Opinion: Rule of Two Leaves Public Without Representation

A controversial Irvine City Council policy, informally known as the “rule of two,” prevents an individual Councilmember from placing an item on the agenda unless another member of the Council seconds it. In the first meeting, upon being sworn in, Irvine City Mayor Farrah Khan, voted alongside Councilmembers Tammy Kim, Mike Carroll, and Anthony Kuo to make this policy permanent. Only Councilmember Larry Agran dissented. Since then, Khan and the other electeds have wielded the rule of two like a sword, cutting down numerous efforts by Agran to set an item on the agenda for public discussion.

At the recent meeting of a group of Irvine residents, the Mayor stated:

“I’ve tried to second just about every council member’s memo as much as I can. So a lot of discussion takes place behind the scenes, and sometimes maybe you don’t hear about, but I have tried to second anything. Even for myself, even though I don’t need a second, I have always reached out to a council member to get a second. It’s a good working policy that helps us work together more. It’s not trying to stifle anyone, especially not the public.

Let’s put the Mayor’s statement to the test. Here are most of the memos that did not receive a second, effectively denying hundreds of requests from Irvine residents to have them placed on the City Council agenda: 

Date Councilmember Agran’s Memos That Did Not Receive a Second
1. March 15, 2022 Memo Seeking Immediate Injunctive Relief from All American Asphalt
2. March 1, 2022 Memo Requesting an Audit of the Orange County Power Authority
3. January 20, 2022 Memo Requesting to Discuss All American Asphalt Litigation
4. November 2, 2021 Request to Agendize a Presentation on the Veterans Memorial Park at the Next Meeting
5. October 5, 2021 Request to Agendize October as Children’s Environmental Health Month
6. September 30, 2021 Request for a Presentation Regarding the Orange County Power Authority
7. August 3, 2021 Request for a Special Meeting Regarding the All American Asphalt Plant Operations
8. July 19, 2021 Second Request to Place the District Elections Matter on August 10, 2021, Irvine City Council Meeting Agenda
9. June 15, 2021 Request for Community Facilities District (CFD) Presentation on the Next Irvine City Council Meeting Agenda
10. May 18, 2021 Memo Reiterating Requests for Second Signature on 4 Issues on Future Irvine City Council Meeting Agenda
11. May 13, 2021 Memo Requesting to Add District Elections to the May 25, 2021, City Council Meeting Agenda
12. April 15, 2021 Request For Allocation of Funds From The American Rescue Plan Act to Establish an Irvine Public Health Office
13. April 13, 2021 Request for Discussion to Establish Great Park Community Advisory Committee
14. January 20, 2021 Request For City Council Study Session Regarding Continuing Operations of the All American Asphalt Plant
15. January 19, 2021 Resolution Regarding Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery

Mayor Khan’s words ring hollow when defending her draconian use of the rule of two. Each Councilmember represents a large constituency in Irvine and when an elected official is denied a chance to place an item on the agenda, so are Irvine residents.