Tom Daly’s $10,000,000 Headache

Take two aspirins and call me in the morning...

Well, no that’s not quite right. Headache would imply that County Clerk Tom Daly cares he blew $2,100,000 of public money on a real estate venture and that it could cost another $7,600,000 to fix the problem; or that he is in any way worried about it. And why should he be? When there’s no accountability you never even have to say you’re sorry.

433 W. Civic Center Drive. The jewel in Tom Daly's crown.

Here’s the background. In 2007 Daly urged the purchase of the small office building at 433 West Civic Center Drive, in Santa Ana. The ostensible purpose of this acquisition was the expansion of the County Archives. Negotiations were approved by the Board of Supervisors in September, 2007. After several months of dickering and alleged property inspections, the County CEO and RDMD staff recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the purchase for $2.1 million. Staff recommended an “as-is purchase” with the caveat that the County Clerk would be paying for “minor repairs” and interior improvements; they noted blithely that the purchase price was below their appraised value for the building. Nothing was mentioned about inadequate space or building deficiencies. In fact the staff report claimed the building had been well-maintained.

An almost comical selling point was an alleged annual savings of $26,000 for parking paid by the County to private parking vendors. No one seemed to calculate the lost opportunity costs or even the interest value of $2,100,000.

The Board voted 3-0 to approve the purchase in January, 2008. Norby, Moorlach and Nguyen put their fingerprints on the deal.

Two years later the building still sits empty across the street from Daly’s office.  And the archives still sit where ever it is they sit, presumably more crowded than ever.

What happened? Could it be that the County Clerk is now wrestling with the embarrassment of how to deal with a massive boondoggle?

It turns out that the building in question was not fit for public occupancy. Apart from ADA issues, the structure is deficient, the basement is going to leak, and all of the building systems are all obsolete. It also turns out that the building is too small to do what it was bought to do.

In other words, the building is practically worthless; and plus demolition and paving costs, the County is now the proud owner of a $2,100,000 parking lot for a few dozen cars.

How and when did this painful realization occur? We’re not real sure about the chronology, but sometime in 2008 Daly hired a firm called Kishimoto Architects to look at the building and produce a feasibility report, after the building was purchased, with cost estimates for various alternatives.  The report, dated January 12,2009, proposed 3 approaches:

1. 2.8 million to remodel the building to make it usable; ADA, structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, replacement, etc.
2. 5.7 million to remodel as above, and expand the building to accommodate the proposed use.
3. 7.6 million to demolish the building and start over again.

Say what? $2.8 million to remodel a $2.1 million dollar building?! Option two – that included a remodel and expansion – seems highly unlikely given the price tag, the schedule delays and the embarrassing admission that nobody ever bothered to do a space/needs assessment in the first place. And of course #3 was even worse: starting over would jack the price up to nearly $10,000,000, and add years onto any occupancy schedule.

So there the building sits.

Is any of this really Daly’s fault? His few remaining adherents will argue that poor Tom was just the victim of staff incompetence. Blaming the staff that recommended that this turkey proceed is easy because they were obviously derelict in their appraisal and physical assessment of the property. And the two remaining supervisors who voted for this (Moorlach and Nguyen) have a responsibility to the taxpayers to answer for their employees and the waste of over $2,000,000; after all, they are “Supervisors.”

I was gonna put the sports hall of fame in the basement.

But ultimately Tom Daly is the chief architect of this fiasco, and to those who know how elected politicians apply pressure to the staff to get the recommendations they want, there can be little doubt that the County Clerk was likely pressing and probably pressing hard for his imperial expansion. The money had been budgeted and needed to be spent. So the staff either intentionally looked the other way or didn’t bother looking at all. In the final analysis Daly is an elected official and answerable to the voters.

It’s hard to say what will happen to this real estate jewel. It’s too expensive to knock down and too deficient to use. The site is too small to do much of anything with. In other words it’s a real headache. And it’s all ours.

Behind Closed Doors Setting The Bar Low Tom Daly

34 thoughts on “Tom Daly’s $10,000,000 Headache

    1. Sadly, the price of copper has fallen about 20% since the purchase of the building. So even the metal was a bad investment.

  1. What do you expect. The archives are run by a career political hack and a former newspaper reporter. Good luck with that combo!

  2. Wow, another one. I get the feeling that FFFF holds a salvo of these punishing exposés and lets one fly every time the Red or Blue county blogs get uppity.

  3. Way to go Tom Daly. What a Joke!

    I don’t blamed the Supervisors because they were mislead by Tom Daly.

    This is terrible news for the taxpayers.

    1. Not correct. The Supervisors have their own staff to analyze these agenda items. That’s why they are (supposed to be) there.

      That building was way over priced to begin with. Then the CEO and building department cleared it. The supervisors are in this up to their eyeballs.

      But there is no doubt in my mind that Daly was behind this. Still there’s plenty of shame to go around.

  4. Jennifer Muir I hope you are not hiding behind Jean Pasco.

    You are a reporter and the citizens in Orange County have the right to know. Do your job and don’t be afraid of Jean Pasco and Tom Daly.

    This is BIG news in Orange County and this such a waste of taxpayers money.

  5. The County has its own real estate department (http://www.ocpublicworks.com/ocrealestate/) that handles projects like this all the time. I would imagine Daly would have used them in the same manner that the sheriff would consult them if purchasing land. Was he trying to deliberately mislead the supervisors and the public or did he just manage to screw it up that badly?

    1. Greg, that’s the real point. How could the RDMD (as it was then known) have screwed up both the real estate deal AND the physical inspections so badly?

      Buying real estate “as-is”?

      So who pushed this through? The Supervisors vote yes on anything suppored by the staff. So how and why was this pushed through?

      1. Put your boots on and get your shovels…the stench is getting worse! I have a feeling there is more to the story coming out soon.

        Say, can We The People sue Daly for any of this? Probably not…

  6. “And the two remaining supervisors who voted for this (Moorlach and Nguyen) have a responsibility to the taxpayers to answer for their employees and the waste of over $2,000,000; after all, they are “Supervisors.””

    Is Norby, who also voted to purchase this building, now immune from responsibility because he has since been elected to higher office? I can’t wait for this issue to be addressed by this blog during his upcoming Assembly re-election campaign. If Chris Norby can help to waste ten million dollars of county money, imagine how much state money he can flush down the toilet.

  7. January 15, 2008
    Item 50

    The board put zero thought into this decision. But Moorlach did put considerable effort into kissing Daly’s ass before he voted.

  8. Oddly enough most cities and counties have libraries and community centers where archives and historical artifacts are commonly kept and displayed. Hey Tom, utilize the existing facilities that the tax payers have already financed. It seems you really want your name on a plaque outside of your new sports Hall of Fame and Archives. How pitiful, Daly needs to advertise that he did something.

  9. Wow! Moorlach does do some kissing up! And then NO ONE HAS ANYTHING TO SAY with NO staff report just Daly’s word that they need the space!!! Shame on ALL of them!

  10. Interesting, now I understand why they are talking 10 mil for the old YMCA that Santa Ana let go to pot. As part of the OC archives too.

    This is public funding of elections.

  11. Meanwhile, Chip Hanlon and friends type about John bohners golf swing and why they love him?????

    Keep up the good work FRIENDS, a word they will never understand at Red County.

  12. Matt Cunningham is political hack. He kisses Tom Daly ass. I think it’s pathetic to see Matt at republican events and here he is working behind the scene for Tom Daly.

    Anyone else who is wasting taxpayers money like Daly is doing, they would have been blasted by Matt. But people look at Red County bullshit blog and do you see any comments about Daly, of course not.

    Matt should be banned from blogging and he should not attend any Republican event.

    There is more to come for Daly. He made his bed and he will have to sleep in it.

      1. I’m down to peeking at them once a week because of the John Lewis shill Matt is.

        I do like to see Allan’s stuff but can’t take the rest of their shit they cram down your throat.

        Oh and the Liberal OC, wow. Like a couple of Jr High kids made a blog.

  13. Allan thank you for standing up to that Idiot Matt Cunningham who is a working puppet for Tom Daly.

    I thought Matt was a Republican?

  14. Although I’ve never commented on a blog before this sad story really has me upset. The enormity of this screw-up is so bad that it is almost beyond belief. But not quite.

    Until a couple weeks ago this guy Daly with the help of certain Republicans (who have spent a hypocritical lifetime propounding fiscal conservatism) was a candidate for the Board of Supervisors. Had he gotten on he might have been able to whitewash the whole deal.

    We can not let this man continue in public office. And the people who were supporting him for political reasons like John Lewis & Co. need to be fully exposed for the damage they are willing to inflict on the public for their own gain.

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