Opinion: Irvine’s Democratic Process Is Crumbling A Voter Call To Action

For years I have been inspired by Irvine’s General Plan provision calling for the City to inspire “Robust” resident participation in Irvine’s decision-making process. I have enjoyed participating in the decision-making process and have enjoyed interacting with our very cooperative City Staff members who have gone to great lengths to assist me with understanding the development process.

Since the beginning of the Israel/Palestine conflict, City Council Meetings have been inundated by large numbers of people, sometimes hundreds of people, demanding that our City Council issue a Cease Fire resolution. The majority of the City Council has, so far, refused to support such a resolution, as they consider the issue to be an international issue and thus not within the City’s jurisdiction. However, large numbers of people still regularly attend city council meetings requesting a cease-fire resolution adding many hours of public comments to the meetings causing the council to alter their normal procedures.

Responses by Carroll, Kim, and Treseder have included:

  • Leaving the dais during public comment
  • Not showing up for City Council meetings
  • Placing public comments at the end of the meeting, then walking out and going home before the public comments
  • Adjourning the meeting and leaving before public comments
  • Calling for a break and not returning leaving the City Council with only Mayor Khan and Vice Mayor Agran on the dais, thus depriving the City Council of having the required quorum for continuing the council meeting.

After the last two Council meetings, Mayor Khan and Vice Mayor Agran remained to listen to the public comments.

If Council members are unable to withstand the pressure of their job responsibilities, they should resign and pass their responsibilities on to those who can.

I told City Attorney, Jeffrey Melching, that I believed that Council members leaving the meeting before public comments is a violation of the Brown Act. He said that he could not do anything regarding the Council’s refusal to listen to public comments as his job is to represent the City Council members and follow their wishes. It appears to me that the City Attorney has prioritized bowing to the will of the majority of the City Council and their corruptive influence over Irvine’s established Democratic process.

I believe that the failure of our City Council to inspire “robust” resident participation in Irvine’s decision-making process is leading to the erosion of our local Democratic process.

My suggestion is that instead of tearing apart our decision-making process in response to the disruption during City Council meetings, the City plan a City-sponsored “Irvine Write-In” activity at our City Hall to assist both the Israeli and Palestinian supporters with communicating their demands to the President, their U.S. Senator and their U.S. House Representatives by setting up tables providing residents with paper, pens, envelopes, representative names and addresses along with postage and encourage residents to take a seat and write letters to their political representatives presenting their demands.

Council members voluntarily ran for City Council and were elected to carry out the responsibilities of the office, including listening to Irvine residents, no matter how time-consuming or difficult that job may become. The failure of Council members to carry out their responsibilities should have consequences. I therefore call on Irvine voters to recognize the Council members who have supported resident participation in our decision-making process and those that have not, and vote accordingly this coming November 5th election.