Great Park Public Relations Consultants Get 5 P.M. Deadline to End Odd Contract Secrecy
Councilman for life, Larry Agran: Irvine's most secretive, professional politician since the 1970s
OC Weekly photo
The auditor working to uncover explanations for wild, dubious spending of Orange County Great Park funds by a prior Irvine City Council majority of Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang has given that trio's favored political consultants a 5 p.m. deadline to disclose key expense records.
In an Aug. 15 letter to lawyers representing Forde & Mollrich of Newport Beach, Anthony R. Taylor--Irvine's independent audit counsel--outlined repeated, unsuccessful demands that the firm surrender documents supporting the more than $7.23 million Agran, Krom and Kang diverted from public park construction funds from July 2005 to January 2013.
Though Taylor reminded Stu Mollrich during a July deposition that Forde & Mollrich's no-bid, no-benchmark contract required the firm to cooperate with all audits of how government funds were spent in a sweetheart, Agran-inspired, $100,000-plus-per-month deal, the consultant's lawyer--David Elson of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips--interrupted related questions 22 times in moves designed to stonewall public knowledge.
"[Irvine citizens have] the right to transparency in your client's services that were paid for with the public's money," Taylor wrote in his six-page letter to Elson.
Agran, Krom and Kang gave Forde & Mollrich--the trio's private campaign consultants--the huge financial windfall allegedly to do public-relations work for a government park that still has not been built.
Audits have already bolstered evidence the trio had no clue how to build a park; wasted $200 million without achieving a single major, planned accomplishment; focused on converting the development into a political operation geared to aid re-election campaigns; and diverted large sums of money to personal pals.
Despite those facts, Agran, Krom and Kang have posed as innocent of any incompetence.
It's not their fault they ran out of money, they angrily claimed after city voters handed over the Irvine City Council to a Republican majority of Christina Shea, Jeff Lalloway and Steven Choi in January 2013.
Agran is hoping his alliance seizes back control of the council after November's elections and he can crush additional audit revelations.
According to Taylor's letter, Forde & Mollrich's secrecy will result in an upcoming council meeting at which auditors could be authorized to force compliance by involving the sheriff and the presiding Orange County Superior Court judge.
"We believe that the city has been damaged by such lack of cooperation, and on behalf of the city of Irvine, we reserve the right to pursue Forde & Mollrich for all losses and expenses," concluded Taylor, whose firm helped city of Bell residents recover government assets swindled by public officials in a secret, outrageous pay scheme for bureaucrats.
Mollrich's partner is Agran pal Arnold Forde, who has personal ties to Tony Rackauckas, the district attorney refusing to launch a criminal grand jury probe into the Great Park swindle.
Forde worked as the DA's campaign consultant in 2002 and allowed Rackauckas to go half a decade without paying a $25,000 debt.
UPDATE, 6:00 P.M.: City officials say Forde & Mollrich ignored today's deadline to end their secrecy over a government public relations contract.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts