Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fair Board Trying An End-Run?

UH-OH!
The staff report for the Fair Board meeting Monday, August 2nd is posted and can be read in total HERE. It's clear from reading that report that the Fair Board is trying an end run on the sale of the Fairgrounds.


CHAIR DODGE'S LETTER TO ARNOLD
Once there you will scroll down a few pages through the agenda to a letter dated today from Board Chair Kristina Dodge to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger informing him that in it's meeting on the 2nd the Board will discuss a potential revenue sharing plan between the 32nd DAA and the State of California. Following Dodge's letter you will find a lengthy and thorough staff report outlining the proposal being formulated to present to the State as an alternative to the deal that is pending with Costa Mesa.

THE "TABLED" DEAL FROM APRIL
This is the deal they were told to table last April, apparently because it would interfere with negotiations between the City of Costa Mesa and The State.

THEIR GOALS
As you read down through the report you will find the goals of this plan, which I've reproduced here:

I. Recommended Goals of a Revenue Sharing Model

1) 32nd DAA creates revenue sharing model analogous to a purchase in most of its economic features using the State’s desired purchase price of $96 million dollars.

2) OCFEC is preserved as a fair and event center.

3) Offers reasonable scenario to “pose the best opportunity for the State to achieve the highest and most certain return for the property” as stated by the Department of General Services.

4) No taxpayer dollars assumed in financial analysis. OCFEC has no ability
to levy taxes to support its programs or facilities. User fees will fund 100% of the plan.

5) Contin
uity of fairgrounds operations by an experienced staff.

6) OCFEC moves from being a revenue neutral State Agency to a revenue
contributing State Agency.

7) As such, OCFEC is removed from “underutilized” status.

8) As OCFEC profitability increases, so too does the contribution to the State of California.

9) OCFEC employees’ jobs and benefits are kept whole.

10) Property remains in the State’s real estate holdings.

11) Number and size of public-private partnerships is expanded.


12) 32nd DAA enters into discussions with State of California on the appropriate
application of the Governor's California Performance Review as it relates to governance restructuring of the DAA to permit the DAA more flexibility in the entrepreneurial aspects of its operations while maintaining appropriate governance procedures such as open meeting, financial disclosure and conflict of interest requirements currently applicable to the DAA.

FINANCIALS
For example, under their Item ll, Price and Terms of Payment Summary, they present a plan that stretches out for 80 years and provide a summary of total payout that exceeds the current City deal. It appears, however, that the State would receive less money up front - the City deal calls for $19.2 million in prepaid interest at the beginning. This deal calls for $5 million up front, then 14% of the gross revenues in years 2-25, with a minimum annual of $2.5 million. They would pay 7.5% of gross revenues in years 26-80 and the State retains title to the property in perpetuity.

READ THE REST YOURSELF
I'm not going to attempt to repeat every element of the staff report here, honest. You can read it for yourselves. The staff report goes on and on, with exhibits, floor plan, financial summaries, etc. I'm not going to attempt to interpret all that for you - it makes my head hurt. Some of you who use that side of your brain more often may enjoy that trip through Numbersland, so I'll leave it up to you.

THE GOAL IS CLEAR
One thing is very clear to me - the Fair Board is pulling out all the stops to quash the sale of the Fairgrounds and are throwing this plan into the mix at what amounts to the last minute to sway the Governor and the folks at the Department of General Services.

WHY NOW?
If accepted by the The State, this would kill the proposed sale. I asked CEO Steve Beazley a few minutes ago why this was being proposed now. He told me that was a question for the Board Chair, Kristina Dodge.

WHAT DO DODGE AND ELLIS KNOW?
Well, one can read much into that - like maybe the well-connected Mrs. Dodge and her Vice Chair, political king maker, Dave Ellis, have heard from their pals in Sacramento that the City deal is dead and they're trying to head-off the placement of the Fairgrounds back on the auction block, which is what the DGS leadership said they would do immediately if our deal falls through.

THIS MAY ALREADY BE A DONE DEAL!
I postulated with Beazley that, at the meeting Monday, the Board would hear this proposal presented and explained, mull it over and perhaps recommend changes, then approve it for presentation to the Governor. Beazley agreed with that scenario, but reminded me that the Governor probably already has this plan in his hands today.

EXPECT A BIG CROWD MONDAY
I imagine Monday's Fair Board meeting will draw a pretty large crowd, including many Fairgrounds employees and vendors of the Marketplace and Fair vendors, too, since the Fair is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays. It's going to be a very, very interesting meeting - to say the very least. I'll report back when I know more.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Fairgrounds Intrigue & My Pal's Birthday

What's going on over at the Fairgrounds?

INTERESTING AGENDA ITEM
Late yesterday I got a heads-up that the Fair Board, at it's meeting Monday morning at 10 a.m., will consider Item #8. A. "Review and Approve Revenue Sharing Proposal between the 32nd DAA and the State of California."

NO STAFF REPORT AVAILABLE
Since no staff report is available on this subject, it's difficult to tell exactly what the Board is up to - no surprise there - but it certainly looks like the same issue that the State refused to consider several months ago, when it agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with the City of Costa Mesa for the purchase of the Fairgrounds. At the time the Fair Board and management were ticked off that the State wouldn't hear their proposal. NOTE: Just got off the phone with Steve Beazley at 11:15 a.m. He promises a staff report on this issue will be available for viewing Saturday, tomorrow. He confirmed that this is exactly the same issue they placed on their agenda in April, but that the Governor asked to be pulled at that time.

WHY NOW?
While the Fair Board is not known for it's openness and transparency as it conducts business, the timing of the consideration of this issue now seems curious. Because at least a couple members of the Fair Board are very well-connected in Sacramento - that's probably the biggest understatement you'll ever see on this site - one might suspect that some inside information about the future of the deal being hammered out by Costa Mesa has led the Fair Board to re-visit this issue at this time.

WHAT DO THEY KNOW?
For example, I wonder if they have received insider information that the legislature will not pass the required bill to facilitate the sale of the Fairgrounds to The City? If so, from whom? The legislature goes on a summer break next week for a month, which leaves us all waiting a long, long time for that proverbial "other shoe" to drop.

HUMMING THE JEOPARDY! THEME, WAITING...
I tried to contact Fairgrounds CEO Steve Beazley about this a few minutes ago, but reached only his voice mail. The folks in Media Relations at the Fairgrounds were no help, either. So, until we have a chance to view a staff report and/or hear back from someone in authority at the Fairgrounds, we are left to speculate... I'll report back if and when I hear more.

***
LARRY MOORE'S BIRTHDAYToday would be my buddy Larry Moore's 69th birthday. Regular readers here know the story of our relationship - best friends for 57 years - and the tragic circumstances of his passing. I've written about it here and elsewhere since he died more than six years ago.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMIGO
Today, rather than re-hash all the pain of his passing, I'll simply wish my friend a Happy Birthday, knowing that he's looking down on us from a better place. If you wish to re-read some of the things I've written about him and our life together in the past you can do so HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

DO IT NOW
I leave with the reminder that you need to tell those you love how you feel NOW - don't wait. You never know what is around the next bend in the road.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chris Blank Withdraws From Campaign

BLANK OUT!
Costa Mesa Attorney Chris Blank has decided NOT to run for City Council this time around.

THE REASON? - BUSINESS DEMANDS
Blank, a community activist in Costa Mesa for many years, cites the demands of his business that will preclude him from being able to devote enough time to campaigning and, if successful, to the very time-consuming job required as a city council member.

HE'LL BE MISSED
In my opinion, Blank's absence from this campaign will leave a huge hole in the discussion of important issues as the campaign season moves forward.

WENDY AND RIGGY GRINNING TODAY
I suspect both Wendy Leece and Jim Righeimer are all smiles this afternoon. Blank's absence leaves them competing with previous candidates Chris Bunyan, Chris McEvoy and newcomers Susan Lester and Jeffrey Chapman.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

OC Non-Profits May Lose Tax Exempt Status

REGISTER WATCHDOG ON THE CASE
The Orange County Register's Watchdog, the tenacious Teri Sforza, reported in the very early morning hours on Tuesday, July 27th, that certain Orange County charities might be on the verge of losing their nonprofit status because of a change in the law in 2007 that requires small non-profits to report financial information. You can read Teri's complete report HERE.

COSTA MESA'S GROUP
I read the article and followed some of the links. I downloaded the Orange County data - which you can do, too - that she and her team had sifted from the more than 325,000 organizations nationally - 35,400 in California. Among the 2410 Orange County organizations I found 118 in Costa Mesa, some of which raised an eyebrow - they might for you, too.

Here are the names of a few of the non-profits from the list that jumped out at me:

Releaf Costa Mesa

Orange County Sportswriters Association

Orange County Polish Club (there's a great joke in there somewhere)

Mesa Verde Community, Inc.

Mesa Pride


Harbor Area Baseball, Inc.

Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries

Eagle Pride, A California Non-Profit Corporation


Costa Mesa High School Track & Field Boosters


Citizens for Jobs and the Economy


Children's Theater Guild of Newport Harbor


Carden Christian Foundation

BBC Outrigger Canoe Club, Inc.


TAX-EXEMPT STATUS IN JEOPARDY
According to Sforza's piece, the list contains the names and addresses of non-profits which have not made the appropriate financial filings three years consecutively. The link to the IRS site, HERE, tells us that those organizations who fail to make the appropriate filings between May 17, 2010 and October 15, 2010 are in jeopardy of losing their tax exempt status and, as a result, donations to those organizations will not be tax deductible.

FOLLOW THE LINKS
If you follow the links in Sforza's article you find that you can download the information as a pdf. file or an Excel file (which permits you to sort the data).

FIX IT!
So, check the list, look for your organizations and get cracking with the filings - OR ELSE!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jana Ransom Leaving Costa Mesa

Some sad news floated my way today...

JANA HEADING TO IRVINE
Costa Mesa's outstanding Recreation Manager, Jana Ransom, is leaving her job in a couple weeks for a similar position with the City of Irvine. Jana's last day will be August 12th and she begins with Irvine the following Monday.

CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL
This is a big loss for our city. Jana has been a very effective manager and a consummate professional in her eight years with Costa Mesa. The past few years have been difficult - her organization experienced a 30% budget cut over the past couple years due to the dire financial condition we find ourselves in these days.

OUR LOSS - AGRANVILLE'S GAIN
Her new job in Irvine, while similar in scope to her current assignment, has a tremendous upside. Irvine - Agranville, as I refer to it - is more than double the size of Costa Mesa and has on the horizon the development of The Great Park - a recreational professional's dream assignment.

SENIORS WILL ESPECIALLY MISS HER
Many folks will miss Jana, including the folks at the Senior Center, where she has been the city liaison.

GOOD-BYE AND GOOD LUCK, JANA
We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish her all the best in her new gig.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

They're Off And Running!

IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN
Well, the campaign season is officially in full swing now because the first candidate forum has been scheduled for this summer.

MESA VERDE FIRST
Our friends at Mesa Verde Inc. have firmed up a date and place for their candidate forum - as usual, they are the first.

AUGUST 18TH
According to their organizers, the event will be held on August 18th at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 1701 Baker Street in Costa Mesa. According to my sources, the "schmoozing" will begin at 5:30 and the actual forum starts at 6:30.

USUALLY THE BEST
It's been my experience that this forum is usually the best of the bunch because the candidates are all fresh, well-scrubbed and coiffed and eager to answer questions. And, our friends from Mesa Verde have good snacks.

More about this forum and others as I hear about them in the weeks to come.

***

PARKS & REC. MEETING WEDNESDAY
It's a fairly slow week in our town. Wednesday evening Chairman Mike Brumbaugh will lead the Parks and Recreation Commission in their only summer meeting at 6:00 in the council chambers. This meeting may set an all time record for brevity unless tree removal requests drag on and on.


***


MICKADEIT REPORTS CORREA AGAINST FAIR SALE
Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit reports today that State Senator Lou Correa is unhappy about the Fairgrounds Sale deal - and not because of the Rule of Law City controversy. Nope, he thinks it's a bad idea for several reasons, which you can read at length HERE.

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