Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fairgrounds Sale Scab Ripped Off Again

At the meeting of the Fair Board last Thursday morning the panel charged by the Board to investigate the proposed scheme to purchase the Fair Grounds property a couple years ago on the cheap presented their findings.  You will recall that the effort, in which several members of the Fair Board at the time formed a foundation to purchase the 150 acre Fairgrounds site, was quashed due, in great part, to the efforts of now-councilwoman Sandra Genis in her then-role as President of the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society, HERE.

Norberto Santana, Jr., Managing Editor of the Voice of OC, first announced this move in an entry on January 17th, early in the morning, HERE.  He followed up after the meeting with another one, HEREMike Reicher of the Orange County Register covered the event HERE and Bradley Zint covered it for the Daily Pilot HERE.  Read all those articles and you'll get a pretty good feel for what transpired on Thursday.

As you will read, calls were made for a forensic audit of the process of attempting to sell the Fairgrounds.  Major players were former state legislator Dick Ackerman and then-Fair Board President David Ellis, among many others.  When this first came up back in 2009 Ellis presented a long list to the Fair Board of individuals he insisted MUST be interviewed if the Board was to have a clear idea of what transpired in this drama.  That list in below.
As you can see, it looks like a list of everyone who ever muttered the words "Fairgrounds Sale".  I suspect Ellis knows that his challenge to interview all those people would be virtually impossible, particularly since the committee formed to do it had no subpoena power nor any authority to guarantee truthful responses.

One thing that's missing in these articles is a mention of the role current Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer played in this scheme.  We know of his participation in "Save The Fair" web site, HERE.  We also know that his commentary in the Daily Pilot under his "Rigonomics" byline back in June of 2009 may have been one of the first mentions of this scheme, HERE.  Personally, I'd like to know more about his involvement.  I'm curious because it was clear at that time that he was likely participating behind the scenes.  Some will recall that ill-fated mistaken voice mail message left for a local reporter instead of community stalwart Rick Kapko informing Kapko that he was a lock to be a member of the Costa Mesa Financial Evaluation Committee before his appointment had been affirmed.  That kind of stuff makes many of us curious.

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.  Certainly, there are many questions left unanswered.  I find myself wondering just how far this Fair Board will wish to pursue it.  It is logical to speculate about potential legal sanctions if, for example, the State Attorney General decides to actually investigate this matter.  There is, of course, the cloud of conflict of interest hanging over that possibility, since the Attorney General is, in fact, the counsel for the Fair Board.  I guess we'll see.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Help McEvoy said...

You wrote: "it was clear at that time that [Righeimer] was likely participating behind the scenes." This is a potentially serious charge against the person who is now our mayor. If you are correct, there may be support for McEvoy's recall effort. What evidence do you have that he was involved?

1/19/2013 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

There's a lot of history Righeimer was an early advocate for the sale of the fairgrounds. Even though the City council had passed a resolution opposing the sale, Riggy was going around as Planning Commissioner, advocating for the sale. These facts,are well known, amd thoroughly documented.

1/20/2013 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Vern said...

"There is, of course, the cloud of conflict of interest hanging over that possibility, since the Attorney General is, in fact, the counsel for the Fair Board."

But, aren't you wrong there, Geoff? If you remember, Attorney General Brown withdrew his representation of the Board back in I think December of 2009, after *cough* Gus Ayer buttonholed him at a convention and filled him in on the Board's shenanigans. And that was to avoid just this sort of conflict.

And this past year, the new Board has been trying to get new AG Kamala to come back & save 'em money, and so far she's refused because of this ongoing investigation ... hey ... maybe it is all starting to make sense!

Maybe the you-know-what WILL hit the fan.

1/20/2013 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Vern said...

Greg, remember Riggy's too-clever-by-half "Save the Fair" movement ... which preyed on folks who really wanted to save the Fair, and taught them that the only way to do that would be to sell it to a local "non-profit?"

1/20/2013 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Vern, thanks for the correction - yours was the second one I received. The AG is NOT the counsel for the Fair Board - they have private representation. I'm told the AG won't return to represent the Fair Board until all questions about the sale scheme are resolved. I'm also told that should an investigation be necessary the AG could do it. Yes, we need to give credit where it's due - I just didn't recall all the specifics and knew those of you who did would leap in here. Thanks, again.

1/20/2013 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Sell Riggy to the 909 said...

Apparently the Dodges are having issues. Maybe formerly "secret" info will come to light as a result..

1/20/2013 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The last time I saw someone cry as much as Dave Ellis was after the Eastside town hall, when Our Dear Mayor browbeat the living snot out of the organizers for "bias."

1/20/2013 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous GodIsLove said...

I said this on the VOC blog, but it still remains true:

"I thought the most interesting thing was after years of the Preservation Society saying the staff was one of the victims of the the Ellis/Beasley cabal, with one unilateral proclamation, Berardino absolved his colleagues of all responsibility and shifted blame to the staff.

Just shows that the powerful stick together, politics is theater and Berardino is more concerned with consolidating power than protecting the workers."

Now that Berardino is targeting employees to divert attention away from the Board members, I would imagine you will see a lot of good people leaving simply because they are sick of the Board propagating the "scandal" for their own purposes.

It is sad that Berardino is willing to burn the place to the ground just to further his own agenda.

1/21/2013 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Vern said...


Yes, we all saw your comment at the VOC. I thought I would just let is pass. Now I'm starting to wonder if you're the same person who used to fight against us Sale Derailers under the pseudonym "Lilly Boyd." Lilly also used to exaggeratedly whine that we were unfairly picking on the "staff," when we were pretty much just including CEO Beazley with the culpable.

I immortalized you here:

It stands to reason that Beazley may not have been the only staff member who knowingly did underhanded things to facilitate the swindle, doesn't it? I don't believe your threat that any "good people" will leave just because of us trying to get to the bottom of things.

And of course everyone knows Nick is not absolving Board members of responsibility - just, possibly, Joyce Tucker and Kristina Dodge, who appear more and more to have been dupes and out of their depth.

Maybe that's sexist of him to absolve them that way? You could pursue that line of argument...

1/21/2013 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous GodIsLove said...

Vern, I do agree that Berardino might be a bit sexist to assume Dodge and Tucker were out of their depths.

But I think it is ridiculous for Berardino assume two Board members, who were part of the foundation and who's husbands supposedly met with Dykma (according to Padilla), were duped while not giving staff the same benefit of the doubt.

Nothing about the report absolves Dodge and Tucker. Berardino made that call all on his own.

I think Berardino absolved Dodge and Tucker simply to further isolate Ellis and to consolidate power around himself. And, since someone has to pay the price, Berardino has no problem letting staff take the fall.

And, I don't know a Lilly Boyd.

1/21/2013 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous YoMama said...

This long-time teacher of English just can't resist:

who's = a contraction of "who is"
whose = possessive adjective, e.g., "whose" husbands

1/25/2013 11:47:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home