What does Irvine really want?

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Interesting piece here by Larry Agran, writing in Irvine Matters.  My views and the views of Mr. Agran are often diametrically opposed but in this situation I wholeheartedly agree with the longtime Irvine Councilman.  Next week the City Council will meet to begin the process of planning the annual city budget.  The June 11th meeting is extremely important and vital to the long-range planning and future of our city.  Now more than ever the local citizenry needs to step up and make their voices heard.

Last November ushered in a majority-Republican switch in the City Council.  The race was tight, contentious and often downright nasty.  As someone running as an outsider looking to change the status quo of Irvine politics I was dragged through the mud and characterized as a “plant” by mud-slingers on the right.  As has been well documented, this claim was unfounded, but it did highlight an important component of Irvine politics, specifically the entrenched politicians that lead our city.  The parties may have switched but most of the players are the same.  I firmly believe that we need to manage our city more efficient and more transparently.  This starts with the local community acting as the watchdog to keep both parties in check.  Next week’s budget meeting will be vital to that process.  Representative government fails when our representatives don’t truly “represent” us.  As an informed and passionate citizenry we need to make our voices heard.

As Mr. Agran correctly points out in his article, the new Council’s first budget will be very important because it will determine the direction that the new Republican majority will take from a fiscal perspective.  Steven Choi ran on a message of fiscal responsibility and has delivered a proposed budget that keeps with that message, but in the words of his detractors takes the city backwards.  Budget negotiations are a tricky thing and there is a need for some fiscal restraint in our city.  I don’t agree completely with Mr. Agran when he touts his record of success, but he’s clearly played a role in helping build the infrastructure that has made Irvine what it is today.  At the same time Mr. Agran merits criticism for the cronyism and “insider” politics that characterizes our local government.  The city’s politics have hardly been transparent.  While reversing the lack of fiscal restraint of the former Democratic regime, we need to be careful in not going too far in the other direction.

What the new Republican majority doesn’t seem to understand, is that Irvine voters are starting to believe they have frankly taken their “mandate” a bit too far.  Agran is right to criticize the level of budget cuts that the new majority is proposing.  In my opinion it represents a massive misunderstanding of what the local population really wanted when they voted the new group in.  What we don’t need are the elimination and drastic cuts to programs that truly benefit so many in our community.  We should question whether some of our community programs should be cut in ways that would be detrimental to our kids and low to middle income families.  In their zeal to reshape the local government, the new Gang of Three has committed many of the mistakes the former majority committed.  Irvine government isn’t any more transparent than it was under the former regime.  Rather than creating a more inclusive and open government, every Irvine citizen who voted Republican in the last election needs to ask themselves: Is what you voted for?

Voting for change is ineffective if we get nothing but tone-deaf change.  The new Republican “Gang of Three” is absolutely tone-deaf in their lack of understanding of what kind of change the local community actually wanted.  Seven months later, and Irvine politics is once again business as usual.  As we’ve experienced before in the past three decades, there’s been a ruling party change.  Unfortunately how the local representatives actually conduct business hasn’t changed at all.  The city is still run by a privileged few.  The reckless-spending Democratic regime has been replaced by the reckless-cutting Republican regime.  When will we find an alternative path, a third way in Irvine politics, where every citizen can then say?  That’s what I voted for, a government that puts us first and ideologues last!   Let City Council take the first hit for a balanced budget.


About Irvine Valkyrie

Irvine Valkyrie is Katherine Daigle, the once and future Irvine mayoral candidate, an independent-minded Republican who is aligned with neither of the two dominant Irvine political cliques.