Irvine Voters Could Decide On More Great Park Scrutiny

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As an investigation continues into more than $200 million spent on the Great Park, an extra level of potential transparency regarding the project could be put before voters.

For Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway has asked his council colleagues to place a measure on the November ballot that would:

• Require annual audits of Great Park funds, to be posted online,

• Ban the spending of any Great Park funds that have not been approved by council members and the Great Park board,

• Mandate that all contracts with the Great Park and contract changes that lead to increases be approved by the Great Park’s board,

• Ban city and Great Park officials from trying to prevent people from exposing wrongdoing at the Great Park by retaliating, or threatening to retaliate, against them,

• Require that the Great Park board be made only of Irvine council members.

(Click here to read the proposed ballot measure’s text.)

Irvine council members are also set to decide Tuesday on paying their auditors an extra undisclosed amount.

The increase, up for a vote on Tuesday, would go to the auditing firm Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro Accountants.

As auditors delve into the spending, Irvine’s council majority is exploring whether the city can sue former Great Park consultants for improper billings. Any potential legal action would only be decided after the forensic audit is finished, according to Councilwoman Christina Shea.

Councilman Larry Agran has criticized the audit as a “witch hunt” and attacked its rising price tag. He has said the total cost of the investigation is approaching $1 million.

Development of the area around the park, meanwhile, seems to be moving forward. Tentative tract maps for more than 200 lots within the Great Park neighborhoods are scheduled to go to the city’s planning commission on Aug. 21.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 5 p.m.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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