Larry Agran Spent $200 Million At Great Park, But His Adviser Scores New York Times Story

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Meranda Carter/OC Weekly
Agran became an Irvine career politician 36 years ago

We once could have imagined The New York Times sending a future reporter to a completed Orange County Great Park in Irvine for an awe-inspiring article in the paper's "Great Homes & Destinations" section. Don't laugh. There's no shame in being fooled a decade ago. That's when Irvine political boss Larry Agran promised OC that the decommissioned El Toro Marine Air Corps Station wouldn't just be filled with new houses.

The failed, 1992 Democratic presidential candidate said the development plan included man-made canyons, waterfalls and wildlife corridors; an architecturally impressive sports stadium and amphitheater; breathtaking university buildings; botanical gardens and a conservatory; and Smithsonian-caliber museums. Agran even guaranteed the Great Park would be bigger and more impressive than Manhattan's Central Park and San Diego's Balboa Park. All Irvine voters had to do to reap that historic milestone was to keep him and his political machine in control of the city.

This month, a Times reporter with "Great Homes & Destinations" did focus on Orange County, though the story wasn't about the Great Park--at least directly. That's no surprise. During Agran's 12-year reign, not a single major proposed feature was built even though $200 million evaporated from the park construction kitty.

Where did all that taxpayer money go?

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Larry Agran Pledges Building Moratorium But Secretly Assures Developers Otherwise

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Campaign image
Gaido, Agran and Fox: Are they smiling because they think Irvine voters are fools?
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.

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County Assessor Webster J. Guillory Pleads Not Guilty to Three Felony Counts: Update

UPDATE: Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory pleaded not guilty today to three felony counts alleging he filed false nomination papers in his re-election bid in the March primary election. He's next due to appear at a preliminary hearing on Nov. 20, although before that the Newport Beach 70-year-old has the Nov. 4 general election to contend with.

The update at the end of this post has Supervisor John Moorlach and defense attorney John Barnett blasting the district attorney's case against Guillory.

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County of Orange
County Assessor Webster J. Guillory could get probation or prison with a conviction.

ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 9, 4:26 P.M.: Webster James Guillory filed false nomination papers in his current re-election bid for Orange County assessor, according to charges filed today by the Orange County District Attorney's office.

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Forde's Theatre: Overpriced PR Consultant Confesses Great Park Plan Was A Dream

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Irvine political boss Larry Agran is publishing a fake newspaper (above) to dupe voters
Having collected $7.23 million to do public relations for a government park that may never be fully built because of wasted spending, Newport Beach consultant Arnold Forde made clear at the outset of an Aug. 5 deposition that he is contemptuous of questions about his windfall.

The recipient of no-bid contracts for a decade because of his personal ties to Irvine political boss Larry Agran, Forde advised Anthony R. Taylor, the city council-hired attorney investigating corruption at the Orange County Great Park project, that he's the target of "a witch hunt."

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Jon Madison Runs for Laguna Beach Council and Away from Queries About His Past Claims

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Facebook/Jon Madison 2014
Someone running for council.
"In my 57 to 61 years on this earth, I respect people enough that I would not lie to them."
-Laguna Beach City Council candidate Jon Madison to Stu News Laguna.

The community news site was following up on a report by the Orange County Register's veteran political reporter Martin Wisckol, who questioned Madison's real name, age and college education. Madison had no explanation for why he'd told the paper he was born on Jan. 29, 1957, when his current voter registration shows his birth date as Jan. 29, 1953. Informed that Orange County Superior Court documents show someone named John Mancuso successfully had his name changed to Jon Jay Madison on Nov. 15, 1994, Madison reportedly told Wisckol he did not know a John Mancuso and that he's had his current name since birth.


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PR Firm's Secrecy Demand For Orange County Great Park Spending Will Go To Court

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Beth Krom: Government park spending should be secret because we diverted $7.23 million to our political operatives and my council majority would have continued to waste that money if voters hadn't put local Republicans in power in 2012.
Orange County Great Park contractors who suspiciously received more than $7.23 million in taxpayer funds to perform public relations for a non-existent city park and are arguing their records should be shielded from inspection by residents, learned bad news this afternoon.

The Irvine City Council voted to use the legal system to compel Forde & Mollrich--a well-connected, Newport Beach-based PR firm--to comply with terms of their government contract that requires cooperation with audits.

A prior city council majority--Democrats Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang--outrageously handed Forde & Mollrich a no-bid, no benchmark PR contract that put more than $100,000 a month into the bank account of political operatives Arnold Forde and Stu Mollrich while claiming the city had no money to build the park.

Forde & Mollrich officials insist that records of whatever they did or didn't do on the controversial government project--at one point California largest public works project--should be private.

Proving again that some folks with higher education degrees are morons, Harvey H. Liss--a Ph.D and an Agran city appointee, claimed at the meeting that taxpayers should feel lucky they only paid Forde & Mollrich $100,000 a month.

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Great Park Public Relations Consultants Get 5 P.M. Deadline to End Odd Contract Secrecy

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OC Weekly photo
Councilman for life, Larry Agran: Irvine's most secretive, professional politician since the 1970s
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.

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Bao Nguyen: I'm Running To Be Garden Grove's Mayor

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Bao Q. Nguyen: Lets make Garden Grove better for residents
Bao Nguyen--one of Orange County's rising, young political stars--announced today that he is running for mayor of Garden Grove, his hometown city.

The intellectually-weighty, calm but irrepressible son of Vietnam War refugees, Nguyen--currently a trustee of the Garden Grove Unified School District's Board of Education--says he can help make serious improvements in city affairs for residents.

"I want to return focus back to our neighborhoods and businesses," the UC Irvine graduate said in a statement. "Our neighborhoods need attention as much as our tourism industry. We should be a city where our children will choose to stay, raise families and grow businesses."

On the school board, Nguyen's achievements have included improving learning standards for students in language skills as well as fighting homophobic plots to ban gay and lesbian Vietnamese American citizens from participating in the annual Tet parade in Little Saigon.

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Great Park Insider: Larry Agran's Corruption, Incompetence Worse Than Previously Known

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Meranda Carter/OC Weekly
In January 2008, Larry Agran--the leader of a three-council-member, Democratic alliance that then controlled the city of Irvine for more than half a decade--desperately needed to enlist outside professional help to manage what had spiraled out of control: plans to build the Orange County Great Park, then one of California's largest public-works projects.

But there was a problem.

Agran, a career politician who had no clue how to build a massive public park despite his promises otherwise, didn't just crave a competent CEO for the $1.6 billion project. The county's living liberal icon with frightening Nixonian tendencies hoped the park would be an unbreakable monument to his legacy, so he needed someone who would obey his wishes, no matter how ridiculous or shady.

Excluding the four other elected representatives on the council, as well as the other eight members of the Great Park's Board of Directors, Agran--a losing Democratic Party presidential-primary candidate in 1992--met Mike Ellzey at an Irvine Denny's off I-5 on Sand Canyon Avenue.

Ellzey's background with private corporations, at a university and as CEO of the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority made him a suitable candidate for the Great Park job. Demonstrating his dictatorial sensibilities that allowed him to dismiss notions of government transparency and the participation of his colleagues, Agran unilaterally offered Ellzey a taxpayer-funded job worth more than $175,000 annually.

Of course, there was a catch.

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Shawn Steel Thinks Tribal Politics Will Solve California Republican Party Woes

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A Steel
Not just a few Republicans dismissively view the sight of Democrats' enthusiastic celebration of their party's internal groups: women, Hispanic, African-American, gay and lesbian, union members, seniors, Americans with disabilities, native Americans, Jews and Asians.

Identity politics just hasn't been popular with Republicans, whose national conventions earned the reputation for being a gathering of crotchety, old white people anxious to return to the country club or golf course.

But upbeat, old white dude Shawn Steel, an Orange County member of the Republican National Committee, argued in a Washington Times article this week that the GOP faces a dire choice given demographic shifts underscoring the rise of minority voting power: "adapt or die."

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