Review of about 275 invoices shows some funds spent on meetings, trips and multiple event managers.

solar-event-vienna-team
Team Austria: Vienna University of Technology’s members give tours of their solar house during a media tour of the Solar Decathlon event in early October.

INVOICE INSIGHT

Of some 275 invoices for Solar Decathlon and XPO work, below are examples of where some of the $4 million went:

$200

10-inch detachable arrows to attach to signs

$1,438

Midmorning snack for a January 2013 event (that followed a $3,968 private breakfast for at least 50 people)

$2,000

Fee for a public relations writer who wrote a cover story for Green Builder Magazine

$2,000

Face-painting by four face painters for four hours during the event

$2,413

Great Park External Affairs Manager Tim Shaw’s trip to Madrid to visit Solar Decathlon Europe

$3,840

1,000 solar-powered pedometers to give away for marketing

$4,425

Great Park CEO Mike Ellzey’s flights and hotel for a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Department of Energy and a flight to San Francisco to meet with WRNS, the park’s design contractor

$5,800

Irvine Spectrum advertising; Irvine Co. was also a sponsor of the event

$6,545

MCK Associates, a Great Park project manager, for hours worked for event planning, management

$52,330

Forde & Mollrich PR work from June 2012 to January 2013

$54,000

Sponsorship outreach by San Clemente-based Kanatsiz Communications including contacting corporations, billionaire Elon Musk and Taylor Hicks. It wasn’t clear in the invoices if it was the “American Idol” winner.

$188,356

Utopia Entertainment for project management

$2.3 million

Flying Bull, the Great Park’s go-to event coordinator, for project management

Source: City of Irvine invoices, OC Register

What did it take to host teams of college and university students for a 34-day international competition to build the best solar-powered house?

Close to $4 million, according to invoices for the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO. That doesn’t include the hours of time numerous city and Great Park staff members spent on the event, primarily Director of External Affairs Tim Shaw originally and later Deputy CEO Cliff Wallace, who oversaw much of the event’s coordination.

Shaw resigned in January 2013 shortly after the City Council’s political leanings shifted and an emphasis was placed on reducing spending at the park and focusing on construction.

The Orange County Register/Irvine World News reviewed about 275 invoices submitted to the city for work related to the decathlon and XPO.

The city and Great Park offset costs by raising $2.4 million in grants, including an initial $1 million award from the Department of Energy, cash sponsorships and parking revenue.

But the impact to the Great Park’s budget is anticipated to be $1.4 million, a park spokesman said. A presentation is expected to be made Jan. 28 to the City Council.

Jeff Lalloway, city councilman and chairman of the Great Park board since January 2013, said he was unaware of some of the work that was among the hundreds of invoices and the total cost until he was reached by phone.

“The Great Park will have to make a final determination as to whether or not it was worth it to host the Solar Decathlon as it was approved. My initial feeling is $1.4 million is an awful lot for an event of this type,” he said. “We need to do an analysis, a final analysis, of all of the expenditures to determine their reasonableness.”

Much of the funds spent were reserved for event management, but invoices show at least three different companies were billing time as project or program managers. Flying Bull earned $2.3 million, Utopia Entertainment earned $188,356 and MCK Associates earned $6,545.

By the time Flying Bull had been awarded a project management contract, it already had earned $125,060, invoicing 20 percent of its monthly $10,000 contract and submitting hours for Solar Decathlon-related events.

In addition, much of the event’s marketing, public relations and fundraising was outsourced to other firms.

Fundraising consultant Chora LLC billed 50 percent and then 100 percent of its weekly conference calls with the Great Park at $180 an hour. The Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm earned $111,607 between mid-2012 and mid-2013 for the calls as well as fundraising outreach and an economic impact study.

A public relations consultant was paid $2,000 for writing a cover story in Green Builder Magazine. Source: OC Register

KComm, or Kanatsiz Communications based in San Clemente, earned $54,000 for its fundraising efforts, which included contacting billionaire Elon Musk and arranging a meeting with Taylor Hicks. It wasn’t clear if it was the former “American Idol” contest winner.

Forde & Mollrich, a longtime Great Park public relations and marketing contractor, billed $52,330 to the Solar Decathlon before its contract was terminated by the council in a 3-2 vote in January 2013.