Newly obtained evidence reveals Larry Agran--the Irvine political boss who wrecked the Great Park plan by diverting millions of dollars to his pals in no bid contracts and lost control of the city in the 2012 elections--is hoping his November campaign slate with Melissa Fox and Mary Ann Gaido will retake power based on a lie.
In recent weeks, the Agran-Fox-Gaido team published at least six fake newspapers as well as continuous campaign mail urging Irvine voters to support them because they will impose "a moratorium" on construction projects.
"Gaido, Agran and Fox have the courage, skills and determination to restore Irvine's Master Plan and put an Irvine Growth Control Ordinance in place," Agran published about himself and his slate in the Sept. 16 edition of his campaign ad masquerading as a legitimate newspaper to dupe voters. "According to mayoral candidate Mary Ann Gaido, this would begin with a council-ordered moratorium--a 'time out'--on major new housing tracts and apartment complexes."
Concerned Irvine residents who want the best for Irvine have several reasons to be skeptical about the Agran-Gaido-Fox campaign promise.
First, as recent embarrassing independent audits of Great Park corruption prove, Agran is no reformer; he's the epitome of pay-to-play politics made famous in his native Chicago.
To secure his return to power and win back access to park coffers, he wants the public to blame the new, three-person council majority for current traffic woes. But Christina Shea, Jeff Lalloway and Steven Choi have been in control of the city for less than two years.
In truth, Agran and his political machine caused the congestion they're now complaining about when they ran Irvine for 12 consecutive years and allowed their corporate campaign contributors in the real estate development community unprecedented, rapid building growth.
Worse for the dwindling number of residents still clinging to hope that Agran can be an honest politician is this alarming fact: At the same time, he, Gaido and Fox are advocating a moratorium on building, they are privately winking otherwise at wealthy real estate developers in exchange for campaign contributions.
Pam Sapetto is a highly successful, real estate developer lobbyist. In her promotional materials, Sapetto boasts that she is responsible for "over 60 million square feet of commercial and industrial development and over 45,000 residential units" mostly in Irvine and approved while Agran presided. She is tied to traffic-increasing projects such as Park Place, Irvine Spectrum, Jamboree Research Center, University Research Park, Irvine Technology Center, Colton Plaza, Koll Center, Jamboree Center, Irvine Plaza and Jeffrey Office Park.
If Sapetto's business is clearly based on winning massive construction permits, why would she send to real estate developers an August 26 email that encouraged them to contribute to the pro-moratorium Agran-Fox-Gaido team?
Indeed, the lobbyist's email brazenly ties contributions to pending development projects in Irvine.
In the email obtained by OC Weekly, Sapetto--an outspoken, longtime Agran ally--advised the developers, "As for contributions: $249 from each corporation that has a project before the city or will have a project before the city within the next year. I would stick to $249. You can also choose to make individual contributions of $99. $99 does not meet the reporting threshold and so does not have to be disclosed on campaign statements. You can also bring as many $99 checks that you would like from others in your company or your consultants."
You get the idea that Sapetto and the real estate developers might have good reason not to believe the sincerity of the Agran-Fox-Gaido team's campaign theme.
The lobbyist cleared up any possible confusion about that point in her fundraising pitch, writing, "I know there has been discussion about whether Mary Ann, Larry or Melissa will be supporting development. I have been assured by them that they will continue to support IBC [Irvine Business Complex] development."
Sapetto along with real estate developers Alethea Hsu, Dan Withee and Laura Archuleta hosted a two-hour, September 9 fundraiser for the Agran-Gaido-Fox slate.
In recent days, Agran further backed away from his campaign theme, telling a small Chamber of Commerce crowd that he really backs a "sweet spot" issuance of "2,000 or 3,000" new building permits, which is hardly a moratorium.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Given developments, it's fair to ask: how much longer will Agan's well-intentioned base stick with him?