O.C. REGISTER: Great Park contractors’ ties revealed in latest Irvine deposition

By Sarah de Crescenzo

IRVINE – A partner in the public relations firm that promoted Irvine’s Great Park paid the company overseeing the Great Park design to also oversee construction at his Laguna Beach home, the latest deposition in the Great Park audit reveals.

This came out when Anthony Taylor, special counsel to the city on the audit of the more than $200 million spent on the park, spoke last month with former Mayor Sukee Kang.

The 117-page transcript was released earlier this week.

Kang, an Irvine councilman from 2004 to 2008 and Irvine’s mayor from 2008 to 2012, brought two attorneys to the Feb. 18 deposition, which lasted for about three hours.

A portion of the deposition covered project management firm Gafcon Inc.’s relationship with Stu Mollrich, a partner in public relations firm Forde & Mollrich, a Great Park subcontractor that answered to the Great Park Design Studio, a collaboration between Gafcon and landscape architect Ken Smith.

Kang said he was unaware of the agreement between Mollrich and Gafcon to oversee work on at least one Laguna Beach property.

“…(At) any point in time, did Stu Mollrich tell you that Gafcon was doing work on his two homes in Laguna Beach starting in 2008?” Taylor said.

Kang: “No.”

Taylor “Does that surprise you?”

Kang: “Yes.”

During the meeting, Taylor said the Laguna Beach construction was underway at the same time as the Great Park design work.

In a statement given the day after Kang’s deposition, City Manager Sean Joyce said the city had relied on the Great Park Design Studio to “oversee work done by Forde & Mollrich,” a subconsultant of the Design Studio — and had relied on both the Great Park Design Studio and Forde & Mollrich to “fully disclose all potential conflicts of interest” before the City Council approved any contracts or change orders involving them.

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