Tuesday, September 16, 2014
There was a pleasant surprise today when I opened the Bartlett mailbox. The first anti Agran mailpiece was in there. It's a four page hay maker that calls Larry out for all his lies and his piss poor attempt to build the Great Park. Larry has sent out four fake newspapers to Irvine residents so far and this mailer calls him out for it..."It's NOT 'new' and it's NOT a 'community newspaper'. It's a campaign mail scam created and funded by Larry Agran". The flip side says..."Here's real news from real newspapers about one of the greatest scandals in OC's history....It's the news LARRY AGRAN hopes you won't read". it then has photos of recent LA Times and Register articles slamming Larry's handling of Great Park. Hell, instead of me telling you about it, here are the scanned copies of the mailer. Enjoy. I certainly did.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Great Park CEO Mike Ellzey's Hard Hitting Forensic Audit Deposition
For this chapter of the breaking story I think what I will do is just pull quotes from the deposition and let them speak for themselves. It's 200 pages long and chock full page after page of information that many people(including me) in Irvine have suspected for a long time. Having said that, I was still completely blown away by the scope and breadth of what actually happened to the $200 million dollars Lennar gave the city in 2002 after the El Toro base was auctioned off. The crazy thing is that the final audit report still doesn't come out until around September according to comments made at the last Council meeting. So let's get started with the deposition quotes. It was performed by the city attorney for the forensic audit, Anthony Taylor.
So I began to - I began to figure out that, at best, Yehudi Gaffen was my counterpart, and at worst, I was, de facto, working for him. Certainly working for Arnold Forde."(Page 53)
"It wasn't until I became CEO, when, as you indicated earlier, I began to look at reports and budgets and things that would otherwise become a CEO's responsibility, and I saw a hundred-thousand-s dollar-a-month line item. And I remember as though it was yesterday that I went into Kurt Mowery's office, who was the manager of finance, and I believe Debbie Gunderson was in that office with him, and I said, "What is this hundred-thousand dollars a month for Forde & Mollrich?" And they told me what it was, a hundred-thousand dollars for public relations. And I said, we've got to reduce that. I mean, that's way too much. We've got to reduce that. And they literally laughed. Q Why did they laugh, if you knew? A I asked them, "What• -- "why are you laughing?• You know, "Good luck on that,• basically, •Good luck on that.• Q Do you know why they were making those statements? A Yes, because I- I didn't know at the time,but -- here I was, new guy coming in starting to make changes because it was now my shop, and one of the things I wanted to change was how could we possibly be using a hundred-thousand dollars a month for public relations, how could we possibly be using that. We have to lower that. Doesn't anybody see this?(Page 58)Yeah we see that Mike bright as day. Next....
"We didn't create a budget until - we took the completed comprehensive park design and had an independent body cost estimate something already designed. So there was never a budget associated with the design. That, to me, is a waste -- was a waste. So we had no idea how much money we would have, how much money it would take, where the money would come from, or any of those things when we were going through this three-year design process".(Page 74)Did you get that last quote? No budget whatsoever for design work. LOL
"It's not that those kind of studies were a bad thing, it's just that the Design Studio would create the scope for the studies and would attach huge budgets to each, and then as it turned out, on the first one or two of them, they just did a terrible job and I had to fire them and give them to -- and reorganize the way that they would get done. So they just did a terrible job on those. And all those early studies did was churn fee. They did not know what they were doing, and it was - it was a terrible product and we literally had to stop them from doing it".(Page 76)In my business if you churn fees in your customers brokerage account, you can be severely punished civilly and criminally potentially. Seems to be business as usual for the Design Studio. Next clip....
"But, no, there was - to my recollection, I don't recall seeing any e-mails or letters or anything like that that would be in furtherance of the culture that I've described. Q And what I'm specifically getting at is if you were getting e-mails from any specific council member or chairperson, Forde & Mollrich, Gafcon, any specific person involved with those entities or employed by them, where they were asking you or telling you to do things that you were not comfortable doing. A No. Q And so when you've testified ear1ier today about this culture, you're talking about oral communications to you,not written communications;is that correct? A Yes. Larry never used e-mail. Any communication to Larry was done by phone or by fax". (Page 93)Did you catch that. Larry never emailed folks sensitive information about what was going on. Maybe he had a lot to hide? Next clip....
"Q Based on everything you learned,what is your opinion why Gafcon became so powerful? A I think he was a yes-man to Larry. So if Larry wanted something done, he would go to Gaf to get it done. And I know that because as recently as the year when Beth Krom was chair, where Larry - were they still had the majority,Larry gave up the chair to Beth Krom, but he still essentially worked with her behind the scenes and operated, In a way, through her Now, If you talk to any of the staff people who were around at that time, including Christina Templeton or Cliff Wallace, he screwed that thing up so bad. Not that Larry never knew or fully appreciated it, or maybe he was in denial,but people had to save that project from failure, but Larry never really knew that Larry never fully appreciated, until years later, how bad he was. So - so Larry was the classic surround yourself with yes men, yes-people. And he would walk around out - out and do a tour and he would have an entourage of 8 or 10 or 12 people with clipboards and writing down notes of everything he said, you know, and that was who he surrounded himself with. And Gaf was one of those people. And he would - he would manage a group of those people. I mean, he would - he would develop nothing but yes.people. '"The chairman said to do this. The chairman said to do that" Q And in - A So even in a private - even In a private design studio, they would say, 'Well, the chairman told us to do it". (Page 106)Control freak central it sounds like. A lot of that in politics. I shouldn't be surprised.
"And so we would have a list of things that we would eventually have to go back and tell him that we thought they were bad ideas, we thought they couldn't get done, whether it be -at one point, for example, he wanted us to install stationary bikes at the carrousel to generate power for the carrousel. And,you know, we just thought that that - technically, we just thought that that was a terrible idea".(Page 110)I included this quote for comedy relief. Speaks for itself. Wouldn't this be a violation of the Americans For Disabilities Act though? Just asking. Next clip is the best one of the whole deposition....
"Q And you write about that in your statement, and I don't mind skipping ahead to that portion of it. You wrote about a series of meetings that you had with Arnold Forde. And I believe you wrote at one point he threatened your job. A Well, he threatened to come after me, which I took for -took to be threatening my Job. Q Did you ever feel that he threatened to come after you physically? A No. But I also viewed Arnold Forde as being somebody who could potentially do that through others. Yeah,I viewed - both Brendan and I both became somewhat concerned that It could get - it could lower itself to something like that potentially. Q What made you concerned about that? A Because I stood between Arnold and a hundred-thousand a month, and that's big money. And the power of the majority had the potential to keep whatever thing they had going, going. And I don't know - I don't know 80 percent of what Arnold and Larry had going or Gaf had going. I don't know. All I know is Arnold was Larry's voice into the project. I have no idea what they did most of the time or what they had going most of the time. But Arnold was -and I don't even know whether he was kind of like the guy in the Wizard of Oz where behind the curtain is some nobody, scrawny guy, but Arnold himself presented himself and portrayed himself and acted as a mafioso-type guy". (Page 121)So the consultant we paid over $100k/month was acting like a guy in the mafia. That's just so nice to know.
"Nobody coordinated the disciplines, that's exactly right. Disciplines submitted something. Somebody at a junior level put the document together and made it look pretty, but nobody coordinated the disciplines. Nobody coordinated the production of the disciplines so that they came in a coordinated way. All they did was take the different disciplines, once they were done, and put them into a package. Q Was this the worst product you had ever seen in your career? A Yes. And others will say so, too. Q When you say others," who else should I talk to that would testify to that? A Brendan McDevitt, Jeff Warner" (Page 158)"Worst product you had ever seen" Again it speaks for itself. Next clip....
"It just seemed that we were -we just kept - we kept designing and kept planning and kept designing, and it didn't seem like - until we began to put a stop to it and start developing the western sector plan, we - we weren't doing anything that was leading to a construction project. And it just seems like - it seemed as though we could have done that for two or three more years and spent all of our money on design if we had allowed it to happen, because that - the Design Studio was a design studio. They were there to design, and they were -there was no, like, end game for the Design Studio". (Page 163)Design design design and not much construction. You can easily see how $200 million dollars was wasted reading that last clip. So those are just a few choice quotes from this deposition. It really should be read by as many Irvine residents as possible. Mike Ellzey Deposition Part 1 Mike Ellzey Deposition Part 2 Mike Ellzey Deposition Part 3 Mike Ellzey Deposition Part 4
Bombshell Great Park Forensic Audit Declaration By GP CEO Mike Ellzey
If there were any lingering doubts about what happened the last ten years out at the Great Park in Irvine, GP CEO Mike Ellzey has laid those to rest. A 200 page deposition of Ellzey by city attorney Anthony Taylor was delivered today to Irvine City Hall in compliance with the California Public Records Act. The deposition is wide ranging and almost 200 pages long. It also includes a 29 page exhibit of a sworn declaration by Mr Ellzey. It details potential fraud perpetrated against Irvine citizens by Council Member Larry Agran and his complicit majority of Beth Krom and Suhkee Kang the likes of which are unprecedented in Orange County and I dare say the country. I think what I will do to start is pull some quoted from Mr Ellzey's declaration and add my comments.
"The consultant was telling the client what to do. The City was not treated like a client or owner, but more as a facilitator and expediter of projects determined by others. When I realized the depth and breadth of this culture, it concerned me greatly. Based on my experience managing large public projects, this practice was clearly unacceptable for a public agency".(Page 3 & 4 of the declaration)You can tell right away this is gonna get ugly
"The Great Park Design Studio and the Great Park staff did not have a healthy consultant-client relationship. Directives by staff were routinely questioned and often times ignored; invoice review and reconciliation was a persistent battle; respect for city staff was fleeting - for the program manager(Bovis and later Brendan McDevitt), non-existent"(Page 4)Let me translate this. The city paid over $10 million to Bovis and later Brendan McDevitt to oversee the Design Studio. The open source software that the Studio and staff were all supposed to input invoices and data into was so crappy that it turned out to be useless. Was this done on purpose by Larry to make it harder to find a paper trail as you will see later in the declaration and deposition? Maybe. Let's continue...
"The Great Park Corporation was not allowed to seek services from other firms in an effort to secure superior technical skills or lower costs. At the direction of the "power structure"(made up of Larry Agran, Arnold Forde, and Yehudi Gaffen) at the Design Studio, all planning and design work was to go through the Studio"(Page 5)Keeping operational control seemed to be very important.
"The Design Studio consistently insisted on performing design, construction management, and construction administration for all projects. This arrangement does not reflect responsible industry practice."(Page 6)Mr Gaffen(head of Design Studio) did not hold any professional licenses for architecture or civil engineering. This apparently made him highly qualified. Continue....
"Design management under Gafcon for a project of this scope and complexity was at times incompetent, disorganized, too expensive and politicized. - The Design Studio team did not have a California licensed architect of record - The Design Studio team did not have a dedicated California licensed civil engineer. - Third party reviews were being refused by the Design Studio. - The Design Studio exposed a practice of hiring relatively inexperienced and unqualified staff for a project of this scope and complexity, and yet systematically employed a practice of charging premium rates".(Page 12)Nothing to see here, LOL.
"The Design Studio was overly dismissive of known design constraints on the El Toro property. A number of examples of this practice were discovered. - The 50% design package altered the Navy extraction well system to support a Master Plan that was not buildable. When the package was submitted to the Navy, the Navy commented that the design was "VOID OF USEFUL INFORMATION"(Page 13)Are you starting to get the picture of where this is going yet?
"It did not take long to appreciate that Chairman Agran, Yehudi Gaffen and Arnold Forde comprised the "power structure" for the Great Park project... ...the acumen for large scale project development was sorely deficient. The Chairman's and the project's best interests were not being served by Mr. Gaffen. In my opinion, the interests of the City were systematically being subordinated to greed and overcome by incompetence."(Page 20)I see an episode of American Greed in the future unfortunately telling this story.
"Other than the environment I've described in this paper - the like of which I deplored - and the role Mr Forde played in its perpetuation, the fundamental problem I had with the Forde & Mollrich engagement was the fee of $100k per month. Period....I was finally able to gather the support necessary to advance a proposed budget that included a reduction in the Forde & Mollrich contract. I recommended a 50% reduction to $50k per month(still an outrageous number mind you)(Page 26) During the holiday season in 2011, Messrs Forde and Mollrich and I met at the bar at Bistango's restaurant. During this meeting, the discussion again turned to the pressure on our budget presented by the Forde & Mollrich fees. Again I suggested that it would be difficult to justify another year at $100k per month. Mr Forde replied simply that if I came after his contract, he would come after me; I should leave their fee alone.(Page 28)Threats are always nice to see by a consultant you hired. Just wow. This concludes Mr Ellzey's statement and my comments. Wait until you read his deposition!
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Thoughts On Possibilities "To Cantor" Various OC Reps
As the news continues to sink in on the political earthquake that happened in Virginia's 7th District last night, I was thinking about the possibilities locally here in OC of someone pulling off a similar feat in the next election cycle. My first thought is that it probably wouldn't happen here, but after last night, anything can happen when and if the stars line up. What do I mean by that? You had many circumstances come together and created the perfect storm against Eric Cantor. Some of the first things that come to my mind are... Cantor broke the first rule in politics. He pretty much ignored his district. When you don't meet your constituents on a regular basis, you start letting pressure build up that's needs to get ventilated. The closest thing locally that I can compare this to is lame duck Congressman John Campbell. He never had townhalls and rarely met with voters. Heck he wouldn't even agree to come to local Republican Clubs. Eric Cantor had no excuse for ignoring his district. It's very close to DC. It's not like he had to fly cross country to get home every weekend. He had an hour drive south from DC to Richmond. No excuses here. This why local Congressmen like Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, and Loretta Sanchez will be Congressmen/women for probably as long as they want. They all come home most weekends from DC and work the district like crazy. I hope Mimi Walters does the same thing when she gets elected. Time will tell. There has to be a credible alternative candidate on the ballot. If you wanna drill down deeper on what constitutes a credible alternative candidate, just go read Dave Brat's background of how he pulled this victory off. There will be a book written about probably in the near future. He seemed to do everything right from my reading and analysis of the reports of what happened. He wasn't a kooky or divisive candidate. He's been involved in local politics since around 2004 volunteering for local candidates. He's been through vigorous campaign training at Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute. He had over two hundred eager precinct walkers/volunteers doing the door knocking and other voter contact stuff. He was able to leverage powerful talk radio voices like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck to name a few to help him get his message out. He had local and national issues on his side i.e his anti amnesty position, reigning in the NSA privacy abuses, against indefinite detention(NDAA), etc. It also didn't hurt Dave Brat that Eric Cantor was a big target because of his leadership position he held in the House. In short, this really was not an accident what happened yesterday. My oh my....What is America coming to when we can't buy elections anymore. LOL
Monday, June 02, 2014
Howard Ahmanson Blasts Keith Curry
Just got the last batch of mail before the election and this one piece really stuck out to me. It's a negative mail piece against Keith Curry that is done through an IE called "Local Liberty PAC" with major funding by "Fieldstead & Company". Fieldstead is the political vehicle Howard Ahmanson donates through. The mailer itself hits Curry on bloated Newport Beach Lifeguard pensions, the cost of Newport Beach City Hall, mocks the "Bunny Henge" concrete rabbits in front of city hall, and lastly hits him hard for trying to ban fire rings. It's an outstanding piece. I just wish it had gone out earlier if they were gonna do it. Enjoy.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Slate Mail and A 5th OC Supe Candidate Postcard....
Irvine School Board Special Election Update
The race to fill a vacancy on the Irvine School Board is almost complete. This was created when Gavin Huntley Fenner resigned back at the beginning of this year and Ira Glasky was appointed to serve out the vacancy. Fast forward to today. Larry Agran recruited and agitated for a special election instead of letting Ira Glasky serve out the term. By doing this, Larry cost the School District and the city an extra couple hundred thousand that could have been spent on more productive things like oh maybe classrooms! That's just how Larry rolls though. He always puts his own self interest over the community and has done for his whole tenure as Councilman. The Glasky mailer shown here was funneled through Sacramento consultant Dave Gilliard's shadowy "CA Homeowners Assn". The person Larry recruited to run in this election is Carolyn Inmon. She is a nice lady who used to be a registered Republican and even ran for the OC GOP Central Committee a few years ago when I first ran I believe. Alas she has returned to her roots of a liberal as many people who know her better have told me. The only reason she became a Republican when she moved to Irvine was to try and get stealthily elected to something with her stealthy liberal views. So far our household has received three mail pieces from Inmon and one from Ira Glasky. I'm in the process of still researching where Mrs Inmon received her money for this mail. I suspect it is from Larry's cronies. For the record, I support and already voted for Ira Glasky. My educated guess is that Ira Glasky will be elected with over 50% of the vote on June 3rd.
74th AD Mail.....Final Push
It's been about a week since my last 74th AD mail update. Well there's been a lot more to report on in the last week. Our household received three pieces from Patrascu and one piece from Curry that is a fold over, i.e four pages. As far as the content of the mailers, I noticed that Emanuel uses the non trademarked GOP Elephant with two stars instead of the usual three to indicate who he is endorsed by. As I commented in a recent post about Lisa Bartlett, I believe this is deceptive and this type of thing has been admonished previously by the County Party Ethics Comm. I doubt we'll see a complaint though because at this stage of the game, the die has been cast pretty much. Curry's mailer is part positive and part negative. The negative part uses classic grainy black and white photos of his main GOP opponents Matt Harper and Emanuel Patrascu. He slams them for things like "not being real businessmen" and "this will be their highest paying job". Interesting that he chose to hit Matt Harper who has done no mail except for some slates. One gets the sense from Curry's campaign that he has a huge sense of entitlement to this seat. It's looking more and more like an R versus R runoff in Nov between Patrascu and Curry. We'll know for sure in about five more days. Without further ado, here's the mailers....
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Some Slate Mail And Marshall Tuck IE
Here's a sampling of two recent slate mailers and a Marshall Tuck IE mailer. One slate is by "Taxpayers United of Orange County". If anyone knows who runs and funds this group, please PM me. I am curious. The other slate was named "COPS Voter Guide"(just lovely). I'm assuming it is funded through some cop union. Lastly we had an IE mailer by William E Bloomfield that is a positive piece on Marshall Tuck who is running for State Schools Superintendent. No worries Marshall. I already voted for you ;)
74th AD Mail And Race Update
Three more mailers from the 74th AD hit the box while I was gone. There was one positive piece from Keith Curry touting his Irvine endorsements. We had one positive piece from Emanuel Patrascu and a negative one against Curry by Patrascu. The positive one was a dupe to my wife of the Berlin Wall mailer I had earlier received. No mail from Matthew Harper. My thinking has stayed the same in the race. I believe this will be an R versus R runoff in November between Keith Curry and Emanuel Patrascu. If that happens, I would give Patrascu a great shot to win the race. He guided Travis Allen's campaign in the R versus R Assembly race last cycle and therefore has lots of experience in this dynamic. I view Keith Curry in a similar light with Troy Edgar who has every advantage in the race, but managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He had bad consultants(Brett Barbre among others) and was arrogant and complacent. Lastly I will comment about one of the Dems Karina Onofre. She has put up signs with her picture on it all over the district. This is a net negative in my opinion. It's a really bad picture and just strikes me as a really narcissistic thing to do. I wonder how she is doing registering all those 60k unregistered persons that she boasted about in the Feet To The Fire forum. Oh and her ridiculous press releases promising to help bring the Clippers to OC are hilarious. Sometimes I wonder if she is doing this race as a goof(as Howard Stern would put it).
Mimi Walters Mail & CD 45 Update
I was away for a few days on business and got home to find two Mimi Walters mailers that had arrived. Both of them were addressed to my wife who is a high propensity poll voter and target rich demographic....female. The theme to these mailers was veterans/military. Mimi hits Greg Raths hard again for some of his positive quotes he made in the past about serving in the White House with Bill Clinton. These quotes were sourced from Greg's book. In any case, the mailer is hard hitting. There's been a little blowback against Mimi for these negative mailers she has done against Greg dealing with his military service so she also mailed a positive piece saying how she grew up in a military family and lists many endorsements from retired high ranking veterans. It's almost like she is saying...."I know some of you are mad at me for these negative mailers, but look at how much support I have from veterans. Still no mail at all from Raths. I did hear a radio ad on KRLA this afternoon, but at this point he is not doing any mail that I know of. I still expect Mimi to face off against the Dem Drew Leavens in Nov.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Patrascu Takes Incoming From Keith Curry Plus A Dan Schnur Mailer
All the mail that 74th AD candidate Emanuel Patrascu has been doing has forced Keith Curry to fire back. I just opened my mailbox this afternoon and this hit piece was in there. I haven't heard nor seen any polling for this race lately. It seems both the GOP candidates with money(Curry & Patrascu) have pushed all in to get as much mail out as possible to the absentee ballot voters who will make up roughly 2/3 of the electorate. I also received a mail piece today from DTS Secretary of State candidate Dan Schnur. I already voted for the Republican Pete Peterson, but you can see Schnur has mailed me and I presume other high propensity Republicans touting his past work for Reagan, McCain, and Pete Wilson. The other side of the mailer hits upon the recent scandal of the three Dem State Senators who have tarnished the Capital. I think that is smart. I just don't believe a DTS candidate for this race will make it into the top two for Nov.