Now that it appears that Facilities Management West is apparently no longer in the running to purchase the Orange County Fair and Event Center I took a little time today to reflect on the drama that has been this whole "sale" fiasco over the past couple years. I won't even attempt to chronicle all the twists and turns for you here - maybe someone else will - but it's safe to say that this was very much akin to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland.
MESSY FROM THE START
From the very get-go, when then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to sell the Fairgrounds and the Fair Board attempted a stealth purchase - a move that was perceived by many as an attempt to buy the site on the cheap and use it as a retirement nest egg - things were messy, messy, messy.
WHO WOULD BELIEVE THIS?
The on-again, off-again sale process; the sale-that-wasn't-a-sale; the various factions attempting to buy the property or stop the sale; the rancor between long-time business partners; the multiple trips to Sacramento by City officials to pitch their plan; the City dancing with FMW, then being left at the altar; the shape-shifting by Jim Righeimer; the stupid voice mail message he accidentally left on Norberto Santana's phone; and on and on and on... You couldn't write this kind of farce if you tried.
When FMW was attempting to partner-up with the City of Costa Mesa, I got to know some members of their management including their main spokesman, Guy Lemmon. He's a very nice guy who does a wonderful job representing FMW's interests. I also met several times with other members of their PR apparatus as they tried to sway me to their side of the issue. Here's a good example of Lemmon's pitch for the FMW purchase of the land.
SORTING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF
I was surprised when FMW jilted the City of Costa Mesa and decided to go it alone in the sale process and was amused at the drama spinning around the sale. All along, I tried to carefully listen to both sides of the argument and tried to sort the truth from the fabrications. It wasn't easy.
MOMENT OF TRUTH
I think FMW lost me that fateful night when their leader, Ken Fait, stepped up to the speaker's podium in an attempt to rescue his associate, Richard Dick, from a peculiar grilling he was getting from then-mayor Allan Mansoor. Lemmon was in Arizona for the birth of a grandchild, so the FMW hierarchy was left on their own to deal with Mansoor, who was not part of the negotiating team but acted like he was that night. This short video clip will demonstrate why Fait became the face of FMW from that night on. As you watch it you'll understand why so many people distrust his motives.
So, unless FMW decides to appeal this case to the State Supreme Court, they are done. Unless old/new Governor Jerry Brown decides to move forward with the sale of the Orange County Fair and Event Center, all this drama is finished and now the current Fair Board can move forward with their profit sharing scheme. What a ride!
ON THE ROAD AGAIN...
Don't panic if comments don't get posted promptly... I'll be on the road, away from any computer for a few hours, but your thoughts will, eventually, get posted.