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Larry Agran ran Irvine for more than a decade. His disastrous tenure was marked by divisive schemes, bullying, and rampant corruption. We are just beginning to learn what his reign cost taxpayers in Irvine, where Argran and his team of puppets spent hundreds of millions “and somehow forgot to build the promised [Great] park.” Thanks to the newly empowered Republican majority, Agran is on the verge of being held accountable for his waste and abuse.
As a forensic audit of Agran’s corrupt spending practices nears completion, the desperate political boss is still up to his old tricks. He and Councilwoman Krom, along with a cabal of corporate Democrats, have, and are, exploiting the emotions of nearly every constituency they can find in Irvine. He used the culture war to line his pockets and he is counting on the same cynical exploitation to act as both an escape hatch and a ticket to another term as mayor. It will not; we have all evolved.
Democrat Agran preserved power in Republican Irvine by “secretly running fake Republican candidates to siphon votes from the legitimate, party-backed Republicans.” Enter Katherine Daigle, who in 2012 entered the mayoral race between Agran and Republican Mayor Steven Choi. Any purported GOP candidate would have hurt, but Daigle was apparently used because of her unremarkable accent. At a GOP Central Committee meeting last year, I was told by a person close to Deborah Pauly that Daigle wants to be mayor because no one can understand Choi. Of Korean decent, I find the mayor perfectly comprehendible, but the line of attack struck me as nothing to ignore in a city such as Irvine. The plan failed because, in Frank Mickadeit’s words, “the public increasingly caught onto [Agran's] shenanigans.”
A penchant for exploitation was on display once more when Agran proposed Irvine “befriend” cities in China, Vietnam and Pakistan. When predictable outrage emerged from the staunchly anti-communist Vietnamese population in Orange County, he only removed communist Vietnam leaving the council to reject “befriending” (a meaningless gesture) the cities in communist China and non-communist Pakistan. After the vote, Agran’s allies accused the Republicans of racism and McCarthyism. In a way this was impressive; the pointless and ginned up controversy allowed the Agranistas to exploit a wide-range of creeds and ethnicities in a single attempt to embarrass the majority.
The lgbt community is no less a target for the Agranistas, who are insisting on conjuring up homophobia in the lead up to November. Last year, a straight woman placed a rainbow flag prominently in the front of her suburban house. She claims to have done so because her gay friends are unable to as they live in apartments. I guess I missed that feeling of loss when I lived in an apartment. In fact, I tend to agree with the woman’s neighbors who (disappointingly to some) merely complained that the flag was an eyesore.
After this initial failure, the exploitation machine went into over-drive. A purported press release from Westboro Baptist Church was taped to the woman’s door and read: “We’ve turned America over to the (gays); They’re coming home in body bags.” Later, the woman claims a note was placed on her car maintaining: “God hates flags”. If God sits on the board of a home owner’s association, I would imagine the sentiment is close to accurate. The woman went to the police screaming hate crime, but no evidence was found, along with no evidence of genuine concern in the lgbt community. The controversy failed to reach City Hall (even after rainbow Christmas lights were added to the scene), but the Agranistas mocked the invisible bigots as intolerant and ignorant, while suggesting the straight mother was just one more endangered lesbian in Irvine.
Despite the all out effort to incite hate leading up to the election, the Agranista plot has backfired on the Democrat minority. Irvine is a model for racial diversity and racial harmony. In the lgbt corner, things are more complicated, as is well known by Agran. The same blogger, a notorious corporate tool, who misrepresented the rainbow flag incident is now attacking Councilwoman Christina Shea for her role in an anti-gay measure contested nearly two decades ago. I am not making excuses for the policy or any like it, but it is important to note that it occurred in the wake of the AIDS Crisis when very few saw through the fear and misinformation surrounding gay men.
The ability to forgive and forget is one of those hidden fundamentals crucial to a functioning democracy. I stood on the corner of an Orange County intersection, by my lonesome and for days on end, holding a “NO on 8” sign. As such, I know something of our history and the wider issue. The spirit that leads people to do the right thing, change positions and forgive mistakes is one in the same. What happened in the eighties was bone headed, but we are all in a different place. I don’t know Councilwoman Shea’s position on Prop. 8, and I don’t care. Like the many gay homeowners (someone tell the Agranistas we don’t just live in cities) in Irvine who are not displaying the rainbow colors, I want to see the Republican majority last and hold Argan accountable for his massive fraud on taxpayers.