Weekend Rainstorm Brings With It The Irvine Sunshine Ordinance Rollout
It may have rained this weekend, but the City Council wants to bring us a proposed Sunshine Ordinance that will be heard during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. The purpose of a Sunshine Ordinance is to promote transparency and resident participation in city government.
Irvine Watchdog is thankful the city council is listening to its residents. We’ve said it all along – transparency, accountability, and honesty make for good government. It would have been that much more transparent if the city leaders asked for community input and established a Sunshine Ordinance Task Force to help draft the ordinance to get the best voices from our community. Collaboration is a powerful tool.
To review the Irvine Sunshine Ordinance, see Item 3.1 of the City Council October 23, 2018 agenda: http://irvine.
Among other things, the proposed ordinance would expand review time of nearly all upcoming agenda items to 12 days – which is four times longer than California law requires. In addition, the City Council is expected to consider approval of a two-year budget cycle, up from the present one-year budget, along with a five-year financial planning program.
Below are two recent situations that may have benefited from a robust Sunshine Ordinance that has compliance measures:
- Land Trust – The current City council majority permitted the deconstruction of the 12 yr. old affordable housing land trust without first notifying the public. The public wasn’t notified, couldn’t ask questions, or even make their opinions known to the city council. Residents only knew about the uncoupling after the fact, and despite Councilmembers Shea and Fox requesting and approving millions of more city dollars for the Land Trust. It’s unclear if this was even lawful, but perhaps the Sunshine Ordinance would have made a difference. The land trust is now expressly operating outside of the Brown Act requirements. Despite the Watchdog asking for months now for specific answers as to why any changes were necessary, it appears the council majority felt the land trust was too sensitive to be exposed to sunshine .
- Veterans Cemetery – Despite a very transparent act of the voters – when 63% rejected the city council proposed “land swap” in favor of the original longstanding city/state plan for the ARDA site – this council majority stubbornly just said “no” to returning to the original path. Claiming voter confusion and expense concerns, the city instead reverted back to the drawing board via the Planning Commission, and the city staff is conducting a myriad of reviews – legal, financial, and others – for yet a 3rd or 4th alternative site, including a possible swap out of the planned golf course at the Great Park. We won’t know the results of all these studies until the work behind it is complete, and so far no update has been provided to the community. In fact, the city staff missed the Sept. deadline imposed by the Planning Commission. Could a Sunshine Ordinance make a difference on this already hot topic?
The Watchdog is pleased the city has learned from the Measure D outcome that voters want more visibility, not less. We wholeheartedly support the spirit behind this new ordinance, and hope that it represents the return of inclusive and transparent governance.
deefoxNovember 15, 2018 at 9:55 am
I am writing this to bring attention to the City of Irvine and two of its Council members, Melissa Fox and Christina Shea. I believe there is a serious conflict of interest for personal gain, corruption by misuse of City and Federal funds, abuse of power, censorship, lack of over-site, and lack of transparency (The Brown Act). These two council members are also on the Board of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT).
The City needs to hold the ICLT accountable for their lack of providing the residence with access to their Board Meetings. This Land Trust would not exist if they did not receive funding from the City and Federal Grant money. Two public entities that REQUIRE public access … and it doesn’t mean ONLY yearly financials. According to HUD, they could lose their grants and be liable for paying back the money they have received since going “dark”. As a Irvine resident, my tax dollars are going to this Land Trust as well, and I demand to know how it is being spent. Councilmember Lalloway was absolutely right when he stated that councilmembers have gone to jail for actions such as this. I don’t want to wait around until we find out that the Affordable Housing Committee that was setup by the City has been using funding for other things, instead of for affordable housing. Because right now, we don”t have a clue as to what they are doing and that is a big problem! I will not trust a Mayor and two city councilmembers who refused to honor the wishes of the people to build a Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park to tell us what they are doing…they need to be transparent. The funding from the City to the ICLT needs to cease immediately and the City Attorney should be advising council to do so. Why he hasn’t…one can only guess since the council hired him.
The ICLT is a Non-Profit Organization and was originally created by the City of Irvine to assume and expand the City’s efforts to provide decent and affordable housing to low income people. The ICLT, for reasons unknown, at least to me, decided to break away from the City and become its own entity. Not only are Melissa Fox and Christina Shea on the Board of the ICLT but also is a registered lobbyist, Patrick Strader. Patrick Strader is the CEO of StarPointe Ventures and contracts with developer, Emile Haddad of FivePoint Communities. Patrick Strader recently changed the ICLT By-Laws to state the Board Meetings are now closed to the public unless a person requests ahead of time, and in writing, the reason why they want to attend. The By-Laws also state in Section 7.1 that the Board may approve compensation of the PRESIDENT and TREASURER as and when required by State or Federal law. Melissa Fox is the PRESIDENT and Christina Shea is the TREASURER. We don’t know if they are receiving compensation because they refuse to show us any financials and they hold their meetings behind closed doors.
The ICLT received approval when it was under the supervision of the City for two (2) federal grants each year and the ICLT continues to receive these grants. One is a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the other is a HOME grant. In 2017, this Land Trust received over $1.4 million in CDBG money and over $500,000 in HOME funds. The City of Irvine also donates 10% (it may have increased) of budget funds every year to the ICLT plus the City is giving $14.6 million over the next 12 years of Redevelopment Funds. At a June 12, 2018, Irvine City Council Meeting, Melissa Fox and Christina Shea requested $3 million MORE of City funds for the ICLT. When another Council member expressed major concerns about what exactly these funds are going to be used for, the reason they gave for the money was very vague. They said it had to do with a problem with a development project that had an elevator issue and then because of the time delay it was costing the Land Trust more and more money everyday. But, nonetheless, it was approved by Melissa Fox, Christina Shea, and Donald Wagner … the three political coffers who are bankrolled by StarPointe Ventures (Patrick Strader), and Emile Haddad, FivePoint Communities. However, as of this date, these funds that Melissa claims they needed so desperately do not show as being used for this project. So where did the money go? Councilmember Jeff Lalloway asked this question in the October City Council Meeting and no one had an answer. Serious concern!
In November, 2016, FivePoint Communities organized and spent $1.5 million to elect Donald Wagner as Mayor and re-elect Christina Shea to the City Council. On June 6, 2017 in a last minute “Special” City Council Meeting, Melissa Fox changed her vote in favor of a land-swap deal between the City and FivePoint Communities. An article in the Orange County Register on March 1, 2018 by Tony Saavedra, reported Melissa Fox received $10,000 from StarPointe Ventures right around that time.
Melissa Fox and Christina Shea requesting City funds for a independent organization that they are Board members of AND included in the voting of these funds is a direct conflict of interest. And the fact that Patrick Strader is on the Board and has supplemented the income of these council members makes it a conflict of interest for personal gain.
The ICLT also turns away citizens from attending their Board meetings. A direct violation of the Brown Act … elected officials on the Board of a Non-Profit organization that receives City funds and/or Federal funding is to adhere to The Brown Act. They do not!
Fox and Shea are paid by developers and with Wagner they are the majority on the City Council. They use the dais for their own personal financial gain, lying to the people that elected them, not adhering to the majority vote and instead bowing to a developer who is paying them to bring motions to the council that is in direct opposition of what the people want. That was proven by 63% of Irvine residents voting “NO” on Measure B and the majority three ignoring the outcome by refusing to build a Veterans Cemetery on land that a developer wanted to profit from.
The federal grant money they receive every year should be suspended until they can show us exactly where this money is going. The people have requested that City funds be withheld until we have been shown financials but, obviously, it went on deaf ears.
Just recently Melissa Fox and Christina Shea again sat on the City Council Board and requested Office Space for the Irvine Community Land Trust. The office space is on land that was given to the City from the Irvine Company. The City then passed it to the ICLT. The agreement from the Irvine Company specifically states that the land is only to be used for affordable housing. Yet these two council members want a portion of it for their corporate headquarters. During public comments a resident stated that Fox and Shea are to recuse themselves from voting on this since they are also on the Board of the ICLT. Not only are they on the Board but also is the developers contractor for this project, Patrick Strader. Again, Fox and Shea have received campaign contributions from Strader in excess of $10,000. Also, other projects that are in the pipeline are being kept secret from the public. We have no idea if any projects are actually being allocated for affordable housing, how much is being allotted, what the terms are, and who the developer is. The request to recuse themselves was ignored and the motion passed, 3-1 with one council member absent.
The FPPC has opened an investigation on Melissa Fox and Christina Shea for conflicts of interest for financial gain. The abuse of power that they exert over our City is crippling our quality of life and all because of greed. They do not represent what the majority of Irvine residents voted for, in fact, just the opposite.
Also, Christina falsely accused Mary Ann Gaido, who was on the Board of the ICLT until just recently, as providing me with the ICLT recent Budget Report…something Christina stated was confidential and was not released to the public. But, this just goes to show how quick she is to accuse people…I received it right from the ICLT’s website! I hope this is NOT the reason they let her go from the Board of the ICLT because I do not even know Ms. Gaido. So sad!
Christina also publicly accused (in a City Council Meeting) Ms. Schott (who was not present) of filing a FPPC report on her … when in fact, I listed Ms. Schott as a witness in my report and something Ms. Schott had no knowledge of. I asked Christina to publicly apologize to Ms. Schott … but she didn’t.
Also, both Christina and Melissa threatened a family member and friend of mine because of my posts. Melissa told my brother for me to “shut up” on social media or she will sue me for slander. She told him that I better have a lot of money because I will need it to hire a very expensive attorney. Note to Melissa: Slander is when someone says something about you that is not true in order to discredit you or ruin your reputation. Every single statement I make is true and can be substantiated. If your reputation is damaged, it is because of your own actions.
Melissa Fox has several lawsuits both personally and professionally regarding her law firm, The Fox Law Firm. They include charges of Professional Negligence, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Violation of Business and Professional Codes, Misuse of Client Funds, Commingling of Trust Account Funds, Improper Money Transfers, Failing to Maintain Investor Records, Representing the Interests of other Entities that are in Direct Opposition of its Client, and the list goes on. Orange County case numbers 30-2012-00580623 and 30-2009-00295919.
Melissa Fox and Christina Shea should not be seated on our City Council and in charge of our funds. The people in the community should not have to wonder where their tax dollars are going and if affordable housing is really being affordable to those that need it. They delete people and their comments on Facebook and other social media sites that call them out on their lack of transparency and accountability. The residents deserve a council that is looking out for their interests and not the interests of a developer.
Board Meeting May 21, 2018
(The last Board Meeting that the
ICLT has posted)
The By-Laws with noted revisions
and pages from the Proposed
The Orange County Register
dated March 1, 2018
Report by: Tony Saavedra
Melissa Fox received $10,000
indirectly from StarPointe
Board Meeting June 12, 2018
Fox request for $6.5 million to be
transferred to the ICLT. The
request was reduced to $3
Non-Profit donor information and
State of California
Fair Political Practices
Case No. 2018-00784
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