“But it was not illegal.” Expect to here that defense often in coming months.
Dick Sim, a 30 year veteran of The Irvine Corporation who helped developed the Irvine Spectrum has had his deposition released. His deposition covers interactions with the Great Park Management during the 2004-2006 period when he served on the Great Park Board.
The Great Park started with a typical management structure, but an unusual structure was adopted shortly after Agran-Krom-Kang had the levers of power firmly in hand.
Instead of the Great Park Board being responsible for the planning, developing, and operating of the Great Park, the City Council took all those responsibilities. At the same time after that was approved, Larry Agran was the chairman and also in control of City Council and he wiped out the entire committee system. … He did it to make sure there was only one person in charge and that was him and that nobody had much to say about anything because everybody reported to him in effect
Dick raised concerns about this odd approach before 2006 and got a curious response:
No bidding, giving contracts to favored people there were referred to “FOL” that the city staff referred to privately as “Friends of Larry.” When that happened, also I mentioned to some of the concilmembers, particularly Chairman Agran, that this was an unethical way to do business and a bad business practice and I think his comments was “but it was not illegal“.
Consolidating control into a single set of hands unfortunately did not lead to better planning or operation.
We had a business plan and a budget in order to start the process of analyzing and developing the Great Park. When Larry Agran took over the business plan was tossed away, the committed system was tossed away, all the good business practices were tossed away. They were doing no-bid contracts and basically was an uncontrolled situation…When you don’t have any controls and you don’t have good business practices and you are not bidding contracts, money gets wasted and people get careless and it lends itself to you know, corruption.
Dick included with his deposition documents he had forwarded to the Great Park management over eight years ago that highlighted how the weak management structure could cause the planning process to go off the rails. His critique proved sadly prescient, as Voice of OC’s Adam Almahrek reports in his great summary of the Brendan McDevitt deposition: “Major parts of the Great Park Design were never constructible“.
You can read all of this for yourself. The City of Irvine helpfully keeps all of the released Great Park Depositions here