“On a night when there was little if any consensus among two factions of Irvine’s City Council, the last vote at 1:34 a.m. Wednesday was unanimous – all five council members voted in favor of seeking proposals from auditors to take a closer look at the Great Park’s books since 2005, a motion made by returning Councilwoman Christina Shea,” according to the O.C. Register.
“A newly elected City Council majority voted 3 to 2 to terminate contracts with two firms that had been paid a combined $1.1 million a year for consulting, lobbying, marketing and public relations. One of those firms — Forde & Mollrich public relations — has been paid $12.4 million since county voters approved the Great Park plan in 2002,” according to the L.A. Times.
O.C. Register columnist Frank Mickadeit summarized the meeting about as well as anyone could have:
Krom and Agran tried to paint the reform measures as sudden, reckless, harsh and just plain mean.
To an individual not steeped in GP history, it might look that way. But to those who’ve been around GP politics for nine years, these appeared to be crocodile tears shed by Agran and Krom – a grand virtuoso display that threatened to float away the voluminous stacks of plans, maps and reports that Agran had staff haul onto the floor of council chambers to purportedly show how much bang the GP had really gotten for its buck under his and Krom’s stewardship.
It actually proved the opposite: $200 million should have bought a significant park, not a significant bundle of papers and park that consists of, as Spitzer derisively noted, “a palm court, a merry-go-round and a balloon.”
In fact, most of what Agran and Krom lamented could have and should have been dealt with years ago when they did run things. They should have come up with a way to truly share power rather than the farcical GP board they concocted. They should have put the Forde & Mollrich contract out to bid. They should have demanded a rigorous follow-up to a 2009 audit that raised troubling questions.
They burned through money. An L.A. Times analysis calculated that of $203 million spent on the park, only about $38 million can be traced to in-the-ground improvements. In contrast, the city and park has paid F&M $19.8 million over the last 14 years, an amount Lalloway called “grossly absurd.”
As an utterly enraged, red-in-the-face Spitzer said during his three-minute dressing down of Agran (for Agran’s questioning of Spitzer’s pro-GP bona fides): “You had your chance!”
What is yet to come? According to the Voice of OC:
In defending Forde & Mollrich, Agran said the firm will provide vital promotional services for the upcoming Solar Decathalon, a federal Department of Energy competition that board directors say could provide a much-needed profile boost for the park by shining a national spotlight.
Park CEO Mike Ellzey said he will formulate a transition plan with a $125,000 budget to cover the loss of Forde & Mollrich services for the competition and expo. The services include handling social media, writing newsletters and helping obtain media sponsorships, according to Tim Shaw, the park’s manager of external affairs.
Krom whined until the bitter end – “This is a power play,” she said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
Yes there is Krom! And its about time. Kudos to Irvine Mayor Choi and Irvine Council Members Christina Shea and Jeff Lalloway. They have tossed the bums out of the Great Park at last!