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'Larry Agran, Great Park Gangbanger: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire?'Roger Butow for Salem-News.com
Or "Larry (What, me worry) Agran: The Lesser of Feebles?"
(LAGUNA BEACH) - Larry Agran's dream is turning out to be Orange County's nightmare. Costs soaring, the promised pollyanna tax revenue for the County diving, it just gets worse by the day. The contaminant cleanup budget soars, removal progressing slowly and ineffective for water-borne pollutants migrating region-wide. Little or no preemptive risk assessment, no contingency or fallback strategy. No Plan B, Just Plan A(gran).
We need an OC Grand Jury intervention, and like Watergate, let's have the OC District Attorney's Office follow the money.
Irvine's chosen developer, Lennar Homes, has a decades long reputation and fiscal nationwide history rife with horror stories, vendor mischief and LLC bankruptcies, yet it continues to do business in spite of its ineptitude and lapses. The hyperbolic "Great Park", probably the bubble or wedge issue that seduced OC voters to side with the El Toro Reuse folks, only empowered Agran and the City of Irvine in the creation of a cash cow for their coffers.
The media seem to be getting hip to the scam after reading recent articles, and disturbingly, flim-flammed we were. Marketed as sort of "What's good for Irvine is good for the OC," Agran has gone down into his bunker, into damage control, and now he'd try the bold lie instead of the sublime: A la Alfred E. Neuman "What, me worry?", he claims that the evolving cleanup is the gold standard. No, he exhorts in denial, there were no surprises along the way. If not underground, what world IS this guy living in?
These are bald-faced lies. Not a week goes by without another shocking story of either fiscal, ecological or human health abuse by the media. As a Marine who served there in the 60's, as a water quality watchdog and concerned citizen, I attended the initial meetings of both The Great Park and MCAS El Toro rehab. The park started shrinking faster than the eye or mind could fathom, the costs of contaminant removal or remediation skyrocketed, the environmentally hazardous fallout rippling outward.
Now we see that Irvine took out a $100 million policy with AIG (Yes, Dorothy, THAT AIG) in 2005 to cover potential environmental litigation exposure through 2020. If the cleanup is the gold standard, why the insurance?
The recent revelations about stubborn Volatile Organic Compounds like TCE that still permeate the soil and aquifer are alarming and add insult to injury as Agran denies them. Spread via the drinking water system pumped from the aquifer wells provided at the site until its closure, TCE may have caused serious subsequent health problems for the Marines, their families, and the school system staff on the base. Marines who formally served there are doggedly investigating cancer clusters with El Toro potable water as the nexus, the same chemical scandal at USMC Camp Lejeune now entering a confrontational litigation phase in both the US Congress and North Carolina.
We as voters were suckered. We supported this base conversion only to discover Irvine seize 100% control, seeming to reflect their hidden agenda was to reap whatever financial rewards would come. Ultimately, local, state and US taxpayers may be forced to bail out this gang.
In the end, perhaps we chose the lesser of feebles.
Roger E. Butow is the Founder & Executive Director of Clean Water Now! You can send Roger an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org or drop him a line at:
Clean Water Now!
Here is a complete list of the articles that have been generated on the contamination of the former Marine Base at El Toro and at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina:
Follow this link to all of our stories about the Marine Corps and TCE
Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow, a professional environmental consultant. Written exclusively for the Salem-News, it's intended as the next evolutionary step on the path of an eco-warrior.
Roger is a Southern California native who spent his formative years as a racial minority: A blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer on the mean streets of the LA Harbor area. Running from gangs eventually trained him for his high school and collegiate track and cross-country career. Going to college part-time, disqualified for a student deferment, when his draft notice arrived in a fit of machisimo he joined the USMC in 1965, eventually attached to the 3rd Marine Air Wing.
Once honorably discharged, he resumed his college studies, majoring in philosophy. He dropped out in early 1972 when an opportunity to travel in Europe inexpensively for 6 months was too good to pass up. Upon returning, he and his former wife ended up in Laguna Beach, and though the marriage didn’t last his love of the place is in its 38th year.
Disgusted by chronic sewage spills and toxic urban runoff pollution that triggered constant beach closures in his area, he formed “Clean Water Now!” in 1998. Local surfers, skimmers and divers were pissed off, but there wasn’t a cohesive, unified and aggressive group response, zero leadership or activism facilitated by the Surfrider Foundation or Sierra Club regarding water quality impairment issues. You can write to Roger at: email@example.com
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