Although typically considered routine, the consent calendar contained three items that caused a hubbub at Irvine's City Council meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway voiced his lack of support for creating a plaque honoring Planning Commissioner Mary Ann Gaido.
"I believe it's bad policy to establish a recognition plaque," he said. "I have nothing personal against Mrs. Gaido — she's a nice lady — but I think we have a wall of recognition designed specifically for this purpose."
He also said it is not good practice to commemorate a current city official.
The acknowledgment is intended to thank Gaido for her contributions to the city, which include pioneering open-space preservation efforts.
Councilwoman Beth Krom questioned Lalloway's voting record, pointing out that he had supported the motion when the council unanimously approved it last year. She also said that while Irvine is in possession of 16,000 acres of open space, Gaido is the one who got the ball rolling in 1981 by shaping city policies.
"We have many different ways that we recognize people in this community," she said, listing Clarence Nedom, Ethel Coplen and Judge David Sills as previous examples. "This seems to me a very reasonable recommendation."
Taking the microphone for the second time, Lalloway said the council had not approved the action in November, only asked city staff to investigate the matter and provide additional information for review.
"I try to personally be pretty relaxed about these matters," Councilman Larry Agran chimed in, adding that he had no objection to such initiatives so long as the stipulated venue was "appropriate" and the costs "modest."
The council voted 3 to 2, with Mayor Steven Choi and Lalloway dissenting.
Solar Decathlon and XPO
Lalloway also took to task a team representing the Great Park that expressed the need for event production and management services for the Solar Decathlon and XPO.
The council voted 5 to 0 to bring Flying Bull Inc. on board, in addition to Utopia Entertainment Inc., which is responsible for project management.
Upon Lalloway's request to differentiate between the two positions, Great Park Deputy Chief Executive Cliff Wallace said Utopia would serve as the "overarching manager of the entire project," while the staff-suggested Flying Bull, which has previously provided consultant services to the Great Park, would come in with "boots on the ground."
"These are the people who will be ... entering into the service contracts, the vendor contracts, and will be on the site for the duration of the entire event from tomorrow forward and the 34 days of the event," he said.
Lalloway, the Great Park board chairman, expressed chagrin over being left out when the request for proposal was circulated in late March. Flying Bull's management fee exceeds $324,000, and Lalloway said he has heard no explanation of what makes the company uniquely capable for the job over others that applied, such as James Event Productions and Utopia.
According to Wallace, Flying Bull has 15 months of relevant experience that includes working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and interacting with the 20 collegiate teams during their January visit. Its team is also the only one with a member who has attended a past solar decathlon, he said.
"In, I think it was either January or February, I asked the CEO what he needed from this council to put on a successful solar decathlon, and he said, 'All I need is a project manager,' and he went out to bid for that," Lalloway said.
Claiming to be stuck between "a rock and a hard place," Lalloway said the group's transparency is disconcerting.