Join Me on Sat., Aug. 17, 2019, for the Re-Opening of Irvine Lake!

Join me on Saturday, August 17, 2019, for the official re-opening celebration at Irvine Lake!

Irvine Lake, 700 acres in size, is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in Orange County.

Formed by the Santiago Dam, built between 1929 and 1931, the lake was originally called the Santiago Reservoir. The dam was built by the Irvine Company and the Serrano Irrigation District (now called the Serrano Water District), and is now owned by both the Serrano Water District and the Irvine Ranch Water District and operated by Serrano Water District. The lake provides drinking water to Villa Park and some parts of Orange, and provides supplementary irrigation water to neighboring ranches. Stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, and trout, the lake opened to fishing by the public in 1941.

My family has wonderful memories of fishing on the lake.  In fact, my husband and I went fishing there on our first date in March 1994!

Fishing with my son Max at Irvine Lake in 2010.

Sadly, due to prolonged drought that drastically lowered water levels and inter-governmental conflicts between the County and the Water Districts, the lake was closed to the public and fenced off in 2011.

This week, Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner announced that the Irvine Company has deeded 29 acres of land adjacent to the lake to the County of Orange, and that an agreement has been reached among all the government entities involved to reopen the lake to the public for shoreline fishing.

The opening day event will include free breakfast, coffee and giveaways, and visitors can fish from the shore between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The public can access the lake during those same times every Friday through Sunday.

No fishing license will be required, but there will be a $5 parking fee. For now, no boats are allowed on the water.

The Longfin Fishing Tackle Store will be open.

Thank you to Supervisor Wagner and all the people who worked with the County, the Water Districts, and the Irvine Company to re-open Irvine Lake!

Irvine Lake is located at 4621 E. Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado, CA 92676

For more information, call 714-649-9111.

 

 

Is Your Pet Ready for Their Close-Up? Enter the 2020 Irvine Pet Calendar Contest!

Is your dog, cat or rabbit ready for their close-up?

The Irvine Animal Care Center is seeking photo entries for this year’s Make Your Pet a Star Photo Fundraiser!

All pictures that meet entry guidelines will be included in our 2020 Irvine Animal Care Center wall calendar!

Photo fundraiser entrants receive a free print calendar, and 13 winners will have their pet featured in a full-month spread.

Online photo submissions will be accepted up to August 31, 2019.

Entry fee is $25 per photo or $100 for five photos.

Funds raised go toward the center’s Enhanced Care, Foster Care, and Third Chance for Pets programs.

For entry guidelines and to submit your photo, please visit irvineanimals.org/petcalendar.

A Most Personal Decision

The question of what a woman should do when she is pregnant but does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me.

It is the question that my birth mother, unmarried and 16-years-old, faced fifty one years ago.

This was before People v. Belous (1969) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to give birth.

Just a few months before I was born, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act,” which changed California’s criminal code to permit the termination of pregnancy by a physician when there was substantial risk that its continuation would “gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother” or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

I am not sure whether my birth mother would have qualified for a legal abortion under the “physical or mental health” requirements of the new law, but she could have risked terminating her pregnancy by illegal means – as more than 100,000 California women did every year before the Act’s passage. In fact, Governor Reagan said that he signed the new law to prevent the death and injury of thousands of California women each year from illegal and dangerous “back alley” abortions.

My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, and instead gave me up for adoption.

Of course, I’m happy with her choice – I would not be here otherwise. I was raised by parents who wanted and were able to care for me. I have also had the incredible joy of being able to thank my birth mother for her decision – reuniting with her and my two younger brothers several years ago.

I received a great gift from my birth mother’s decision – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to properly care for a child.

Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s.

Our current representative — and my opponent — for the 68th Assembly District, Steven Choi, believes otherwise.

During his political career, Choi has earned a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood.

When seeking the Republican nomination for the Assembly, he stated that “he is pro-life, and he wants to protect all lives, including those of the unborn.”  He has tried to use his position in the legislature to bring back the days when thousands of women each year in California were forced to make the horrific choice between having unwanted children or illegal, dangerous abortions.  He recently voted against a bill in the California legislature that would provide young people with basic contact information about reproductive health. He has been endorsed by groups that are aiming to do to California women what has been recently been done to the women of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah — subjecting them to the most restrictive abortion laws in decades.  And he has received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to deny women the right to control their own bodies.

As your representative for the 68th Assembly District, I’ll fight to protect and defend women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services.  That’s why I’ve been endorsed by Women in Leadership, a bipartisan political action group committed to electing women who share their commitment to women’s rights and freedoms in reproductive health, and why I’ve been endorsed by Fund Her and the Womens Political Committee.

We can’t allow politicians like Steven Choi to deny women basic human rights such as access to safe and affordable reproductive health care or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.

That’s why I need your help now to keep the decision whether to give birth a deeply personal choice and not the government’s.

You can learn more and join me at VoteMelissaFox.com.

Melissa

How Orange County Lost the U.S. Solar Decathlon

In a recent article in the Voice of OC, Chapman University Professor Fred Smoller and former U.S. Department of Energy official Richard King make a convincing case for a California version of the U.S. Solar Decathlon. The problem is, there already was a California-based Solar Decathlon – located at the Great Park in Irvine – until lack of support and mismanagement by the administration of then-mayor Steven Choi forced the U.S. Department of Energy to find another location elsewhere.

The U.S. Solar Decathlon, which has been sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy approximately every two years since 2002, is an award-winning international competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The houses are assembled at a central location for display, evaluation, and awards. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

As Smoller and King point out, since the Solar Decathlon’s inception in 2002, more than a dozen California colleges and universities have participated, but no California colleges or universities are slated to participate in the next competition in 2020.

This lack of California participation is troubling, Smoller and King note, because the Solar Decathlon introduces new solar energy technologies to the market and accelerates their implementation; increases and educates the ‘clean tech’ workforce; educates consumers about clean energy; and demonstrates that energy-efficient and solar-powered housing is attainable, practical, and beautiful.

Smoller and King further point out that “as the U.S. surrenders its leadership position on fighting climate change, other nations have stepped in: Solar Decathlons are now being held in Europe, China, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to combating climate change, countries in these regions — especially China — are positioning themselves to take full advantage of the rapidly expanding green economy.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Smoller and King in endorsing a California Solar Decathlon.

California is the ideal location for a Solar Decathlon. California leads the nation, and the world, in developing new and cleaner energy technologies. We are leaders in requiring more effective clean energy standards and in fighting climate change. “To maintain California’s leadership position in the field of clean energy, we must harness the creative energy of our youth, the academic community, industry and labor. By working together, this competition could set a new milestone in clean energy and help make California the sustainability capital of the world.”

Significantly, in both 2013 and 2015, the Solar Decathlon was held right here at the Great Park – until lack of support and mismanagement by the administration of then-mayor Steven Choi forced the U.S. Department of Energy to find another location elsewhere.

It was an incredible achievement in January 2012 when the Great Park team was awarded a $1 million grant to bring the 2013 Solar Decathlon and the XPO in Irvine – the very first time such an award had been made and first time the Decathlon will be held outside of Washington, D.C.

As then-Great Park Board Chair Beth Krom stated at the time, the Solar Decathlon was expected to “bring worldwide attention and economic development to the Great Park and the region and raise public awareness about the benefits of clean energy and energy conservation.”

As I wrote at the time, I was “excited about the potential economic and technological impact that the Solar Decathlon will have for Irvine and Orange County in the future.”

But once the Solar Decathlon contract was awarded, the Irvine City Council, now led by Mayor Steven Choi, completely bungled the opportunity.

First, Mayor Choi and his allies on the Irvine City Council and the Great Park Board (which were then, as now, one and the same) dismissed the public relations firm that had been instrumental in getting the Energy Department to award the Solar Decathlon contract to the Great Park, without hiring any replacement firm – or even adopt a plan – to handle the publicity for the event. The result was far less attendance than been had anticipated when it was assumed that the Solar Decathlon would be properly publicized.

Melissa Fox attending the 2013 U.S. Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park as an Irvine Community Services Commissioner.

Next, Mayor Choi and his allies on the City Council failed to provide proper signage and directions for the event, so that many people who planned to attend could not locate the venue within the uncompleted Great Park.

The City also failed to partner with science, engineering or community based groups to promote and engage with the Solar Decathlon.

In fact, Mayor Choi and his allies on the City Council were hostile to the very premises of the Solar Decathlon. It had been the idea of former Mayor Larry Agran to bring the Solar Decathlon to the Great Park, and the contract was awarded during Agran’s tenure as mayor. Choi never embraced the event as truly belonging to Irvine or the Great Park, instead viewing it with suspicion as belonging to Agran and to Obama’s environmentally pro-active and climate change conscious Department of Energy.

Crucially, Choi did not share the Solar Decathlon’s basic rationale: concerns about the impact of human-caused climate change and the need for new, clean, energy technologies. Rather, Choi told his fellow Republicans that while “it is good to keep the environment clean but [he] completely questions the idea of global warming being caused by human intervention. He opposes cap and trade and other government imposed environmental regulations, calling them an extreme effort to tax businesses and economic growth.”

In line with this anti-scientific thinking regarding the relationship between climate change and human use of fossil fuels, Choi not only cared nothing about ensuring the success of the Solar Decathlon, but ended Irvine’s participation in the Wyland Foundation’s National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation and failed to appoint a quorum for the Irvine Green Ribbon Environmental Committee, causing that important committee – which I revived, along with Mayor Don Wagner, and which I now chair – to cease meeting for the years that Choi was mayor.

As I said in 2016 when the U.S. Department of Energy announced that the Solar Decathlon would be held in Denver, not the Orange County Great Park, “It is extremely disappointing that the Solar Decathlon will no longer he held in Irvine because the Irvine City Council refused to support the continuation of the Solar Decathlon in the Great Park. The Solar Decathlon served as an international showcase for our city — our businesses and educational institutions — as among the world’s leaders in scientific and environmental innovation, but our shortsighted City Council has allowed this tremendous opportunity to go elsewhere.”

In sum, I agree with Fred Smoller and Richard King that a Solar Decathlon in California– a “leading-edge design competition which promotes innovation, education, and market expansion” of clean energy technologies – would be great for our students, teachers, schools and businesses.  That’s why it’s such a pity that the Solar Decathlon was once here in the Great Park, until the event was mismanaged, and the opportunity was squandered, by the Irvine City Council led by Steven Choi.

 

Irvine Agrees to Fire Museum and Safety Center at the Great Park!

As a long-time advocate for the California Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center, and for preserving the heritage of our California firefighters in a permanent facility in the Great Park, I am thrilled that at my urging the Irvine City Council and the Fire Museum have now agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding for five acres in the Great Park to be designated by the City of Irvine for a 31,000 sq. state-of-the-art, interactive, sensory immersive Fire Museum and Safety Learning Center.

The mission of the California Fire Museum is:

  • To preserve and protect the history and heritage of the fire service in general, with special emphasis on the California Fire Services.
  • To collect, restore, preserve and exhibit apparatus, equipment, art and artifacts of the firefighting profession.
  • To provide life safety, fire safety and fire prevention education to the community.
  • To educate the public about firefighters, firefighting and emergency services.

You can read my blog post from August 2018 urging the Irvine City Council to support a Fire Museum at the Great Park HERE.

You can learn more about the California Fire Museum and Safety Leaning Center at their website Here and their Facebook page Here.

 

OC Register Editorial: Democracy Cannot be Stage-Managed by the Majority for their Own Convenience and Political Advantage

The Orange County Register’s editorial of July 17, 2019, correctly calls out and condemns the recent move by the Irvine City Council to prevent a Council Member from putting an item on the agenda unless two other members agree to do so.

As the Register states, “The transparent goal is to shut down the views of the political minority. Irvine officials said they want to stop ‘grandstanding,’ but one person’s grandstanding is another’s chance to raise vital concerns.”

The Register also recognizes that while the new rule was adopted specifically to silence me, the effect of the rule will be to silence all disagreement and dissent:

“Fox has previously discussed supposedly ‘divisive’ issues ranging from flying the LGBTQ flag at City Hall to creating a veterans’ cemetery near the Great Park. But this fracas isn’t about the particular issues any member might want to discuss, but about whether a duly elected official has the right to publicly discuss them. Councils are not private clubs . . . These are the public’s meetings and all officials, even minority voices, represent their constituencies. All elected bodies need to encourage wide-ranging discussions so the public can be part of the self-government process – and not just observers of a carefully crafted script. That’s the essence of representative democracy.”

Thank you to the OC Register for recognizing that public meetings in a real democracy cannot be stage-managed by the majority for their own convenience and political advantage.

As I’ve said before, Irvine’s current pro-Trump Council majority has made it clear that they are following in Irvine the very same playbook of obstruction and bullying used in Washington by Trump and Mitch McConnell, and with the same goal: to silence opposing voices.

But I have no intention of being silent.

And neither do you.

As with Trump and McConnell, we must persist and resist every day, and throw them out decisively in November 2020.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to raise my voice to speak for progressive policies and values — like respect for LGBTQ people, a state cemetery for our veterans, implementation of a serious plan to tackle climate change, more accessible child care, ending sexual violence and discrimination in the workplace, building affordable housing, and ensuring greater government transparency — as I was elected to do.

 

No, We Won’t Back Down

At its last meeting, the Irvine City Council took the unprecedented step of voting to prohibit a council member from placing an item on the agenda without two other council members’ approval.

Now, only the mayor will be allow to put an item on the agenda — a power that until last week had for decades belonged to every individual member of the City Council.

There have been many shifting majorities on the City Council over the years, but no other Council has gone so far to silence dissenting voices and points of view.

You can read about what took place in this excellent article in Voice of OC, including how this new rule is directed squarely at me in retaliation for proposing that Irvine fly the Pride Flag at City Hall, and how they made sure to propose the new rule — and then quickly enact it —  while I was on a long-planned trip to Alaska.

The truth is that Irvine’s Republican, pro-Trump Council majority — created by appointment in a back-room deal — has made it clear that they are following in Irvine the very same playbook of obstruction and bullying used in Washington by Trump and Mitch McConnell, and with the same goal: to silence opposing voices.

But I have no intention of being silent.

And neither do you.

As with Trump and McConnell, we must persist and resist every day.

And throw them out decisively in November 2020.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to raise my voice to speak for progressive policies and values — like respect for LGBTQ people, a state cemetery for our veterans, implementation of a serious plan to tackle climate change, more accessible child care, ending sexual violence and discrimination in the workplace, building affordable housing, and ensuring greater government transparency — as I was elected to do.