Op-Ed: 3 Steps To Fight Corruption in Irvine

Irvine’s city government once had a sterling reputation… but no longer.

For quite some time there has been a creeping increase in corruption in Irvine’s decision making process.  In the last year, voters have been deprived of the right to vote for representatives to fill a city council and mayoral vacancy. Our City Council has acted to thwart the will of Irvine voters.

Confirming that Irvine is now a Company Town, Mayor Shea and Emille Haddad, Chairman and CEO of FivePoint, described as a Great Park funding partner, using Irvine city letterhead, lobbied in Sacramento for the golf course site for the Veterans’ cemetery without City Council approval. Our city council actually voted to increase the power and authority of the Mayor while reducing the power and authority of city council members and reducing residents’ access to representation. Council member Carroll opined on his belief that Irvine should not be expected to have higher policy standards than other Orange county cities. I disagree: I, like many Irvine residents who are your constituents and your voters moved to Irvine for its higher standards.

It is time to take action to bring transparency, honesty and accountability back to the city of Irvine. How?

  1. Improve the ethics enforcement process. 
    Currently, the city attorney’s job includes overseeing and enforcing Irvine’s Code of Ethics. This puts him in a bit of a quandary: don’t enforce the code of ethics and keep his job, or enforce and risk losing his job. Irvine must create an independent citizen’s ethics commission to take over the investigation and enforcement responsibility, as many other cities have done, in order to reduce corruption and conflict of interest in the city’s decision making process.
  2. Voters should have sole authority to fill mayoral and city council vacancies.
    Filling City Council vacancies by appointment and selection must cease. We must change the city bylaws to ensure we always elect our council members.
  3. Reduce Campaign Costs and Dependence on Special Interest InfluenceAs political campaigns are extremely expensive,  we need to reduce campaign costs and dependence on special interest influence by amending our city charter to both increase the size of our city council to seven or more members and to change from at-large representation to district representation as other cities the size of Irvine have done.