By Adam Elmahrek, Voice of O.C.
Former Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran will be deposed as part of the city’s ongoing investigation into spending on the Great Park project, but it might take an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy to convince Agran to show up.
At a special council meeting Monday afternoon, council members decided to ask a Superior Court judge to force Agran, who lost his council seat in the November election, to appear for his deposition. Their decision came after Agran failed to comply with a city-issued subpoena to appear for his scheduled deposition on Feb. 25.
“As a witness, as anyone, no matter who you are, you can’t just avoid a lawful subpoena,” Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway said at the meeting. “None of us are above the law. None of us.”
Supporters of Agran — whose council career stretched back to 1978 and was in many ways the face of the hugely controversial Great Park project — attended the meeting and called the audit everything from a “sordid, embarrassing charade” to a criminal misuse of public funds for political purposes.
Meanwhile, a slew of anti-Agran letters urged the council to sue Agran, accusing him of wasteful spending and even theft of public funds.
Agran could be one of the final witnesses — if not the final witness — to be deposed in the city’s investigation into over $200 million spent on the 1,300-acre park project, which was envisioned to rival New York’s Central Park but has so far failed to live up to expectations.
The investigation was launched at the behest of the Republican council majority that seized power in the 2012 council election, which ended the rule of the Agran-led Democratic majority that for several years had controlled the park project.
The Democrats and former park consultants now in the Republicans’ crosshairs say the investigation is nothing more than an attempt by Republicans to smear their opponents while they usher in a plan to privatize the park.
Two of those consultants, San Diego-based Gafcon and Newport Beach-based Forde & Mollrich, have fought back the hardest. Last year, Gafcon released an hour-and-a-half long video deriding the preliminary audit’s findings as false or misleading.
And like Agran, attorneys and auditors with the city have accused the consultants of not cooperating with the audit, dragging it out and driving up the cost, which now stands at nearly $1.5 million.