OCDA #2 Susan Kang Schroeder Responds to OC Bar Association Slamming OCDA: UPDATE

Media pool photo by the Los Angeles Times
Judge Goethals

UPDATE #1, MARCH 31, 3:31 P.M.: OCDA spokesperson Susan Kang Schroeder issued the following statement regarding the Orange County Bar Association's public rebuke yesterday of her boss, Tony Rackauckas. Roll the tape!

More »

Final Audit Report Shows Larry Agran's Great Park Plan Was A Debacle From Outset

Agran's "Great" Park had everything but the flying monkeys buzzing Munchkinland
Twelve years ago, Larry Agran, Irvine's career politician and mayor who'd never built anything, issued bold statements about his ability to build a "world-class" government park at the mothballed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, and people, especially journalists, believed him.

"Move over, Manhattan," wrote an excited Christian Science Monitor reporter in April 2003. "Stand aside San Francisco. In Orange County, the final hurdle has been cleared for a 'county great park' that will exceed the size of Central Park and Golden Gate Park put together."

The reporter--who didn't know the mayor and his political scheming actually would be the final hurdles--went on to echo the mayor's oral machinations, declaring that "the area is considered America's leading laboratory of 'post suburbia' . . . "

Agran also provided the money quote, "We are finally moving forward with a plan that will transform the future of Orange County."

In pure Agranista form, the paper unquestioningly repeated his biggest lie in the title to a chapter in the article: "No cost to citizens."

Add you own exclamation point!

Those of us who for 12 years closely watched Agran and his Democratic political machine operate dictatorial control over the project didn't fall for the empty hype. Their operatives received lucrative, no-bid contracts for a public park that didn't yet exist. They wasted nearly $50 million on a park design plan that was laughably unattainable--a huge, man-made canyon and waterfalls!--the moment it landed on paper. Paranoid of being caught in various scandals, they treated park records with NSA-type secrecy. Agran conducted park spending business through his wife's private email account. Despite claiming otherwise, they planned to use a special tax scheme to boost park coffers until Gov. Jerry Brown killed such tactics. They ran fake Republican candidates to dilute their opponents' election strength. After years and years of spending several hundred million dollars without building a single, major promised feature, the Agran alliance finally lost power in 2012.

More »

ACLU Sues to Create District Elections in Fullerton on Behalf of Asian-American Voters

Categories: Elections

Buchanan-Hermit via Wikipedia Commons
Fullerton city hall...as ugly as Cal State Fullerton

The American Civil Liberties Union has its next OC city in sight for district elections. Fresh off a victory in Anaheim in November, the ACLU is now suing Fullerton. The current at-large system for electing city council members there is accused of disenfranchising Asian-Americans. Cue the next cheesy slogan for the next year or so: It's time to get it done, Fullerton!

But who'll be doing the winning?

More »

At Great Park Shenanigans Deposition, Lawyer Larry Agran Can't Recall If He Can Recall

Two-Faced Larry: Effective 2012 campaign mailer against Irvine's longest career politician
Until reality caught up to him last November and shattered his heavily concocted image as a good-government activist, Larry Agran served as the leader of a political machine that for a dozen years dictatorially controlled Irvine and the Orange County Great Park project.

The ugly reality includes Agran's penchant for secrecy, cronyism, narcissism and mismanagement, especially at the Great Park, a noble idea the career politician slyly converted into a biennial election tool to keep his council alliance in power, a circumstance that allowed him to give $167,000 per month in no-bid, public-relations contracts to his own political operatives.

After skipping a scheduled February deposition and demanding conditions such as taxpayers must pay for at least two lawyers defending him as he dodges potential criminal charges, Agran finally sat on March 13 with Anthony R. Taylor, the Aleshire & Wynder attorney conducting an independent audit of Great Park shenanigans.

Not surprisingly, the failed 1992 presidential primary candidate's paranoia emerged at the outset of the deposition, with Fred Woocher, one of Agran's lawyers, asking if anybody not present in the room was listening via a wire. Taylor said no, and then had to entertain the same question two more times.

Next, Agran's team encouraged Taylor to employ the California Public Records Act as a weapon for stalling journalists from reading the deposition for at least two weeks, claiming city officials would need 10 business days to find it.

More »

The Irvine Rebel Known As Allan Bartlett

Photo by John Gilhooley
Who's Bartlett going to peel next?

If you're a liberal, Allan Bartlett most definitely holds an opposing political view, but the amicable Irvine resident and city finance commission chairman isn't your typical, knee-jerk Orange County Republican. Sure, he'll roll his eyes at the mention of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, but in a county in which partisanship almost always trumps principle, regardless of party affiliation, Bartlett is a rare breed. He's a self-employed businessman and relentless political activist who is unafraid to challenge his own party and its characters, even powerful ones, when they screw up.

More »

Adventures In Larryland: Irvine Politician's Pals Defend Subpoena-Dodging Ex-Mayor

Rev-ved up: Ken Wyant gives blah-blah-blah Larry Agran support

Having exposed Beth Krom's harebrained January memo--the confidential one that outlined how the Irvine city councilwoman's pals should manipulate public opinion by dominating citizen-comment portions of televised council meetings--I chuckled at the March 2 hearing on Larry Agran's refusal to obey a subpoena in the audit of Orange County Great Park corruption. Agran, the 70-year-old Krom mentor who for more than a decade ran City Hall and doled out lucrative, no-bid contracts to his political cronies as park coffers emptied, has been evading his chance to speak under oath for months. In November 2014, voters booted the career politician, who first joined the council nearly four decades ago when Jimmy Carter occupied the White House and a gallon of gas cost 64 cents.

"I don't know what's going on here, folks," Jake Jacobs, a longtime Agran attack dog, told the council at the Agran-less hearing. Jacobs said the "silly [Great Park funding] audit--it's not an audit, it's a witch-hunt"--should not cause the city to force a deposition through the court system. "You just jump on him when he doesn't appear. . . . You just came up with a [deposition] date and said, 'You have to come here.' Well, he has a life. He's a private citizen. He doesn't have to come on the exact day. Maybe you think he does, but he doesn't. . . . You're just trying to get some press here, make him look bad, somehow vilify him."

More »

Larry Agran Gives Middle Finger To Deposition Subpoena On Great Park Shenanigans

Agran: It's not illegal when, uhhh, a defeated councilman does it
It's not surprising that Larry Agran would want to avoid answering questions under oath about how his Democrat council majority in Irvine spent more than $200 million without building a single, major feature at the proposed Orange County Great Park.

But it is fascinating that Agran, who has a California law license and was a 1992 presidential candidate, thinks he can ignore a lawfully issued subpoena that compelled his presence Wednesday for a deposition in the city's ongoing investigation into Great Park shenanigans.

The man who voters booted out of office in November failed to show up at the offices of Anthony R. Taylor, the Aleshire & Wynder attorney who is conducting the probe.

More »

Moxley Confidential: Irvine's Beth Krom Shows Why She's Not Cromulent

Luke McGarry

After the crushing defeat of three of her allies in last November's Irvine elections, it's understandable that Beth Krom would take the holidays to "rest, restore and re-focus," as she declared to her Democratic Party supporters in a Jan. 3 email. For a dozen years, Krom served as the angry, robotic gunner in Larry Agran's political machine that controlled the city, operated with Nixonian secrecy, ran fake Republican candidates to maintain power and stalled Orange County Great Park construction by funneling chunks of the project's kitty to political operatives in no-bid contracts.

At least for now, the fun is over for Agran, who--though possessing the greatest name recognition as Irvine's political godfather and running for U.S. president in 1992--has finished dead-last among serious candidates in the past two city elections. The situation leaves Krom without her commander on the dais, the lone Democrat on a supermajority Republican council and a fourth-rate ordinance maker searching for answers as she flies solo: Why did residents reject her alliance, and how can she make herself relevant until the 2016 elections?

More »

Ex-Orange County Republican Won't Leave Texas For Run At Barbara Boxer's Senate Seat

Photo courtesy ChuckDeVore.com
DeVore: Texas, not California, gets public policy right
Former Orange County Republican politician Chuck DeVore--who mounted an energetic if unsuccessful, 2010 bid to topple U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in California--said today from his out-of-state home that he will not return and run for her seat following the Democrat's recent decision not to seek re-election in 2016.

"I'm a Texan now," DeVore, 52, told OC Weekly.

An accomplished conservative known for ideological consistency, intellectual depth and notable speaking skills even among political foes, the former Irvine resident moved to the Austin area--Dripping Springs, to be exact--in 2011.

After raising nearly $3 million but finishing third in a GOP primary field of five against Boxer, DeVore joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a private think tank that touts "liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise," originally as a visiting scholar and within about a year became vice president of the organization.

More »

Federal Judge Rejects Anaheim's Claim That Fired City Attorney's Lawsuit Is Frivolous

Despite repeated efforts to derail an anti-Latina discrimination lawsuit filed by fired City Attorney Cristina Talley, lawyers for the Anaheim City Council must continue to prepare for an April 12, 2016, jury trial inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter did agree with city lawyers' contentions that several prongs of Talley's lawsuit should be dismissed without prejudice for being vague, but he refused to dismiss the entire action, firmly rejecting Anaheim's assertion that the case is "frivolous."

Pending a late January debate over whether the dispute should be sent back to state court, Carter is letting the heart of the case proceed: Certain elected officials discriminated against Talley, created a hostile work environment before firing her and then hired a much younger, less experienced white male lawyer with a starting salary higher than the one she earned after a 16-year career in Anaheim.

More »