241 Toll Road Extension Hits Keep Coming: Report Ranks It Among 11 U.S. "Boondoggles"

Transportation Corridor Agencies
Follow the dotted lines to the road to nowhere.

Bashing the extension of the Foothill-South Toll Road is sooooo hot right now. Yesterday, we reported on a California Parks Foundation poll that found 78 percent of Orange County voters oppose extending the 241. Today, we're dishing on a new report that ranks the toll road's initial Tesoro Extension among 11 examples in the U.S. of highway spending "boondoggles."

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

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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Report Raises Suspicions About Grand Jury Target-Tied Contribution To District Attorney

Potential police lineup: What is Mayor Miguel Pulido in the middle of now?
Embattled in a scandalous civil dispute in 2008, wealthy, Republican, socialite Dick Marconi wanted Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, a fellow Republican, to enter the battle on his side by converting the matter into a criminal case against his opposition.

Marconi and his wife Priscilla contributed $3,200, then-the maximum campaign contribution, to Rackauckas on June 4, 2008, and seven days later government agents swung into action in the year-old dispute that had previously involved negotiating lawyers.

Working behind the scenes with Rackauckas' staff, Newport Beach police detectives arrested Irvine-based civil attorney Jim Toledano, former chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, and his client, then-fitness trainer Michael Roberts, on extortion charges.

The move effectively gave the GOP power couple a victory in the dispute and left a shocked Toledano and Roberts facing felony counts--charges so weak and suspicious prosecutors have worked to delay a trial even to this day, more than four years later.

At the heart of the DA's case is the laughably absurd assertion made by prosecutor Rebecca Olivieri to fooled grand jurors: civil lawyers never seek to resolve disputes by requesting monetary damages for their clients prior to the filing of lawsuits.

Now comes Adam Elmahrek's Sept. 16 Voice of OC article revealing that one of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido's closest pals sent money to the DA this year while prosecutors ponder indicting Pulido on corruption charges.

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Sex Offender Sues Westminster For Enacting "Unconstitutional" City Park Ban

Lindsay: He feels violated
An activist working to reform municipal and county sex-offender restriction laws in California is now targeting the City of Westminster, according to a federal lawsuit.

Frank Lindsay, convicted of a sex-related offense in 1979, is using Santa Maria attorney Janice M. Bellucci to challenge a Westminster ordinance that imposes life-long bans on registered sex offenders whose crime involved a child from entering any area of the city "where children regularly gather" without written government permission.

The first violation of the ordinance risks criminal charges and up to six months in jail; a second violation requires a minimum 10-day jail trip; and a third violation brings a mandatory, minimum 90-day county jail lockup.

Lindsay and Bellucci, who filed their lawsuit inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, say Westminster's rules violate both U.S. and California constitutions by improperly restraining civil liberties at locations including "parks, schools, beaches, harbors, zoos and other recreational facilities."

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Orange County Man Seeks $2 Million For False Arrest; Federal Judge Says Not So Fast

Okay, okay. Say it, don't spray it
Santa Ana's Jose Manuel Lopez is angry about what he sees as his 2012 false arrest resulting in 67 days of wrongful confinement, but he chose to serve as his own lawyer while suing law enforcement officials and the move wasn't wise.

A self-described astonished, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky this week ruled that Lopez's rambling, 55-page complaint wasn't just "overlong, speechifying and confusing," but also failed to clearly state a "short and plain" entitlement for legal relief.

The lawsuit filed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse is "wasting paper, ink and time," though it alleges "a conspiracy of government agents" that Lopez claims landed him "in a Dickensian jail," Zarefsky stated.

To proceed, the 38-year-old Lopez "must eliminate from his pleading all preambles, introductions, argument, speeches, explanations, stories, griping, vouching, evidence, attempts to negate possible defenses, summaries and the like," the judge announced.

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Why Does Saddleback College Have an MRAP Armored Vehicle?

Wikipedia Commons
Parking enforcement?

The debate over military equipment hand-me-downs to local police departments went before a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday, weeks after clashes in Ferguson between protesters and cops seemingly ready to take on Terminators brought the issue to the forefront. Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann testified at the hearing that it gives law enforcement armored vehicles needed to protect police and civilian lives.

Maybe such an excuse is valid with an urban police force (maybe not), what about Saddleback College's campus police? With just nine full-time officers, the department somehow managed to get an army mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle for...what exactly? Scaring kids who don't put up their parking permit?

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Meet OC & LA Law Enforcement's Favorite Rats!

Illustration by Luke McGarry

Anthony Calabrese suffered no vision problems and wasn't a moron in September 2012, but the 23-year-old college student couldn't have known he had just seen a mirage inside the Orange County Jail (OCJ). Only a madman would think law enforcement officers had staged an elaborate, multi-hour, multi-pronged con game aimed at prompting him--one of 6,000 local detainees--to inadvertently forfeit his constitutional right to not self-incriminate. But Anaheim police detectives and sheriff's deputies anxious to solve a March 2007, drive-by murder indeed targeted Calabrese, whom they suspected of Barrio Small Town gang membership, for trickery.

The notorious Mexican Mafia ruthlessly reigns over all major Latino gangs in Southern California and, according to law enforcement officials, maintains a no-drive-by shootings policy; any affiliate who violates it without their permission suffers severe repercussions. Because deputies believed Calabrese might have violated the no-drive-by policy when he allegedly killed rival Citron Street gangster Armando Hernandez, and because a recovered "green light list"--a gang document detailing the identities of individuals to be attacked on sight--included Calabrese's name, they placed him in protective custody. Calabrese's housing location away from the general inmate population also--not accidentally--gave officers an easier forum to employ their secret weapon: a pair of ratas.

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Calls Continue for Investigation into Employment of Garden Grove Mayor's Son as Firefighter Despite Failings

Bruce Broadwater

Bao Nguyen, one of two candidates attempting to take down incumbent Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater in November, has released a statement calling for an investigation into the employment of the mayor's son, Jeremy Broadwater, as a Garden Grove firefighter despite poor job performance and a criminal record.

"Nepotism should have no place at City Hall, especially when public safety is involved," Nguyen said in a statement.

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

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

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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