Let’s see what a Republican Majority Can Do with the Great Park

Ballon Ride at The Great Park Irvine

Ballon Ride at The Great Park Irvine

It never was going to be a Great Park for all the people of Orange County; it’s always been just another park in Irvine.

When Measure W was placed on the ballot in 2002, the proponents painted two pictures. First that another county airport on the grounds of the former El Toro Marine Base would be a white elephant of a failure. And second, that in short order a Great Park to serve all of Orange County’s residents could rise from the rubble of a Marine base in a few years. We’ll never know if the airport plan would have been a failure, but we do know that after more than ten years the picture painted in 2002 by Measure W proponents isn’t remotely close to realization.

The Republican council majority that took control of Irvine last month has taken the final step in making the Orange County Great Park the Great IRVINE Park. Last night they voted 3-2 to remove the four non-council members from the Great Park Board of Directors. This move places the Great Park egg in the majority’s basket of control in spite of concerns raised by speakers during Tuesday’s council meeting. It is true that much of the Great Park Board’s role was made advisory years ago by the previous majority, but now there is zero doubt that the Great Park Board has been collapsed into the full control and whims of whatever council majority is in power. From a planning perspective, that doesn’t paint a good picture of stability given that majorities can change every two years.

As this new majority flexes it muscles we’ll have to wait and see whether they can do a better job. Their firs move to terminate immediately the contracts with Forde & Mollrich for public relations and with Townsend Public Affairs for government relations isn’t a good sign of things to come. Other than providing great political theater, the sudden termination of contracts for political reasons never works out very well. The Great Park staff indicated before the vote that the sudden termination of these contracts would have significant impact on existing projects and that they lacked the internal resources to effectively implement those projects without external assistance.

The bottom line though is that elections have consequences. Just as a vote of the majority of voters in 2002 changed the trajectory of the El Toro Marine Base, so have the majority of Irvine voters chosen new leadership for their city. Time will tell if this new majority is up to the tasks presented by their new-found power.

Want to know more about last night’s meeting, Click Here for Adam Elmahrek’s report at Voice of OC.

  20 comments for “Let’s see what a Republican Majority Can Do with the Great Park

  1. junior
    January 9, 2013 at 7:56 am

    WTF? I thought that it was going to be an “OC” park – not an Irvine park. Duped again …..

  2. Ltpar
    January 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Listening to the Larry Agran worshipers rant and rave at last night’s Council meeting merely confirmed in my mind, how ill informed most are about the Great Park (GP). As it was originally conceived, it was in fact supposed to have a mixed Board of Directors with a few representatives from outside the City of Irvine. One might have thought that a member of the Board of Supervisors and a member of the Lake Forest City Council might have been selected. However the record is very clear as to what happened. The Park was hijacted by Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang and they placed it under the direct authority of the Irvine City Council with an Advisory Board of Directors. Then adding insult to injury, they failed to appoint independent stakeholders to the Board and stacked it will Agran supporters. The Irvine City Council minority at the time, Chistina Shea and Steven Choi opposed the grab and voted against it.

    As time continued, the Great Park Board continued to march lockstep and rubber stamp anything Agran wanted to do by a vote of 7 – 2. When the voters finally had enough and dumped the Agran majority in the November election, the minority then became the majority, at least at the Council. The Great Park board was still 6 – 3 in favor of the Agranistas. In order to make change or progress things had to be shaken up? The new Council majority acted with the same authority as had the old council when hijacking the Park. In the private sector, it would be called a “Hostile Takeover.” After much debate including attempts by the Agranista audience to intimidate the new majority, the vote was taken and the Great Park Board was dissolved. It should be noted, that the apointed Board members were never independent representatives from around the county, but rather hand picked by Larry Agran to give him full control of the Park and it’s 220 million dollars. The new Board will consist of the five Irvine City Council members. After things settle down, it remains to be seen if the new Council considers either expanding the Board, or selecting an Advisory Commisssion like other City Commissions. Without question the ball is in the court of the new majority and they will be under pressure to produce? I am confident they are up for the challenge.

    • January 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Reading this over, this is sort of amazing. Patrick attacks on the basis that the Great Park “was in fact supposed to have a mixed Board of Directors with a few representatives from outside the City of Irvine.” Okay….

      Then, “one might have thought that a member of the Board of Supervisors and a member of the Lake Forest City Council might have been selected.” Yes, one might have thought that, and another might have thought something else, and there were certainly no explicit requirements for such specific representation or they would have been implemented. The complaint here, at base, seems to be that it was not imposed entirely of elected officials.

      However the record is very clear as to what happened. The Park was hijacted by Larry Agran, Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang and they placed it under the direct authority of the Irvine City Council with an Advisory Board of Directors.

      My sense, and this appears to be what Patrick means by “hijacked,” is that the Council majority wanted people with demonstrated interest in the plan for the Great Park and the expertise to help make it happen. This would have been in part to obtain the stability that a major project — along the lines of Manhattan’s Central Park — would need to get off the ground. That’s not “hijacking”; it’s a policy choice that the Agran-led Council of the time was permitted to make.

      The alternative to a “great” public project like this was to do something like sell it off piecemeal to small developers, for “public-private partnerships” as Lalloway has suggested, which would not be “great” in any sense. The only things great in scope might be the ensuing litigation and the great expose that may be written about the probable cronyism in favoring those developers.

      Patrick is so deeply embedded into the “UnGreat the Park” philosophy that his “confidence” in anything ain’t worth beans. (He might be a good choice to take over PR duties, though. He stays on message without fail or flutter.) There won’t be any “pressure to produce” once those “public-private partnerships” designed to salt the ground of Agran’s initial vision spring into being.

      • January 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm

        You may or may not consider it hijacking, depending on whether or not you want to call Agran a “hijacker.” But the fact is this is how we got to where we are, with nobody but the Irvine City Council calling the shots. As it HAS been for over a decade.

        What ARE you trying so stubbornly to contend?

      • Ltpar
        January 11, 2013 at 1:23 am

        Greg Diamond: “My sense, and this appears to be what Patrick means by “hijacked,” is that the Council majority wanted people with demonstrated interest in the plan for the Great Park and the expertise to help make it happen”

        Ltpar Your sense would be wrong. Let me state it again in simple terms. Larry Agran handpicked an Advisory Board who would rummer stamp anything he wanted. This is Agran’s M/O and always has been. One member of the original group, Dick Sim and by far the only person with any expertise refused to do Agran’s bidding. He eventually rsigned because of mismanagement and ethical issues. Agan’s handpicked Board that just got fired were far from experts in anything except poltical cronyism. The developer, was a small potatoes guy who never did any major projects. Then there was the Mayor of Santa Ana, expert only in doublespeak. Then there was a guy from a relatively obscure non-profit group with minimal experience in anything. Got to give the fourth appointee, former Marine Kogerman an “A” for effort and desire. Other than reminiscing about the old days at El Toro, he brought very little major league expertise to the table. Bottom line, Larry said jump and the Advisory Board merely said, “how high.”

        Greg Diamond:”The alternative to a “great” public project like this was to do something like sell it off piecemeal to small developers, for “public-private partnerships” as Lalloway has suggested, which would not be “great” in any sense”

        Ltpar: I can’t speak for Jeff Lalloway’s definition of Public – Private Partnerships, but am reasonable certain it is not selling off parts of the Park for commercial development. Perhaps, you should ask Lalloway that question face to face before printing your guesses.

        Greg Diamond: “Patrick is so deeply embedded into the “UnGreat the Park” philosophy that his “confidence” in anything ain’t worth beans. (He might be a good choice to take over PR duties, though.”

        Ltpar: I am only “embedded” in disgust for what I have seen at the Great Park during the last ten years. The actions of the Agranistas will go down as the single greatest “con job” ever run on the citizens of Orange County. With over 200 million dollars in the wind and no explanation for where it went, boggles the mind. The good news is that the forensic audit should open the door and show who got what, for doing what work? Rumor has it that some of the contract recipients at the Park are very nervous about this audit. Time will tell. As far as me doing PR work, while I understand you were saying it with tongue in cheek, forget it. I already have a good job pending overseas, and am just waiting for a departure date. I will continue to monitor and comment on the action at the Great Park through the Irvine World News online.

        • junior
          January 11, 2013 at 6:02 am

          “..Agan’s handpicked Board that just got fired were far from experts in anything except poltical cronyism.”

          Miguel Pulido comes to mind here.

  3. January 9, 2013 at 11:24 am

    The best one-word description of most of last night’s speakers I saw in a tweet was “gullible”. These Agran/Krom sycophants apparently can’t read well enough to see how much money’s been stolen from them. They’re also apparently lame and haven’t been to the GP to see how little $200 million buys.

    • junior
      January 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      According to a report of the meeting $200 million $$ will buy you a stack of plans and papers laid out in front of the dias

  4. January 9, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Did someone hack your site to post this, Chris?

    • January 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      No Greg, the site was not hacked. There are legitimate criticisms that can be made regarding the myth of a Great OC Park. I so not see honest review and reflection as an anti-liberal position.

      The initiative was flawed in that it didn’t protect the park from control by any single city. We are now left with the instability of GOP/Tea Party control of a government project. Control, which could change hands every two years. This doesn’t bode well for any Great Park, whether it’s an OC or Irvine facility.

      • January 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

        I noticed that this one was unsigned. So do you really stand by your lede:

        It never was going to be a Great Park for all the people of Orange County; it’s always been just another park in Irvine.

        O RLY? Then I guess that such a story could have broken a decade ago — and all of the words to the contrary should require a truckload of retractions.

        Or … the statement that this result was foreordained is untrue.

      • met00
        January 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

        Which is why we should re-visit W and make it a freaking regional airport like was first proposed.

        I do think Larry Agran and his team should be thanked by the rest of the county for NOT tearing up the runways and for pissing away millions in a 10 year effort to avoid having the airport there while also enriching friends and campaign contributors.

        Imagine for a minute if all the money sunk into SNA over the last 10 years had been sunk into ETMCS – What a great airport that would be. With Access along it’s border to a freeway that connect to both North-South and East-West as well as a Amtrack station that serves directly to downtown LA.

        But “NO!” the next regional airport will be in Los Alamitos when the JFTB is BRAC’d and that’s all there is to it (forget that homes actually back up to the JFTB, that the runway actually has planes taking off into the landing path of LGB, etc.)

        $200 million for NIMBY. It’s time to revisit W. Allow Irvine to have a nice park and build the airport that replaces SNA and that the county needs.

  5. Not Pedroza's PR firm
    January 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Where the $&@) is Dan on this crap

    • Ltpar
      January 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Have no fear, Dan the “spin man” will soon be in the game hoping to run a double reverse, confuse the defense and score a touchdown for the Agranistas. Leave it to Dan because he can rationalize anything. If Larry Agran were being led away to prison (example only, Dan would be reporting that he was only taking a vacation to Club Fed. It is just another day in Paradise.

      • January 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

        If Dan can rationalize anything, you seem to be going him one better in this instance by irrationalizing everything. All insinuation, all the time, all without compunction or evident basis other than your fantasy.

  6. January 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Dan is tied up on a business project and I’m sure he will chime in when he has a chance. I’m certain he’ll appreciate your desire to hear his point of view.

  7. January 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

    In my humble opinion, “staff” is making sense here.

    My piece out shortly.

  8. junior
    January 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Speaking of turkey legs – they sell those stinky things at D’land. It is gross to have to smell those things and see the grease dripping off of them. I think they should have a completely separate turkey leg eating area, where only those who partake are subjected to the foul odor and appearance.

  9. jose s.
    January 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I love a good turkey leg or even better a good turkey neck. They have those packages with nothing but necks and you just suck the meat right off them.
    Yum

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