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City’s RFP Process was Ignored in 2021. Now, Questions Continue to Swirl Around the Multi-Million-Dollar Contract Awarded for Electric Charging Stations at the Great Park.

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It’s now been 14 months since the Great Park Board of Directors — comprised of Irvine’s Mayor and four Councilmembers — threw aside the City’s standard “Request for Proposal” (RFP) process, voting to award a multi-million-dollar contract for vehicle electric charging stations to a company that was not recommended by the City staff.

Back in December 2021, City staff presented the Directors with the top two companies that had applied for a contract to install, operate and maintain electric charging stations at five large parking lots in the Great Park.

In a surprise move at that 2021 meeting, Councilmember Mike Carroll made a motion to disregard the City’s formal bidding process results and, instead, award the contract to Irvine-based Casco Construction, which was far down the list of applicants. In making the motion to award the contract to Casco, Carroll noted that Casco was promising the City more revenue —  $2 million annually — from the charging stations. This was much more revenue than promised by any other bidder.

Councilmember Tammy Kim seconded Carroll’s motion, but added an amendment insisting that the contract include Noodoe as Casco’s subcontractor to manufacture the charging units. Kim stated that Noodoe was an Irvine-based business and that the company deserved to be included in the contract because they had “chosen to be headquartered in Irvine.” Kim also stated that Noodoe would bring manufacturing jobs to the City.

Councilmember Larry Agran warned his colleagues that the City’s integrity regarding the formal bidding process would be compromised if the RFP results were cast aside. Agran said that the City’s entire RFP process would become suspect as being rigged, and that firms would be reluctant to even bother applying for future contracts with the City. Mayor Farrah Khan agreed.

The vote was 3-2, with then-Councilmember Anthony Kuo joining Carroll and Kim in voting YES while Agran and Khan voted NO.

We now know that the arguments in support of Casco and Noodoe from Carroll and Kim were misleading or false. It’s been 14 months since the contract was pushed through, and the charging stations have yet to be installed. Last July, during a City Council review of the project, City Manager Oliver Chi reported to the Council that Casco had revised its original $2 million-per-year projection of City revenue downward to just 5% to 10% of what was promised.

As for Noodoe, Councilmember Kim’s promise of electric charger manufacturing jobs coming to Irvine was flat-out false. Taiwan-based Noodoe has always handled manufacturing at their Taiwan factory. Even worse, the company moved its U.S. administrative office to Houston, closing its Irvine office and laying off the staff. This was happening the same month Kim was promising a boon in Irvine jobs.

Former Noodoe employees have accused the company of an array of violations regarding its operations. Irvine Community News & Views is currently investigating these accusations.

Roger Bloom

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