Friday, April 23, 2010

Eric Bever Is An Incompetent Buffoon

BEVER WHAT?
Late this Friday afternoon Mona Shadia wrote an article in the Daily Pilot entitled, "Costa Mesa Councilman Withdraws Support For City Proposal to Purchase OC Fairgrounds". You can read the entire text HERE. She followed it up with another article later this evening, "Bever out of Fair Pursuit", HERE, which includes the complete text of Bever's letter.

HE CHANGED HIS MIND?

In a nutshell, Councilman Eric Bever has apparently had second thoughts about supporting the
City's proposal as presented to representatives of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday by City Manager Allan Roeder, Councilwoman Katrina Foley and Councilman Gary Monahan despite the fact that the document carried his signature along with those of all other members of the city council.

HIS LOW WATER MARK

Of all the stupid, boneheaded things Bever has done since he was elected to the city council, this one is his low water mark. His explanations as provided in the article in the Daily Pilot are lame and completely insufficient for such an action.

ABSENCE, DISTRACTION, BOREDOM
In recent months Bever has been absent from the council meetings frequently and when he's been in attendance seemed distracted and bored - his participation has been lackluster, to be generous. More often than not his "contribution" to the debate of issues was prefaced by one of his many, many lame attempts at humor. Seldom did he contribute anything of substance to the discussions and frequently went into a pouty funk when his ideas were rejected.


BEVER'S CONTRIBUTIONS ALMOST NON-EXISTENT

On the subject of the purchase of the Fairgrounds, Bever's public pronouncements in open session were almost non-existent. For him to now withdraw his support for the proposal by the City to purchase the Fairgrounds after having been a signatory to the agreement this week clearly demonstrates that he is an incompetent, irresponsible, obtuse knucklehead and completely unworthy of the office he holds.

WHAT CAUSED HIM TO CHANGE HIS MIND?
The question of the day is, what caused Eric Bever to change his mind? What new information has come to light that made him take such an overt, peculiar step? Is it possible that someone with a political objective has swayed him? Might that person be one who feels slighted in the "process" and is trying to do his best to "blow up" the deal? These are questions worth asking, in my opinion.


IT'S TIME TO RECALL BEVER

It makes me cringe when I think of him on the city council for another two and a half years, running roughshod with the Brown Act and providing capricious, immature leadership to our city. It may be time to mount a recall effort and get Bever off the dais before he does even more serious damage to our city.

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Fairgrounds Drama Continues

MEDIA ABUZZ
The local new
s media is all abuzz today with quotes from local stakeholders expressing apprehension and uncertainty as we all wait for the State to make up it's mind on the City's proposal. Fairgrounds employee groups express concern for their jobs if the deal goes through. Vendors express concern about long-term arrangements and about the possibility of having to relocate their operations to another venue. And, of course, the Emperor Larry Agran rejects any speculation that he might "cherry-pick" certain operations for his struggling Great Park. Yeah, right, Larry... we believe you - NOT!

LOCAL COVERAGE

You can read Mona Shadia's Daily Pilot coverage HERE, and Ellyn Pak's coverage in the Orange County Register HERE.

VOICE OF OC - "BOARDS DAYS ARE NUMBERED"

Perhaps the most interesting coverage was the Voice of OC article by Norberto Santana,
Jr. this morning, HERE, in which he speculates in print what many of us have been privately, and not so privately, been saying - that the days of the current Fair Board may be numbered. He, and others, have observed that the instructions from the governor's office to Board President Kristina Dodge to pull the items dealing with salvaging the Fairgrounds for the state from Thursday's agenda was a clear vote of no confidence in the Board. Member David Padilla agreed with that observation.

SPECULATION RUNS RAMPANT

So, while we all hum the Jeopardy! theme waiting for the governor to make up his mind on Costa Mesa's offer, the speculation about the future of the Fair Board, regardless how the decision goes, and whether Agran and his Great Park mob will try to yank prime pieces of the Fairgrounds pie down to his venue runs rampant.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Profit Sharing Scheme Pulled From Fair Board Agenda!


FAIR BOARD SCHEME FOR PROFIT SHARING PULLED
Just heard from a source at the Fair Board meeting this morning that item 8A on their agenda, has been pulled by CEO Steve Beazley. This is great news because it seems that somewhere - perhaps 500 miles north - wiser heads may actually prevail on this issue.

NO WORD ON CLOSED SESSION ITEM FOR PURCHASE
No word on whether item 9A, the closed session item involving consideration of purchasing the Fairgrounds, was pulled as well.

According to my source, the meeting room was standing room only - packed with Fair employees and media.
I'll report more when I know more.

Keep the faith that the Fair Board won't further muddy the waters for the City's proposal presented yesterday.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Costa Mesa's Fairgrounds Offer Revealed


WHAT PRICE THE FAIRGROUNDS?
How much is the Orange County Fair and Events Center worth? Well, we know the State thinks it's worth more than the $56.5 million offered by Steve Craig and Dwight Manley. Soon we will find out if they think it's worth $96 million, because that's what the City of Costa Mesa offered for the property today.


SACRAMENTO MEETING WAS "VERY POSITIVE"
According to the press release distributed this afternoon, the team of City Manager Allan Roeder, Councilwoman Katrina Foley and Councilman Gary Monahan hand-delivered a proposal to Sacramento today that offered to pay precisely that amount for the land and "personal property" at the site. Foley is quoted as saying "We had a very positive meeting. We gave the Governor's representatives our word that the City of Costa Mesa is committed to buying the OC Fairgrounds." Monahan said, "The meeting went very well. We are moving forward to formalize the sale of the fairgrounds to the City of Costa Mesa." Roeder, the chief negotiator for the City, added, "We've worked very hard to get to this point and we will finish what we started."

SUMMARY OF THE OFFER
Attached to the press release was a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dated today which outlined the City's proposal. Terms included:

*An offer to purchase the site for $96 million;

*A commitment by the City to close the purchase no later than October 31, 2010;

*A draft Purchase and Sale Agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the transaction;

*Information on public and private sector entities interested in participating with the City in completing this transaction;

*The City's original Letter of Intent to purchase the OC Fair & Event Center; and

*The City Attorney opinion regarding the constitutional obstacles that must be resolved to execute a promissory note.

Further, the proposal outlined actions they felt both the City and the State must undertake in order to execute the Purchase and Sale agreement. Those are:

State Actions
1. Identification of Personal Property included in the sale as included in the Purchase and Sale Agreement as Exhibit B;

2. Approval by the 32nd District Agricultural Association Board of Directors of the sale of the personal property;

3. Vetting of the Purchase and Sale Agreement by the appropriate State authorities:

4. Legislation enacted to authorize sale of the site and designation to the City of Costa Mesa as the 32nd District Agricultural Association; and

5. Lifting of current operation limitations currently imposed on the OC Fair & Event Center, specifically booking and contracting for events past October 2010, subject to City Council approval, so that the upcoming OC Fair and the events program may perform at 100% capacity.

City of Costa Mesa Actions
1. Complete inspections, investigations, and audits as outlined in the Purchase and Sale Agreement;

2. Finalize the financing mechanism required by constitutional law and the operating entity for the business;

3. create the legal entity that will hold title to the property; and

4. Approval by the City Council through legally required public process of all agreements related to and necessary for the execution of the transaction.

The letter went on to say that the City is agreeing to buy the property as is, with the understanding the City will conduct inspections and evaluations of the real property and the personal property being purchased and guarantees that it will accept the property so long as there is no event or condition which would cost the City more than $4.8 million to correct within a year after purchase. As an alternative to this provision, the State could promise that there is no condition affecting the property being purchased that would cost the City more than $4.8 million to correct in that period of time, with a remedy for any violation of that promise.

Whew! I highlighted some points I found particularly interesting, especially that one in number 3 above.

TIME TO REST!
OK... long-winded, for sure, but the package has been delivered and our team may now take a deep breath and, hopefully, get some rest. No timetable for a reply to this proposal was indicated, however, time certainly is of the essence.



THE MONKEY WRENCH IN THE WORKS

And, there is always the other shoe waiting to drop - the meeting tomorrow by the Fair Board in which it will consider two separate items on it's agenda designed to head off any sale of the Fairgrounds. Since we've been told that the State knows they are considering such an action, it seems very unlikely that any decision will be made until and unless the Fair Board makes it's own pitch. That's a shame. I still think the Fair Board's action tomorrow is simply a last-minute attempt to retain their jobs and influence. We'll see.

THANK YOU, AGAIN
One more time, thank you from all of us out here to all those members of the city staff, consultants and our elected officials who worked so diligently to arrive at this moment. We know you gave it your very best and, at least from this tax payer, your efforts are much appreciated.

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The Demise Of The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice

R.I.P.

MORE NEWS FROM TOM JOHNSON

My friend, Tom Johnson, gave me a call today to provide me with a little more information about the pending demise of the Newport-Mesa Daily Voice after ten months of operation and the launch of the brand new Newport Independent.


PUBLISHER OF TWO NEW ENTITIES

Tom has joined Firebrand Media in Laguna Beach and will be the publisher of the Laguna Beach Independent and the soon-to-be-launched Newport Beach Independent. The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice will be acquired by Firebrand in this process and will be folded up although many of the features of the Daily Voice will be perpetuated in the Newport Independent.

NO COSTA MESA COVERAGE PLANNED NOW
According to Tom, there are no plans for Costa Mesa coverage by the Newport Beach Independent, which will be a one-day-a-week print publication (Fridays) and 24/7/365 online entity. The Independent will be available at news racks around Newport Beach - it's a freebie - and may be available via subscription for home delivery, too. That model would charge enough for the subscription to cover delivery costs and a slight amount more, which would be distributed to a few select non-profit organizations.

ROGER BLOOM AS EDITOR
Tom is currently building a staff. He just hired Roger Bloom as Editor. Bloom has the chops for this gig - he worked at the Daily Pilot and the Register in years past and more recently was the Managing Editor of the Orange County Business Journal. Tom is excited to have a man of Bloom's experience on his team to help him get this new publication off and running. They are in the process of adding a reporting staff.

LOBDELL NOT A PART OF THIS ENDEAVOR
William Lobdell, former Daily Pilot editor, Los Angeles Times reporter, award-winning author and Tom's partner in the Daily Voice, will not be part of this new endeavor. As reported here earlier, HERE, he's gone a different direction, teaming up with convicted, and apparently repentant, swindler Barry Minkow to report on malfeasance in business. Johnson and Lobdell remain close friends.

LAUNCH AFTER MEMORIAL DAY
Tom tells me that he's looking for a launch of the Newport Independent shortly after Memorial Day this year. The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice will cease operations around that time. I wish him all the best.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fairgrounds Purchase a Go, Peekaboo Mansoor, Fireworks and Daily Voice RIP

FAIR PURCHASE AGREEMENT APPROVED
OK, here we go! With their reported unanimous vote in closed session tonight the Costa Mesa City Council authorized the purchase of the Orange County Fair and Events Center. Whew!




TRIO TO HAND-DELIVER IT TO SACRAMENTO

Wednesday City Manager Allan Roeder will accompany council members Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan to Sacramento to personally deliver the proposal to the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, meeting the deadline imposed upon the city during their "exclusive" negotiations.

HOLDING OUR BREATH
No one I've spoken with has a clue whether the State will find the proposal acceptable or not, so there will be lots of crossed fingers around these parts until word is received from the Governor's office.


THANKS TO ALL INVOLVED

Thanks to Roeder, Becky Bailey-Findley and the entire team who has been burning the midnight oil to put this offer together. Somehow, "thanks" seems hardly adequate.

MANSOOR PLAYS PEEKABOO
Tonight's meeting was another strange one. When the council came out of closed session - only about 15 minutes late - Mayor Allan Mansoor was nowhere to be found so Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece took over and began the meeting. Then, during Council Member comments he mysteriously re-appeared and took over.

QUICK PITCH WITH THE AGENDA
The very first thing he did was to suggest moving the Fireworks issue forward - it was the last item on the agenda - to be heard immediately even before the Consent Calendar. He met with opposition by Leece and Foley, who indicated that many people who planned to speak didn't anticipate the issue being heard at the beginning of the meeting and might not be in the auditorium to speak. Those logical complaints fell on deaf ears and the three guys voted to hear it next.

GARY GOT HIS WAY
After much discussion and public input the council voted 4-1 to add another fireworks sales hour on July 4th (Leece voted no) and then voted unanimously to return "hand-held devices" into the inventory of approved fireworks. Man, I hope they don't regret that move.


MANSOOR AND MONAHAN - "WE'RE OUTTA HERE!"

The reason for moving the issue forward became crystal clear when Mansoor called for a "brief 5-minute break". When it was over both he and Monahan had left the building and were not seen nor heard again for the rest of the meeting! Monahan got his issue addressed early so he could go pull beer pumps and I wonder if Mansoor had a fund raising event scheduled for this evening? Regardless, he didn't earn his pay tonight, for sure.

DAILY VOICE TO FOLD
On another interesting note, Sunday Rick Reiff at the Orange County Business Journal reported that former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson and his partner, William Lobdell will abandon their fledgling news outlet, The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice, after less than a year in operation. According to Reiff's report, Johnson will join Laguna Beach-based Firebrand Media as publisher of two weekly free newspapers - the Laguna Beach Independent and the soon-to-be-launched Newport Beach Independent. No mention was made about a "Costa Mesa" version.

MORE INFO PENDING
I knew this was coming but couldn't talk about it until "official" notification. I guess Reiff's article constitutes that notification. I've tried to contact Tom Johnson for more information but have received no reply yet. We don't know for sure, but assume, that these new efforts will have an online presence, too. No word whether Bill Lobdell will be joining this new adventure. I'll report back when I get more information. In the meantime, I wish Tom well with this new gig.

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More Fairgrounds Intrigue

A NEW WRINKLE IN THE MIX!
Holy Cow! Just as the Costa Mesa City Council is preparing the final touches on its proposal to the State for the acquisition of the Orange County Fair and Events Center at its meeting tonight and, officials are preparing to wing off to Sacramento to hand-deliver the proposal to the Governor's office, a new wrinkle in this whole affair comes to light.

FAIR BOARD TO CONSIDER TWO ITEMS THURSDAY
The Fair Board, at its meeting on Thursday, the 22nd, will consider two items having to do with the sale of the Fairgrounds. The first is item 8A on their agenda which says: "Review and Approve Profit Sharing Proposal between the 32nd DAA and the State of California to be presented as an alternative to the Sale of the OC Fairgrounds." And, as if that was not interesting enough, item 9A - a closed session item - says the following: "Pursuant to the provisions of Government Code Section 11126(c)(7) the Board of Directors will meet in closed session for the purpose of giving instructions to its negotiator with respect to the potential purchase or lease of the Orange County Fairgrounds and the price and terms of payment for purchase or lease which may be presented to the State Department of General Services." Got that?

WHAT?
It seems that the Board will consider two completely different items on Thursday - one for a profit sharing scheme, to be discussed in open session and the second for some kind of a lease/purchase plan for the Fairgrounds that will be hashed out in closed session.

RETURNED BEAZLEY'S CALL
So, curious guy that I am, I called Steve Beazley, CEO of the Fairgrounds, for a little chat. He had left a message for me earlier, requesting that I call him - now I understood why.


BEAZLEY - "NOT COMPETING WITH THE CITY"

According to Beazley this morning, it is not the intent of the Board to present a proposition that competes with the City's proposal. He says that the Board just wants to be sure all it's options are covered. OK, but the way it looks and sounds following my conversation with Beazley the Board is doing exactly that - preparing a competing package for the Governor to consider. In fact, it may be competing with itself!

PROFIT SHARING SCHEME
One might assume (nasty word, that one) that the profit sharing proposal would somehow keep the current Fair Board in place and present to the State an opportunity for more "return on investment" from Fairgrounds operations than it's seen in the past. I suspect this plan will keep all the current state employees in place, including the Fair Board, but I don't know for sure.

LEASE/PURCHASE PLAN
The second one, though, is more interesting and provocative. I asked Beazley the question that may be bouncing around in some of your minds - is the lease/purchase scheme they're going to discuss a product of the Fair Board or the foundation created by some Fair Board members last year? He told me flat-out that the foundation has no part in any of these discussions and that he thinks it is now inactive. I recall that earlier all the foundations members but two had bailed out.

A "PRIUS" SOLUTION?
Beazley told me that the Fair Board's proposals - if any actually come out of their meeting - might present opportunities for something he called a "hybrid" solution to the problem of the Sale of the Fairgrounds. He felt that there might be the possibility of some kind of an amalgamation of the City's proposal and those ideas presented by the Fair Board. I'm trying to wrap my arms around just what those "synergies", as Beazley called them, might be.

MUDDYING THE WATERS
So, the city staffers have been busting their collective fannies for a month to cobble together what they hope will be an acceptable proposal for the Governor to consider and will hand-deliver it to him tomorrow to meet his deadline, assuming the meeting tonight goes as anticipated. In the meantime, the Fair Board is going to throw an unsolicited, competing proposal(s) into the mix that might further muddy the waters for the folks in Sacramento that will be making the decision.

THE STATE KNOWS THEIR PITCH IS COMING
I asked Beazley if the State knew the Fair Board was working on these proposals - he said "Yes". So, does that mean it's going to withhold a decision until it sees what the Fair Board has in mind? What happened to the "exclusive right to negotiate" the City thought it had with the State?

LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO SAVE JOBS?
I must say that this certainly does appear to be a last-minute attempt by the Fair Board to save their jobs - positions with very significant perks in the past - and the jobs of the 85 or so state employees who help run the Fairgrounds. I only hope this doesn't screw up the works for the city and diminish the chances of its proposal to get a fair hearing. (Yeah, I couldn't resist that play on words - sorry)

EXPECT "INTERESTED PARTIES" TO ATTEND AND SPEAK
I imagine many of "the usual suspects" will present themselves at the Fair Board meeting at 10:00 a.m. Thursday to voice their opinions on these issues. Should be yet another interesting meeting at the Fairgrounds.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Did You Feel It?(Revised)

JUST A LITTLE SHAKER
A 2.7 magnitude earthquake hit Costa Mesa at 10:22 Monday night. According to the first indication at the USGS site, HERE, it looks like it was centered just behind The Camp on Bristol Street, about 4 miles down. You can see the specific location on this Google Earth image:




A LITTLE BUMP ON THE EASTSIDEOn the Eastside of Costa Mesa it was felt as a little bump - no preliminary shaking nor anything afterward. Some of you might have thought it was a sonic boom, so slight was the affect.

A REMINDER - GET READY!This is just one more reminder that the Newport-Inglewood Fault is nearby, and that we should be getting ourselves prepared for an event - just in case.

UPDATE!!
Here's the new Google Earth map showing the revised location of last night's little earthquake after review by a seismologist. It was located deeper than expected (13+miles) and a little further East. The site is in Fairview Park, just north of the model trains.

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Fireworks and Deadlines


RUSHING TO MEET THE DEADLINE
Tomorrow, Tuesday, the Costa Mesa City Council will, once again, address the sale of The Fairgrounds in a closed session meeting preceding their regularly scheduled open meeting. This will be the final time they, as a group, have a chance to address this issue before the City must place in the hands of Governor Schwarzenegger its proposal for purchase of the property. That deadline is Wednesday.

WHAT ARE THE TERMS?
I find myself wondering if we'll hear the terms of the proposal before the governor does. Doubt it. In fact, I wonder if we will ever hear them? If the governor rejects the proposal what value will there be to announce the failed bid. Thinking positively, I hope they've managed to create a successful proposal and that, in quick order, the Governor accepts the plan and we can actually move forward.

MONAHAN - LONGER HOURS AND MORE DEVICES
At the very end of the open session Gary Monahan has a scheme to expand fireworks use over the July 4th holiday - one that is sure to generate some discussion among council members and residents. He wants to extend the sale hours on the 4th, moving the closing time from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The police and fire organizations are against it.


SPARKLERS BACK?
He also wants to permit some hand-held devices, including sparklers. The public safety folks are against that, too. The injuries to small children using sparklers is well-documented and previous councils recognized the danger and banned them. Restoring them for sale is a truly bad idea. This photo shows the kind of injuries that led to the decision to ban sparklers in our city.

TELL THE COUNCIL HOW YOU FEEL
Regular readers here know how I feel about fireworks in our community, so I won't talk about it here since it's irrelevant to the issue at hand. If you've got an opinion on these issues, read the staff report, HERE, and present your views to the City Council, either in person or by email to the city web site.

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