Last year, 19,000 Irvine voters signed a referendum saying they — not the developer-controlled city council — ought to decide the location of the Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial. And there’s another referendum petition aimed at giving citizens a stronger voice about development in Irvine that is getting unwanted and cowardly attention.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there on Irvine’s slow-growth referendum issue. I encourage those with questions to see the social media feeds for Irvine for Responsible Growth. Claims about how this effort would kill affordable housing developments is just one of the untruths being spread.
Worse, anonymous cowards are leaving letters in neighborhoods spreading false information. Organizers of the referendum are having anon letters sent to employers with outright lies and falsehoods. The quiet personal attack campaigns are — in a word — cowardly. Citizens are supposed to participate in a democracy and underhanded campaigns to discredit organizers is just plain bullshit. If you get a letter from a “concerned neighbor” consider that “concerned neighbor” didn’t have the backbone to put their name to the claims and likely isn’t a neighbor.
The note below was received by a volunteer from Irvine for Responsible Growth. It’s worth a read as a warning to anyone in Irvine who might dare to oppose the major developers in Irvine while getting no support from the developer-backed city council majority:
High stakes political contests are expected to be hard fought, driven by a combination of passion, determination, and money. How should we feel about tactics fueled by misinformation, false speculation, and individual attacks attempting to destroy people’s reputations? Perhaps we have come to expect such things in politics, but we should not let them go unchallenged.
This past weekend, volunteers with the Irvine for Responsible Growth initiative (IRG) were met with a mix of hostility and sympathy as they canvassed in University Hills. Overnight, flyers were placed on mailboxes in the neighborhood accusing IRG of being a deceptive extortion scam with a hidden agenda, secretly funded to line the pockets of lobbyists and political consultants while driving up taxpayer costs. IRG volunteers were painted as being misleading, defensive, borderline intimidating, unreasonable, slick, and not trustworthy. These are all words used verbatim in the flyer.
Let us put aside the fact that placing these flyers on mailboxes is illegal in the first place.
Let us put aside the fact that all of these statements are accusatory and misleading.
Rather, let us focus on facts that will actually move the discussion forward.
1. Simply stated, the goal of IRG is to include Irvine residents in the approval process for development. There is no other goal. There is no ulterior motive.
2. The process is already “very, very political” — IRG will change it to include Irvine residents whose voices and desires currently are not taken into account.
3. If successful, voting will be done during general elections, with no added taxpayer cost.
4. IRG enables and empowers Irvine residents to make their own decisions. There are absolutely no roles for lobbyists or political consultants. No one will make any money from this. If there is some way to profit from this, we would love to hear about it.
5. There is no shadow funding. IRG is driven by the passion and wallets of its volunteers. We are paying for paper copies, official documentation from City Hall, stationery, clipboards, and Facebook promotion fees. No one is being paid to gather signatures. We have nothing to hide.
Now let us examine the other side. Beginning with a nameless editorial in the OC Register (https://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/17/no-growth-nimbyism-comes-to-irvine/) and fast-forward to this University Hills flyer, IRG has come under baseless and relentless attacks since its very beginning. Its leaders have been harassed in person and online. So let us ask some real questions.
1. Who would potentially be hurt by a successful IRG campaign? Unscrupulous developers.
2. Who is behind these attacks on IRG, from the anonymous editorial to this University Hills flyer? Some anonymous coward(s).
3. Who has opposed IRG on the record with misinformation. Melissa Fox and Lauren Johnson-Norris.
We would welcome a meeting with any IRG opponents before the city council so that all of Irvine’s residents can come to their own conclusions about IRG.
In the course of our volunteer efforts, we have been encouraged by the thousands of residents who still care. Who still think Irvine is worth preserving, and worth fighting for. For them and for our beloved city, know that our fight does not end with IRG — it is only the beginning.
It only takes about 12,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Sign the petition and let voters decide.