So Much Pressure, So Little Time
An underwhelming crowd rattled around in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers Tuesday afternoon as the City Council, cross-dressing as the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority (OCFA) in a joint meeting of the two groups, attempted to shed some light on the current status of the Fairgrounds purchase. Fewer than 30 people attended this session, many of whom were staffers of the city or the potential operator, Facilities Management West. In one case, which will be covered later, a person had an identity crisis - not being sure just which side of the table she was representing.
WHERE WERE THE SPEAKERS?
An interesting sidebar to this meeting was the fact that not a single resident, supporter or opponent stood to speak about this issue during the Public Comments segment. I can't recall any meeting in which the Fairgrounds Sale was on the agenda that didn't evoke comments from more than a few people. It could have been the early hour, or perhaps the confusion about whether this meeting was a Study Session or not. Regardless, not a single voice was heard...
ROEDER LEADS THE TEAM
City Manager Allan Roeder, City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow and Councilwoman Katrina Foley led the discussion, supported by staff reports outlining details of the elements involved. I mentioned those in the last post. To refresh your memory, the issues are as follows:
Purchase & Sales Agreement
Prospective Land Use Regulation of the Orange County Fairgrounds Orange County Fairgrounds JPA - Rights, Authorities and Responsibilities
THEY'RE IN THE GAME TO WIN
I'm not going to try to condense more than two hours of dialogue into a few words, but a short summary statement might be: The City and Staff are continuing to work hard with Facilities Management West to make this process work, even though being faced with very vocal opposition, unrealistic pressure from The State and attempts to undermine their plans by a last-minute proposal by the Fair Board.
LAND LEASE DUE SOON
City Attorney Kim Barlow said that she hopes to have a red line copy of the land lease available for council and public review soon - perhaps as soon as the end of next week.
CLOCK TICKING ON LEGISLATION
Roeder emphasized that the pressure is still on because the legislation necessary for this sale to be consummated must be passed - with a 2/3 majority of the legislature - by August 27th, the date on which the legislature heads home to campaign for re-election.
MONAHAN REBUTS AFF
In his summary Gary Monahan rejected the allegation in the recent American Fairs and Festivals letter, which accused the City of abandoning it's stated goals, by stating categorically that we've met them all, then went on to list them.
FOLEY WORRIED ABOUT DUE DILIGENCE
Katrina Foley was extremely concerned about the Due Diligence issue. She felt that the City was not getting the information that Facilities Management West was accumulating while doing their due diligence, and that, should this sale fall through or if FMW fails to perform, we would be left with an information vacuum.
WHICH TEAM IS BAILEY-FINDLEY ON?
This line of discussion led to the disclosure that Becky Bailey-Findley was no longer working for the City, but was now an employee of Facilities Management West. You can read Mike Reicher's recent Daily Pilot article, HERE, that told us Bailey-Findley was considering the offer to be the interim leader of FMW's effort once the sale is completed. Mona Shadia, covering the meeting for the Daily Pilot last night, picked up on that issue and pursued it with Bailey-Findley following the meeting. Her article is HERE. Clearly, there is some confusion about just who she's working for now.
WHO IS PROTECTING THE CITY'S INTERESTS NOW?
I agree with Foley - the City was depending on Bailey-Findley to be our point person in this transaction and she apparently has now changed horses in the middle of the stream. Foley was tenacious in her belief that the City needed to have a person representing the City's interests in this process, to which Roeder replied that he didn't disagree with Foley and that they would try to identify one or more persons - it is assumed he meant current city staffers - to provide that kind of oversight and "shadowing" that Foley felt was necessary.
MANSOOR AND FOLEY SPAR - WHAT'S NEW?
As usual, there were fireworks between Foley and lame duck Mayor Allan Mansoor. During a discussion of the legislation Foley expressed a view that there were some in Sacramento who were reluctant to favorably consider the legislation because of recent actions the council had taken - obviously obliquely referring to Mansoor's ill-advised resolution to declare Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law City". You could see Mansoor bristle and, when Foley stopped to take a breath, he leaped in with his view that it was union influences that, in fact, were lobbying to stop the sale to save State jobs, not anything the council may have done. Clearly, he was trying to distance himself and his boneheaded resolution from any responsibility if the Fair sale gets quashed by the legislature.
RIGGY TODDLES IN AND NODS OFF
Speaking of politicians, our own carpetbagger, city council candidate and uber-politician, Jim Righeimer, managed to show up a little late for the meeting last night. He hunkered down in a seat all by himself along the far right aisle and promptly dozed off. His nap didn't last long though, because his cell phone rang and woke him up. Poor guy must be exhausted from all his campaigning. Of course, that marathon Planning Commission meeting the night before probably didn't help. More about that on another post.
WHAT ABOUT THE FAIR BOARD PROPOSAL?
Mansoor asked Roeder about the Fair Board's recent proposal, to which Roeder responded that he thought it was inappropriate to speculate about it in this forum. However, Monahan jumped right in and discussed some of the more objectionable parts of it - commercial development on four corners of the facility and the lack of local control if the State continued to own it. Foley supported his apprehension. It was clear that they felt keeping things as-is at the Fairgrounds is no longer a good option.
TURNING FOR HOME
Even though this process is at a critical juncture, the Costa Mesa team seemed optimistic about it's success. The deal could fall through if the parties can't agree on the terms of the land lease or if the legislature - for whatever reason - decides not to pass the necessary legislation in time. In the meantime, I see no rest for the parties in this deal for the rest of this month, at least.
AH, ABOUT THAT OTHER POST...
Oh, yes... about my previous post in which I postulated and opined that we all would be better off with the sale being stopped by the governor and the Fair Board and current Fair management permitted to move forward with their revenue sharing scheme.. I will leave you with the immortal words of dear, departed Gilda Radner, as Emily Letilla...