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One Man's Hero Is Another's Villain

October 13, 2002

Re "Now Irvine Mayor Is a Major Player," Oct. 7:

Instead of discussing the enormous contributions that have been made under Larry Agran's leadership during his 16 years on the Irvine City Council, the article relies on name-calling and half-truths.

It seems to me that The Times, by constantly repeating offensive names and terms used by Agran's enemies, is responsible for these continuing attacks.

The Times article pillories a highly educated, articulate, devoted family man. Agran is resented by the opposition for the very qualities that have earned him the support of Irvine residents.

Two years ago, 83% of the electorate voted for Larry Agran. Why wasn't this enthusiastic response reflected in The Times' article?

Vivian Hall



Agran says of the role I and others took in the anti-airport fight: "These people are like blisters. They show up after all the hard work is done. I don't recall a single instance in which they took part in that campaign."

Fred Smoller, chairman of the political science department at Chapman University, states: "The Great Park thing has been an amazing victory, and it was [Agran's] vision."

As a former councilwoman and mayor of Irvine, I spent eight long years fighting the county's airport proposal. I worked with hundreds of volunteers to win this battle and we did.

The difference between Agran and myself is clear: I have given credit to the thousands of volunteers that worked as a community to accomplish this goal; Agran continually tries to tout himself as the sole catalyst for this victory.

To update Smoller, Agran was not the visionary for the Great Park. In fact, the Great Park idea came out of our entire council discussions with our consultants.

Christina L. Shea



I object to Agran and his City Council allies approving the transfer of 8,000 housing units from elsewhere to the Northern Sphere, bloating what was once a 4,000-unit project to a 12,000-unit project.

This proposal was working its way through the city bureaucracy at the same time Agran and City Councilman Chris Mears received money at a fund-raiser hosted by Irvine Co. executives.

Agran rationalizes his behavior by claiming that the Irvine Co. would have simply taken its project to the county if Agran had objected. That's preposterous. The reporter apparently failed to ask Agran if that has ever happened in the history of this city. Not to my knowledge, it hasn't.

The Irvine Co. certainly isn't going to take this mammoth project elsewhere after helping Agran and Mears retire old campaign debts.

I also object to Agran's quote in the article, where he calls anti-airport activists who oppose him "blisters" who "show up after all the hard work is done." Conveniently suffering from a sudden case of amnesia, Agran said, "I don't recall a single instance in which they took part in that campaign."

Let me help Agran's memory by reminding him that I was one of the earliest members of his Project '99 staff. In fact, in 1996 I co-wrote with him "In Defense of Our Community," a defiant manifesto declaring the right of Irvine homeowners to protect themselves from tyrants who, just like King George III in 1776, demanded unquestioning loyalty from citizens viewed as disobedient children.

The reality is that I, along with former mayor Christina Shea, Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, the elected officials of south Orange County, and thousands of citizen activists were the ones who stopped the El Toro airport.

Agran should go back and read our manifesto, because he's acting more and more like King George. He does not sit on a throne. He represents the people of Irvine, even those who did not vote for him. To dismiss those of us who no longer believe in him as "blisters" is repugnant. He owes the people of Irvine an apology.

Stephen C. Smith



Re: Irvine's Great Park Plan Carries Equal Price," Oct. 8:

Agran continues to be disingenuous, at best, with the Great Park plan.

While Larry and his fellow obfuscators never said the park "would cost no money," they certainly did insist that the money would almost all come from private sources.Cutting back services so that their funds can be diverted to the park is new taxation. And the bills are just starting to show up. Next anticipated invoice: environmental cleanup.

I promise that the lies and surprises won't stop there. In our lifetime, I predict that all we will realize out of this "park" shall be 1) a private golf course that most cannot afford to play, surrounded by private luxury homes that few can afford to own; 2) a few more light industrial complexes to generate tax revenue for the benefit of Irvine residents; 3) a wilderness area that shall be closed off to the public to protect some native moth; and 4) some soccer fields that can only be used, as is done today, if the majority of the participants are residents of Irvine and you have all the permits and the city says that the fields are dry enough that day.

Eric Hainline

Santa Ana

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