Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wa'sup With The Fairgrounds?

The boiling tumult that was the sale of the Orange County Fair and Event Center (Fairgrounds) has been on simmer for the the past couple months awaiting resolution of the legal challenges to the sale and to see if New/Old Governor Jerry Brown will use his executive power to halt the sale.

Parties on all sides of the issue - it's not really a two-sided issue, more like a parallelogram - have quietly jockeyed for position in the arena of public perception, hoping to be viewed as the "real" savior of the Fairgrounds. Jaded members of the public seem unwilling to buy any "I'm really a good guy" argument at this time, but we'll see.

Sandra Genis' Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society remains poised to pounce if it looks like the sale will go through. Over the past couple years Genis has spent countless hours lobbying with government officials at the local and state level trying to quash the sale.


Potential owner Facilities Management West recently issued a pre
ss release in effect telling the world that they are good guys and would be good stewards of the Fairgrounds if the sale goes through. Since President Ken Fait's little tirade before the City Council many months ago folks are having a hard time conjuring up the image of him as a benevolent owner.

Last week the management of the Fairgrounds, through their CEO, Dr. Steve Beazley, issued a couple press releases. The first, HERE, issued on March 24th "announced several forward-looking endeavors to enhance partnerships and profitability" and went on to talk about its relationship with Barrett-Jackson, including a new 85,000 square-foot exhibit hall to be used for the car auction. It also addressed the plan to find a partner for an 8,500 seat Pacific Amphitheater concert venue - we're assuming this would be a covered building that would deflect any future "noise" issues.

The second, HERE,
issued the same day, announced the Fair Board affirmation of its belief that the 32nd District Agriculture Board actually owns the 150 acre site and pledged to halt the sale. The Fair Board has apparently unleashed it's legal counsel toward that end. This is good news.


Then, today, OC Weekly Chasen Marshall gave us his most recent view of the whole Fairgrounds issue, HERE, and actually got Fair Board President David Ellis
to speak for attribution! Be still, my heart! Ellis actually is quoted by Marshall, when asked about the stealth non-profit creation that was at the cornerstone of the controversy nearly two years ago, as saying, "I'll be the first to admit I was in the middle of all that..." You can read the rest of his quote in the article at the link I provided.

At the end of Marshall's piece today he announced to the world that my friend, Byron de Arakal, has been retained as a public relations consultant by the Fair Board. I've known about this assignment for a little while, but withheld comment until it was officially announced - I guess we're at that point now. I've teased my pal about this assignment since we first began talking about it. Much like Bill Lobdell's assignment with the City of Costa Mesa, Byron is going to have his hands full with this one regardless which way the sale goes. I've teased him about being a "corporate make-up artist", alluding to that old "lipstick on a pig" analogy. One thing I think we can anticipate is crystal clear communications coming from the Fair Board while Byron's onboard. We'll see...

And, the fate of the Orange County MarketPlace remains in doubt. Operator Jeff
Teller may find himself odd man out regardless which way the sale is resolved. It's clear from public pronouncements that Facilities Management West feels (felt?) that they could operate the upscale swap meet better. And, Teller is currently in "negotiations" with the Fair Board about problems with his rent. The drama continues...

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Anonymous Husbtocmemployee said...

Check out repaircostamesa.com

3/29/2011 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Husbtocmemployee wrote:
Check out repaircostamesa.com

Good start. But I'm not a "joiner."
Tell me who is doing what and we can talk. Plan, Goals, etc.

Meanwhile, Reigheimer is very upset with much of the internet criticism. Here's old Riggy ranting at Mensinger and the others:

3/29/2011 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous FYI said...

Husbtocmemployee ......

These are the same thugs that pushed Huy off the roof.

3/29/2011 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OK, readers... you tell me...
How far over the line did we step with those last two comments? Both are in bad taste, but HOW bad?

3/29/2011 08:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelly Slates said...

Are these comments out of line?

Hmmm.. was throwing away and erasing the memorial to Huy Pham a day after his funeral even more horrific?

The City has a long history of letting memorials on the streets for weeks/months at a time- but they City Council wants to erase the memory of Huy Pham.

So, my answer is no. PEople are hurting Geoff. Hurting.. we miss Huy. Is it right? Prolly not.. but someone has to take a stand.

3/29/2011 08:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Just a Reader said...

Perhaps we should let you answer that question Geoff. But first, let me rephrase the third comment, if I may:

Righeimer, Mensinger and Monahan are responsible for Huy jumping off the roof.

That remark carries equal weight with the third comment made, yet you and your blogging buddies would applaud such a remark. Most of the comments on this website have made that statement over and over.

Let me now ask you, which comment do you most agree with? One of them is correct, but which one is it?

If Huy were your child, wouldn't you want an investigation into this tragedy? Everyone knows what caused his death, but who was responsible for his leaving the roof top? Was it union thugs, or was it the city councilmen?

3/29/2011 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Just A Reader, It is my understanding that an investigation into Huy Pham's death is in process. Yes, if he had been my child I would have DEMANDED an investigation. While I was there that terrible afternoon I saw several CMPD investigators on the roof at the site where he apparently jumped. I'm sure that was part of the investigation. I've heard that there were witnesses, so I assume they have been interrogated, too.

Without evidence to the contrary I fear we will NEVER know what caused Pham to jump. We can assume many things - like the atmosphere in the workplace, with every employee just waiting to hear if they are next to be ousted.

3/29/2011 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Just a Reader said...

The somewhat mysterious witnesses have never been identified and could not possibly have seen anything other than Huy hitting the ground. Why have they refused to come forward?

This is very disturbing to a lot of people because any number of things could have propelled Huy off the roof. As you can see, one question leads to another.

Keep in mind that Huy was not mentally ill, depressed, or overly concerned about the layoffs. In fact he hadn't even received his pink slip yet, and there is still no certainty that anyone will even be laid off.

Most of all, there were no other suicides by city employees.

3/29/2011 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Just A Reader, you seem to have inside information form the CMPD - care to provide the source? Otherwise, it's just your assumption that no witnesses have been identified and interviewed.

3/29/2011 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

I read the OC Weekly article. It's interesting how Dave Ellis continues to say they were following the model of the L.A. County Fairgrounds. The L.A. County Fairgrounds property is owned by L.A. County, a public entity. What L.A. County does is lease the operation of it to a non-profit. The plan Ellis had was to get rid of public ownership entirely and all of the controls in place to keep it a fairgrounds indefinitely.

Plus, that whole highest bidder thing was entirely reckless on their part. They knew going into it they might not be the highest bidder. I wouldn't be surprised if they knew they wouldn't be the highest bidder all along.

3/29/2011 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Costa Mesa Taxpayer and Employee said...

Just a reader-
I read your comments with distaste. Huy Pham jumped off the roof of City Hall from his fear of getting a pinks slip. Have you spoken to his family? I have. I know him. You make statements without fact. So please shut up. Simple as that. The City Council is responsible for the horrific events that started a week and half ago and continue. The employees are treated as trash and the City Council walks around like they own the building. The arrogance of their actions and your remarks make me sick. Even John and Ken (radio show)are starting to bad mouth the City Council. The City Council is out of control. Do you think this will the last horrific act? It is not. Employees are dealing with incredible stress each day and it may not show in jumping off the roof;nevertheless, the emotional duress is at the highest peak. The employees are mourning the death of a friend and your evil remarks only bring it to light. The City Council has failed in the leadership of this city. FAILED and someone died because of it. To make you happy you want someone else to die too?

3/30/2011 05:10:00 AM  
Anonymous ProudAmerican said...

This whole tragedy of draconian layoffs and suicide has deteriorated into a diatribe that is a tragedy of its own.
Hate, angst, anger and demonization. It is circular and gets nowhere but worse. On the lighter side. How about that Mayor? King Monahan orders 'I'll have none of that'. 'That' being the clarity of the Union ad showing the Mayor mugging the camera in his cute skoshy kilt while he certainly had known that tragedy had struck at City Hall. So non-manufactured clarity sucks mr. mayor? Better call Lobdell and get some manufactured spin out there. Good people please be civil and stay focused and on message. Don't get drawn into the hate. Just the focus on the FACTS + COMMON SENSE! Wendy and Geoff try to that and so should you.

3/30/2011 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mongo said...

The City CouncilMEN actions can be best described as a TOTAL LACK OF LEADERSHIP and CATASTROPHIC FAILURE. They continue to lead Mr. Hatch around by the nose, treat City staff like trash on a bad day and disdain on a good day. Mensinger just needs to STF up. Oh by the way WHO ELECTED him to the council? All 4 of the CouncilMEN should do right thing and RESIGN immediatley. But then again they they don't know right from wrong. I hope Huy's death is on their conciense every day for the rest of their lives, They should be ashamed of themselves.

They talk about "Transparency", what happened to the report re: the investigation into the Dispatch Center ? Dispatchers work hard, under enormious pressure. I think it is HIGHLY unlikley one of their own would submitt an AANON letter. RECALL RECALL !!!

3/30/2011 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Geoff, how about you do a story on repaircostamesa.

Who are they?

Why are they using a very tragic event like Pham's death to further their own political goals?

Besides knocking the Mayor, what are their goals?

Who's contributing money to them?

3/30/2011 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

It would appear that most of the rants today are from union thugs.

Who else are they trying to kill?

3/30/2011 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Jeff, I know only what has been published in the press.

3/30/2011 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...


Pretend you're a reporter and dig deeper. Maybe even throw in a splash of unbiased reporting. I suspect you may know a few members of this mysterious group, possibly calling them friends.

3/30/2011 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous FYI said...

Only a fool would think that Huy Pham jumped off the roof of city hall on 3/17/11 at exactly 3:17 PM.

This was obviously a well orchestrated caper, probably thought up by union thugs, who made sure that police were present at Skosh's, someone was close to Monahan to take a photo of him (at just the right moment), and Nick was in place to start ranting and raving. City hall employees just don't strike me as being all that devious. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Myself, and many others, were laid off years ago with no more than 10 seconds notice. That's all the notice you get in private industry. None of us even vaguely considered suicide, or anything the least bit retaliatory. We just walked out the front door and started looking for other employment. It was no big deal to any of us.

Those who didn't get another job right away simply made due on unemployment (which seemed to cover their bills just fine). In my case, I decided it was time to stop working for someone else so I went into business for myself. However, that turned out to be a blessing. Since Huy was gearing up to take his building contractor's license exam, he could easily have switched fields, and probably would have done much better. I certainly did!

And Sissy, er, Costa Mesa Taxpayer and Employee, er, union thug, don't be telling other commenters what they can say, or not say. No one told you what you could say. This is supposed to be an open and honest discussion. We really don't care if you knew Huy. You keep repeating that statement and it is meaningless because it is not germane to the discussion.

Right, or wrong, everyone is entitled to his own opinion.

3/30/2011 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Jeff, I don't have to "pretend" anything... I'm not a reporter, just an old guy with too much time on his hands.

It's very likely that I know some of the people involved since I know some of the people identified so far. I hear that they are a loosely-joined group - maybe even that term is too firm - who appear to share a common interest. Since I'm not part of that group I can't comment on precisely what the interest might be. Having fun?

3/30/2011 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

These punks are serious players. They will gut Costa Mesa to help enrich their developer and Extreme Right friends.

Sounds like the good people are finally stepping up.

3/30/2011 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Ai Wei-Wei Fan said...

Repair Costa Mesa organizers kindly Google:

"Frontline: Ai Wei Wei". And watch this very riveting segment.

Wei-Wei does not allow his authoritarian government to silence him or his art. His innovative methods are quite inspiring to all his Twitter fans.

I only wished that Wei-Wei lived in "Costa Mesa: the City of Arts", not in China. Maybe then our local government would be truly transparent.

3/30/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Enough already! said...

It's frustrating to see the same conspiracy being spit out on here. No union or city employee pushed Huy and to say that is disgusting and not to mention you can be sued if you weren't hiding on a blog.

So listen up....his official time of death was 3:17, how do you think they determined that? They don't need a witness...why? City hall has cameras all over the place. The witness is the video tape ....they don't lie. I hope this solves the mystery..next time your in City Hall...look up your being watched ....be hard to get away with much now would it ?

3/30/2011 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Making up things about Huy Pham is just another smokescreen and propaganda ploy by supporters of the Disgraceful Four.

Justice is coming.

3/31/2011 06:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Papa said...

Enough Already, you are a joke! Those city hall cameras record action at the doorways, on the walkways, and in the parking lot. They don't monitor the roof top.

You union thugs will say and do anything for attention.

3/31/2011 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous almostdone said...

Anybody who uses the term "union thugs" in referance to public employees here in Orange County is just simply a moron.
To claim that city employees, including the PD, pushed this person off the roof is so stupid I doubt it's possible that more than one idiot actually thinks that.
Clearly one out of wack individual posting under different handles here.
Please push the eject button on this disturbing nonsense. It's starting to look like the Watchdog.
Alot of people don't participate there because of the game players and wackos. Is that where this is leading?

3/31/2011 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Did I miss something or wasn't today's post about the Fairgrounds?

I heard a news bite last night on CBS/KCAL that Gov. Moonbeam has in his new budget to give a large amount of funding to support the State Fairs; the GOP want it removed as part of a 54 item "WE won't vote for it" list before they will except the new budget.

Also Geoff, didn't you make the point during his campaigning when he would say, "There will be NO new tax increases without a vote", that he would not keep that promise when he knew he would lose? Another good call...

3/31/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

"Union Thugs" Boy it just seems more and more obvious that posters on this blog and in the papers are the same like 4 or 5 people. LOL What a joke. Making yourselves seem like there are more in support of the 4 stooges than there really are is just a sad pathetic joke.

3/31/2011 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous heartforcostamesa said...

Is the City Council to blame for Huy Pham's suicide? The sanest thing I read was a post to the earliest newspaper reports. I don't remember the poster's tag, and I will have to paraphrase, but it sounded pretty wise to me..."Is the City Council responsible for Huy Pham’s death? No. Since none of us know exactly what was in his mind we cannot really judge why he did what he did. It was his choice. Is the City Council to blame for creating an atmosphere of anxiety, low morale, tension, stress and instability at City Hall and among city employees? Yes. For this they are absolutely responsible."

4/01/2011 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous keep thinkin' said...

There are two tragedies; first the brutal way potential downsizing was addressed. You don't downsize efficiently with a sledgehammer and a meat ax. It's a process that requires finesse and planning. No competent businessman would jump into that without first doing a cost/benefit analysis. It is not sound business practice to demoralize and destabilize half your workforce if you don't even know whom you're going to keep and who is going to go. Some of the best will immediately send out resumes, and will be irretrievably lost to other jobs by the time the facts and figures come rolling in. If they go to another job within the PERS benefit system, Costa Mesa may be on the hook for future benefit payments anyway, even for higher payments if they get a higher salary. This supposedly budget-savvy City Council hasn't bothered to check that out.

The second tragedy is Huy Pham's death, and we cannot ignore that it was a death with a message. He carefully picked the day, time and exact location of that act. He landed in the face of the City Council, so to speak. No matter what, the loss of this talented and loving young man is tragic. I personally don't know if he did it because he was despondent, or incredibly brave.

4/01/2011 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous FYI said...

Huy Pham's death was a message from the unions. No one else.

4/02/2011 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

FYI= Martin Millard

Enough said.

4/02/2011 05:16:00 PM  

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