Challenging Weekend in Irvine over Vets Cemetery Referendum

Bill Cook detained by Irvine PD

Signature gatherers for Ed Pope’s referendum on the location of the Orange County Veteran’s Cemetery got ugly this weekend; harassment, assaults, lies and intimidation were in abundance.  A campaign to block and harass possible signers of a referendum — all Irvine voters and taxpayers — is being led by a sitting Irvine council member for the first time in memory.  it’s astonishing to me and the aggressiveness of the anti-petition people tells me they are scared to death to put this to a vote of the people.

Veteran Ed Pope is seeking to gather more than 12,000 signatures to force a vote on the location of the OC Veteran’s Cemetery at the Great Park.  On Friday, a sham groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Bake Parkway site even though CalVet won’t clear the site until June 2018 and State Rep. Sharon Quirk-Silva has said that construction won’t begin until October 2018.

Irvine councilmember Melissa Fox is spearheading an effort to thwart petition signature gathering against the wishes of many Irvine taxpayers.  Social media posts complain about paid signature gatherers with suggestions the fees range between $3 a signature to $25 a signature — and that “volunteers” are being recruited from soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Fox posted that she was assaulted at one location and a man was arrested.  At about 1:50 Sunday afternoon at the Ralph’s market on Alton Parkway, Raoul Ricardo Rodriguez-Peltz of Westminster, CO was arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery.  He was taken to Irvine Police Headquarters for booking and was released; he was not jailed as Fox supporters reported on social media. Update — the Orange County Register reports this was a citizen’s arrest by Fox.  Irvine Police won’t arrest for a misdemeanor unless they witness the assault   The cops did take the suspect in and he was charged.

Fox claims the man took her sign, struck her with in and ripped it up.  And yes, this is assault, but Irvine police did not know if Fox suffered any injuries and, unless the sign was made of wood, she was unlikely to be injured by a sign made of posterboard or foamboard.  if she was, the man deserved to be arrested.  But then, perhaps so does Bill Cook from the OCVMP team who crosses boundries by intimidating old women.

Fox shared a social media post by Veteran Bill Cook calling him and the Vets seeking to stop the signatures and petitions heores.  There’s no question these men fought for our freedom and our rights.  But now they are fighting to deny those very rights of Irvine citizens who seek a vote on the location of the Veteran’s cemetery.  That makes them thugs, not heroes.

Cook himself harassed a woman at the Trader Joe’s in University Park to the point where Irvine Police intervened.

Bill Cook detained by Irvine PD

Bill Cook brags about harassing a woman

Haven’t seen the word “cur” used in awhile.

This is shameful behavior for someone who Melissa Fox says is a “hero” and for a Veteran who fought for freedom and American rights to be so aggressive in denying the rights of Americans to petition their government for redress.  Cook also chased Larry Agran’s friend and Irvine activist Harvey Liss in a parking lot.  I have to wonder, given his bravado and intimidation, if it was to chase a concerned activist away or if it was homophobic for Cook to pick on Liss?

The signs for the Veterans opposed to the petition call out lies without being specific.  So here, as a public service, are questions and statements for those approached by the Veterans not to sign the petition to ask of them; if they hem and haw, go sign:

  • How did 125 acres of prime park land in Irvine suddenly lose half it’s value from $9 million to $4 million when nothing changed; the value of 125 acres is less than half a block on one side of the street in a typical Irvine cul-de-sac.
  • Why did FivePoint fight the creation of the Irvine Veterans Cemetery from 2014 to 2016?
  • Why did the city council fail to compel the developers to put the terms of the agreement in public view for anyone to review and question?
  • Why did the city council fail to make the land swap contingent on the commitment of state and federal funds for the Veteran’s cemetery?
  • Why did the city council fail to ensure the fair value of the land was assessed; accepting the developer’s LOWBALL valuation and allowing the developers to transfer all the entitlements from one piece of land to the other in order to build a fortune with what amounts to a gift of hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds?
  • Why isn’t there a new environmental test considered for the additional 10,000 car and truck trips to the ARDA site once FivePoint develops most or all of the entitlements?
  • FivePoint is contributing $10 million for Phase One of the cemetery development; what will that pay for exactly and where is the rest of the money coming from to finish the cemetery.
  • The claim the landswap means the cemetery will be dine faster; wrong — construction won’t start until after June 30, 2018 and not likely before October 2018.  The ARDA site was nearly fully funded and clean up would have started last summer.
  • Irvine taxpayers were not on the hook for a dime for the clean up of the ARDA site; the state, the military and the Great Park Neighborhoods were supposed to cover the cost.
  • If the ARDA site is a toxic waste site, it’s right next to Portola High, which IUSD said was perfectly fine to build a new high school.  If ARDA is a toxic waste site, so is Portola High.  If Portola High is fine, so is ARDA.
  • A number of Asian homeowners near the ARDA site who might “run to vote for the landswap” should the referendum make it to the ballot, are not registered voters or US citizens.  Some certainly are.  But not enough to make a significant difference.
  • Bill Cook claims to have a “cease and desist” letter about the use of the VFW logo on the literature used by petitioners; the logo is on a photograph of a Vet’s cap.  Fair use.
  • The Veterans could have asked for a dollar for dollar swap instead of acre for acre; they’d then have more than enough funds to finish the cemetery and pay for its maintenance and upkeep for decades.  Bill Cook told the LiberalOC last year, “If Emile Haddad makes a few dollars off this deal, good for him.”
  • Why won’t FivePoint release its development plans for the ARDA site?
  • Five Point’s $10 million gift  has no enforcement mechanism in the Contract.  That was stripped out the agreement.  Why?  If some members of the city council are all about enforceable contract, WTF? Incompetence or bull?
  • Mayor Don Wagner has the sole authority to approve the final deal. Why?  Mayor is largely a ceremonial title in Irvine.
  • Why did Bill Cook allow a FivePoint consultant to draft a letter for him for his signature supporting a land swap?  It’s a fair question to ask him if he’s been bought off.  He denies it, but he did a 180 on the ARDA site which was a bird in hand.
  • Ask why Christina Shea and then Mayor Choi fought so hard to stop the cemetery when it was proposed in 2014?
  • When the land swap was being proposed, getting new legislation pushed through wasn’t a problem according to the Pro-Landswap people; a vote of the people to overturn this awful decision makes that new legislation paperwork just as easy and it carries the weight of Irvine taxpayers, not Mission Viejo resident Bill Cook or Anaheim resident Brian Chuchua.
  • Much is made of bipartisan political support from elected officials for the Strawberry Fields site; most of these elected supported Irvine making the choice and then they supported the new site.
  • Ask how much elected officials were paid in political contributions from FivePoint PACs and Patrick Strader’s StarPointe Ventures?  Did these contributions impact their support for the new site?
  • Where are opponents of the petition getting that paid signature gathers are getting $25 a signature?  And where can I sign up?
  • Paid signature gatherers are legal and ethical means of gathering referendum signatures; if the homeless are being paid to do this, isn’t that something Progressives ought to cheer about?

The petition is not about whether or note Irvine gets a Veterans Cemetery.  A memorial for our Veterans is something that everyone wants and supports, even if Irvine dips into its bank account to help fund it.  It’s about a giveaway of public funds to a developer that spends millions to buy compliant council members to place their interests first.

I encourage Irvine voters to sign the petition and put this to a vote.  Don’t settle for “it’s all lies.” These are the questions to ask.  See what sort of answers you get.


  8 comments for “Challenging Weekend in Irvine over Vets Cemetery Referendum

  1. October 31, 2017 at 1:13 am

    The one liberty, which the founders felt more dear than any other, is the freedom of speech. Quite simply, this nation is founded on the idea that everyone has the right to speak his or her mind, and express their ideas for public consumption and consideration. It’s everyone’s place to respond to those ideas as they might see fit, but it’s no one’s place – not ever – to silence the ideas from being spoken at all.

    And yet, we see this cherished principle of the American democracy repeatedly under assault in modern times.

    Yesterday, I watched for 20 minutes while a young woman was stalked, blocked, yelled at and confronted as these two assailants assaulted her in front of Sprouts, waiting for my daughter to come out of the store – with a disability I felt very bad that I could not get out of my vehicle to help.

    Shame on these women who were attacking a person whom was exercising her right to free speech and offering to get signatures for a referendum on Irvine’s Veterans Cemetery. One of the women stated she attended the “ground breaking” so why was she harassing this woman?

    If Developer wants the Cemetery at the strawberry farm then get it built – ALL OF IT!

    Honoring our military is one of our most important duties as Americans, because without them and the safety their selflessly provide for us, we truly have nothing. It is un-American, unconscionable, and unacceptable to use a Cemetery as a political football – Council members and Developers “Get the Veterans Cemetery Built”


  2. Riley
    October 31, 2017 at 7:35 am

    A citizen’ arrest? Spitzer’s looks noble compared to this

    • October 31, 2017 at 11:28 am

      from the initial social media accounts, I thought someone slugged her. By this standard, I could have had Bill Cook arrested for assault for bumping me at Lou Correa’s office launch in Santa Ana. The woman Bill Cook grabbed literature from last Sunday has grounds for assault charges too. How about we just talk to each other rather than physically intimidate?

  3. Virgie
    October 31, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Was this one of the guys Karen Jaffe hired? Karen keep your thugs out of our city!

    • October 31, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Karen Jaffe hasn’t begun collecting signatures yet; I’m certain there will be blockers and harassment associated with her measure.

    • Senior
      October 31, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      No Dean/Virgie- this isn’t Karen’s petition.

  4. Alan
    October 31, 2017 at 10:43 am

    It is amazing that vets who have fought and died for our freedom then turn around and try to deny people their right to exercise those same freedoms. What a bunch of bully’s.

  5. Flyboy
    October 31, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    What alarmists Fox’s people are. Please ask Bill Cook to stop being such a jerk

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