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The City of Irvine has posted Stu Mollrich‘s 263 page Great Park deposition.
Stu’s testimony affirms that Larry Agran imposed an odd management structure in 2006 that gave Larry effective sole control, that the Great Park design was initiated with little attention to budget or “constructability,” and that Larry is “passionate about Public Restrooms.” Stu’s lawyer was quite combative about the lack of billing records supporting the $100,000/month No-Bid retainer. Expect a contempt hearing as the Auditor seeks these records and certain emails between Forde & Mollrich and Gafcon that Stu bizarrely claims are protected by attorney-client privilege.
The main point of the deposition was to get documentation concerning Forde & Mollrich‘s $100,000/month retainer that had been awarded on a non-competitive basis. In the midst of an otherwise co-operative full day of testimony, Stu’s lawyer David Elson of Mannat, Phelps, & Phillips fought vigorously, even arguing the request itself was unreasonable and possibly illegal. (pages 170-175 of the deposition, and again on pages 181-185). Auditor Anthony Taylor makes clear that he is considering a formal contempt hearing ( p 259), that he doubts Gafcon and F&M can claim client-privilege (p 210), and that False Claims Act may come into play ( p 183).
Scattered amongst the two-hundred-sixty-three pages of lawyerly prose are morsels and seven bathroom breaks. Below are some highlights drawn from my eight pages of notes.
Gafcon’s billing system, SharePoint 360, was a fiasco. Even Stu Mollrich was late in getting paid ( p 117). However, the billing system may have served its true purpose. SharePoint 360 isn’t a GafCon product, but instead is owned by Pam Gaffen, Gafcon co-founder and wife of Gafcon owner Yehudi Gaffen. Ford & Mollrich bought a license to be able to use the system. You read that correclty: getting access to the billing system used by the Great Park facilities manager involved cutting a check to Yehudi Gaffen‘s wife. The love flowed both ways. A 2011 IRS audit reveals Stu Mollrich hired Gafcon for “construction management” on Stu’s personal residence for work done in 2007 and 2008 . ( p 211 )
Stu corroborates that the planning process was not oriented towards producing an affordable, constructible park.
Q There was no budget for this competition, correct, in terms of construction budget?
Q There was not budget scrutiny ?
A No. (p 153)
Q In terms of constructability analysis, do you recall any constructability analysis being done during the design competition?
A During the design competition? No. That was not something that was suggested by anyone involved.
So, unsurprisingly, few useful plans resulted from the design process. (p 153)
“So the sports park will be completed. .. Perhaps not exactly — there was never a specific development plan for the sports park” (p 145)
Stu does not like Mike Ellzey: “Sometimes I think Mr Ellzey is the star of his own movie, one that mostly exists in his mind” (p 155)
The oddest question of the deposition:
Q I heard, as part of this Audit, that Chairman Agran sometimes asked people to send documents to his wife or his daughter. Do you recall ever receiving a request like that?
A No (p 235 )
The oddest claim of the deposition: that F&M didn’t negotiate their own contract with the city– that they were only Design Studio sub-contractors. They never asked for more than $100,000/month, and the city never asked documentation about how the money was spent. ( pp 253 – 256)
Stu agrees it was “No Bid” contract.
Q “ I want to get your understanding of what went out to competitive bidding”
A” I guess it would depend on how you define competitive bidding” As for the annual renewal, attached to the Design Studio contract, “There was no competitive Bid process” (p 197)
Q” Would you describe Chairman Agran’s involvement in terms of the day-to-day management of the Great Park being very frequent or infrequent”
A He was very active… He was very, very passionate about the project and I believe say it as a legacy project. … He was very passionate about restrooms … [it] became kind of a running joke (p 101)
A It’s kind of a unique structure, a 501(c)(3)… subservient to the city. So even if a majority of directors wanted to go one direction, unless a majority of the city city council also agreed with it, it could be stopped. .. it wasn’t as defined a structure as perhaps it could have been…. The chair … basically set policy direction for the project (p 104)