Monday, August 08, 2011

Berardino Awakens The Fair Board

Today Orange County Employee's Association (OCEA) General Manager, Nick Berardino - recently appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the 32 District Agriculture Association Board (Orange County Fair Board) - announced that he has requested the Orange County Fair and Event Center Board Chairman, Dave Ellis and President and CEO Dr. Steve Beazley - to agendize two items on the August 25, 2011 Fair Board meeting.

Berardino asked that a Fair and Events Center Citizen Oversig
ht Committee be created "to investigate and issue a public report regarding to the proposed sale of the Fairgrounds". He suggested that the committee "would compile and review all information related to the proposed sale, including but not limited to all related documents, emails, records, minutes, memos and contracts" and prepare a report within 180 days of its formation.

Berardino suggested that such committee would "be comprised by two members each from the following constituencies: Orange County Fair Preservation Society, Orange County Fairboards Equestrian Center, Orange County Market Place vendors, Orange County Business Council, Orange County Fair and Events Center Executive Management and the bargaining unit representatives." I saw no mention of anyone representing the public at large nor the City of Costa Mesa, which was a major player in the "Fairgrounds Sale" drama until being left standing at the alter by Facilities Management West.


He also requested that the Board consider
his "request to engage the services of a competent forensic auditor to conduct a forensic audit of fairgrounds operations and transactions for the past three years". He went on to say that this forensic audit would, "lift the veil on any actual or perceived secrecy, and help us become a more transparent and accessible Board".

It's going to be very interesting to see just what kind of a reaction these requests generate from Chairman Ellis and the other members of the board. We'll find out in a couple weeks.

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Anonymous Terry Koken said...

How do you read his intent, Geoff? Is there any more data?

8/08/2011 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

In his transmittal email he said, in part,
"I am looking forward to a successful future serving the community on the Orange County Fair Board, but I don’t think we can truly move forward until the I fully understand all the details surrounding the failed sale of the fairgrounds and all of the public’s questions about the sale are answered."

I'm not sure I agree with him. While I detested the way this whole "Fairgrounds Sale" thing evolved and the actions and reported actions of many of the players, I'm not sure ripping the scab off that wound is going to accomplish much now except throw fuel on a fire that is finally only smoldering. Berardino now has a seat at the table and, apparently, the ear of the Governor. If he views himself as a Watchdog, he is now in a position to fulfill that role.

8/08/2011 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Geoff, I totally disagree with you. Leaving this splinter in the wound, is not the best way to move forward.
You've been really busy watching a lot of issues.
I for one, would like to see the results from the"forensic audit" performed on the Fair Boards contract auditing Partner the California Construction Authority. That has been where a lot of the money from the Fair has been transferred, but has it been returned?
The CCA, went through a major implosion, which resulted in the head of the agency , basically , skipping town. No one knew what was going on , and the State ordered a"forensic audit". Unfortunately many of the facts were just completely "accounting wise"obliterated. Reviewing this Fair Boards accounts is a "Must" moving forward. There are millions unaccounted for. At least the Manett, Phelps, Law Firm no - bid $500,000 a year contract should be re-examined. Jerry Brown was the AG that dropped the Fair's time to go back to Kamala Harris, unless they have something to hide.....

8/08/2011 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

In this case, a watchdog is a very good thing.

8/09/2011 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert The Drake said...

A couple of things that seem lost in the mix. The fair is audited by the State every year. Nick is simply grandstanding the same way Katrina Foley used to. He will vote "with the people" when he knows he has no chance of winning (which one vote in 9 isn't winning, duh). And how is having a bunch of tenants mucking through the fair's business going to help anything? Of course the Tellers want to stir up controversy, to distract from their failing business.

And, Greg, what fair money is unaccounted for? They've got over $11 million in the bank after completing several major construction projects and probably going to bump that up by $4 or 5 million after this fair. Sounds like they are doing fine.

If you want to get to the bottom of this mess you have to refer to the one piece of "evidence" all the naysayers seem to ignore: the resolution passed by the board in July 2009. Their position is there in black and white: Governor, if you are going to sell the fairgrounds, keep it a fairgrounds.

Move on people, there's nothing to see here, just a bunch of people putting on a fair and besting themselves year after year. The staff should be applauded, not forced to relive what was probably a very bad couple of years.

8/09/2011 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I refuse to get into all the questionable financial doings of the past FairBoard.......we should leave that for an auditor. A forensic audit is different than a State audit and you know that. We need to actually see what the owners of the Fairgrounds....the county residents, have actually been paying for, through the stewardship of the Fair Board. Countless records requests have been flagrantly ignored by the past Fair Board, only by going to other agencies were documents discovered and recorded. Facts about the lobbying, the appraisal, and numerous other odd expenditures have never been addressed or explained. Moving forward is one thing , and we need to start off clean. By refusing this request, it only raises and continues the suspicion the public has regarding Ellis and the Fair Board. If there is nothing to hide, whats the problem?

8/09/2011 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

This is all so Moonbeam can look over what went wrong with the sale; for when the time comes, and it surely will, for him to do the same. He will use these findings, hoping not make the same mistakes as his predecessor.

When he submits to again sale, or maybe follow in the boot-steps of our own wise world traveler and outsource the OCF; he doesn’t want to end up in court like Uncle Arnold… all his ducks in a row.

8/09/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert The Drake said...

So, Greg, who pays for the forensic audit? If it is truly independent, the fair shouldn't pay for it.

And, if you are so concerned about the fair financials, you should admit that the equestrian center is a money pit that would better serve the county and the tax payers as a parking lot.

And, the county does not own the fairgrounds, the state does.

All of this special interest grandstanding needs to stop. There have been over a million members of the community who have had a great time at the fair this year and don't care what your little group thinks.

8/09/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Robert the Drake I wonder if you were on the receiving end of some of those questionable dollars the Fair Board spent. Or maybe you just got favors from the Board members so you defend them. One thing you don't know anything about is the value of the equestrian center. Number one it is not a money pit, it has generated income for the fairgrounds from Day 1 and continues to do so. Where were YOU during the all the open meetings, etc.? Why didn't you hear from the community who overwhelmingly supported the good the equestrain center does for our community? We need that forensic audit because justice demands it.

8/09/2011 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert The Drake said...

Oh, Nancy, I understand that you believe the public supports the equestrian center but that is because you ask the public if they like horses. You never ask them if it is smart for a government agency to only make $40,000 a year on a piece of land that could easily generate $400,000 a year as a parking lot.

I have a idea: Saturday, when the Fair runs out of parking, ask those who are circling the fairgrounds if they support the equestrian center or think the fairgrounds needs more parking.

It is real easy to get public support when you ask them, should the fairgrounds keep the equestrian center. It is a bit harder to get public support when you say should the government subsidize your hobby.

I am not on the receiving end of any board favors, even though that is always you and your husband's (and the OCFPS) go-to response whenever someone disagrees with you. I am simply against special interests and the equestrians are a small group of people with a disproportionate slice of the pie.

8/09/2011 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Parking Preferred said...

Nancy, our fairgrounds are meant to house the annual fair, NOT your asine horses. Those horses add nothing whatsoever to the fair going experience.

You also seem to have lost sight of the fact that you are not the landlord, the taxpayers are. Take your act and your equally useless husband on down the road. I agree completely with an earlier comment made. Fairgoers would rather have the parking.

Somebody should start circulating a petition to remove the equestrian center from the fairgrounds. Most people don't even realize it's even there, and how much room it takes up.

8/10/2011 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart4CM said...

I know the value of the equestrian center to the community. As a kid I took lessons there. I learned to believe in myself and my abilities, to push the limits of what I thought I could do, I learned responsibility, teamwork, perserverance, courage, competiton, satisfaction in a job well done. Values like what Pop Warner is supposed to teach!

Every time the fair board has tried to get rid of the horses, the outpouring of community support for the equestrian center has been huge. It's a part of our local heritage, something you dollar worshippers think is valueless. Horse apples smell better than the stink surrounding the Fair Board's recent dealings. Maybe Nick will find a way to muck out some of that shtuff.

8/10/2011 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert The Drake said...

Has Nick ever said he cares about the equestrian center? Sounds like he is more interested in looking at the sale. I don't know where you get the idea he will be the equestrian savior.

But, either way, remember, his a political appointee, not a Fair expert. I wouldn't expect big results, just a lot of bluster.

8/11/2011 07:22:00 AM  

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