No, Farrah, Carroll Isn’t an NPP; Now Tell Us About Meeting Him & Strader




[1] A Fateful Coffee Klatch

As did much of political Orange County, I yesterday received of two photographs that corroborated what a commenter leaked on OJB earlier that day: that the day before the selection of Mike Carroll based on Farrah Khan’s support for him, Farrah and her paid adviser Melahat Rafiei met over coffee with him and Patrick Strader.  Meeting ex parte with an applicant for a City Council seat just prior to Appointment Day is disturbing and opaque, but it’s Strader’s presence that truly raises eyebrows.

Strader is the lobbyist for Emil Haddad’s Five Point, which has wanted to stop construction of a Veterans’ Cemetery on the polluted ARDA site (on Marine Corps Air Facility El Toro, adjacent to the Great Park) close to their properties.  If Carroll is opposed to the project there, there are enough votes to end it.  If he received his appointment because he gave such an assurance, and if any benefit accrued to any of Strader’s three coffee companions, then I suspect that we could see an investigation into what took place at, as well as before and prior to, that meeting.

I don’t know who else may be publishing the photos of the meeting, and I can publish the raw (though harder to see) photos if that really matters, but for greater clarity I’ve cropped them, brightened them, and upped the contrast, without making any other changes.  My understanding from my sources in Irvine is that these photos was not the result of any sort of surveillance of anyone; it was just dumb luck that someone who would recognize the four people in the photos walked into the place where they were meeting st the time that they were there.  That person, or someone with them, had a camera, et voila.

Here’s the first photo, in which Farrah is hidden behind Carroll except for a small bit of color visible under his chin.


Sources tell me that this shows, from left, Patrick Strader in light pink shirt; Melahat Rafiei in bright red; Mike Carroll in dark puffy down vest and white shirtsleeves.

A clearer photo of Strader, a less clear photo of Melahat, about half of Farrah’s head, and Carroll (in the same puffy vest.

The original photos should have metadata showing their date and time (and perhaps location.)  The person who spotted them has confirmed what happened and when.  I don’t know what was being discussed at this meeting with a candidate — let alone why they held it in such a public place — but I think that it warrants an investigation.  If the participants try to get their stories straight — well, that usually does not end well.

Conservatives are apparently as angry at the appointment going to Carroll rather than Carrie O’Malley as liberals are about it not going to either Lauren Johnson-Norris or (more fairly) a public vote.  A special pre-meeting interview with one candidate, had the Council and the public been aware of it, would likely have been a main topic of discussion at Tuesday’s meetings.  As an aside, I can barely imagine what Beth Krom and Larry Agran would be thinking when learning that Farrah and Melahat were meeting with Five Point — which they seem to consider the Devil itself — to set up some mutually beneficial outcome.

[2] Farrah’s Defense is That Carroll is an NPP; He Isn’t

Farrah released a statement, which you can read on Liberal OC, which has gone full-in for Farrah (although my guess is that it might do an about turn when Agran finds out that Carroll opposes the ARDA site), denying that she has thrown council control to Republicans, on the grounds that Carroll — a longtime Republican, is an NPP (No Party Preference) voter.  This is important whether or not it’s true, because it shows that Farrah thinks that the idea that she voted to put a Republican on the Concil is important enough to “correct.”  Throwing Council control to Republicans would have been bad.

There’s just one problem with that,  This is a screenshot provided to me by Democratic Party sources, taken on Tuesday, May 14, with some information redacted because I’m not comfortable sharing (despite that I think that it’s public information).  But the critical information is there; see if you can spot it!

Did you see it?  Farrah could have, any time she wanted, just by asking DPOC for it.

As of yesterday, Carroll was a Republican.  Maybe he did a quick party change before the meeting and then a quick change back.  Maybe the system is slow to pick up on a change (although I recall being told otherwise.)  Even if Carroll changed his party registration to NPP just before the vote — that would be the best case for Farrah explaining this away — so that Farrah could justify voting for him, this is so technical and disingenuous as to be insulting to her party and her constituents.  Carroll has been a conservative Republican for decades, by all accounts, and he can be expected to follow a Republican voting pattern.

Farrah might have the defense that she was lied to about it rather than lying herself.  This is a really lousy defense, if he tries it, but there’s no reason to explain why unless she does.

[3] Chumley Finally Pipes Up, Spewing Great Gobs of Idiocy

I’m going to do something I rarely do, and give a link to Chumley, because I really want you to savor the idiocy he’s having to come up with as his city government and political footing crumble around him.  I’m going to quote a lot of it for purposes of criticism.

Irvine Council member Farrah Khan lent her vote at Tuesday’s meeting to appoint Irvine Planning Commissioner Mike Carroll to fill a vacancy on the Irvine City Council and a number of folks are losing their minds.

“Lent her vote”!!!  Bwaa ha hahahahahahaha.  She didn’t lend it, Shakespeare, she cast it.  Gave it away, permanently, for what I thought was nothing, until learning of the Strader photo.

No one’s lost their minds; they just resent losing Council control without a fight due to petty grievances.

So I’m watching heads explode on social media with various folks blasting Khan for her vote.  I half expect the party to pass a resolution condemning her vote at the next meeting which will be … awkward given that Khan’s accusation of bullying from a party vice chair remains unresolved and unmentioned at meetings, and this vice chair is also a co-chair of the resolutions committee.  Khan has been threated — by this same party leader — with recall just six weeks after taking office for appointing a Republican commissioner while her Democratic council colleague has had a Republican commissioner for two years without the same threat.  So the long knives have been out for Khan for some time.

Chumley may not get this, as credibility is not a concept he really seems to understand, but the reason that people aren’t up in arms about Jeff Letourneau supposedly calling Farrah a vulgar name (related to gender, not race or religion) is that people seem to believe his denial of it.  This comes from talking to various people about it over the months.  A few months ago I thought that it might be true; now, after seeing what seems to be a major personality change on Farrah’s part, I tend to doubt it.  (I do not Say this because I’m prone to defend Jeff, who of course schemed to get me kicked off of DPOC.)

Next come paragraphs complaining about Democrats not electing Ed Pope for Mayor and Loretta Sanchez for Supervisor.  Loretta was a weak candidate whose base was outside of the Supervisorial District; we didn’t cause her to lose, the people who muscled Andy Thorburn out of the race lost that seat.  As for Pope: Larry Agran has a great record of losing elections for offices in Irvine fo the past several cycles, and that’s when all of us were supporting him.  He just lost the respect of the populace.  He did have that one success, obtained by lying about the whole Measure B campaign: both sites were equally adjacent to, and neither was in, the Great Park, and Ed Pope was there just to help Agran get revenge on Five Point.  Not a whole lot there to respect.  And one reason why people didn’t run for Mayor is because of the certainty that Khal Larry was going to split the vote with any Democratic candidate not of his choosing, and call that “relevance” his victory.

But that said: I seriously can’t wait to see Chumley wrestle with the apparent reality that Carroll — whom we can presume will oppose ARDA (as that’s one implication of Strader being at the meeting which seems to have cinched the appointment for him), which has no money for toxic cleanup in the Governor’s May Revise to the state budget anyway — will have ended up being the key to undoing Agran’s attempted legacy.  This is EXACTLY why the veterans groups wanted the Strawberry Fields fight– not only was it more visible and less polluted, but it avoided a protracted fight with Emil Haddad, who had enough money and hired brainpower to delay the cemetery at ARDA for years and years, including lawsuits.

It will be a bitter irony if, as I expect, Melissa Fox stands up to Five Point now if they try to eliminate any options for the Veterans cemetery and Farrah ends up being in Five Point’s side.  What will Chumley do in such a topsy-turvy world?  I don’t know, but it will likely to amusing.

Here’s where he leaves off:

In watching all this criticism of Khan go down, I’m reminded about a short speech Diana Lee Carey made to the DPOC in 2017 asking how many in the room have been elected to city councils or school boards.  Not many hands went up.  She referenced how when you’re elected, you have to work with the other side to get things done, especially when on the minority.  And she’s right.  If people are going to draw and quarter Khan, where are the torches for Melissa Fox on the cemetery issue (it would have been under construction by now at ARDA), or ones for Jose Moreno in Anaheim with his support for Tom Tait’s agenda, or Letita Clark working with the GOP Majority in Tustin on issues?  The outrage is selective based on who the council member is which is why Jordan Brandman is regularly criticized and Moreno is not.

This is instructively stupid.  Yes, it’s fine to work across party lines with people of good will.  (Chumley is a terrible judge of good will, of course.)  Carey, and Fox, and Moreno, and Clark have indeed all had to do it sometimes, though it’s been easier when the people they were cooperating with were promoting ideas highly compatible with Democratic interests such as consumer protection and fairness, and opposing corruption.  That’s fine — and there should be more of it.

This was something completely different — and we don’t know how bad the implications will be.  This was — I’ll boldface it so that Chumley notices it and put it in orange because I know he hates our use of color — what Farrah did is not to “cooperate with” the opposition, but to out-and-out surrender to them, giving up a decent chance for a Council majority without even a fight.

That not at all the same as cooperating with them.  That’s a betrayal of one’s own party — and everyone except Chumley and I suppose Farrah herself seems to get it.

So Carroll’s on the council.  Shea is mayor and is as weak as he’s ever been.  Emile Haddad didn’t have to whip out his checkbook and City Manager John Russo can likely start going home again at 3PM; we are 18 months from a new election which will have a large voter turnout.  If Irvine Democrats want that council majority, let someone come forward and run for Mayor.  Let someone come forward and challenge Carroll.  Fox is running for assembly so he seat is up for grabs.

About Emil Haddad not having had to whip out his checkbook — we don’t actually know that, do we?  Chumley should join me in asking all involved — particularly the people we share a party with, Farrah and Melahat — about exactly what went on at that meeting and why Five Points’s lobbyist was even there.

Surely Chumley will join me in seeking the truth on Five Points’s role in the Carroll apppintment, right?  Right?  Right?

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.)