Is Irvine Planning Commissioner Anthony Kuo Really Telling Chinese Papers That the Veterans Cemetery Can Be Stopped?

Disturbing information continues to trickle out that people associated with the Choi/Lalloway team in Irvine either (1) have been lying to Chinese voters in implying that they will be able and willing to overturn the decision to establish a veterans cemetery in the Great Park or (2) have been lying to everyone else in taking credit for their achievement in supporting a Great Park.

The duty now falls upon Choi and Lalloway to clarify and reiterate their continued support for this already passed proposal.

OJB wrote last Sunday about the apparent drive to convince Chinese voters to vote for the Choi/Lalloway team because they could reverse the decision to approve the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park — despite Lalloway’s repeated assurance that he would support it, Choi’s declared acquiescence to the plan, and both of them showing up in a high-profile public meeting to celebrate the enactment of AB 1453 with Gov. Jerry Brown and Chief Sponsor Asmb. Sharon Quirk-Silva.  They (or at best people who are aiding their campaigns) are trying to have it both ways — or, worse, they do plan to betray Orange County’s veterans as soon as a safe opportunity arrives.

Throwing more logs into the fires of concern, Steven Choi’s appointment to the City’s Planning Commission, Anthony Kuo, seems to be telling Chinese-language journalists that, yes, the plan can still be stopped — and that he thinks that it WILL be stopped!

Great Park - World Journal - all pgs

The English-language translation there was reportedly obtained through Google Translate.  Even at some possible cost in accuracy, I’m going to try to render it in more grammatical English for purposes of this discussion.  (Portions where I’m a bit unsure about how to phrase it are in double square brackets.)

The Orange County Great Park in Irvine intends to provide land for a California Veterans Cemetery, causing panic among some Chinese people who have just bought houses in the Great Park.  Community residents are worried that having the cemetery next door will affect house prices.  Irvine Planning Commission Chairman Anthony Kuo has said that the Irvine City Council has provided land to the California Veterans Cemetery, but that that doesn’t necessarily mean that the cemetery will be built here.  [[He explained that land development proposals go through the Planning Commission, and the Veterans Cemetery was reviewed only for land use rights, but construction was not approved, yet the City Council voted its willingness to provide land to build the county’s first Veterans Cemetery.]]

AB 1453 was introduced this past January by California Congressmember Sharon Quirk-Silva.  It was proposed to Irvine’s City Council in March and assigned to a study committee.  In July, the Council voted to provide the land, which was approved by the state legislature in August.  Governor Brown signed AB 1453 last month; it is scheduled to officially take effect on January 1.

The next step will be for the California Department of Veterans Affairs to ask the federal government for construction funding, [[but the bill notes that first it will require environmental assessment and other related procedures.  Kuo said that prior to receiving funding, the Planning Commission will again review the program; then the city must be notified in accordance with the relevant provisions, and the relevant committee will seek out the views of residents.]]

Kuo expressed his understanding that the cemetery land contains a lot of cement and, it may require actions such as soil preparation to a depth of six or more feet prior to construction.  Given the many variables to be included in the environmental assessment process, he currently considers the possibility that a veterans cemetery will be built in the Great Park not to be large.

Does Anthony Kuo really believe this?  If so, he should explain exactly how he thinks this can come about — so that he can help Choi and Lalloway specifically and explicitly disavow any such plans!  And they should also tell their supporters, like Gang Chen, to lay off!

Meanwhile, for some factual information, here’s this factsheet from the OC Veterans Memorial Park Committee:

Veterans Cemetery Site Map

This statement is pretty self-explanatory, except for one thing: that last line.  When they say that “reservations are not being considered at this time,” they’re speaking to the tremendous interest among veterans and their loved ones to begin to make use of this cemetery — fulfilling the promise of a military burial without making it so difficult for their loved ones to visit and honor them.

That’s not how I read it initially.  I read it as something like those dramatic “If anyone here knows why this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever how your peace” statements from weddings — though I think I’ve rarely seen this done at an actual wedding as opposed to on a sitcom or soap opera.  That is: no mental reservations are allowed.

So let’s hear it from Mr. Choi and Mr. Lalloway!  DO they have any mental reservations about continuing to support support construction of the Veterans Cemetery on the site they voted to approve?  Will they honor their covenant to the public?  Putting all partisan political considerations aside, and in the belief that they are worthy of trust, I hope that they will do so — publicly, soon, and with a translation into Chinese.  Those who might support them — but would reconsider if they were planning on treachery regarding the Veterans Cemetery — need reassurance now.

Either way, gentlemen: speak now or forever hold your peace!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)