By Ling Ling Chang, Young Kim, Don Wagner, Travis Allen, Bill Brough, Matt Harper, Bob Huff, Janet Nguyen, Pat Bates, John Moorlach
Editors Note: Orange County’s Republican delegation to Sacramento on Monday sent the following letter to Assemblyman Mike Gibson, who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, calling on him to reject requests to audit the City of Irvine’s current Great Park audit efforts.
The undersigned members of the Orange County legislative delegation oppose the request before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to audit the Irvine City Council’s Great Park Audit. The proposed “audit of the audit” is redundant, wasteful, disruptive, and contrary to the mission of the Committee.
The Great Park Audit was authorized on January 8, 2013 by unanimous vote of the Irvine City Council. The vote approved an RFP for contract compliance/forensic for contracts exceeding $50,000 and appropriated $250,000 towards the audit. Management of the audit was delegated by city council action to a sub-committee of two councilmembers that regularly updated the full city council on the progress of the audit. Qualified professional auditors and legal counsel were retained to guarantee validity and transparency.
As you know, audits sometimes result in uncomfortable findings. This appears to be the situation with the Great Park Audit. Unfortunately, some of those entities and individuals whose actions have been exposed by the audit are now looking to get the legislature to weigh in and protect them from those uncomfortable audit findings by changing or obfuscating the results. This will do a severe disservice to the process, the people of Orange County, and the idea of a fair and impartial legislative audit committee.
There is no need, nor any general legislative purpose, for the Committee to take this drastic step of auditing the audit. The Irvine City Council has entered into tolling agreements with many of the firms identified in the Great Park Audit. In fact, the company behind this JLAC audit request, San Diego based Gafcon, Inc. has entered into a tolling agreement with the City of Irvine. Paragraph 7 of that tolling agreement prohibits any party, including Gafcon, from initiating any administrative action or proceedings before JLAC.
Any disputes that cannot be resolved between Gafcon, the City of Irvine, or any other party, are subject to legal rights and defenses in court. Those proceedings could be adversely affected by any determinations by the State Auditor that are inconsistent with any agreements, judicial determinations or formal resolution of any disputes by the parties.
Additionally, Rule 25(d) of the JLAC provides that JLAC shall “[r]efer the [audit] request to another agency, if another agency is the more appropriate venue.” In light of the tolling agreements, “the more appropriate venue” is to allow the City and the parties to attempt to resolve their differences and then to resort to a judicial form, if necessary, subject to the parties’ rights and defenses in that more appropriate forum.