Agran Dispenses Great Pork

Massive PR spending will aid park chairmans allies in upcoming election

That kind of scheming frustrated ex-park director Dick Sim. Known as a no-nonsense real estate developer during his time at the Irvine Co., Sim's résumé includes such large-scale projects as the Irvine Spectrum. But Sim suddenly resigned from the board in May, saying he could no longer tolerate Agran's wild spending and dictatorial style.

Sim's resignation has given the Agran camp no pause. According to park-board records, Forde and Mollrich's payday is dependent upon "four specific objectives": conduct public surveys, encourage public participation in the park's design, remind citizens of the "progress of the design," and promote the concept of a park with "local, regional, national and international significance." They also promised to give occasional PowerPoint presentations to the board, write press releases that "highlight" the development's "central location" to freeways, plan a groundbreaking party and "position the Great Park as a national treasure."

But there's no park yet to position and won't be for several years. Instead, there's a highly toxic, abandoned military runway surrounded by weeds and rundown buildings. The first phase of the park isn't scheduled to open until 2008 or, perhaps, 2009. If all goes well, the entire project will be finished in 2011.

Orange County's Great Park may not, as Agran repeatedly promises, rival Manhattan's Central Park. But the publicity around it will be world-class. And after a six-year, $8 million PR campaign (based on the current spending rate), it's almost a certainty that the elfin Agran will be 6-foot-3 and 10 years younger.


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