Larry Agran

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Larry Agran
Official City Portrait of Larry Agran.jpg
Member of the Irvine City Council
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 14, 2004
In office
December 8, 1998 – November 7, 2000
In office
July 10, 1984 – July 8, 1986
Mayor of Irvine, California
In office
November 7, 2000 – December 14, 2004
Preceded by Christina Shea
Succeeded by Beth Krom
In office
July 8, 1986 – July 20, 1990
Preceded by Dave Baker
Succeeded by Sally Anne Sheridan
In office
July 13, 1982 – July 10, 1984
Preceded by David Sills
Succeeded by David Sills
Personal details
Born Lawrence Alan Agran
February 2, 1945 (1945-02-02) (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Harvard University
Profession Politician, Lawyer and Legal scholar
Religion Jewish

Lawrence Alan "Larry" Agran (born February 2, 1945) is a former mayor of Irvine, California. Agran currently serves as a member of the City Council.

Early life[edit]

Agran was born in Chicago, the son of Selma and Reuben Agran.[1] He was raised in a "politically liberal Jewish household".[2] Agran graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in both history and economics. He then earned a Juris Doctor (with honors) from Harvard Law School in 1969, specializing in public interest law.

Agran served as Legal Counsel to the California State Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, and taught legislation and public policy at the UCLA School of Law and the University of California, Irvine Graduate School of Management.

City government[edit]

Between 1979 and 1990, he served on the city council, including 6 years as Mayor (Irvine employs a council-manager government).

Larry Agran rejoined the Irvine City Council and has, for many years, served as a city councilman; he chaired the City’s Great Park board until February 2011. (The board is charged with planning, constructing and operating a new park of nearly 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) at the former Marine Corps Air Base El Toro in Irvine.) The fully funded, nearly $70 million Great Park Western Sector Park Development plan is in its first phase, and the North Lawn multi-use area is expected to open to the public in spring 2011. Construction was about to begin in early 2011 on an arts and culture area, to be followed by construction of three lighted soccer fields. A leased agricultural area of 114 acres (0.46 km2) produced its first crop of strawberries and the newly opened Great Park Carousel had more than 25,000 riders in the first two months of 2011.

Presidential candidacy[edit]

In 1992, Agran unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for President. Agran was generally ignored by the media during his candidacy, a topic heavily covered in the 1995 documentary Spin. The media did not report his polling numbers even as he met or exceeded the support of other candidates such as Jerry Brown. Party officials excluded him from most debates on various grounds, even having him arrested when he interrupted to ask to participate. Even when he managed to join the other candidates in a forum, his ideas went unreported.

As mayor of the largest planned city in the United States, he entered the race but he had little media coverage. Ironically, despite holding only a local office and being little known outside California in a poll on January 22, 1992 he tied with two well-known national politicians: Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and the former Governor of his home state Jerry Brown.[3]

Some people, like ARG pollster Dick Bennett thought that, had that surprise strength in the polls been played up by news organizations the result might well have been a further rise in the polls.[3] However, Bennett said, the press completely ignored the story, and he began to sink.

Because of lack of coverage, Agran's early success would not help his campaign, and he remained little known.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors led to the first significant mention of his campaign in The New York Times. In a January 24 article, Richard Berke noted that, after listening to the candidates, "dozens of Mayors . . . seemed to agree on one thing: the single candidate who truly understands urban needs is Larry Agran".[4] Some major candidates also participated. Despite the fact that Agran was regarded by his colleagues as the most experienced in the urban area themes, his performance did not meet a big response in media.

According to Carole Florman, organizer of the Global Warming Leadership Forum in Tallahassee in February (in which Agran participated), "the audience "was more enthusiastic about Larry Agran than about Bill Clinton".[5]

Despite his success in these events, Agran performed poorly in the New Hampshire primary, but did pick up modest support in later primaries as a protest candidate with appeal to those unhappy with the other candidates[citation needed]. He received three votes at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Agran was barred from every TV debate along with some other minor candidates, such as Eugene McCarthy.

Mayor Agran's bid has been viewed as an example of an experienced candidate whose campaign was successfully stopped by the media.[6]

Return to city government[edit]

In 1998, Agran re-entered public service as an Irvine City Council member. Agran was elected to serve as mayor once more on November 7, 2000, and was re-elected on November 5, 2002. The current mayor of Irvine is Steven Choi. Agran continues to serve on Irvine's City Council.

Great Park Controversy[edit]

As an Irvine City council member, Agran served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Orange County Greak Park project from 2004 through 2010. In spite of $220 million in spending for the project, the promised Great Park remains incomplete.[7] An independent review by Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro Accountants (HSNO) in 2014 found that, in spite of being awarded large contracts, some contractors lacked "defined deliverables for tasks" and charged invoices for items out of the scope of the project, "at the direction of Larry Agran." Moreover, the communications firm Forde & Mollrich received between $50,000-$100,000 per month from the project, under contracts that were reserved for design services; they refused to speak to investigators about the contract, as did the employee who was responsible for their invoices.[8] Forde had previously served as a strategist in several of Agran's political campaigns.[9] Additionally, PR consultant George Urch was found to have performed services for individual city council members, including 387 hours for Larry Agran, 30 hours for Beth Krom, and 6 hours for Sukhee Kang, which were billed under to the project, but unrelated to its execution. Agran disputed these charges, arguing that they "made tremendous progress on the Great Park with an award-winning master design and projects completed on time... The audit has yet to reveal a single dollar that is unaccounted for or misspent." [9] The investigation is ongoing, and there will be an Irvine ballot measure on the November 2014 election seeking to establish policies relating to fiscal transparency and reforms for the Orange County Great Park project.[10]

Electoral history[edit]

Race for Mayor of Irvine, 2002[11]

  • Larry Agran (Nonpartisan) – 19,886 (53.39%)
  • Mike House (Nonpartisan) – 17,358 (46.61%)

NOTE: Although Agran is a Democrat, offices in Irvine are formally nonpartisan.

Race for Mayor of Irvine, 2000[12]

  • Larry Agran (Nonpartisan) – 34,905 (100.00%) (unopposed)

1992 Democratic National Convention

United States presidential election, 1992 (Democratic primary)[13]

Including write-in candidates.

References[edit]

External links[edit]