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.
PREVIOUS CONVERSATION WITH STEVE CRAIG
The evening of the 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.
ANOTHER CHAT FRIDAY
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. That was good to hear, since that's my goal with everything I write here.
RIGGY CONTACTED HIM ABOUT "COLLUSION"
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'S COLUMN IS ACCUSATORY
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 DENIES ANY WRONGDOING
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.
THIS HAS REEKED SINCE DAY ONE
Almost since the beginning of this whole "Fair Sale" imbroglio there has been the wiff of impropriety, at least. 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...
RIGGY SHOULD PUT UP...
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.
OR SHUT UP!
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?
CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
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 bankrupt 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.
WHO IS PROVIDING DIRECTION, AND WHY?
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...
STOP THE SALE, NOW!
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.