Bailey-Findley's Status Confirmed & Dodging Grenades
Following last night's meeting of the Joint Powers Authority - the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority - in a joint meeting with the City Council, which is really the same five people meeting with themselves, there was much confusion about the role of former Fairgrounds CEO Becky Bailey-Findley.
MONA SHADIA'S EARS PERKED UP
Daily Pilot reporter Mona Shadia picked up on Katrina Foley's comment that "she doesn't work for us any more" - which received no clarification at the time - and approached Bailey-Findley about it after the meeting. All the other parties had scampered off to a closed session in another venue, so they were not available for comment. Bailey-Findley told Shadia that she was confused, because she left on vacation a couple weeks earlier as an employee of the City and returned assuming she was still employed. Some clarifications here - she's been a consultant to the City during the negotiations of the purchase of the Fairgrounds, not an employee per se.
VOICE OF OC CHIMES IN
Norberto Santana, editor of the Voice of OC news source has posted a couple of stories since the meeting last night. The first, "More Twists and Turns Than the Tilt-a-Whirl", HERE, among other things, amplified the confusion by quoting Katrina Foley and acknowledging that nobody on the dais corrected the record. His second article, "Bill That Was Supposed To Save Fair Now Might Take It Away", can be found HERE.
ROEDER TAKES THE BLAME
My message to City Manager Allan Roeder late last night went unanswered until late this afternoon, following the issuance of a Press Release that clarified the issue of Bailey-Findley's employment. You can find that pdf. file by clicking HERE, then selecting the press release from the roster to the right of the page if it doesn't automatically open for you. I subsequently had a telephone conversation with him, during which he re-affirmed that he felt it was his fault that the confusion existed last night. He made that point clearly in the press release. He said he should have immediately clarified Bailey-Findley's status when the issue first came up at the meeting.
MONA SETS IT STRAIGHT
Also this afternoon Shadia wrote another article, following confirmation by Roeder, that nicely wraps up this issue. You can read her article HERE.
BECKY'S OUR GAL UNTIL HER JOB IS DONE
In a nutshell, Becky Bailey-Findley remains a contracted consultant to the City and will wrap her duties for the City in this matter before entering into any further conversations with representatives of Facilities Management West about potential future employment as their interim CEO should the sale of the Fairgrounds go through.
DUE DILIGENCE STILL PROBLEMATIC
I'm afraid I must join Foley in her apprehension about the City's ability to perform it's due diligence. The City, after all, is the actual purchaser of the property even though FMW will provide all the cash and be on the hook for all the financial risk. As Foley stated last night, if this deal fails for some unanticipated reason, if we have not done OUR due diligence we would be left at an extreme disadvantage.
Discussions about a "shadow management" approach - "our" person shadowing the current management of the Fairgrounds to facilitate a smooth transition - took some discussion on the dais last night. In his article Santana mentions that the current Fairgrounds CEO Steve Beazley has not been forthcoming providing requested information and access to employees and the grounds because the State has not authorized it. This was all part of the original proposal to the State, which we are told had been accepted so we could perform the due diligence mentioned above.
As mentioned by Foley last night, there are plenty of constituencies trying to get this deal killed. It's an interesting enigma, since almost all of them joined the City in it's early efforts last year to have the sale killed, but now many of them stand against the City in it's efforts to save the Fairgrounds. It certainly seems that there are plenty of people tossing grenades into this process. For example, Santana mentions a coalition of former Fair Board members, led by Orange County Democratic Party chief Frank Barbaro, who are using their considerable political influence to scuttle the deal. We have less than two weeks in which to convince the legislature to pass the bill necessary for this sale to be consummated and to finalize the ground lease with FMW. Otherwise, the legislature will not convene again until after the November election and this deal, for all practical purposes, is toast. Nobody knows what the new governor will do, if anything, about this mess.
ONE FORTNIGHT TO GO
So, for the next two weeks the lights will burn late into the night at City Hall as our negotiating team tries to salvage this deal and protect the Fairgrounds with the only deal left that will do that.