When a political battle is over, voters expect that at some point their elected officials will put it behind them, move on and find a way to work together, instead continually re-fighting old battles and pulling scabs off wounds.
That expectation is reasonable, which explains why Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott can’t meet it.
Even the OC Register, which endorsed Schott for city council in 2014, has had enough. Orange County’s newspaper of record implored Schott and other bitter-enders, “Can the politicking over the Great Park veterans cemetery end now?”
The editorial stated:
The land swap with developer FivePoint that the Irvine City Council approved Sept. 26 offers the best chance for properly honoring our nation’s veterans.
It should be a cause for celebration, but so long as political hay can be made from where to inter our fallen men and women in uniform, you can count on politicians to make it an issue.
Much has been made of it already. The council split over dueling sites after the previous one garnered controversy due to its proximity to homes.
And, just prior to last week’s vote, news broke that “Irvine officials considered giving the cemetery site in phases so the city could use some of it for other purposes, such as hotels and housing,” the Register reported.
Luckily, the council vetoed that absurd idea, and it intends to immediately hand the land over to the state. But the vote remained split, with Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott and Councilman Jeff Lalloway opposing the swap.
But this site has the support of neighbors, veterans, the developer and a majority of the City Council. That is why the politics must end now. And it shouldn’t have been made a political issue or an election year issue in first place. It is about local veterans deserving an appropriate final resting place — and this is the place.
Spread across as much as 125 acres, it fittingly straddles Marine Way and contains a host of proposed amenities for honoring our fallen men and women in uniform. The site would include a veterans memorial on the side facing the I-5 freeway. Its proximity to the freeway allows ease of access for visitors and a solemn reminder of the price of freedom to those passing by.
To be sure, government often works at a snail’s pace, so the cemetery’s completion could still be a ways away. But, if everything goes right, work could begin as early as October 2018. And, thanks to $10 million from FivePoint, and another $5.5 million from the state, money for the first 25 acres of the cemetery has already been secured.
It’s called a win-win. The veterans get a cemetery in Orange County. Irvine gets more money to build it faster. The location is more prominent, more accessible and avoids contentious location issues that plagued the previous site.
Like a dog with a bone, Schott refuse to let go and continues sniping. At the September 26 council meeting, Schott again voted against the next step in moving forward with the approved cemetery plan. She read a statement from one of her political allies accusing land-swap supporters of “politicizing” by driving a “false narrative” to curry favor with developers.
She went to express, in a nutshell, her belief that Irvine residents who support the land swap don’t understand what they’re doing, or are too intimidated at the prospect of being tarred and feathers as “anti-military” if they are critical or skeptical of it.
In other words, Schott politicized the issue be accusing her opponents of politicizing the issue and then insulted the intelligence and moral courage of her constituents.
When it endorsed her council candidacy in 2014, the OC Register had this to say:
Ms. Schott, a 29-year resident of the city, displayed an impressive level of city knowledge and a commendable goal-oriented approach during her meeting with the Register’s Editorial Board.
“I don’t care about party affiliation, I care about getting things done,” Ms. Schott said.
What happened to that Lynn Schott? When it comes to ending the politicking and finishing the OC Veterans Cemetery, Schott’s behavior is the opposite of being “goal-oriented” and “getting things done.” Quite the opposite: she is dragging her feet and fighting a rear-guard action against a plan she doesn’t like but most her constituents support.
In politics like in life, you win some and you lose some. Leaders can shake it off, move forward and work with others to find solutions. They don’t continue sniping, back-biting and trying to throw monkey wrenches into implementing what is clearly the will of Irvine residents, in addition to being good public policy.