I’m not in the best mood to write this; my throat is as raw as a skinned knee and I’m powering through with honey-lemon cough drops and hot tea. My cold meds are making me dry as a bone so I’m drinking a ton of water. Too much business travel and not enough sleep have finally taken their toll. I also used my last cough drop as I walked into the July DPOC meeting (Tic Tacs just didn’t do the full job but kept my throat lubed and got me through the meeting). And I’m grumpy. The fresh bag of cough drops has done little to improve my attitude.
I had submitted a resolution to the DPOC Resolutions Committee in early July about the Irvine Community Land Trust. The resolution was really about transparency and accountability; and the measure never made it out of the Resolution committee. I didn’t find out until the agenda was issued Friday. Party resolutions are largely symbolic and generally easy to vote “yes” on — condemning the separation of families at the border for example. Condemning the persecution of a gay activist on the other side of the world is another. None really will elect Democrats in Orange County, but are generally worthwhile about our collective position as a party. My resolution dealt with a local issue, and was written at the request of several Democrats, Independents and NPPs in Irvine who know I’m a Central Committee member. They wouldn’t go to Irvine council member and Central Committee member Melissa Fox because she chairs the Irvine Community Land Trust. They declined going to Farrah Khan, our South County vice chair, because she’s a candidate for City Council and I’m not running for anything. I was happy to do this.
The Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) has an honorable goal — enabling the development of affordable housing and low income housing in Irvine, which is way behind in the city’s commitment to developing this type of housing. It’s important to note, half of all residences in Irvine are rentals. People pay through the nose in order to send their kids to IUSD schools; I have more than one neighbor in a divorce situation who shed tears about moving elsewhere because Irvine is not affordable for the average single income household. The ideas of leaving IUSD was painful.
ICLT changed their bylaws recently, separating itself from the city and a press release announcing the change celebrated how not having to adhere to certain government regulations would save money. Others believe the move was designed so that Patrick Strader, a board member and a consultant to FivePoint, no longer has to worry about filing a form 700 disclosure document. ICLT recently got $3 million in taxpayer money from the city and will be getting 10% of the $292 million settlement from the state over redevelopment funds. The meetings are no longer open to the public. Some expenses authorized by the board are questionable. Besides chairwoman Fox, mayor pro tem Christina Shea sits on the board with Strader making the city council votes to authorize taxpayer funds to the ICLT a case study in conflict of interest.
My resolution wasn’t about the work the ICLT does as much as it was about transparency, accountability and public access where public funds are involved. My resolution was rejected, apparently unanimously, and it sure would have been nice if the Resolution Committee chair Carina Francke Patone had let me know the status of the resolution and reasons for the rejection. But she did not.
I had made a small correction and resubmitted the resolution seeking the same sort of last minute treatment we got for a different resolution last night. I walked it over to where she was sitting and asked why my resolution didn’t make the cut. She motioned for me to join her in the kitchen at Pipefitter’s hall and while she told me why it was rejected and I tried to explain what my resolution was about, we were quickly joined by Vice Chair Jeff Letourneau and her husband Jim Pantone. I tried tell Francke-Pantone that those who asked me to submit did not feel Fox would be responsive to their request, given that she’s the chair of the ICLT. Then I got distracted by the presence of blogger Greg Diamond who invited himself into the chat.I asked Greg, “why are you here?” And he responded “Fuck you.” Twice. Using his tough guy voice. Stay classy Greg. I’m sure that made you feel good. Greg says he’s writing a story; knock yourself out slugger.
Responding to my detail that I submitted this resolution on behalf of Democrats in Irvine, Francke-Patone asked me for the names of those who asked me to submit my resolution. I was shocked. Now I hadn’t promised confidentiality to these people, but before I turn over a single name, I’m getting their permission to do so. My first thought is “why do you (Francke-Pantone) need names?” “Are we building an enemies list?” And I asked why she needed all of these people in the room with us when we were having a discussion. I left the kitchen back to my seat. And spent the rest of the night texting those I spoke with seeking their permission and asking them to bring more people to the next resolution. It strikes me as another example of how the party doesn’t get Democrats in Irvine.
So a spoiler alert — I’m resubmitting the resolution calling for our party to adopt transparency and accountability when it comes to public tax dollars as a core value. The resolution will ask the party to call on ICLT to open meetings to the public and accept public comments. None of these things add to the cost of the operations of ICLT — not a dime.
And I’ll be submitting a list of names of Democrats, independents and NPP voters who support my resolution, demonstrating that transparency and accountability starts with those who asked me to act.
Perhaps it’s time to ask for a list of clients of our central committee members who are political consultants represent, so they might show transparency as well to recuse themselves from certain votes that affect their clients in a positive way. I’d hate to think someone is billing time while serving on the party’s Central Committee.
And yes, I’m still grumpy. Time for another cough drop and some hot tea.