Former Great Park Consultant Welcomes DA and Other Investigations

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With news breaking last week both locally and in Sacramento regarding Irvine’s investigation into the Great Park, one of the probe’s primary targets is welcoming more agencies into the fray.

San Diego-based Gafcon Inc., a former Great Park consultant, said it’s open to investigations “from all levels, whether it be from the State Legislature, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Attorney General or the Orange County District Attorney’s office,” according to a statement released to the media on Friday.

The statement comes after the DA’s office last week declared it is reviewing whether to file criminal charges stemming from the city’s investigation.

In a letter to a state legislative committee, which is scheduled next month to consider an investigation of the city’s investigation, the DA’s office states that a deputy DA has been assigned the Great Park case for “criminal prosecution review“ and referenced a “local federal task force investigating public corruption.”

Meanwhile, after months of delays, the city’s investigation into over $200 million spent on the park project is scheduled to be released March 24.

The probe — commissioned by a Republican City Council majority that seized power in the 2012 election — has zeroed in on a handful of political players and consultants, including Gafcon, as the responsible parties in a massive public project gone awry.

A series of depositions and a preliminary audit by Newport Beach-based Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro Accountants, PC (HSNO) point to mismanagement, waste and abuse at the 1,300-acre park project, which was envisioned to compete with destinations like New York’s Central Park but has so far failed to live up to expectations.

Gafcon and others targeted by the investigation counter that it’s a political witch-hunt intended to bolster the fortunes of the Republicans who took control of the council. The former council majority – which had controlled the park project since its inception a decade ago – was comprised of Democrats.

The firm released an hour-and-a-half long video rebutting allegations against the firm, made in a preliminary audit released last year, as false or misleading.

It has also called for nothing less than a complete retraction of the audit, claiming it is inaccurate and has caused millions of dollars in lost business. The firm has also asked for a meeting with retired judge Nancy Wieben Stock, who was hired by the city to act as an independent mediator.

“We have called on the City to withdraw the audit and acknowledge the serious flaws in these reports, and yet again, we have received no response,” reads a statement from Alan Ziegaus, chairman of Southwest Strategies, LLC and Gafcon’s spokesman.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Roger Butow

    Oh, boy, you people @ GAFCON just don’t give up. In marital disputes, there’s a saying: There’s his truth, there’s her truth, and then there’s THE TRUTH. Your website (www.greatparktruth.com) starts without THE TRUTH: OC voters in 2001 passed Measure W, I think by about 58-42% majority. So it wasn’t Irvine voters as you’ve posted but OC voters who rejected an airport, naively handed over the keys to a potential Rolls Royce of parks that eventually became a design and cost plagued Pinto. And as recent disclosures have revealed, GAFCON seems to have spread its $$$ around So Cal pretty far & wide, including political campaigns/patronage and in the pockets of God knows who/where else we haven’t been told yet. So you want us, the ones who ignorantly empowered Irvine, to believe your truth? Did you actually read what DZ, myself and other outraged VofOC commentators have written? We left trust in our rear view mirrors YEARS ago. So when you purport “full truth” you are asking us to extend our naiveté into the realm of stupidity.

  • Gafcon, Inc.

    To see the full truth about the Great Park investigation,
    please visit http://www.greatparktruth.com

  • Roger Butow

    DZ:
    A fellow Marine, retired flyer Lt. Colonel Bill Kogerman was appointed in March of 2006—–He spearheaded Measure W among other innumerable life accomplishments anyone can find online, his reputation and character are impeccable. Where’s the joke in that? And you think that giving the present Council majority more time ==Mission accomplished regarding accountability? The voter’s trust, Irvine’s fiduciary responsibilities breached, there’s nothing guaranteeing they aren’t/won’t circle the wagons and minimize exposure while pursuing the maximizing of the property via development. What a wicked game, they keep the lion’s share of the revenue and all we get is some of the least ecologically valuable, pitifully shrinking-as-we-speak open space. I am heartened that you see or propose alternatives: Yes, the OC BoS would screw it up, per usual, as they too are partisan, polarized and reviewing recent confrontations (including courtroom loses) ALWAYS been pro-development. Plan D as you proposed is what should have happened. The anti-airport cabal should have made the County-wide measure include a JPA charter that had a political, economic as well as enviro-NGO oversight balance of membership—and transparency, no closed sessions. Including the signing of conflict of interest clauses with criminal sanctions/consequences. As for that “Final say, might as well let them be the Board” logic, we at large as concerned public members never had any choice (ICC always had 5 of 9 seats) and beginning with the seating of the Irvine CC in December of 2012, now there’s 3 tails wagging an entire dog: The majority of County residents who voted. This has been a train wreck in progress for a decade, and the only way to remove partisanship allegations from the finger pointing is to take it out of the ICC hands now. They might be compromising the investigations for all we know, and obviously, just as they neither had, nor have to this day the competence to build such a dream, they have no track record in multi-million $$$ civil/criminal proceedings. The entire City is now a joke.

    • David Zenger

      Roger, I wonder if Colonel Kogerman feels his time on that Board was time well-spent, or that maybe, just maybe he was being used to promote the air of legitimacy about whatever the heck was going on there.

      Anyway, I think I can criticize fairly an entire committee’s record without necessarily impugning the character of a single member, let alone his life story.

      I like Plan D. At this point my supposition is that it would require some sort of legislation. So be it. The Dems in Sacto might like to spank Irvine’s Republicans. In any case such a move would remove El Toro from the petty internecine squabbles of Irvine politics.

  • Roger Butow

    DZ: I agree with you, the use of the word “Seize” is inflammatory, sounds hostile and is inappropriate. Speaking of which, why did that incoming majority basically re-configure the Great Park Board in such a way as to leave any Irvine City Council majority in 100% control? By downsizing, letting the other 4 at large Board members go, amending the articles of incorporation that sets the Board at 5 members instead of 9, did anyone consider the insane but possible scenario of Democrats regaining the majority in 2016? Just as there was only Plan (A)gran, no Plan B contingency that included a flat-lined or (as happened) a pancaked or cratered economy, what if a cloud hovers over the present majority to the extent that voters revisit Democratic or Libertarian/Independent candidates? Irvine voters might get fed up with their city portrayed in constant negativity, the allegations of witch hunts, etc. And there is another shoe no one seems to sense dropping: What if some of the current righteous parties get dragged into some mud, where is Plan C? The unraveling could radiate out, personnel at City Hall that the Republicans have kept on throughout the process are fair game too if the investigative net is big enough. An entire City-wide meltdown, chaos could trigger or evoke some emotional responses by the electorate fed up with ALL of these people. This is a city in free fall, nearly all that was promised the rest of OC voters who empowered them has vanished in the haze. Disgusted electorates have done some unpredictable things. Trusting the present 3-2 majority to do the right thing, stay in power during the investigative process and remain lockstep, intact, is questionable. As OC residents, we’re down to trusting 3 people elected by a few thousand Irvine voters to investigate themselves and their own internal processes, behind closed doors. It could take YEARS before the OCDA, State or federal DOJ sort things out—-By which time NONE of these people will be in public office?

    • David Zenger

      The old Board was a joke – it included people like Miguel Pulido and Walkie Ray. It was a Potemkin committee whose sole purpose was to give the operation the appearance of legitimacy. As long as the Irvine CC gets the final say we might as well just let them be the Board. It makes sense accountability-wise. If the Republican majority screws up as badly as their predecessors did they deserve to lose the next election.

      Plan C is giving/returning El Toro to the County and letting it become part of the County parks system. Not that the BoS is remotely competent to run it without the usual shakedowns, pet projects and unaccountability. But at least Irvine would be off the hook.

      Plan D would be some sort of JPA with a completely independent Board – sort of like the County Cemetery District. But that would lead to the inevitable cries of opacity that follow (rightly) the OCWD around.

  • David Zenger

    “a Republican City Council majority that seized power in the 2012 election”

    You mean like a Central American military junta, Adam? No wait!! There was an election – in part a referendum on Larry Agran’s Great Park fiasco. C’mon, dude.