Imagine this scenario for a minute. The NBA finally announces that Orange County is finally getting that long awaiting expansion team. The team is set up, but there is space for one more player to be the team leader. The fix is then put in for the owner’s nephew who plays in the Development League to be the team captain. Out of nowhere, Lebron James announces he wants to leave Cleveland and come to Anaheim to play and be theÂ captain for the team. Instead the owner announces they are going to go withÂ the newphewÂ from the Development League and picks them over Lebron James. They of course tell Lebron he is welcome to play, but as a bench player. Pretty shocking scenario huh? Well that is similar to what happened in Santa Ana.
There has been much talk from the go-local program to build a localized trolly system that would link the Santa Ana Train Station to the 22 freeway. Personally, I think it is a fantastic idea, although I wish it would be extended to Downtown Garden Grove. From the very start though, the talk was that the fix was in for Cordoba Corporation and that this project was meant as an excuse to give Mayor Pulido’s buddy some taxpayer money. Apparently there were others out there who felt similar to me, that this project actually had some potential, such as Parsons, who has a terrific track record on working on some of the biggest public works projectsÂ in the nation. What an honor it was that they wanted the contract to study this project, clearly they saw the potential. They submitted their bid, a monkey wrench in Miguel’s plan.
Not suprisingly, Santa Ana City Staff agreed and gave Parsons the highest score of the three companies to bid to study the project. Coming in a DISTANT THIRDÂ was the Mayor’s preferred company, Cordoba. So who got the contract? Common sense would be Parsons, right? WRONG! Cordoba got the contract, although they offered a “compromise” to the other two companies to be supporting players in a “team effort.” Parsons was insulted and refused to join the team. Now Doug Irving has uncovered potential wrongdoing by the MayorÂ who clearly interfered inthe process being completed by our esteemed Public Works Staff. Apparently, he claims not to be happy with Parsons work, but how, their reputation is top notch.
I really want to see this rail line built, I do not want to see this go the way of Centerline. Yet when the study is given to a company who scored a distant third, apparently based on their connections to the Councilmembers, I worry that it will go the way of Centerline and millions more in taxpayer dollars will go down the drain. This city cannot afford more money to be flushed away.
Justifiably, there are people who are outraged by this. There are hints that a Councilmember is leaking to certain Santa Ana residents the supposed shenanigans that went on behind the scenes and blaming certain Councilmembers for strongarming the process. My issue is, which Councilmember, when push came to shove stood up to this in public. This isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking, this is trying to play both sides of the fence and this needs to stop. To that anonymous Councilmember, if you are going to take a stand, than make it public. If you were not the Councilmember who was “conveniently” absent on August 3rd, then you are one of the four who voted to give Cordoba the contract. This behavior reminds me of the behavior of Congressmembers who voted to authorize President Bush to go to War in Iraq and then started talking smack on the decision at Democratic Party events before the war even started. If you thought it was so bad, why did you vote for it to begin with? Even my current favorite Councilmember, Michele Martinez voted for the c ontract to the lowest scoring company.
Perhaps that anonymous Councilmember will speak out at today’s Council Study Session focusing on transit. Instead of griping to a select few Santa Ana residents, speak out and make your concerns heard. Stand up for our tax dollars instead of playing both sides of the fence. If the mayor or any other Council member ran interference for Cordoba, make it clear today and put your name as the dissenter. Until then, I doubt the credibility of the Councilmember who is only “speaking out” to a select few constituents in a thinly veiled attempt to look like a maverick Councilmember. Don’t pull a Sarah Palin, walk the talk!
Lots of questions remain on why Cordoba got this contract. One thing is for certain, I remain cautiously pessimistic. Knowing our city leaders chose their friend to oversee this fantastic project who is likely to be way in over their head. Instead they could have chosen the best, with a proven track record of making great public works projects happen.