Lalloway-Choi Lies: 405 Toll Lanes, Veterans’ Cemetery, and so much more!




Something like a staggering $800,000 has been spent in Irvine this season to defeat the Democratic candidates – my friend Melissa Fox calculates that at least $100 grand has been devoted to keeping HER off the council.  The Republican incumbents haven’t had to raise any of their own money – the VAST majority of it, while funneled through the usual-suspect intermediaries, comes from developer FivePoint, which wants to continue to have carte blanche with the “Great Park” lands.  You could say the Lalloway-Choi campaign has been OUTSOURCED TO DEVELOPERS,  and their material has to be among the most shameless and dishonest in the county this year, which is saying a lot!

My colleague Greg Diamond is already covering Veterans Cemetery-Gate at great length, blow by blow as it unfolds in its grotesquerie – as has the Liberal OC.  What may have started as the fantasy of a low-information Chinese American citizen – that the Irvine Republicans might reverse their vote in favor of an OC Veterans Cemetery if they get re-elected – can no longer be brushed aside as a possible Agran false-flag stunt, now that Choi’s planning commissioner and the first lady of the Republican State Senate have joined in.  Equal parts lies, racial manipulation and unpatriotism, this CemeteryGate will probably go down as the low point of the 2014 campaign in this county.

Would Choi and Lalloway actually change their votes and give veterans the shiv?  I have no doubt that the valueless and clueless Steven Choi would do just that, as we saw him whine to his fellow Asian-Americans, “Where were you when this was being discussed?  We were overwhelmed by veterans!”  (or something to that effect.)  Would Jeff Lalloway switch his vote on the cemetery with Election Day behind him?  Well, what is his response to all the claims that he would?  His thin, thin lips are pressed as tight as a vice – the course of action of a man who wants to win based on lies and racial stereotypes.

Well, lies about the Veterans Cemetery are in Greg’s wheelhouse since he’s been part of that struggle for a long time;  but when they inject their lies into the struggle against 405 Toll Lanes is when they enter MY wheelhouse.

How is it wrong to call Jeff Lalloway a Toll Troll?

Part of Melissa Fox’ case against Lalloway (and apparently part of Agran’s as well) has been his support of, or at least lack of opposition to, changing taxpayer-funded free lanes on the 405 into toll lanes.  Yesterday a mailer went out, featuring Supervisor Todd Spitzer claiming that Jeff has always been a “vocal opponent of tolling the 405” – something I’ve never observed in all my OCTA meetings.  This may seem like a minor issue to Irvine, since neither OCTA nor CalTrans are (CURRENTLY) considering tolling any Irvine highways.  But:

  1. It’s obviously a more burning issue than some realize, as it was considered worth responding to in an expensive mailer;
  2. Of course many Irvine drivers have to use that 13-mile stretch of the 405, to get to Long Beach or wherever, so it affects them too;
  3. As we’ll see, it’s an enlightening issue which demonstrates what sort of politician, and what sort of conservative, Jeff Lalloway is.

Two years ago when I learned that Lalloway, who I understood to be a principled conservative, would join the OCTA Board, I had high hopes that he would be driven by his values and logic to strongly oppose 405 toll lanes.  But he soon turned out to be a different sort of “conservative” from toll fighters Moorlach, Tait, and Mansoor.  Whenever the topic came up in the 2013 OCTA meetings I went to, and toll opponents spoke of being “taxed twice,” Lalloway would always pipe up IN DEFENSE of tolls, saying plainly that HE didn’t consider them a “tax” but a “user fee” that you could choose to pay or not.  He even liked to bring up the balloon rides at the Great Park, which you now have to pay for – a “user fee” brought to you proudly by Jeff Lalloway!

First of all, is it true that Jeff ever “voted to put toll lanes on the 405?”  (And is that actually what Agran accused him of?)  In the two years he’s been on the Board, there hasn’t actually been a vote on “Alternative 3,” the toll lane option, so he could literally say no to that charge.  What there HAS been was:

  1. a vote to withhold Measure M funds unless we could be assured CalTrans wouldn’t go through with their tolling threat in the future;  Lalloway voted against that (and Todd Spitzer himself lamented that the county had thus “given up its leverage.”)  This is what Melissa accuses Jeff of.   AND:
  2. a September 22 motion by Spitzer himself to put the OCTA Board on record formally opposing tolls or anything like Alt 3.  Jeff also opposed that, and as it failed by one vote, you could say Jeff killed it!  What a good friend Todd Spitzer is, to help Jeff out by claiming that he’d backed him on a motion which he actually killed! (Did Todd make that false claim because he’s being a good team-playing Republican, or was it more part of his ongoing feud with Larry Agran?)

My involvement in the 405 toll issue has been educational, as I see not only that there are different types of politicians who love the idea of tolling you, but there are also at least two different sorts of conservatives – ones like Moorlach, Tait and Mansoor who see plainly that the OCTA/CalTrans plan to build new free lanes with out $1.3 billion of Measure M tax money and THEN change two of the other free lanes into toll lanes is a swindle on OC voters and taxpayers;  and ones like Don Hansen and Jeff Lalloway who love the idea that all our services should be divided into better services for those who can afford them and worse ones for the rest of us.  They call that “choice” – choice for the privileged or the desperate.  That’s what kind of conservative Jeff Lalloway has shown himself to be, and I would hope Irvine has had enough of it.

The other defining characteristic of Jeff’s tenure on OCTA is his provincialism.  Remember, with the locally preferred Alt 2, drivers on the most heavily traveled freeway stretch of the county would get TWO new free lanes at $1.4 billion as opposed to ONE new free lane at $1.3 billion – anyone budget-minded who steps back and thinks about that would go for the TWO lanes.  But toll-enamored OCTA staff consistently scold Board members from other parts of the county that that extra $100 million would have to come out of one of THEIR pet projects, and that threat does the trick – with Lalloway and the rest.  And all it took to spook Lalloway out of backing Todd’s (merely advisory) Sept 22 motion was for the CalTrans bulldog Ryan Chamberlain to threaten (absurdly) that the motion would “delay” Jeff’s pet project on the 55.  And so he made ONE MORE “I don’t mind tolls so much” vote.

All I know is, if Jeff Lalloway is an “outspoken opponent of tolling the 405” … it must be afterhours at some bar where only Todd Spitzer can hear him.

And there’s more, so much more…

There’s the mailer telling Democrats and Koreans falsely that Democratic former mayor Sukhee Kang backs the Republican ticket.  There’s the mailer telling Democrats that popular Democratic school board member Sharon Wallin backs the Republican ticket.  There are lies I don’t have time to mention here.  JUST TODAY – SUNDAY – they spent thousands of dollars sending out day laborers with an outrageous door hanger claiming falsely that the Irvine police support Lalloway – and it uses the Irvine police shield in a totally unauthorized and disrespectful way.

But what I want to know is, beyond all the lies, what is FivePoint so afraid of, what makes it worth nearly a million of their (and their allies’) money to make sure Lalloway and Choi keep a Republican majority?  What is it that a majority with Melissa Fox – that is, Fox, Krom and Agran;  or Fox, Krom, and one of the non-Choi mayors – would do in Irvine that is so scary to FivePoint?

Melissa’s answer is: a slow growth control ordinance.  Infrastructure would have to be in place to support any new projects. FivePoint would no longer be able to just do anything they want, at any speed they want, as they have been under the Republicans.  The idea of slow growth is resonating well for the Democrats, and FivePoint hates that as much as they hate having to give in to a Veterans Cemetery.

I want Melissa on the council, and I want her to have a majority to back her, whether it’s Krom and Agran, or Krom and a non-Choi mayor.  Our conservative Irvine blogger Tyler Holcomb frets that if Melissa is on council with Larry, he’ll dominate her because she owes him somehow.  I say 1) Tyler doesn’t know Melissa.  And 2) Larry will owe HER.  Melissa will have pulled Larry’s bacon out of the fire and given him a new lease on life.  She would not have gone along with a lot of his bad decisions over the past couple decades.  Let Irvine’s Fox era begin;  Choi and Lalloway have proven themselves unworthy of leading such a great city.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.