How Irvine Watchdog Came To Be

 

Where did Irvine Watchdog come from? Why did it form?

Put simply, recent actions by some aggressive developers, anonymous sources, and a number of complicit city council members left many of us frustrated and outraged. We met each other through campaigns such as Irvine for Responsible Growth and recruited like-minded residents to our rapidly growing cause.

Through our unified efforts and research, we uncovered numerous financial ties and conflicts of interest right here in Irvine. Our work has also forced us to deal with anonymous attacks, smear campaigns, and censorship. This collective experience helped shape our current Watchdog platform and our stated mission of Transparency, Accountability, and Honesty.

Watchdog strives to be a transparent source of reliable facts and local news, which we feel is currently lacking. Let’s examine some sources in our city. First we have:

Irvine City News is a publication promoting the agenda of the major developers. Their publication is filled with curated articles written by an anonymous staff writer(s) and has a mysterious editor who we have not been able to track down. They also delete comments that do not fall in line with their agenda. Read more here: 
https://www.irvineliving.org/single-post/2018/03/06/Irvine-City-News-editorial-gets-it-all-wrong

In contrast, reputable and legitimate publications always put a name to their articles, ensuring transparency and accountability for what is being written and the opinions stated. Anonymity is necessary and appropriate in certain situations (ie: whistleblowing), but not in a byline for a paper aspiring to be a reputable source of news. 

Irvine Community News and Views is a publication promoting the agenda of a group led by former mayor, Larry Agran. ICNV does not allow all voices to be heard. As a volunteer for the Irvine for Responsible Growth citizen’s petition, we were not permitted to pay to advertise in their paper because they weren’t sure of their position on our petition. 

Second, there are many online platforms including NextDoor and Facebook groups dedicated to area neighborhoods and local issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, and the Veterans Cemetery. Disappointingly, moderators for many of these platforms frequently delete comments and posts that are deemed harmful to their goals, and a large number of Watchdog members have been blocked outright for perceived dissent.

It is no coincidence that we have elected city council member(s) working alongside some of these NextDoor leads and Facebook administrators in a deliberate attempt to control the messaging on sensitive issues and to limit the spread of facts Irvine voters need to make educated conclusions. This was on full display during the relentless campaigning for Measures B, C, and D. We should expect to see more of the same as the race for city council intensifies, and we should demand transparency and accountability from all these platforms and individuals along the way.

Unfortunately, we should also expect baseless attacks from those who do not want their connections revealed and their true motivations uncovered. Most are the work of anonymous cowards while others are funded by corporate PACs that are deliberately hard to trace. Here are just a few of the anonymous attacks encountered by IRG volunteers as they gathered signatures earlier this year:

https://www.irvineliving.org/single-post/2018/02/23/Chmielewski-Deceptive-and-Dishonest-Mail-Tactics-Plague-Irvine-neighborhoods

And here is a post that resulted in a resident being banned from NextDoor until after the midterm elections. Do you think it warranted such treatment?https://irvinewatchdog.org/2018/05/30/some-perspective-on-five-point-and-measure-b/

This only inspired us to follow the money behind these attacks wherever possible, enabling us to compile our findings into the following charts:

https://irvinewatchdog.org/2018/06/04/over-1-5-million-pac-money-and-counting-for-measures-b-c-d/

https://www.irvineliving.org/single-post/2018/03/01/What-We-Know-About-the-VoteNow-Action-PAC

The connections are clear and those involved have spoken loudly and repeatedly with their actions. Without anyone holding them accountable, they will continue to operate in their own best interests, not those of Irvine and its residents.

This is why we felt the need for a citizen’s watchdog group: a group whose purpose is to ensure our local government works for us while providing an open platform that addresses important issues and concerns pertaining to our city with honesty and transparency.

Transparency: our elected officials and their appointees must operate openly, and residents should have access to all information about the municipality they live in.

Accountability: our elected officials and their appointees must take responsibility for all of their words and actions.

Honesty: our elected officials and their appointees must be truthful and forthright about their motivations and agendas.

The future of our city should always be shaped and decided by its citizens. We hope you will join us in advocating for this vision of what Irvine can and should be.