposed on business. Sounds to me like Mr. Robinson is upholding the principle that smaller and less restrictive government is the best government. While I am in favor of clean air as much as the next person, at the same time there has to be a trade off on creating business hardship. It is good that the Board will be looking at the impact overegulation is having on southern California. I suppose if it were up to you Democrats, we would cut all emmissions and return to the Stone Age. Not sure you would like living under those conditions. Before declaring Martial Law, how about we wait and see just what regulations the Board suspends, if any? On the remaining Agranista on the Council, Mrs Krom has every reason to be ashamed, but it should be for her years of mismanagement at the Great Park and for killing the successful Sister City Program. As far as the election in November goes; if Irvine voters want more government, more expense and more government regulations shoved down their throats, by all means vote for Mary Ann Gaido and Melissa Fox. If their want smaller government, fiscal accountability and less intrusion of government into their lives, then vote for the Republican candidates.

    • March 10, 2016 at 6:06 am

      Pat — if only Republicans practices smaller government. Bill Clinton shrunk government to the same size it was during the Clinton administration and, locally, Ms. Shea and Dr. Choi voted against eliminating the Great Park Board since it’s essentially the city council but it’s all about the extra check. Facts don’t match your claims.

    • HowHigh
      March 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      How’s that FPPC investigation of Ms. she going officer? Must be nice to pull down $100k a year to tell city staff to jump right away

    • RHackett
      March 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm


      The problem with your points is the terminology used is so vague as to be meaningless.

      We are told that conservatives want “sensible” regulation. What does that mean? How much poison should we be have to breath so that a polluting company can be allowed to function?

      The claim that conservatives want less intrusive government isn’t supported by facts. There are numerous things that could be done locally to shrink government yet never occur. Merging the TCA into the OCTA would be a good start. Consolidation of water districts would be another. Yet all the conservatives on those respective governing bodies that would be adversely affected never broach the idea.

      Quite the statement to make coming from someone whose livelihood was derived via a socialist institution from the taxation of others.

      • Ltpar
        March 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        I plead guilty as charged for 35 years of time served protecting the citizens of Costa Mesa and Irvine. Wonder what society would be like without the men and women of the Police and Fire Services? Hope you never have to find out.

        • RHackett
          March 12, 2016 at 8:02 am

          Not the point. I just enjoy your situational attitudes towards government and taxes .

        • Dan Chmielewski
          March 12, 2016 at 8:16 am

          Shea and Choi already had the opportunity to shrink government by folding the Great Park Boarf into the City Council since they are the same thing. But she loves that extra stipend doesn’t she?

          • Ltpar
            March 12, 2016 at 10:41 am

            Personally, I supported dumping the Great Park Board, as it was not needed and another layer of bureaucracy. Not sure why Shea and Choi kept it, but I suspect it had something to do City liability and the legal opinion given by the City Attorney as to what would have to be doneon shutting it down. Doubt the stipend had anything to do with it? My memory may be failing, but didn’t the remaining Agranista, Beth Krom vote with Shea and Choi to keep the Board intact? What was her rationale?

            • March 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm

              But Pat, I thought Choi and Sgea were for smaller government. They had a chance to practice what you preach and failed

            • RHackett
              March 13, 2016 at 4:52 pm

              Still not the point.

              I’m betting the stipend is HUGE in their decision to keep the Board intact.

              By itself it may not be much. But sitting on several boards (like Shea) starts to add up.

              To the point where it becomes part of many’s household finances.

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