For those readers who aren’t aware, one of the (very) few solid Republican wins in California last November was the election of a GOP majority on the City Council in Irvine in Orange County. For the previous dozen years the city had been under the iron-clad rule of liberal-turned-opportunist Larry Agran, who ruled over a three-person Democrat majority. While I could write volumes about Agran and his failed leadership (sole-source massive PR contracts to his political consultants, demo-gauging on ideological issues unrelated to running a large Orange County city, and of course giving favorable treatment to city public employee unions (who were also very helpful, politically, to him).
The contrast in the city now, with the election of the “adult supervision” team of Mayor Steven Choi, and Councilwoman Christina Shea to join incumbent Councilman Jeff Lalloway, couldn’t be more stark. The new majority has already stopped the cronyism, dropping the egregious sole-source contracts to Agran’s political allies, and are now applying common-sense business principles to this important city. The change has been much-needed, and is refreshing.
Still, nearly months since the election, they are still having clean up the Agran-era mess. The latest example of this would be an item before the council tomorrow night (see it here – scroll to Item 5.2 and click link on right), an unbelievable proposal to hike just about every possible fee for interacting with the city that you could imagine. I was going to try and put them here in this blog posting — silly me. The list of fees literally goes on page, after page, after page — seemingly forever. According to the city staff, these changes in fees would bring into the city coffers north of a million dollars a year. Yep, this is the kind of mentality that governed the previous council majority — how can we get more and more money out of the private sector and into the government?
You have to scratch your head when reading the lengthy (and no doubt expensive) report that was commissioned by the city (presumably authorized by the old council majority somehow) that seeks to justify all of these increases by foisting upon every city department that does “business” with the public the “cost” of supporting those areas of the city that you or I, in this context, would call “overhead.”
There is no discussion about the tax burden in the city, and how Irvine’s residents and businesses already support City Hall through property and sales taxes. Anyways, this is not the first “leftover” from the reign of Agran that the new majority has had to dispatch, and no doubt it will not be the last.