By Kimberly Pierceall
IRVINE – A dispute over Great Park spending records is headed to court.
Irvine plans to argue in Superior Court that public relations firm Forde & Mollrich should turn over financials demanded by auditors investigating Great Park contracts. A principal with Forde & Mollrich, long criticized for its $100,000 a month no-bid contract to boost the Great Park’s image, has said the information is proprietary and has disagreed with charges that the firm has been uncooperative.
The City Council voted unanimously 5-0 Wednesday to take the firm to court if necessary to compel partner Stu Mollrich to hand over financial information sought by auditors and to undergo a second sworn deposition. Auditors recommended both of those events occur by Aug. 29. Mollrich didn’t attend Wednesday’s special meeting.
The council appeared to agree for different reasons, though.
“We need to know if Irvine has been cheated,” said Mayor Steven Choi, when discussing why the action was necessary. Council members Jeff Lalloway and Christina Shea agreed that the firm had been uncooperative, the dispute needed to be settled and the firm’s actions are what had caused the audit’s cost to keep rising. The audit has cost the city $1.08 million since June 2013.
Councilman Larry Agran, though, said the audit“does need some adult supervision,” namely a judge who could settle the issue.
Forde & Mollrich was paid $7.2 million between July 2005 and January 2013 for its work on the Great Park. Its fee had been reduced from $100,000 to $50,000 a month in 2012. The firm’s contract was terminated last year.