What a Farivar Win Could Mean to Open Government in Irvine

If Shiva Farivar wins one of the open city council seats in Irvine, she would create the city's first Democratic super-majority. (Photo by: Adam Elmahrek)

If Shiva Farivar wins a seat in the Irvine City Council election this November, and Councilman Larry Agran is re-elected to his seat, the council would have its first Democratic super-majority — a status that would give it an important power that it doesn’t have now.

It means the four-fifths majority would, in certain circumstances, be able to discuss and take action on issues that do not appear on the regular agendas, which are posted 72 hours in advance per the state’s open meeting law, the Brown Act.

Although the city charter says such a council action must be considered an emergency measure — that judgment is reserved for the City Council. It’s not likely the majority would act without proper notice regularly, but it does provide a tool that, once in a while, could allow just enough leeway to sneak in a council action that the public should have had proper notice on.

And given that the council’s Democratic majority has in the past been nearly unbreakable, it would definitely be something for the public to keep an eye on.

Farivar has said that while she generally agrees with the policies that the current majority — Agran, Sukhee Kang and Beth Krom — puts forth, they shouldn’t count on her as a guaranteed vote. She added that contemplating what a super-majority would mean is premature at this point.

“Honestly, I never thought about that [super-majority powers],” Farivar said.

Other minor powers held by a super-majority, according to Irvine Public Information Officer Craig Reem, include the amendment of voter-approved initiatives, though that amendment can only be to clarify the initiative’s language.

Also, a super-majority can reject bids for a public works project and, instead, assign the project to city employees. A super-majority can also assign emergency public works projects to city employees.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

 

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