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!