Thursday, March 24, 2011

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.

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 vi
ew, "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."

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.


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.


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.



Anonymous Max said...

Glad to hear they decided to be a steward of the land they were given the responsibility of protecting. I hope they give up that idea of profit sharing they had a while back. That would ruin it just like a sale would.

3/24/2011 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Not so sure, Max. I think the plan they proposed - which probably should have been done a long, long time ago - might have averted this whole fiasco.

3/24/2011 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

The Pot Stirrer, The plan they proposed meant profits would not go back into the fairgrounds.

It's currently a proven sustainable perpetual motion machine. Greed is the only thing that would mess something like that up.

Just as Yosemite would be ruined, the fairgrounds, the biggest icon of American agricultural heritage in Orange County would be ruined if it's ever commercialized.

Plus, who would trust the fair board with anything at this point in time. Why you would trust them with any kind of plan is beyond me. I would have thought you would have liked this area to stay as an evacuation center like a lot of people do. That's impossible if it's a wall to wall development with concrete parking structures. You can't compare our fairgrounds to Magic Mountain or L.A. Live. Those are great examples of things that should be commercialized and run by a corporation whose bottom line is the dollar. However, they are a poor example of a traditional American fairgrounds.

3/24/2011 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous fetstrou said...

I agree with the pot stirrer, I think the profit sharing plan would have made the fairgrounds more valuable to the state.

I don't believe they are talking about giving all the profit to the state, just a percentage each year. So, as in most profit sharing deals, such as the swap meet deal, the better the organization does, the better contribution.

In fact, I am shocked that they don't already contribute.

3/25/2011 06:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

That fact that the state doesn't own our fairgrounds means that the 32nd DAA doesn't owe the state anything. There is no reason for profit sharing.

Our grand parents set this whole thing up this way for a reason. They wanted it to be self-sustaining for an indefinite number of generations to come.

It would be a breach of the fair board's duty to be stewards of this land to give away money that will be vaporized in a few seconds. What's worse is that any money they send to the state will most likely not come back to Orange County, let alone Costa Mesa. We are a huge donor county.

3/25/2011 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tommy Crosson said...

Attending the NON-PARTISIAN event last evening at the Costa Mesa Mayor's business location I was appaled at the direction this activity took. Obama bashing by the noticiably drunken Congressman with a glass of Guniness in his hand and the vitrolic reheteric ending in a creshendo to insense the rabble. Disgusting! Council members; Shame. Shame. Shame.....

3/25/2011 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"That fact that the state doesn't own our fairgrounds means that the 32nd DAA doesn't owe the state anything. There is no reason for profit sharing."

This statement by Max is confusing and inaccurate. The 32nd DAA is a STATE AGENCY, and the state does own the fairgrounds. The 32nd DAA is overseen by the Division of Fairs and Expositions, which is part of the Department of Food & Agriculture. The 32nd DAA, more commonly known as the Orange County Fair, benefits greatly from being a state agency. It does not pay rent or taxes, as it is tax exempt, and actually functions more like a non-profit organization in that regard. The spin the fair board has put on this ownership thing most certainly causes confusion. But also the actions of the Fair Board in that they operate as an island. The only reason the Fair Board is now opposing the sale, is because they didn't win it for themselves either through the foundation they created to buy it or any of their other maneuvers. Like betting on a horse race, putting your hopes on a consistent loser is not a good bet. This is a self serving agenda for Ellis and Beazley to fulfill their scams. When something appears too good to be true, usually is a swindle.

3/25/2011 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous fetstrou said...

Max, it is good to see you have little grasp of the situation. The DAA is a state agency and if they own the fairgrounds, the state owns the fairgrounds.

All the employees are state employees and the board are governor appointees.

Smells like the state to me.

3/25/2011 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

You want non-partisanship you should hear me and Potstirrer debate our neo-phyte Kenyan President.

Then we shake hands and agree Righeimer is BAD.

3/25/2011 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

jona, I agree with many of your points. However, the 32nd DAA has title to the land so it's not wrong to say they own it.

The original intent of the agreement was to have profits from the fairgrounds self sustain all operations at the fairgrounds. It's the job of the fair board to make sure the money stays at the fairgrounds. It's not their job to give money to the state's general fund or anyone else for that matter.

Gericault, I too would agree with both of you on that subject :)

3/25/2011 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous fetstrou said...

Max, the main problem with your point is that most DAA's are not self supporting. The OC Fair, along with San Diego and maybe one or two others, are unique (and fortunate).

The vast majority of DAA's in California are dependent upon the general fund.

So, I'm not sure what "original intent" you are referring to.

3/26/2011 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

fetstrou, there are plenty of stories about when this land was purchased about how residents wanted to find a permanent home for the fairgrounds for generations to come. It was structured for it to be financially self sufficient. It appears they have achieved that goal which is something you apparently agree with.

Do you think the Vietnam Memorial would be better off if sold to a corporation? Or if it was commercialized and profit sharing was involved? What about the Statue of Liberty or Yosemite or other state parks?

Corporations are great at some things, not so great at others.

3/26/2011 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous fetstrou said...

Max, while I am a big supporter of a self-sufficient government agency. I'm pretty sure the OC Fair wasn't self sufficient when it started and only became self-sufficient less than 20 year ago. Before that, it took its subsidy from the state.

3/26/2011 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

fetstrou, I have heard otherwise but 20 years would still be a pretty good run. I'd like to see the state or federal government be as sustainable. American politicians from the Republican and Democrat parties just love to run up a deficit.

3/26/2011 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

By the way, the fair board has proof no general fund money from the state was used to buy the property from the federal government. It came from other fairgrounds.

3/29/2011 11:25:00 PM  

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