A weighty omen of Larry Agran's long overdue demise occurred 72 hours before the Nov. 4 Irvine city council election when the dictatorial boss of a political machine once considered invincible was spotted frantically running out of his house carrying boxes stuffed with campaign fliers.
Having launched his career as a lifelong politician in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter still had two years left in his administration and a movie ticket cost $2, Agran theoretically shouldn't have been in a panic.
After all, the 69-year-old Harvard Law School graduate spent a quarter of a century on the city council (including multiple stints as mayor) and has dropped millions and millions and millions of dollars in self-serving, hagiographic campaign literature on local residents.
But all the desperate, last-minute campaigning to win another re-election and take back control of Irvine and the Great Park from his critics couldn't save Agran from his well-earned fate.
The man, who once ranked as the most respected liberal politician in Orange County and ran for president in the 1992 Democratic primaries, last night finished fourth in a local council race, just ahead of bottom dweller Evan Chemers, the fake Republican candidate Agran's machine quietly cheered in unsuccessful hopes of sabotaging legitimate GOP candidates Jeff Lalloway and Lynn Schott.
In the mayor's race, Katherine Daigle–Agran's other planted Republican candidate–stole more than 3,200 votes from real Republican Steven Choi, but even that slimy trick wasn't enough to push Argan pal Mary Ann Gaido into office.
From 2000 to 2013, Agran enjoyed complete control of the city council and now Beth Krom, his loyal apologist who didn't face voters this time, is outnumbered four to one.
From her lonely perch, Krom–known for her nasally screeching and willingness to brazenly rewrite history–will surely claim an unfair conspiracy created today's council reality in Irvine.
And it's true that in recent years Agran's despicable conduct in office forced an unlikely, informal alliance of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and journalists.
Indeed, people who'd nearly hated each other in the past came together united in an unwillingness to stand by idly while Orange County's senior, career politician continuously betrayed his public assurances of his honest public service.
But the conspiracy chatter misses the undeniable point: Agran slayed himself.
The list of his transgressions is massive, including these four recent outrages:
1. Running as an anti-development candidate while secretly promising real estate developers he was being disingenuous with voters;
2. Blaming current city traffic woes on a Republican council majority that's been in control for less than two years and when all–underscore all–of the commercial and housing developments causing the congestion were approved during Agran's reign;
3. Spending $200 million in Orange County Great Park construction funds without building a single, significant feature of the promised government park;
4. Claiming legitimacy for paying three of his personal, political consultants $167,000 per month in taxpayer dollars in no-bid deals to do alleged Great Park public relations work.
Voters finally saw those ugly truths.
Inside Costa Mesa's Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel as election returns made clear Agran was done and nobody on his slate had won, councilwoman Christina Shea didn't say much. Over the decades, Agran heaped more slime on Shea than any other opponent and, despite that fact, she has refused to be petty in response. Her content smile said everything.
Nearby, Lalloway stood happy, relieved and the recipient of seemingly endless hugs from well-wishers. Fellow Republican Lynn Schott took the top slot in the council race while he defeated Agran-back Melissa Fox by nearly 220 votes–a tally made close by Chemers who swiped more than 6,100 votes from the winning duo.
"We did it," Lalloway told a gathered crowd that included Irvine Republicans John Quoc Duong, Allan Bartlett, Greg Smith, Scott Voigts, Jim Bieber and Steve Sheldon.
Lalloway thanked me for helping to inform Irvine resident about the real Agran.
Sheldon–a lobbyist, Orange County Water District board member and son of Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC)–had been standing next to me for an hour oblivious to my identity while making prank calls to Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, whom he defeated last night for a water board seat.
"Wait," he said after Lalloway's comment. "Who are you?"
I replied, "Scott Moxley."
Sheldon's red face initially showed no recognition and I resumed a separate conversation with someone who was sober.
Thirty seconds later, he interrupted, saying, "R. Scott Moxley at OC Weekly?"
Yep, that guy.
For the next nine minutes Sheldon–eyes angrily squinting at me as he firmly gripped a mostly empty beer bottle–bitched that my coverage of his father displeases him.
"What you've written about my great dad and my mom is unbiased, bias," he shouted. "You know what I mean? Unbiased, bias."
I didn't know, but quickly recalled my bombshell, 1998 article involving him, his father and California's most prolific abortion doctor, and replied, "I've never written anything negative about your mom."
Sheldon ignored me to re-declare his anger. I told him I'd met his dad on many occasions and, though it's true I can't muster a shred of respect for his papa's lame antics designed to solicit TVC donations from present-day Neanderthals, the encounters always had been relatively cordial.
"That's because my dad won't stoop to your level," he said. "And I will."
With him leaning in at me, I smiled and turned away.
"You really piss me off," he said again to my back. "I mean, you really, really piss me off."
Even in the midst one of the Republican Party of Orange County's greatest triumphs–a night for unmitigated joy, a spawn of Rev. Lou couldn't help but remind us of the uncouth evil faction that continues to reside in our local GOP.