Of the 44 voting Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committee members voting at the November meeting, a resolution about where the Veteran’s Cemetery ought to go passed on a vote of 27-13 with 4 abstentions. The resolution, posted below, isn’t so much about the Veteran’s Cemetery as it was about supporting Irvine Council member Melissa Fox’s vote. Listening to her describe her work in making the land swap happen, you get the impression the Veteran’s cemetery was her idea alone. Eleven months on the council is a far cry from 2014 when former Council member Larry Agran started this process with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, yet praise was heaped upon Fox with no reference to Agran.
And while Fox may have won the battle last night, it was really developer Five Point’s victory because they now get to claim both the Orange County GOP and the DPOC support the land swap of the freeway site as they prepare to spend millions on a campaign to defeat a referendum that gathered more than 19,000 signatures of mostly Irvine Democrats who had to fight through all manners of obstruction to sign a petition.
Here’s the resolution:
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING A VETERANS CEMETERY IN ORANGE COUNTY
Whereas, Orange County is home to approximately 135,000 veterans representing the third largest population of veterans in California and yet, until now, has had no final resting place in our county for veterans so that families wishing to visit a veteran’s grave or bury a loved one who has served have few options as other Southern California cemeteries require long travel or are at capacity or with a long waiting list; and
Whereas, with integrity and in commitment to Democratic Party values committed to serving veterans and their families through concrete actions and not just political rhetoric, Democratic leaders including Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, Senator Josh Newman, Congressman Lou Correa, Irvine Councilwoman Melissa Fox, and Governor Jerry Brown in partnership with a bipartisan coalition of Veteran leaders, electeds, and residents led the way to establish the first Orange County Veterans Cemetery in Irvine on the grounds of the former El Toro Marine Air Base at a more ideal location that has less traffic impact, saves greater taxpayer dollars and requires less toxic clean-up than the first proposed site; and
Whereas, a misleading campaign to gather signatures has been launched claiming to “Save The Veterans Cemetery” even though the cemetery has been approved, dedicated and doesn’t need “saving” as paid signature gatherers claim; and
Therefore, be it resolved that the Democratic Party of Orange County strongly supports the visionary leadership of our local Democratic elected officials and veterans’ leaders to establish the Veterans Cemetery at its current site; and
Be it further resolved that the Democratic Party of Orange County opposes the misleading tactics and communication with Irvine residents by the referendum proponents to initiate a zoning change, the effect of which would likely eliminate the development of a Veterans Cemetery in Orange County.
CO-AUTHORED BY: Resolutions Committee members Carina Franck-Pantone, Diana Lee Carey, Tony Bedolla, Jeff LeTourneau, Jonathan Adler and Senator Josh Newman.
Both sides had passionate speakers for and against the resolution ( I argued against it ). And both sides passed out Fact Sheets and the facts often contradicted each other.
There are going to be a number of battles over this issue before it’s ultimately resolved. I’d like to clarify a few things.
Bill Cook from OCVMP was in attendance last night and I did remind everyone he called those who did not serve “Candyasses.” He shouted “Tell the Truth” from the back of the hall. I did and Harvey Liss, who the Candyass comment was also directed to at the Irvine Target that Saturday afternoon, was there to back me up. Hard to call someone a liar when a material witness was in the room.
Cook did speak and dug into the weeds a bit about a paved road through the ARDA site and how that’s something the Veteran’s Admnistration forbids. He neglected to mention that three are three roads in the freeway site including Marine Way.
No one — for lack of time perhaps — was able to address why 125 acres of ARDA zoned as parkland lost more than half it’s value with nothing about the property changing when it was assessed at $9 million two years ago. Is it so FivePoint can score nice low property taxes for their office building entitlements they will get to build? Concerns were expressed for cemetery workers exposure to hazardous contamination if the ARDA site is where the Cemetery goes; but no concern at all for men and women who might work in buildings erected on the ARDA site via FivePoint entitlements.
There was a claim that every elected Democrat in Orange County supports the land swap. Those 13 votes against were from elected Democrats to the Central Committee. Melissa Fox is the only elected Democrat in Irvine who supports the land swap. Every former elected official in Irvine is against it. Every legislative action used to make the land swap happen can be reversed without hurting the ability of the Veteran’s cemetery to be built. And for the pro-Land swap crowd, debate isn’t even allowed on social media sites. If you have a different opinion, you’re banned or blocked. Didn’t Vets fight for the freedom of speech?
Last night’s resolution will not stop the referendum from coming to the ballot. There will be some bad signatures on the petitions and the recision forms turned in by Team Fox (I have spoken with no fewer than 10 people who signed the recision forms but did not sign the petition. In addition, while there were paid signature gatherers for Veteran Ed Pope’s petition, more than half of those assembling signatures were Irvine residents and volunteers — and I’m one of them.
So the side I was on lost a battle Monday night. There will be more battles to come. Besides the referendum, there’s a lawsuit. I trust the 19,000 plus who signed the petition. So should the party.