IRVINE : Public Meetings on Fiscal Crisis Sought; Official Defends Record
A former congressional candidate has begun another campaign, this time to put the spotlight on city officials as they grapple with the county’s fiscal crisis.
Irvine resident Gary Kingsbury, 43, who failed in a Democratic bid to unseat Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) in November, has formed Citizens for Public Responsibility.
“The problem we see is that the city hasn’t held one public meeting on this crisis since it started,” Kingsbury said. “The lack of public involvement is why we’re coming out now.”
Councilman Greg Smith said Kingsbury’s charges are “absolutely not true.” He pointed out that since Dec. 20, the council has held three meetings on the fiscal crisis that included opportunities for public comment.
“I find it interesting that somehow Mr. Kingsbury is not aware of these meetings,” Smith said. “We have continually reinforced the fact that we are going to make this a public process.”
But Kingsbury said previous City Council meetings on the fiscal crisis have been held mostly behind closed doors, requiring the public to wait an indefinite amount of time before council members emerged from the closed sessions.
“If you compare those to the weekly meetings that the school board has held, it’s two different worlds,” he said.
The council has scheduled a special public meeting on the crisis for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17. Kingsbury said members of his newly formed watchdog committee will ask council members why they voted to borrow money last July to make additional investments in the county pool.
Mayor Michael Ward and council members Barry J. Hammond and Paula Werner voted in favor of the additional investment.
Council members Smith and Christina L. Shea voted against the proposal.