Fair Board Greets New Members
Today I attended the monthly meeting of the 32nd District Agriculture Association Board of Directors - the Fair Board - to see how things functioned with two new members. This was the first meeting by Governor Jerry Browns most recent appointees, lawyer Ashleigh Aitken and retired businessman Stan Tkaczyk. I wrote about their appointments in my earlier post.
NO ELLIS TODAY
In that post I speculated about the potential electricity between Tkaczyk and fellow board member Dave Ellis. Well, that will have to wait because Ellis and Kristina Dodge were absent from the meeting. It is "ski week" in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, after all, and they both have kids. So, that fun will have to wait.
READY AND EAGER
Both new members jumped right in, with Tkaczyk taking a major role in several of the discussions. It's clear that he's not going to be a passive board member. Aitken also made her presence known.
The issue that got the most discussion, and has attracted the most "real media" attention was during the discussion of the possible extension of the legal services contract with the private law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, who has been providing all legal services for the Fair Board ever since the State Attorney General - then Jerry Brown - tossed them aside because there might have been a situation where the AG's office would have to prosecute members of the Board for their part in the bogus scheme to buy the fairgrounds three years ago. Soon-to-be-retired CEO Dr. Steve Beazley recommended that that private contract be continued. Tkaczyk and others chimed in and suggested that a letter be sent to the new Attorney General requesting that they resume providing legal services to the Fair Board - a state agency - and, in the interim, negotiate a flexible short-term contract with the current firm.
PARKING A BIG ISSUE
A significant amount of time was spent reviewing the current parking situation for the Fairgrounds. The Fair has grown dramatically in recent years and, as a result, so has the demand for parking spaces. The Board directed staff to contact the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to see what kind of an arrangement might be made for the use of nearby school parking during peak events.
It was an interesting meeting - one of the few I've attended in the middle of the day. It looked to me like the new additions to the board will both be a positive influence on discussions and decisions that are made by that body. Let's hope so. We've had enough drama with the old board to last a long, long time. And, of course, it's always fun watching Tkaczyk's wife, Barbara Venezia, working the crowd, as she was here with fellow Orange County Register reporters Jon Cassidy and Frank Mickadeit.