From the Orange County Register

Sunday, October 17, 2004

False allegations amount to campaign smear

By Larry Agran
Mayor of Irvine

I would like to respond to columnist Steven Greenhut, who gives voice to the vicious, calculated and baseless attacks on me and other candidates in the race for Irvine City Council ["Irvine mayor's kingdom is crumbling," Commentary, Oct. 10].

Greenhut's recycled and false assertions regarding "political corruption" are simply nonsense. Neither he nor my political opponents offer even one shred of evidence to support the wild, outrageous and defamatory claims made against me. Apparently the American standard of justice that protects the innocent is reserved for others more to Greenhut's liking. In fact, under Greenhut's standard, it would appear that merely being friends with a mayor or council member is now sufficient reason for public flogging.

People pitch ideas for projects and programs to elected officials all the time. That's their constitutional right in a free and open society. Political opponents hurl wild accusations during campaigns and enjoy those same free speech protections. But the fact remains that all city business - including the study and evaluation of the municipal utility issue - is conducted openly at City Council meetings, not behind closed doors, as Greenhut implies.

Our City Council continues to study and debate the possibility of a city electrical utility for new-growth areas in Irvine as a means of generating revenue and exercising greater control over our energy future. What those who weave their web of lies and innuendo never mention is that no formal proposal for an electrical utility provider has come before the Irvine City Council, no contracts have been proposed or granted to any company, and no money has been paid to ENCO or any other entity. End of story.

Interestingly, Greenhut fails to criticize the "Irvine Chronicle" put out by my political opponents, Mike Ward and Greg Smith, and their campaign running mates, Steven Choi and Mike House. The "Irvine Chronicle" is a fake newspaper that masquerades as the Register-owned Irvine World News. This unethical and possibly illegal infringement of intellectual property - now being challenged by Freedom Communications' lawyers - seemed ripe for comment by such a staunch defender of property rights.

Irvine residents do pay attention to things. They know that their city government is run efficiently, openly and honestly. There has never been any suggestion of unethical behavior - until it became a convenient campaign ploy. Why else would our opponents wait until August 2004 to file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleging abuses in the 2002 campaign? Worse still, they attempted to use taxpayer dollars to fund an investigation of baseless charges against political rivals. The fact that Mike Ward, Greg Smith and their friends meekly withdrew their demand for the investigation speaks volumes about the merits of their charges.

When candidates have no record to run on, and when they have no compelling plans for Irvine's future, they often resort to a campaign of personal attacks, smears and outright lies. All this is now clear to Irvine voters - the same voters who have historically rejected these tactics.

My mother has always said to me, "Try to find something nice to say about people - especially your opponents." So I'll say this: Steven Greenhut is right about one thing - MayorPro Tem Beth Krom and I have been at the forefront of the fight to defeat the proposed international airport at El Toro. We will continue to honor the will of the citizens of Orange County - and especially the citizens of Irvine - when they passed Measure W in 2002, expressing their determination to kill the proposed El Toro airport and replace it with the self-financed Orange County Great Park.

Others want to play election-year politics. We want to build the Great Park.