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Author: Roger Bloom

Mayor Khan and Her Council Majority Push Through Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in New Projects, Without Input from the Planning Commission … or Irvine Residents

During a contentious marathon meeting on September 27th, the Irvine City Council approved two controversial long-term contracts for facilities to be built in the Great Park.

On two 4-1 votes (Councilmember Larry Agran voted NO), the Council — sitting as the Great Park Board — approved a 40-year deal with USA Water Polo to occupy part of a proposed $80 million water polo & aquatic center; and a 50-year deal with Live Nation to operate a proposed $130 million, 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The actions came despite objections from residents that the agreements and supporting information totaling more than 600 pages were made public just a week before the Council meeting and were being pushed through without public review or input by the City’s Finance Commission, Planning Commission or Transportation Commission.

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The Irvine Cabal

When the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe of corruption in Anaheim burst into the news in May, the term “Anaheim Cabal” — a secretive, backroom group of business and government leaders — entered the political lexicon.

That FBI investigation also exposed an Irvine angle: A key witness was first arrested for allegedly plotting to bribe Irvine City Councilmembers to approve cannabis operations in Irvine; then, that same witness turned state’s evidence in the separate Anaheim investigation.

But subsequent revelations — and the work of local journalists to get to the bottom of some other issues in Irvine — hint at another backroom group pulling strings for their own benefit. Among Irvine City Hall insiders, it has become known as the “Irvine Cabal.”

A timeline outlines what has been uncovered by Irvine Community News & Views and other news organizations. The timeline includes gaps and raises more questions than it answers, but an array of facts show that something has been going on in Irvine for years that requires further investigation.

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The Latest from the Embattled OCPA

After promising to do better to keep residents informed regarding its operations, the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) waited until late Friday afternoon — just before the start of the Labor Day weekend — to release its 145-page board meeting agenda for Tuesday (September 6th).

During the September 6th meeting, the OCPA board grappled with yet another audit of the agency — this one by the County of Orange. The board also had to address questions regarding who can be a board member and how board members are selected.

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Irvine City Councilmembers Carroll, Kim and Kuo Under Scrutiny for Pushing Through Multi-Million Dollar City Contract for Electric Charging Stations

A contract rushed to a vote — in a surprise move by a 3-2 majority of the Irvine City Council back in December — has now come under scrutiny for irregularities in the bidding process and promises by the contractor that have failed to pan out.

Casco Construction was awarded a multi-million dollar contract to install, maintain and operate vehicle charging stations in five large parking lots at the Great Park, despite the fact that two other firms had been recommended by City staff following a formal bid process.

“Out of the blue, a couple of Councilmembers said they were interested in another bidder that was farther down the list,” Councilmember Larry Agran recalled of the December meeting. That bidder was Casco and, said Agran, “on the spot they voted to give the deal — a big deal — to Casco.” (Councilmember Agran and Mayor Khan voted against the deal.

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OCPA Provides Little Information to Ratepayers and City Officials

With the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) preparing to begin residential electricity service on October 1st, required notices are being sent out to Irvine residents.

However, the notices contain no understandable rate information and include scant mention of the right of ratepayers to “opt-out” of the new OCPA plan.

OCPA was originally billed by proponents —  Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilmembers Mike Carroll and Anthony Kuo — as being a cleaner and cheaper alternative to Southern California Edison (SCE), the utility that supplies power to the region. However, a rate structure unveiled by OCPA in January showed its customers will pay more than SCE ratepayers for the same percentages of clean power.

All Irvine ratepayers are going to be automatically switched to OCPA’s highest-paying rate plan in October, unless they exercise their right to opt for cheaper plans or “out-out” of OCPA altogether and remain with SCE.

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LATEST COVID-19 STATS

667,783

Cases in OC

 

147

Now Hospitalized

 

7,450

Deaths in OC

 

49,802

Cases in Irvine

 

183

Deaths in Irvine

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