Update: At last night's council meeting, an annoyed Larry Agran argued that Irvine parks are sex-crimes free (against minors) and so any ordinance banning convicted sex offenders from entering the properties is unnecessary.
An even more annoyed Beth Krom, Agran's most loyal second fiddle in the city's Democratic majority, took a direct shot at District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, saying she resented outsiders giving officials advise on how to govern.
But having thumped their chests, Agran and Krom decided not to stick to their so-called principles and hand Republicans a fresh campaign issue. They approved a weakened ordinance that would ban only convicted sex offenders who victimized minors. All other sex offenders--such as rapists and flashers and pornographers--can breathe a sigh of relief. Agran's machine is happy to have you cruising Irvine parks.
Republican councilman Jeff Lalloway didn't hide his disappointment. He suggested the council majority is inviting future trouble.
Original post: (11:33 a.m., June 14, 2011)
There are loud rumblings inside Irvine City Hall that a proposed ordinance banning convicted sex offenders from visiting public parks will be once again delayed at tonight's council meeting.
Several sources even allege that Larry Agran's three-member council Democratic majority is stonewalling the issue in a partisan effort to deny a political victory to Jeff Lalloway, a Republican councilman who proposed an ordinance in April.
"Larry has been working behind the scenes to stall this proposal," said one veteran, high-ranking city hall employee who asked for anonymity. "I doubt he'd ever publicly admit that he's trying to trip Jeff. But any of us who know Larry well know that's a big possibility."In an interview this morning, Lalloway said that while he's gotten "a lot of pushback" from city officials for proposing the ordinance, he does not know what action Agran and his allies, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang, will take tonight. He also declined to speculate about potential Agran motives. Instead, he says he is focused on the merits of the proposal.
"God forbid, something happens in one of our city parks while we are declining to take action," said Lalloway, who credits District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and former state Assemblyman Todd Spitzer for educating him on the urgent necessity of banning sex offenders from parks. "This is an important public issue and we need to address it now."
I've emailed Agran, Krom and Kang requesting comment about their position on the ordinance. The proposal first landed on the city's agenda on May 10, when city staff was directed to study the issue and return with specific recommendations. Worries that Agran's political machine, historically callous and self-serving in its operation, will again delay the matter arose with the release of the current agenda. Though the city council always has the option of stalling an issue, the written agenda item about Lalloway's proposal includes the unnecessarily specific option to "defer consideration."
"I honestly don't know what the majority will do," said Lalloway. "I hope it's the right thing. If they fail to act, that's a pretty powerful statement."
But Rackauckas--who, along with Supervisor Shawn Nelson, got the county's board of supervisors to pass a related park ordinance earlier this year--isn't remaining idle. Yesterday, Rackauckas took the unusual step of issuing a press statement saying that he will attend Tuesday night's Irvine City Council meeting to urge passage of the item.
"Like Jeff, Tony feels this issue isn't something that deserves to be delayed again," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the DA's spokeswoman and chief of staff. "He's showing up to make that point."
Schroeder says that Erin Runnion, founder of The Joyful Child Foundation and the mother of a five-year-old daughter who was kidnapped, raped and murdered, will also attend in support of Lalloway.
In the county's version of the ordinance, it will be a misdemeanor for a convicted sex offender to enter a public park or recreational area where kids gather.
Opponents of the measure have argued that it's unconstitutional and excessively punitive.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly