Congratulations to Irvine on Earning Top Parks Rating in California and 6th in the Nation!

The City of Irvine park system has been ranked 6th in the nation by the Trust for Public Land annual ParkScore Index, effectively making Irvine the top-ranked city in California.

Significantly, with new parks, open space, and amenities added over the past year, the City rose from last year’s ranking of 10th in the nation, climbing up four places.

The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings assess the nation’s 100 largest cities on factors such as park access, acreage, investment, and amenities. Irvine earned a perfect sore in park spending per resident, and is second in the national for basketball hoops per 10,000 residents.

Among the factors considered in the evaluation is the fact that 80 percent of Irvine’s residents live within a 10 minute walk of a park (compared to a national average of 54 percent) and that 27 percent of Irvine’s city land is used for parks and recreation (compared to a national average of 15 percent).

Of special note, the ParkScore Index did not find any significant difference regarding closeness to parks in Irvine based on the race, nationality, age, or income level of Irvine residents.

The ParkScore Index includes parks, facilities, and amenities managed by the City, either through ownership or joint-use agreements.

The full ParkScore Index is available at tpl.org/parkscore, including score details and demographic information for each city.

Learn more about Irvine parks at cityofirvine.org/parks.

The Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks — particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. It’s goal is to “ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand.”

Congratulations to my City Council colleagues, our City Manager and City staff, and our Community Services Commissioners, especially our Irvine Community Services Commission Chair Lauren Johnson-Norris!

 

Join Me at Irvine’s Korean Cultural Festival on Sat., May 11!

Join me at the Irvine Korean Cultural Festival on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Irvine Civic Center.

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Irvine Korean Cultural Festival, an event designed to celebrate and share Korean cultural heritage and artistic traditions with the broader Irvine community and Orange County.

The Festival is a culture-filled extravaganza full of fine Korean food, games, art, music and entertainment.

The Irvine Korean Cultural Festival is committed to making the festival an educational opportunity for children and the community of Irvine. Enjoy dynamic cultural performances while sampling delicious cuisine from Irvine’s premier restaurants.

As the daughter of a Korean War combat veteran, the cousin of a United States Marine who was killed in action in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, and as a resident of Irvine, I feel a deep connection to Korea and a deep appreciation for the vital contributions that Korean Americans have made to our city, our state, and our nation.

I am proud to live and serve on the City Council in a city that celebrates and treasures our Korean American community and I join my Korean American friends and neighbors in celebrating Korean American contributions to our shared American heritage and way of life.

Along with the Irvine Korean Festival founders, sponsors, and dedicated volunteers, I strongly believe that the festival experience will help bring about mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures, which will result in the promotion of peace and harmony among all people in the Irvine community and beyond.

Please join me!

What: Irvine Korean Cultural Festival

When: Sat., May 11, 2019. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Where: Irvine Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606

Free Admission!

Free On-site parking and Off-Site parking with Shuttle.

Shuttle info: 3377 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA 92612.  Ride the shuttle and get a Free Raffle Ticket!

For more information, visit the Irvine Korean Festival website here.

Remembering Black April and Honoring Those Who Fought for and Fled to Freedom

April 30th is the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.  In Vietnamese, it is remembered as Tháng Tư Đen — Black April.

It is a time to remember and honor our more than 58,000 fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, our half a million Vietnam War veterans, and a million and a half South Vietnamese allies, as well as our allies from Australia, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines, who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

Vietnamese refugees fleeing communism in April 1975.

We must never forget their sacrifice.

This anniversary is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life.

Large-scale immigration from Vietnam to the United States began in April 1975, when the fall of Saigon led to the U.S.-sponsored evacuation of an estimated 125,000 Vietnamese refugees.

Many of these initial post-war immigrants first arrived in America at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, which is now the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

As the humanitarian crisis and displacement of people in the Indochina region (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) intensified, more refugees and their families were admitted to the United States.

Honored to stand with our Vietnamese friends and the Vietnamese community at Black April ceremony in Little Saigon.

The Vietnamese immigrant population has grown significantly since then, roughly doubling every decade between 1980 and 2000, and then increasing 26 percent in the 2000s. In 2017, more than 1.3 million Vietnamese resided in the United States, accounting for 3 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants and representing the sixth-largest foreign-born group in the country.

We must also use this anniversary to renew our commitment to ensure that human rights and freedom are one day respected in Vietnam.

Like many people in Orange County, I have been moved to tears by the heartbreaking stories of the suffering of many of my Vietnamese friends and their families — stories of their tremendous struggles and their remarkable strength in coming to this country as refugees in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

We must never forget the incredible hardships they endured and never cease to admire their courageous determination to live in freedom.

Irvine City Council Issues Proclamation Remembering Holocaust and to “Remain Vigilant Against Hatred, Persecution, and Tyranny”

At the Irvine City Council meeting on April 23, 2019, the Council unanimously voted in favor of my motion for an official proclamation recognizing April 28 – May 5, 2019, as “Days of Remembrance” in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors, rescuers and liberators, and urging all to “remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny.”

I want to thank the Mayor and my City Council colleagues for their unanimous support for this proclamation. The memory of the Holocaust should serve as a reminder throughout the ages of the need to treat all people with respect and dignity, and to ensure that hatred, bigotry, and tyranny have no place in America or any civilized community.

Lisa Armony, Project Director at Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County, with Irvine Holocaust Remembrance Proclamation.

The proclamation reads as follows:

DAYS OF REMEMBRANCE

April 28 – May 5, 2019

WHEREAS, the Congress of the United States established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council to create a living memorial to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, to never lose memory of that terrible moment in time; and

WHEREAS, the Holocaust was the persecution of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, and Jews were the primary victims – six million were murdered along with millions more targeted for racial ethnic or national reasons; and

WHEREAS, the history of the Holocaust offers an opportunity to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals, societies, and governments as well as remember the terrible events of the Holocaust and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny by rededicating ourselves to the principles of individual freedom in a just society; and

WHEREAS, the Days of Remembrance have been set aside to remember the victims of the Holocaust as well as to reflect on the need for respect of all people; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to an Act of Congress the United States Holocaust Memorial Council designates the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust to be Sunday, April 28 through Sunday, May 5, 2019, including the international Day of Remembrance known as Yom Hashoah on May 1;

NOW THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Irvine DOES HEREBY PROCLAIM APRIL 28 – May 5, 2019, as “Days of Remembrance” in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors, as well as the rescuers and liberators.

The Council also showed a powerful video on the Holocaust. Unfortunately, studies show an alarming number of American teens don’t know about the Holocaust. In the video, teens reflect on their visit to concentration camps in Poland where millions of Jews were killed.

This proclamation also serves as a reminder that antisemitism — and any form of racism or bigotry — will not go unchallenged by the good people of Irvine.

Irvine will always stand strong against hatred and intolerance and stand up for our neighbors.

An attack on anyone in Irvine because of their faith, race, or national origin, is an attack on us all.

 

Democracy Requires an Election to Fill the Vacancy on the Irvine City Council

When Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner took office as an Orange County Supervisor, Mayor Pro Tem Christina Shea automatically took his place as Mayor.

As a result, there is now a vacancy on the Irvine City Council.

Democracy requires an election rather than an appointment to fill this vacancy.

According to law, a vacancy on the Irvine City Council can be filled by appointment by the remaining four members of the Council or by election by the vote of all the residents of Irvine.

Even if the City Council appoints a new member, the people can still override that appointment and demand an election by filling a petition signed by seven percent of the voters of the City.

Some argue that precedent and financial concerns support appointing the third-place runner-up in the previous election to the open seat on the Irvine City Council, rather than holding an election in which the people will choose the person to serve as their representative.

In fact, neither precedent nor principle support an appointment over the people’s choice as determined by an election.

Since the incorporation of Irvine as a City in 1971, there have been three times that a vacancy needed to be filled for a councilmember.

In the first instance, on October 15, 1985, Ralph A. “Ray” Catalano, a professor at UCI and a former planning commissioner, was appointed to serve the remaining three years of Councilmember David Sills term when Sills resigned from the Council to become a superior court judge.

Significantly, Catalano was not the next highest vote-getter in the previous election.  Catalano was not even a candidate in that election and had never run for office. The person who was the next highest vote-getter in the previous election, Mary Ann Gaido, was not appointed to the open seat. Catalano later explained that he was a political compromise choice and was picked by Sills as his successor.

That is the only time that the Irvine City Council has used an appointment by Councilmembers rather than an election by the people to fill a vacancy on the Council.  In every other case of a vacancy on the City Council, the seat has been filled by a vote of the people in a special election.

Our very first Irvine City Council election was a special election, held on December 21, 1971, when Irvine residents approved the City charter.

On November 6. 1990, a special election was held to fill the vacancy on the City Council when Councilmember Sally Anne Sheridan was elected Mayor the previous June. The next highest vote-getter from the previous election – again it was Mary Ann Gaido – was not appointed.  Bill Vardoulis, who had not run in the prior election, entered that race and won that special election.

On November 3, 1992, a special election was held to fill the vacancy on the City Council when Councilmember Art Bloomer resigned with two years remaining in his term.  The next highest vote getter from the year of Bloomer’s election – and it was again Mary Ann Gaido — was not appointed. Greg Smith won that special election.

Additional special elections have also been called numerous other times for various reasons, such as voting on charter amendments, measures and ordinances.

In fact, in the history of municipal elections in Irvine, special elections seem to be the rule rather than the exception.

Third-place candidates have been elected to the City Council under Measure A, which was adopted by the voters in 1991.

Measure A provides in that in City Council elections where one of the sitting Councilmembers is running for Mayor, the voters can cast three ballots for candidates for the office of City Council, so that “if a council member whose term of office has not yet expired is elected to the office of Mayor, the vacancy in the office of that Councilmember shall be filled by the candidate for Councilmember receiving the third highest number of votes.”

So far, this situation has happened four times.

On June 7, 1988, third-place City Council candidate Cameron Cosgrove was elected when Larry Agran was elected Mayor.

On November 7, 2000, third-place City Council candidate Beth Krom was elected when Larry Agran was elected Mayor.

On November 2, 2004, third-place City Council candidate Sukhee Kang was elected when Beth Krom was elected Mayor.

On November 4, 2008, third-place City Council candidate Larry Agran was elected when Sukhee Kang was elected Mayor.

Our current situation is very different from those cases.

In those cases, the voters were given the explicit opportunity to vote for three candidates for City Council.

As a result, the third-place candidate gained his or her seat on the City Council directly and democratically through the knowing vote of the people, not by appointment based on coming in third when the voters only had the choice of two.

Indeed, as I have shown, our City has NEVER appointed a Councilmember based on a third-place or next-highest finish in a previous election.

Some have argued that we should use this method of appointment – which we’ve never used before – simply in order to save the money that would need to be spent on an election.

First, it should be noted that other local cities are conducting special elections for councilmembers that could easily be coordinated by the Orange County Registrar with our own, thereby reducing the cost of the election.

Most importantly, however, I believe that democracy is worth the cost.

Democracy is far from perfect.

Many of us are convinced that we could pick better officials than those the people elect.

But that is not what our nation is about.

We elect our officials as our representatives; they are not appointed over us.

Democracy is messy, inefficient, and, yes, sometimes expensive.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

I agree.

We should fill the vacant seat on the City Council with the choice of the people as determined by an election.

UPDATE:

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, the Irvine City Council officially declared a vacancy on the Council.

I have been informed by the city’s attorney and the city manager this declaration “starts the clock” regarding the process of filling the vacant council seat. We now have 60 days from April 3, 2019, to come to an agreement on the appointment of a new Councilmember or there will be an election.

Residents have 30 days from April 3, 2019, to file a petition signed by seven percent of Irvine’s registered voters to require an election regardless of what the council does.

UPDATE:

There is now a Republican proposal to circumvent this voting process by using an arbitrary ‘point proposal,’ under which “each Councilmember shall list three (3) applicants [candidates] in order of preference.” The candidates will be assigned the following point values: Top candidate 3 points, second candidate 2 points, and third candidate, 1 point.

Under this proposed procedure, the applicant receiving the most points will be appointed.

This proposed “point ” procedure:

(1) has never been used by the Irvine City Council to decide how to fill a council vacancy or to make any other appointment;
(2) violates the most crucial principle of a representative democracy — that the people’s representatives are selected by majority rule.

Arbitrarily assigning points to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice applicants, and then saying the applicant with the “most points” wins, is simply a way to avoid majority rule. It undermines the basic legitimacy of Irvine’s government.

Please attend the next Irvine City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 9, at approximately 3:00 p.m. to make sure your voices are heard.

UPDATE:

While the so-called “point” procedure was defeated at the last meeting, the question of whether to appoint or have an election is still not settled.

Please attend the next Irvine City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, where the Council will likely decide either on a process for appointment of the 5th council member to the vacant seat or deadlock to cause an election.

Closed session starts at 4:00 p.m. and the open meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. The agenda is packed so this may run late.

Let the voters have their say!

 

Join Us for the International Sensation, “The Colours of Her Heart,” by Mallika Sarabhai and Samia Malik at the Merage Jewish Center!

Join us for a breathtaking performance of the international sensation, “The Colours of Her Heart,” by Mallika Sarabhai and Samia Malik at the Merage Jewish Center in Irvine on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

In “The Colours of Her Heart,” Mallika Sarabhai, dancer, activist, choreographer, columnist, speaker and one of India’s most tireless advocates for achieving social change through the arts, brings her latest music-dance creation to Irvine.

In collaboration with Pakistani lyricist, composer, painter, and singer Samia Malik, “The Colours of the Heart” presents the pains, travails and victories of women of all nations, the bonding and the sisterhood that is spreading across all nations, giving women strength, courage, and a feeling of belonging.

With songs in Urdu and English and stories that are both personal and universal, “The Colours of the Heart” draws you into the world of women and their lives.

The multi-faceted Mallika Sarabhai holds an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad (India’s most prestigious business school) and a Ph.D in Organizational Behavior. Since first making a name for herself as an actress., she has been one of India’s leading choreographers and dancers for over three decades. In constant demand as a soloist and with her own dance company, Darpana, she has been creating and performing both classical and contemporary works.

Samia Malik’s dynamic, evolving working practice encompasses music, visual art and education. Asking challenging and important questions about our common humanity, Samia’s Malik’s work has enthralled audiences from the UK to India. She writes and performs songs based on traditional Urdu Ghazal (a highly refined union of poetry with music) extending and subverting the form to explore contemporary issues around identity, race and gender.

“The Colours of the Heart” is presented in Irvine by the Ektaa Center and the Arpana Dance Company.

The Merage Jewish Center is located at 1 Federation Way, Irvine CA 92603

For more information, call the Ektaa Center at 949-300-8912 or visit www.arpana.booktix.com.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Mark Your Calendars for the Irish Festival in June at the Great Park!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Last year, I was named an Irish Honoree by the City of Los Angeles.  The award came as a result of my help in bringing the annual Irish Fair and Music Festival to the Great Park in Irvine.

I am tremendously honored to have been named an Irish Honoree.  Irish Americans have contributed enormously to our nation, and I am proud to help share and celebrate Irish culture.

This year, the Irish Fair and Music Festival will return to the Great Park in Irvine!

Festival dates are Father’s Day weekend, Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, 2019. 

The Irish Fair and Music Festival is dedicated to preserving and promoting Irish and Irish-American culture in the Southern California area by presenting Irish music, dance, theater, language, sports and all other aspects of the Irish heritage.

Now in its 45th year, the Irish Fair has become a landmark for Irish and Irish American culture and family entertainment. Over 30,000 people attend the event annually. It has been described as the happiest and most fun filled event in all of Southern California!

Among the many artists appearing at the Festival at the Great Park this year are The Fenians,  The Humble HooligansCraic in the Stone,  Sligo Rags,  Young DublinersMarys Lane, and The Ploughboys.

The Irish Fair also features Irish Step Dancing, historical reenactments, Irish and Scottish import shops and arts & craft vendors.

You can find more information, and tickets, online at the Irish Fair and Music Festival.

See you there!

In the meantime, you can get your Irish on and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by enjoying this phenomenal musical performance of “Rocky Road to Dublin” from last year’s Irish Festival at the Great Park: