Much was made last weekend about the paid signature gatherers seeking to get signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to give Irvine Taxpayer s a voice in where the Veteran’s Cemetery in Irvine will be located. The Facebook pages associated with the Great Park and the OC Veterans Cemetery and Memorial are echo chambers where opposing viewpoints are deleted and commenters banned (which is their right).
Bu not as much attention on those seeking to block people from signing the petition or earning out the petition gatherers.
Harvey Liss is a friend of mine. He’s been a longtime Irvine activist for progressive issues and is an unpaid volunteer gathering signatures for the petition drive to place the Veteran’s Cemetery back at the ARDA site. And somehow, OCVMP/Bake Parkway advocate Bill Cook always seems to show up where Harvey is to intimidate him and “chase him away.”
Cook brags about this on social media.
I called Harvey this weekend to see how his efforts were going. He mentioned he was being intimidated by an anti-petition volunteer. I was three minutes away from him and got to the target on Barranca Parkway and found him. About five minutes later, Bill Cook came strolling towards Harvey.
Cook greeted me with an expletive that I’m sure the family of five with three little kids entering the store sure appreciated. He they asked if Liss or myself have every served in the military. I’m from an Air Force base town and I have a severe hearing loss that would never allow me to serve even if I was interested in doing so. Harvey said no, he had not.
“If you’re not a veteran, you’re a Candyass,” Cook screamed at us.
I countered with Irvine taxpayers ought to have a say in where the cemetery — one that everyone wants — should go. Cook said he didn’t care what Irvine taxpayers thought. And only about 7 million of 300 million Americans have served in the military with about 4 million active service now — we are, if we use Cook’s definition, a nation of Candyasses.
The greeting prompted me to whip out my smartphone and start recording video. You can watch it here. I posted this video to Facebook over the weekend and it’s been shared a few times and has more than 500 views on my page.
Cook accuse Liss of “stolen valor” for claiming to be a veteran when Liss has done no such thing. Cook went on to talk about a road the city placed through the middle of the ARDA side and how that was proof the city never intended for that site to be a cemetery (how might visitors get to the gravesites?) and meanwhile, he neglected to mention there are actually two roads through the Strawberry Fields site. It’s really three lots, not one. Liss, fearing for his safety, took off for a few minutes until Cook left the scene. And because Liss was chased off, Cook violated the law.
Cook made several sarcastic comments about his house provided by FivePoint and his “executive position and salary” from Five Point, but made a comment — after being told construction at Strawberry Fields really can’t begin before October 2018 — with “I don’t care how long it takes. 2018…2019.” I thought the while point of Strawberry Fields was to start faster and meanwhile cleanup of the ARDA site could have begun last August without cost to Irvine taxpayers.
Irvine has a free speech ordinance which says, “No person shall interfere with individuals exercising their free speech rights within areas open to the general public…”
This includes the right to solicit and gather signatures on petitions.
By “chasing away” the “Candy Asses” gathering signatures, Cook finds himself in violation of an important city ordinance. He had no problem with two “anti-petition” volunteers who hadn’t served not being Candy-Asses.
Here’s some of Cook’s earlier social media posts:
It’s distasteful to argue with ANY veteran. What Cook fails to realize is the land in Irvine doesn’t belong to Veteran’s. It belongs to Irvine’s taxpayers. And almost everyone supports the notion of a Veteran’s cemetery on the base — the location ought to be decided by voters and taxpayers, not a small collection of people who made a deal with a developer.