Voice of OC – Irvine City Council Looks To Limit Mayoral Power Ahead of Election
Voice of OC – Irvine City Council Looks To Limit Mayoral Power Ahead of Election
By Noah Biesiada
Irvine City Councilmembers are set to discuss asking city voters if they want to cut back the mayor’s power in the next election, potentially changing the position to a more ceremonial role.
Currently, Irvine residents vote separately for the city council and mayor, with council members running for four-year terms, while the mayor comes back to the ballot every two years.
While the mayor has the same voting power as their colleagues, they also have other privileges like being able to place any item on the agenda without the support of a second council member.
But some council members are hoping to see that change.
The item was brought forward by Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Mike Carroll, who have traditionally been political allies of Mayor Farrah Khan, frequently voting together on a wide variety of issues.
Kim and Carroll also brought forward an item this week that would negate the mayor’s power to unilaterally approve agenda items, making it so any councilmember could bring an item forward for discussion, but they would need a second member’s support to vote on anything.
When asked about the two items, Kim said she and Carroll had agreed to a trade where he would support a discussion on the agendizing issue if she supported his discussion to change mayor to an appointed position.
“I need a second for that, he asked me to be his second for the rotational mayor,” Kim said in a phone interview. “Right now I’m not convinced of anything, but what I am convinced of is it’s worth having a discussion.”
In a statement, Carroll said he hoped the change would “depoliticize,” the mayor’s office and specifically pointed to the controversy currently surrounding former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu as a reason to do it.
“Given the recent events in Anaheim, it removes the illusion that the mayor runs or controls the city, or has more power than any of the other council members,” Carroll wrote. “It ensures that the mayor will have local government experience as a councilmember before serving as mayor.”
Sidhu resigned last month after revelations of an FBI corruption probe in a court affidavit, with agents alleging he worked alongside a cadre of special interests to exert influence over city policy making.
[Read: Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu Resigns After FBI Reveals Anaheim Corruption Probe]
Khan did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Next week, the council will vote on whether or not to ask voters if they think the mayor should be directly elected or appointed by the city council, the way it is in many other smaller cities throughout Orange County.
Under that system, voters elect council members, who then choose a mayor among themselves for a one-year term along with a vice mayor, who generally takes over as mayor the following year.
In cities with that system, the mayor generally doesn’t have any extra powers compared to fellow councilmembers, with their job simply being to run city council meetings.
If Irvine were to get rid of their directly elected mayor, the position would be replaced with another council seat, meaning residents would still have the same number of officials at the dais.
The change in representation wouldn’t come into effect until 2024, but if it is approved by the voters [in the November 2022 election] the shift would go into effect in 2022, with the winner of the mayoral election instead becoming a council member.
The decision would ultimately be up to voters on the November ballot, and if approved would make Irvine the largest city in the county without a directly elected mayor.
While there have been ongoing discussions to repeal the two-council member agenda setting requirement for years, mostly from Councilman Larry Agran, Kim said she wanted to hold off bringing it for a vote until there was a chance it could pass.
“One could argue well Larry could’ve seconded, but you have to do the math. My goal is to get to three,” Kim said. “But again, this is by no means a commitment to a vote. This is an agreement to put it on the agenda for a discussion.”
The Irvine City Council meets at 2 p.m. next Tuesday, and their meeting can be viewed here.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 Meetings:
The City Council Special Meeting re status update on the Orange County Power Authority is set for 2:00PM.
The Great Park Board Meeting is set for 3:00PM.
The City Council Meeting is Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 4:00PM.
For information on how to participate in either meeting go to the city’s website here.
Jeremy FicarolaJune 23, 2022 at 10:12 am
Re: Kim and Carroll’s agenda item “changing” agenda setting policies aka “Rule of Two”. If you read the memo (copy/pasted below), it does NOTHING to get rid of the undemocratic Rule of 2. There are three items proposed. The first one allows a Councilmember to discuss a topic but requires a MAJORITY VOTE to set that topic for action on the next agenda/meeting. A Majority vote in this Council is typically three. So… the first item effectively creates A Rule of Three. That’s moving in the wrong direction. Item 2 of the proposed change is simply a reiteration of the existing Rule of 2. No change there, it’s still in place. And item 3 says pretty much nothing, just that the memos must be sent 7 days prior. Here’s the deal. Four Irvine City Councilmember’s, aptly named the “FivePointFour”, have used the Rule of 2 to silence Councilmember Larry Agran at every turn. It’s so obvious and so bad, they are trying to hide and obfuscate their intentions with this shell game of a policy “change”. If this is approved, NOTHING will change. The four councilmembers will not allow Agran to agendize an item for action.
Kim and Carroll’s Rule of Two memo (in relevant part):
Councilmember-initiated agenda items: Councilmembers wishing to place items on City Council Agendas shall adhere to the following.
i. Any Councilmember may place items on the agenda for discussion under Council Business. Following the discussion of such items, the Council may by majority vote direct that the item be placed on a subsequent agenda for action.
a. Councilmembers may not re-agendize the same or a substantially similar item for a minimum of six months, unless the request received the support of at least one other Councilmember.
ii. Two or more Councilmembers may place items on the agenda for discussion and/or action, under the agenda heading deemed appropriate by the City Manager.
iii. Councilmember-initiated agenda requests shall be presented in a memo to the City Manager, with a copy to the Mayor and City Council, no later than noon, seven days prior to the next scheduled City Council Meeting.
[email protected]June 23, 2022 at 5:02 pm
Has Tammy Kim admitted to committing a crime (vote trading) with Mike Carroll by agreeing “to a trade” on approving each other’s agenda items?
The article states: “When asked about the two items, Kim said she and Carroll had agreed to a trade where he would support a discussion on the agendizing issue if she supported his discussion to change mayor to an appointed position.” In California, vote trading (which includes any official “action” by state or local officials), is a felony.
Agreeing to place an item on the agenda of the Irvine City Council is clearly an official act; therefore, it cannot legally be conditioned on a reciprocal vote from another councilmember.
“The hallmark of illegal vote-trading . . . is when one or more elected officials condition his or her vote on some other official voting one way or another on the “same or another question. . . rather than upon an objective and unbiased evaluation of the matter being voted upon. ”
Dee FoxJune 24, 2022 at 12:14 pm
Great catch maximdarius! This is really going overboard! I take this to also state that no Councilmember shall on their own restate an item FOR SIX MONTHS after it has received no second. That means if between the first time the request is made, like the audit of the OCPA, and gets denied, then something happens that could potentially damage the City in between those 6 months, it’s too bad. It can’t be re-agendized. Which means Mike Carroll is REALLY upset about this Audit! They really are trying to hide behind all their illegal acts. And I say illegal because Mike Carroll and Farrah Khan are lying to the public and using taxpayer funds to promote a scam by the promise of 100% renewable energy. If they were buying 100% renewable energy and SCE was feeding those renewables into the lines, mixed with other types of energy, the grid would become unreliable. The renewables would not be able sustain without storage. Where’s the infrastructure Mike Carroll and Farrah Khan? Where are the wind farms or battery fields to store all this renewable energy that you claim to be purchasing with OUR money! I’ll tell you where it’s going….right into your pockets. They are purchasing fossil fuel and passing it off as renewable. That’s why the hesitation before of stating 100%, because by saying 35%, they had some room to justify purchasing other types of power. But when the climate change activists went after them to go 100%, the pressure made them cave, and now that they are up and running, at their promise of 100%, which used taxpayer funds, they committed FRAUD! They lied to the public to promote a scam using our tax dollars!!!! IS THERE A LAWYER IN THE HOUSE!!!
Dee FoxJune 24, 2022 at 11:40 pm
Okay, I got carried away about the OCPA in my first comment and really didn’t address the issue. To leave it up to council members to choose a Mayor among themselves is nuts! That would mean we would be stuck with a Mayor for four years instead of two. If we end up getting another liar like Farrah Khan we only have to wait two years to get rid of them. And if we like the Mayor, we can just vote to re-elect. It gives us the POWER and the OPTION, not the council members. Just do something for the people Tammy and get rid of the rule of two! We are not negotiating with you on anything! Let’s not forget how she orchestrated to get Phyllis Agran off of the Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee that was a volunteer position where she did so much good work! And for what?
Tammy Kim Shin is a very vindictive person who has no soul. Anything she proposes has an ulterior motive. Mike Carroll is doing this because Farrah Khan FINALLY approved Agran’s agenda item to have an Audit of the OCPA. Although, I wouldn’t put it past Farrah to make sure Melching does the Audit or someone from his firm where she can use her influence and dangle Melchings employment over his head. Watch and see how that plays out and if we get a truly unbiased Audit. If I take the advice of maximdarius, we can just get rid of both of them and then we won’t have to deal with their childish self-serving antics anymore! It seems to me if Tammy admitted to the deal then they are both in violation, that would be nice to kill two with one felony! And by the way, since when do they listen to what we have to say? If everyone that speaks is against, watch them vote to approve. Her talk is cheap and her actions are even cheaper. Okay, I’m done.
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