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Orange County Great Park CEO Mike Ellzey UnmaskedTim King and Roger Butow Salem-News.com
500 miles suddenly becomes a much shorter distance.
(IRVINE, Calif.) - The CEO of the 'Great Park" Corp. is charged with transforming a dangerous toxic Southern California military base, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, into a park for children and families. We suspected some time ago that Mike Ellzey may not be exactly who he says he is.
After all, who would have the conscience to head such a project?
New information about a plagued parking garage project in San Francisco involving millions in missing money, an underling serving out a prison sentence at San Quentin, and a trail of unanswered questions, including years of unpaid rent to the city of San Francisco, is Mike Ellzey's most recent professional legacy. 500 miles suddenly became a much shorter distance.
As outgoing Irvine City Council Member Christina Shea explained in a June 2010 interview with Salem-News.com, hundreds of millions of dollars once in place for the construction of the park no longer exist. While attempting to trace the missing funds, Shea says she has repeatedly been denied access to information. Shea says she had every right to see the numbers as a member of the Irvine City Council. Few would disagree.
What those missing hundreds of millions brought taxpayers, rather than a Great Park, is a mini-park with trees mounted in above-ground boxes, and a bright orange balloon that takes people into the air to see hundreds of acres of broken and destroyed buildings, and a once gallant flightline that now serves as a motorhome storage lot.
Shea said in June, "We only have $19 million left, so much has been spent on development, I honestly don't know what we are going to do."
Almost $240 million had existed to create the park. Beyond Ellzey, Irvine's pro-tem Mayor Larry Agran will eventually answer big questions about the missing money.
Now that officials in Bell, California have been fully exposed for financial malfeasance, perhaps it is time for the federal agents to direct their attention toward Irvine's Agran and Ellzey?
Our primary questions about Ellzey's past center around his public claims over having, as a Marine, accomplished tasks and filled roles that seem almost impossible. Fellow Salem-News.com writer Roger Butow and I both caught his unmistakable unsavory manner at an Irvine City Council meeting several weeks ago.
Roger attempted to hand Ellzey our research about the dangers of El Toro, an EPA 'Superfund' site, and he completely rejected the documents, showing us that he had no interest in the hard work of a group of former El Toro Marines whose information was more than on target.
That was the moment that we knew something wasn't right with Ellzey in particular.
So the word went out through several Marine Corps related channels that Roger and myself and other members of our group which we refer to as 'TET' for Team El Toro, are associated with. We advised that the team was seeking additional information about Mike Ellzey, and what Roger Butow described as "Ellzey’s gloriously embellished, tear jerker, self-aggrandized USMC history and service record."
For those who are wondering 'what the big deal is' about all of this, simply appreciate that Ellzey very clearly has used his illustrious 'Marine Corps past' to open doors and to justify his role as CEO of the Great Park. Surely, people probably thought to themselves, this man would do the right thing, after all, he was a Marine. It has worked until now.
In the meanwhile, the money for the park that came from the blood, sweat and tears of Orange County taxpayers, has been squandered.
Today we learned a great deal more about Ellzey's past, thanks to one of our contributors who has done a lot of ground work and general research for Salem-News.com stories, primarily related to our Civil Rights and Hate Crime investigation of Oregon's prisons. In this case our source switched gears from that beat and spent a great deal of time digging up the facts surrounding Ellzey's time heading a very controversial and less than successful parking garage project at one of the Bay Area's historic sites.
From our source:
Public trust is a very difficult thing to maintain when a person's actions are totally surrounded by allegations of wrongdoing. The base at El Toro has been closed for many years and at one point, there were plans to transform the toxic ground into a housing subdivision and, as the content of this article indicates, a 'Great Park' for the residents of Orange County. There were other promises. None have come to pass, and the awful orange balloon is a terrible spectacle that is suicidal in nature to any hope of positively showing the place.
History of Corruption in Orange County
All of this in Orange County, a massive government entity in California that actually had to file bankruptcy in 1994.
OC saw its former Sheriff-Coroner Mike Carona indicted by a federal grand jury along with his wife, and his alleged longtime mistress on corruption charges in 2007. He was convicted and sentenced to 66 months in prison which he has still not yet served.
Wikipedia explains how Carona received over $215,000 in pension checks in 2009, in spite of his felony conviction, as the county's retirement system faces a massive shortfall totaling $3.7 billion in unfunded liabilities. In fact, 'Carona the convict' is one of approximately 400 retired Orange County public servants who received more than $100,000 last year in benefits.
It seems the corruption is just rampant in this Republican stronghold of California, and one has to wonder if that was some kind of a draw card for Ellzey. Not the Republicanism, but the prominence of corruption. People in San Francisco do have a tendency to be less accepting of corruption and the press there tends to call it out more than those who write news behind the Orange Curtain. Interestingly, as our unnamed source reveals, the story that led to millions of missing dollars under Ellzey's watch, connects back to Salem, Oregon.
From our source:
Team El Toro is a cohesive group of El Toro Marine veterans aligned under Salem-News.com; anyone familiar with our work in this area knows that Salem-News.com writer Robert O'Dowd has written many stories about El Toro's contaminated wells and many other aspects of the base. John Uldrich has been working closely with the team since the beginning and former Marine officer Dave Bedworth has been extremely helpful, especially with his articles about another Marine base with the same type of deadly contamination; Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Perhaps because he is a tried and true water quality activist who lives in the immediate vicinity of El Toro and its related pollution, Roger Butow has been our most forward voice in this fight and he certainly is our point man.
Appropriately, Roger shares his thoughts and closes this article with several relevant points.
Ellzey should resign to remove the cloud of suspicion that is now stalled over the heads of the OC Great Park Board, he has become at minimum a distraction for an entity that has already endured enough CEO nightmares. Ellzey's hiring for the Great Park CEO position was a direct result of his supposed and highly publicized, highly praised prior leadership and incredible success in San Francisco. It's unclear whether Ellzey approved of or sponsored the hiring of Greg Colley as CFO, but that doesn't eliminate the atmosphere of contamination. Then too if this happened on Ellzey's watch he definitely can't be trusted any longer.
Like the former base itself, Ellzey is toxic, there is a type of guilt by association in this revelation. So what didn't Ellzey know and when didn't he know it? What does he know now that he has firewalled or hidden from the public about the finances and actual soil and water contamination? How can Ellzey be trusted with the oversight of billions of public funds at the Great Park if he was any part of such a colossal scandal involving far less money, is this the fox guarding the henhouse?
That SF project is not a stellar resumé stuffer.
Ellzey MUST have been subpoenaed and deposed by then SF District Attorney, now Attorney General Kamala Harris after his appointment to the OCGP position. Did he disclose this in 2008 to his godfather, Larry Agran, or to the OCGP Board members who failed at their due diligence and kept him aboard without a thorough background check?
Did he cut a deal, snitch out Colley and cut his own deal to avoid prosecution?
It's obvious that this former MCAS El Toro is not only a metaphorical graveyard of Marines and civilians who drank and bathed in the carcinogenic-laden water, but is cursed, hexed, under some evil spell. Maybe it's the ghosts of those whose health was severely affected, reaching out from their hospital beds and the grave for justice, just like the movie POLTERGEIST.
___________________________Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.
Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: email@example.com
Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow and his OMO columns are written exclusively for Salem-News-com. Born and raised in the LA Harbor area, son of a German immigrant father, he's been in Orange County for 45 years and is a 38-year resident of Laguna Beach, Ca. In 1998, he began his professional career in environmental review processes (CEQA, NEPA, MND, MND and EIR/EIS). He's a rare mix of cross-trained builder, writer and consultant as he brings his extensive construction experiences dating back to 1972 into his eco-endeavors. He has tremendous field and technical expertise in successful watershed restorations, plus wastewater, urban runoff, water quality monitoring/improvements and hydrologic mechanisms. He's built everything from commercial spas to award-winning private residences, and provided peer review and consultant analyses for single homes, subdivisions and upscale resorts.
His resumé is extensive, try an online GOOGLE search of his personal journey and historical accomplishments. His consultation fees are reasonable and if you've got a major project that alarms you, that needs creative intervention, then he's your man. His credentials and "CV" can be provided upon request.
Contact him at his office: (949) 715.1912 or drop him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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