Fair Board Puts On The Gloves
At it's meeting today the 32nd District Agriculture Association - The Orange County Fair and Event Center Board of Directors - decided to take a more aggressive posture regarding the pending sale of the 150 acre site.
LEGAL ACTION AUTHORIZED
Their press release, issued today following the meeting, makes it clear that the Fair Board is willing to fight the sale and have authorized its legal council to do so. The second paragraph of that press release provides a policy statement as follows: " The 32nd DAA is the owner of the OC Fair & Event Center. As owners of the OC Fair & Event Center, the Board has authorized its legal counsel to initiate appropriate legal action including but not limited to intervention in the pending litigation, to prevent the sale of the fairgrounds as a public asset."
The release went on to say, "The Board also announced several strategic partnerships & capital improvements to the property, including discussions with Barrett-Jackson for plans to build a permanent facility for the popular collector-car auction, a fortified partnership with the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau and a public-private partnership to expand the Pacific Amphitheater."
Board Chairman David Ellis stated, "The Board is focused on a strategic vision for the facility. Realizing that vision means building out the 2003 Master Plan and developing public-private partnerships so we can continue to provide world-class facilities, programs and events." He added, "The potential sale makes it difficult to move forward with facility improvements, the development of public-private partnerships and creates an air of uncertainty for our employees and the community."
Fair President and CEO Steve Beazley expressed this view, "The OCFEC has proven itself to be successful as a public asset in the fulfillment of its mission to 'Celebrate Orange County's Communities, Interests, Agriculture and Heritage'. We bring a unique blend of public accoutability and private sector entrepreneurship to the management of this facility, which is reflected in the programs and events we have been providing to the public over the last 120 years. That is a tradition we believe is worth continuing."
THIS IS GOOD NEWS
In my view, this is good news. The Fair Board obviously feels it is the proper owner of the Orange County Fair and Event Center and are moving aggressively to protect that ownership and keep the site as a Fairgrounds a public asset.
BRAVE MOVE BY THE FAIR BOARD
Regardless how you feel about the events that have brought us to this point, and whether or not you feel the current Fair Board is the right group to take the Fairgrounds forward, the fact that this group is willing to fight with all their resources to keep this historic and valuable community resource a public asset is certainly a step in the right direction.
HOW WILL GOVERNOR BROWN REACT?
It's hard to tell what kind of a reaction Governor Jerry Brown will have to this announcement. Since the Fair Board works at his pleasure, it's possible he could just fire them all and appoint another group. The strains of attempting to balance his budget might make him take extraordinary steps... we'll see.