Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fairgrounds Sale Back At Full Boil

I'd planned to let the Fairgrounds auction issue simmer in the background over the weekend, but events have occurred that cause me to, once again, address the subject with you.

The evening of th
e 14th I wrote about my long conversation with Steve Craig, President of Craig Realty Group - the successful bidder for the Fairgrounds at $56.5 million. I won't attempt to rehash that conversation - you can go back and read what I wrote by scrolling down.


Friday afternoon Craig called me again for another little chat. He told me that he thought my representation of our conversation was accurate and balanced. T
hat was good to hear, since that's my goal with everything I write here.


He went on to tell me of a contact he'd had from "
A Daily Pilot reporter", who turned out to be Jim Righeimer, who apparently called him with questions about possible collusion in the bidding process. He thought that was strange, as do I. However, the story gets stranger.


Riggy, in his Daily Pilot column this morning entitled "Fair deal gets even stranger" comes right out and implies that someone at the Department of General Services leaked some bid information to other bidders, which affected the outcome of the auction!

Craig and I had a long conversation about this issue and he affirmed for me that neither he nor his partner in this venture, sports agent Dwight Manley, had any contacts with any of the other bidders prior to the opening of the bids. He vehemently denied any collusion in the sale process.


Almost since the beginning of this whole "Fair Sale" imbroglio there has been the wiff of impropriety, at lea
st. The creation of the Fair Board Foundation; the hiring of former State Senator Dick Ackerman to apparently lobby Sacramento to sell the Fairgrounds; the hasty abandonment of the Foundation by several members when the light of day was shined upon them; the decision of the State Attorney General to not represent the Fair Board in legal action that might occur with the Fair Sale and on and on, all just didn't pass the smell test. Many folks who have expressed themselves about the Fair Sale on this blog, in the Daily Pilot, in the Register and elsewhere could smell the pungent odor of malfeasance from a long way off. Now comes Riggy's accusations...

In my opinion, if Riggy has evidence or testimony by one or more of the bidders that confidential information was leaked prior to the auction he is obligated to turn that information
over to the State Attorney General's office for investigation. If this auction was rigged in any way, shape or form those involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And, the whole auction should be declared void and the sale canceled.

If Riggy doesn't have such information/evidence then he should shut-the-heck up. His innuendo potentially exposes him and the Daily Pilot to
serious legal issues. This behavior certainly makes one curious about Riggy's role in this whole issue, doesn't it?


If this sale goes through and Craig and his group take title to the Fairgrounds next November, there are going to be several times when they will present issues to the Costa Mesa Planning Commission for consideration. This, as I see it, is going to be a big problem from a conflict-of-interest standpoint. Although Craig has told me a couple times that he doesn't know Steve Mensinger and Jim Righeimer (until this situation yesterday), his company had business dealings with the ba
nkrupt SunCal Companies - where both men work. That's going to have to be sorted out well in advance of ANY contact by Craig with the Planning Commission.

As the Fairgrounds Sale issue moves along it
's course it seems to have some curious, and maybe illegal, influences providing it with direction. Somebody needs to investigate...


In the meantime, we ALL need to contact the governor and our legislators and urge them to quash this sale. As each day passes it seems to have new, messy elements coming to light. It needs to be stopped right now.

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Blogger Leucadia Blog said...

I requested a copy of the fairgrounds operations and cap. improvement budgets. I got zero response. Does anyone have a digital copy of those documents and willing to share?

1/16/2010 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger G. Ridge Studio said...

Is Riggy growing a beard? Is that to change his appearance so we won't recognize him. I told him on a couple occasions that the " achilles heel" to his scheme to sell the fairgrounds to local control was somebody else winning the bid. Now that, that occured, he sits there blinking, "What Happened?".He needs to be run out of our local politics. He shouldn't even be " Dog Catcher".

1/16/2010 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Leucadia, can't help... perhaps others can.

G.Ridge Studio, I think Riggy's going for the "Gary Monahan" look... :-) If you watched the last Planning Commission meeting you may have noticed that he seemed way off his game - distracted. His position and actions in the Fairgrounds case may have been his local political Waterloo. Perhaps he should pack his own personal agenda nicely in his carpetbag and head for more gullible pastures - Stanton or Midway City.

1/16/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

I have had EXTENSIVE experience recently with DGS. I can honestly tell you that at the staff level you will not find a more straight forward and honest group of people. There is absolutely no possibility I would believe anyone at that level would leak information on any sort of bid.

I can't vouch for management at DGS other than to say that in my experience a government agency's staff generally reflects the values of their leadership. In my business we only deal with government agencies.

Because of all of that, Jim's assertion strikes me as odd. I am not saying it couldn't or didn't happen. I am only saying my experience with DGS makes that hard for me to believe.

What I would find less difficult to believe is that once the competitors were identified, one or more participants may have changed their strategy. Of course here is where Jim has vastly more experience than I have and this is just what makes sense to me.

1/16/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, thanks for that valuable input. I'm not sure what Riggy is up to with his column... maybe he feels marginalized and wants to keep his profile high for another run at a City Council seat in November.

1/16/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Mesa North said...

If you are so fair and balanced, why didn't you call Jim for his side of the story/information? You just read his article and, as usual, use him as your favorite punching bag. Maybe one of the reasons why Craig thought this blog was so "balanced" is because you are blatantly biased against Jim. There's a lot more to this story and you need to read more between the lines. You even say yourself "I am not sure what Riggy is up to with his column," alluding that you do not grasp or know the full story. If you are going to claim you are “fair and balanced,” then do your homework and put in the call to get the other side of the story.

1/18/2010 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, CM Mesa North, Riggy had already published his column with insufficient data and plenty of innuendo. One should not have to "read between the lines" in a column. If he has information he should provide it. If he doesn't he should shut up! It's really simple, but perhaps not simple enough for you. And, by the way, he's not called me, even though he has my number. Guess it's not important to him.

1/18/2010 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Farve keeps getting better w/ age said...

Pot Stirrer-- what is getting even stranger is jim righiemer. first, in my lowly opinion, he was for the sale,then he turned it around and appeared as if he was against, yet he was allegdedly heard, in some circles, that he was still for the sale, and the sale could cure our state's budget crisis. second, he was m.i.a at the auction. third, there is a rumor about town that an "official" of costa mesa contacted sacramento and said he was for the sale; many feel that "official" was righiemer. lastly, righeimer wrote this article in the dp, where he nows sees himself as an investigative reporter, and casts some rather serious allegations that bidder information was leaked. so i am wondering if this is a sort of red herring to get voters to forget his initial stance on the sale.

1/18/2010 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

F.K.G.W.A, your timeline is interesting. Who the heck knows what motivates that guy? I would like NOT to be suspicious of his motives, but history doesn't provide much confidence...

1/18/2010 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Mesa North said...

Geoff - the reason why you have to read between the lines is because you can't flat out say collusion or else you can have a mess on your hands, and my guess is that The Daily Pilot would not print that in the article because it is too much risk for the paper. It still does not detract from the fact that you didn't do what you represent of "fair and balanced," blogging and call Jim up to get the scoop. Why does he have to call you before YOU write and post your blog? Did you call him in the first place before you posted your blog? Don't assume everyone reads your blog, especially if you regularly use him as a punching bag.
And while I appreciate you classifying this issue as simple, you are way off. There's many layers to this story, from Ackerman the Idiot all the way to DGS and collusion.

1/18/2010 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Look, anonymous CM Mesa North, my point is that Riggy shouldn't have implied collusion if he didn't have evidence to support it. I don't portray this blog as "fair and balanced" - Craig used that term when he described my account of our conversation. This blog is my OPINION, as it says right at the top.

I don't have an obligation to call Riggy for comment when I'm offering my observations on something he's written - it's already out there for interpretation. If he doesn't like my interpretation he knows how to reach me, which is what I would prefer instead of having a lackey run interference for him.

I don't assume ANYONE reads this blog. Those who do read it regularly know what to expect and I hear from those folks frequently when they disagree with my OPINION.

The issue is VERY simple - Riggy wrote what he wrote, period. If you feel there is more to the story and can document it, send me the information...

1/18/2010 03:10:00 PM  

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