Fairgrounds Staff

OC Fair Board Meeting - September 27, 2018 at 9 AM

Fair Board Meeting (1)

Fair Board Meeting on Thursday, September 27, 2018, starting at 9 AM in the Administration Building at 88 Fair Drive, CostaMesa, CA. Agenda items include:

  • Costa Mesa City License and Sales Tax Requirements;
  • Public Records Processes;
  • New Safety and Security Board Policy;
  • Scheduling an October Board and Community Master Site Plan Workshop;
  • Property Wide Infrastructure Analysis;
  • Discussion of Storage Solutions.

Complete agenda available at this link

 https://ocfair.com/public-information/public-meetings/

Use the September 2018 meeting information.

 

Contact Information to Follow Up on Issues

Contact the Fair Board 

Chair Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com
Vice Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com
Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com
Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com
Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com
Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com
Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns  kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards mrichards@ocfair.com

 


Coverup of OC Fairgrounds Equestrian Center Attempted Size Reduction Sends the Wrong Message & Only Increases Problems

IMG_1176

In late March 2018, contractors arrived unannounced at the Equestrian Center at the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) to fence off a substantial part of the facility to make more room to store shipping containers. The immediate threat of installing a fence to make room for more shipping containers was stopped with the fence removed, but questions regarding who did this, why they did this, how this was paid for, who authorized the fence, and how long this was in the works remain unanswered. Direct questions sent to the Board on April 2, 2018, have been ignored. Records requested on April 5, 2018, regarding the attempted size reduction are being delayed until late June 2018. Board Directors refuse to discuss details of the matter in public. This is the wrong approach which does not serve the interests of the Public who own OCFEC.

The instincts of the Board are to cover up questionable actions and misconduct by Executive Management and staff while criticizing and berating the Public for asking questions. Members of the Public have been threatened with removal from Board meetings and action from the Attorney General in response to asking questions which put the Board on the spot regarding conduct of Executive Management and staff.  Board Directors Barbara Bagneris, Robert Ruiz, Sandra Cervantes,  Newton Pham, Stan Tkaczyk, Ashleigh Aitken, Nick Berardino, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet are teaching Executive Management and staff that dishonesty, incomptency, inexcusable neglect of duty, willful disobedience, and misuse of state property, among other issues, are acceptable and the Board will cover it up for them. What do Board Directors gain by covering up for Executive Management and staff?

The Board Directors continue to delegate authority to act to Executive Management despite Executive Management demonstrating on multiple occasions that they are dishonest, incompetent, inexcusably neglect their duties, are insubordinate, and are discourteous in treatment of the Public, among other issues.  Executive Management have shown time and again that they can't be trusted. What do the Board Directors gain by delegating authority to act to Executive Management who can't be trusted?

California civil service employees are subject to disciplinary procedures under statute Cal. Gov. Code § 19570. CalHR distinguishes between employee performance problems and misconduct. CalHR's Supervisors Guide to Addressing Poor Performance describes misconduct as:

The second category of problem behavior is “misconduct” -- meaning the employee does something that is contrary to the nature of the job or state rules. Threatening violence against a coworker, stealing and dishonesty are examples of misconduct. An employer can take adverse action against an employee who engages in these behaviors immediately without engaging in the corrective phase or progressive discipline. In other words, there is no training course to teach someone how to not steal, employees are reasonably expected to know that this is unacceptable conduct.

Board Directors should require Executive Management to immediately release any and all documents regarding the attempts to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center to create more storage for shipping containers.  The Board needs to stop covering for Executive Management and staff who work against the interests of the Public.

When Executive Management refuses to immediately release the documents, the correct response from the Board is to remind Executive Management that insubordination, among other actions, is grounds for disciplinary action under California law and proceed accordingly.  Get the information out there to the Public who own the Equestrian Center and whose money was wasted on this mess while Executive Management and staff who participated bear the consequences.

And remember, there is no training course to teach someone how to be honest and employees are reasonably expect to know what is acceptable conduct.

Contact Information to Follow Up on Issues

Contact the Fair Board 

Chair Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com
Vice Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com
Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com
Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com
Stan Tkaczyk stkaczyk@ocfairboard.com
Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com
Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com
Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com
Nick Berardino nberardino@ocfairboard.com

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns  kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact the Governor's Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil Rogers at mona.pasquil@gov.ca.gov to discuss OCFEC Director performance issues. Fair Board Directors are appointed by the Governor and may be removed for cause by the Governor at any time. (Cal. Food & Agriculture Code § 3959-3960.)

Contact Parent State Agency OCFEC is a state agency under the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)  because OCFEC is a state run county fair created to support California agriculture. Please refer to as OCFEC as the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) when dealing with the state.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross 916-654-0433 secretary.ross@cdfa.ca.gov

Fairs and Exhibitions (F&E) are under the Marketing Services Division. 

F&E Branch Chief John Quiroz 916-900-5025 john.quiroz@cdfa.ca.gov

 

 

 


Can the Fairgrounds Put More Information About How They Operate on Their Website?

Chicken Scooter Question (2)

Yes, the Fairgrounds could put more information about how they operate on their website. Plans to begin to post more information about operations on the Fairgrounds website were mentioned during a meeting for the 2018 budget. No specifics have been presented as to the types of information to be posted or the changes to be made. Keep asking for more information about Fairgrounds operations to be posted.


OC Fairgrounds Equestrian Center Demolition Proposed to Create 245 Space RV Park

The latest proposal for the OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) Master Site Plan shows the Equestrian Center being demolished and replaced with a 245 space RV park which can also be used as a 900 space parking lot. Demolishing the Equestrian Center eliminates the single largest agricultural use at a property which claims to have a mission of  "Celebration of Orange County's Communities, Interests, Agriculture and Heritage [. . . ]". Removing the Equestrian Center is unacceptable and must be taken off the table.

Board Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) and Executive Management  have wasted over $250,000 in Public money on Master Site Plan proposals which do not take into account the needs and desires of the Public and are incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.  The time is now to rip up both the September 2017 and April 2018 Master Site Plan proposals and start over with a process which focusses on the needs and desires of the Public who own OCFEC and which includes the Public in the process at the same level of effort as the Board, Executive Management, contractors, and staff. 

View the entire proposal on the OCFEC website or see the two slides about the replacement Equestrian Center with an RV park and parking lot here:

Master Site Plan CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April-2018

As a PDF:  Download Master Site Plan CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April-2018

RVPark_CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April

As a PDF:  Download RVPark_CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April-2018-FINAL-DRAFT_040218

If you are already fed up, sign the petition asking to save the Equestrian Center and to start over with the Master Site Plan process which includes the Public in the process. 

Rip Up the 2 OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plans, Start Over with a Public-Friendly Process!

 

How Did This Happen?

In September 2017, a Master Site Plan proposal converting OCFEC to a convention center was presented. (See Board Workshop – Concept Presentation MSP files.)  The Equestrian Center was retained in the September 2017 Master Site Plan proposal. This proposal was helmed by VP of Business Development Ken Karns with Directors Doug La Belle and Robert Ruiz comprising the Master Site Plan Task Force overseeing the project. The Master Site Plan proposal was shown one (1) time in September 2017 and then whisked away to a backroom for changes to be made. Despite the Public begging for additional meetings to be held to allow the Public to have input into changes, Directors Doug La Belle and Robert Ruiz kept the process in the back room and refused to allow the Public to participate in decision making. During the same time, an Equestrian Center Task Force with Directors Ashleigh Aitken and Stan Tkaczyk and retired real estate investor Theresa Sears made statements which led many to believe that the Equestrian Center would be retained. 

 

Converting the Equestrian Center to Parking Creates Millions in Annual Revenue

245 Space RV Park is Sized for Year Round Use

The proposed RV park has 245 RV spaces with restrooms and showers and is across the street from TeWinkle Park, the Skate Park and Bark Park. At 245 spaces, the proposed RV park is in between than the 185 space RV park at  LA County Fairplex in Pomona, CA, operated by KOA, the 195 space Orangeland RV Park in Orange and Newport Dunes located on the Back Bay of Newport Beach, CA, with 382 RV spaces. The proposed RV park can be used year round for both camping by those working at OCFEC events or by members of the public desiring to park their RV in a coastal area.  A little research shows a daily rate of $50 per day is a comparable daily rental rate. A conservative projection of about $1.6 million in annual revenues is made as follows:

  • Total Spaces  245
  • Number of Available Days to Rent to the Public  270 (Remove June, July and August from the public rental schedule to the OC Fair)
  • Daily Rate $50.00 
  • Capacity 50%

Once the RV park is built, there is nothing preventing OCFEC from converting the area to year round use or engaging an operator such as KOA to manage the park.

 

RV Park Can Also be 900 Parking Spaces

The Master Site Plan includes using the former Equestrian Center area as a 900 space parking lot in addition to functioning as RV parking. Parking is a signficant source of OCFEC revenue with the 2018 budget showing $5,305,113 in total parking revenue as follows:

  • $2,758,813 in Fair Parking Revenue (line item 4370)
  • $94,700 in Vendor Hang Tag Parking (line item 4393)
  • $2,161,700 in Year-Round Event Parking Sales (line item 4710)
  • $268,900 in VIP Event Parking Revenue (line item 4711)
  • $21,000 in Preferred Parking (line item 4715)

Download the 2018 OCFEC Budget  Download 17_1108_2018_Budget_Roll-up_CapEx_DRAFT

A revenue projection can be made for a 900 space parking lot using a similar methodology as used for the RV park and shows a conservative estimate of about $1.2 million per year.  

  • Total Spaces  900
  • Number of Available Days to Rent to the Public  270 (Remove June, July and August from the public rental schedule to the OC Fair)
  • Daily Rate $10.00 
  • Capacity 50%

 

Safety of Arlington Drive & New Bike/Pedestrian Trail Jeopardized by New Parking Lot

Davis Elementary School, TeWinkle Park, Bark Park, Costa Mesa Tennis Center, and Volcom Skate Park are also located along Arlington Drive. Arlington Drive is a neighborhood street to be used to school, park and residential use, not for carrying 900 cars to park at $10 car to make $9,000 per day, at a minimum. It is not clear if Executive Management or the Board of Directors have noticed that Arlington Drive is not a major street designed to carry large amounts of vehicle traffic or heavy vehicles such as RVs and carnival equipment. A multipurpose trail for use by bicycles and pedestrians has been added to Arlington Drive in addition to the bioswale. Creating a 245 space RV park adds a minimum of 490 trips across the bike and pedestrian trail to fill and empty the RV park. Creating a 900 space parking lot adds a minimum of 1800 trips across the bike and pedestrian trail. Vehicle trips over the bicycle and pedestrian trail create safety problems with creating the conditions which can allow pedestrian and bicycle accidents to occur for the sole reason of making money.  Creating safety problems to make money is appalling and the proposed parking lots replacing the Equestrian Center must be removed.

 

April 2018 Master Site Plan Proposal is Yet Another Example of Lack of Accountability of OCFEC Directors & Executive Management

An ongoing lack of accountability exists at OCFEC which tars the Board, Executive Management. A recent example is the attempt to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center to store more shipping containers. While some have tried to portray these actions which involved expenditure of staff time and public money as a "misunderstanding", that is simply not the case. Decisions were made, plans were drafted, contractors were hired, money spent and staff time was used to perform these actions. Executive Management who were involved in these actions must be held publicly accountable.

Earlier in 2018, the Board was made aware of actions taken by the Board, Executive Management, and staff which have endangered safety, manipulated bids and financial records to achieve outcomes desired by staff, worked to evade legal settlements entered into by the Board which protect the neighborhoods around OCFEC, and have turned a blind eye to conflicts of interest, among other problems. It is not clear why the Board allows these problems to continue. No one has been held publicly accountable for these actions. 

The proposed demolition of the Equestrian Center in the April 2018 Master Site Plan proposal is yet another example of the lack of accountability. It is time for the Board to cease and desist aiding and abetting actions by Executive Management which are against the interests of the Public. New Executive Management is needed along with new Master Site Plan proposals.  The time is now for the Board to fix these problems. 

 

Rip Up the Master Site Proposals & Start Over

Over $250,000 of Public money has been wasted by the Board and Executive Management on Master Site Plan proposals which ignore the needs and desires of the Public who own the OCFEC property, are incompatible with the neighborhoods, and create safety problems.  There is money in the budget which can be used as seed money for a redo of the Master Site Plan. The $115,449 from the "PR/Manager Function" at line item 5475 in the 2018 Budget (posted above)  is the Public money used to pay for the Directors and their families and Executive Management to have catered premium buffets with grilled salmon with Florentine cream sauce; beef tenderloin sandwiches on brioche buns; bacon wrapped medallions of beef; sauteed citrus garlic buttered shrimp; swordfish; top sirloin steaks with crispy shallots; pepper crusted roasted tri tip; Portobello filet mignon with Danish bleu cheese sauce; carved rosemary and garlic stuffed prime rib; Tuscan T-bone steaks; pan roasted halibut; and tomahawk rib eye steaks among the fancy salads and desserts.  That $115,449 will make a downpayment on a new Master Site Plan. 

 

Contact Information to Follow Up on Issues

Contact the Fair Board Added May 3, 2018

Chair Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com
Vice Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com
Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com
Nick Berardino nberardino@ocfairboard.com
Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com
Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com
Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com
Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com
Stan Tkaczyk stkaczyk@ocfairboard.com

Fair Board Directors are appointed by the Governor and may be removed for cause by the Governor at any time.  (Cal. Food & Agriculture Code § 3959-3960.) Contact the Governor's Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil Rogers at mona.pasquil@gov.ca.gov to discuss OCFEC Director performance  issues. 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns who is charge of the Master Site Plan kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact the Costa Mesa City Council to share your concerns regarding safety and traffic issues resulting from replacing the Equestrian Center with a large parking lot and/or RV park. 

Mayor Sandra Genis sandra.genis@costamesaca.gov

Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor allan.mansoor@costamesaca.gov

 

 

 


Parking Structure Shot Down in 2015 Arises Anew in Latest Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Proposal

WTF Nautical Flags (3)

The latest OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) Master Site Plan proposal (see page 38 and on “Phase VII - Other Projects” page 45) shows a parking structure and pedestrian bridge at the corner of Fairview Road and Arlington Drive and states that Orange Coast College (OCC) would be partnering on the project.  Representatives of OCC were contacted and multiple officials stated that they had no knowledge of the inclusion of the proposed parking structure in the Master Site Plan and OCC had not requested that the parking structure be included in the OCFEC Master Site Plan. OCFEC  Executive Management made the following statements regarding the proposed parking structure without consulting let alone obtaining an agreement from OCC: 

  • Partner with OCC 
  • Screened to lessen impact on neighbors
  • With elevators
  • Build West Tower at OCC
  • Build bridge over Fairview Dr to OCC
  • Parking garage assumed 3 stories @ +210 stalls per floor 
  • Footprint of parking garage removes -323 stalls of surface parking

CEO Kathy Kramer should recall that in 2015 a proposed parking structure on the same site was met with strong opposition by the College Park neighbors who would bear the brunt of the impacts from the project.  Current Board Directors Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Robert Ruiz, and Stan Tkaczyk should also recall vocal neighborhood opposition to the project and suggestions that other solutions found such as building a parking garage (if one is needed) in the corner of Newport Blvd and Fair Dr below the billboards.  The parking structure proposed now in 2018 is the same unwanted parking structure proposed in 2015. If CEO Kathy Kramer and Directors Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Robert Ruiz, and Stan Tkaczyk don't recall that the parking structure was unwanted in 2015 and aren't smart enough to figure out that the same parking structure is unwanted in 2018, none of them should be in charge of a public agency, allowed  to drive a car, or have sharp objects in their possession because there is something wrong with them. They may also eat paste, so lock that up.

If a Parking Structure is Needed, Put It Under the Billboards on Newport Blvd Side

If a parking structure is needed (and it is not sure if a parking structure is actually needed) the structure should be built at the corner of Newport Blvd and Fair Dr under the billboards. Building a parking structure at this location can be part of the relocation of the Main Entrance from Fair Dr to Newport Blvd. The new Main Entrance can be designed to speed up parking and move stacking of cars waiting to park from the public streets and onto OCFEC property.  This plan was previously proposed to the OCFEC and should be reconsidered:

Alt 2 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1) Alt 3 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

Alt 4 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

Alt 5 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

 CEO Kathy Kramer needs your help to be reminded that the parking garage at the corner of Fairview Rd and Arlington Dr is not wanted. kkramer@ocfair.com

VP of Operations Ken Karns who is in charge of the Master Site Plan  & the Fair Board Directors need to also hear from you on this matter.

Ken Karns kkarns@ocfair.com

Email Summer Angus and ask her to forward the email to the Directors sangus@ocfair.com


Unauthorized Fairgrounds Equestrian Center Size Reduction Requires Public Accountability of All Involved

Porta Pottie Question (2)

During late March, equestrians found construction workers installing permanent fence poles in concrete bases to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center. At no time was a reduction in size of the Equestrian Center approved by the Board of the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC.)  The reduction was to allow storage of more shipping containers on the property. Work was halted after the equestrians pushed back but public accountability of all involved is required. This work was planned, contracted for, paid for, and overseen by Executive Management and staff. This was not a "misunderstanding", an "accident", or anything but a deliberate planned action which wasted public money.  

Ask yourself:

  • What motivates these actions?
  • Who benefits from these actions?
  • What are the benefits received from these actions?
  • What do Board members gain by not holding Executive Management and staff involved in these actions publicly accountable?

 

Photos of the construction work: 

IMG_1176
IMG_1176
IMG_1176

The letter sent to the Board (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) follows: 

Staff of the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) are engaging in the revision of contractual lease terms involving the Equestrian Center without apparently asking for, or receiving, approval of the 32nd DAA Board or input from the Public who own the Equestrian Center. There are currently activities ongoing at the 32nd DAA to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center. It is unclear as to when, how or by whom the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center was approved and the source(s) of funds for said activities. The Public who own the Equestrian Center became aware of the reduction in size of after permanent fence poles in concrete bases were installed to move the fence line from between the current boundary of the Equestrian Center to immediately behind the arenas. Work was stopped after Public intervention. At no time was the Public informed of plans to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center.

Any and all members of Executive Management who participated in the decision and actions to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center must be held publicly accountable for their actions. This current action by Executive Management against the greater interests of the Public who own the 32nd DAA property is one of a history of actions by Executive Management against the interests of the Public. For an overview of actions against the greater interests of the Public, please refer to the letter “Ongoing Pattern of Behavior by the 32nd District Agricultural Association” dated February 15, 2018, previously sent to the Board which discusses questionable actions harming the Public which started in at least 2015 and some of which may be ongoing. There is a saying that the “fish rots from the head," which applies to this action regarding the Equestrian Center. The stench of rot is overwhelming and it is time for the Board to clear out the stinking mess.

 

Footprint of the Equestrian Center is Contained in a Contract

The size and footprint of the Equestrian Center is covered by the “Equestrian Center Restated Rental Agreement Terms and Conditions” between the 32nd DAA and Equestrian Services II entered into on March 1, 2009, and modified in a Letter of Understanding dated December 26, 2012, (afterwards referred to as “Equestrian Center Lease”) (enclosed) in Exhibits B and B-2.


Exhibit B2 from Lease

Exhibit B2 from Lease

Construction Work was Conducted to Alter the Footprint of the Equestrian Center in Violation of the Terms of the Existing Contract
The proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center would remove the area between the riding arenas and the fence between the Equestrian Center and Parking Lot G from the area used for the Equestrian Center and use the area for storage of shipping containers. Work was stopped after permanent fence posts in concrete bases were installed prior to moving the fence line, turf removal and installation of concrete. Photos showing the work completed as of March 28, 2018, are enclosed as Exhibits A1, A2, and A3. There are reports of continuing discussions to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center to allow for increased storage space for shipping containers.

 

Altering the Footprint of the Equestrian Center Requires Board Action

Changes to the footprint of the Equestrian Center as described in the Equestrian Center Lease must be approved by the 32nd DAA Board with a contract modification. Executive Management and principals of Equestrian Services II lack authority to enact changes to the footprint of the Equestrian Center. Costs associated with capital improvements such as the work started and stopped at the Equestrian Center are approved during the 32ndDAA Board annual budget process. It is not clear if the costs associated with reducing the size of the Equestrian Center to construct a shipping container storage area were approved as part of the 2018 capital expenditures budget. These actions are contrary to the current direction of the Board regarding the Equestrian Center to make capital improvements and to increase community programming.

 

Action is Needed to Restore Trust

Trust in continuing operation of the Equestrian Center has been placed in jeopardy by these rogue actions by Executive Management. As a good faith gesture to show the Board’s continuing commitment to the Equestrian Center, the Board is requested to modify the Equestrian Center Lease to remove §18 “Impact of Annual Fair Operations and Year Round Events Program” from the current Equestrian Center Lease.

The Board is requested to investigate this matter and to hold those involved publicly accountable for their actions. A list of questions regarding the reduction of size of the Equestrian Center and shipping container storage and usage is enclosed and that information is requested to be promptly provided in an effort to restore Public trust in the 32nd DAA. (see Exhibit B)

 

Exhibit B: Please provide the requested information regarding the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create a shipping container storage area.

  1. Please provide copies of the approvals for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  2. Please provide a copy of the budget for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  3. Please provide copies of the approvals for the budget for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  4. Please provide copies of any and all drawings and plans for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  5. Please provide copies of any and all approvals for the drawings and plans for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  6. Please provide fully executed copies of any and all contracts including any and all attachments, riders, and amendments for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  7. Please provide copies of any and all bids for the contracts including any and all attachments, riders, and amendments for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  8. Please provide copies of any and all approvals for the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  9. Please provide the number of shipping containers currently stored between the Equestrian Center and Parking Lot G.
  10. Please provide current information regarding the usage and ownership of each and every shipping container currently stored between the Equestrian Center and Parking Lot G.
  11. Please provide information regarding the revenues received from the shipping containers currently stored between the Equestrian Center and Parking Lot G.
  12. Please explain the need for additional storage space for shipping containers including usage, ownership, and revenues.
  13. Please explain why the Equestrian Center is the designated space for additional shipping container storage space. 
  14. Please show alternate locations for storage of additional shipping containers.
  15. Please provide copies of the direction given to remove the fence posts installed as part of the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  16. Please provide documents showing the costs of removal of the fence posts installed as part of the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space.
  17. Please provide proof that the fence posts installed as part of the proposed reduction in size of the Equestrian Center to create shipping container storage space have been removed.

Why Doesn't the Fair Board Clean Up Messes Made by Executive Management & Staff?

Toilet Paper (2)

The letter posted below was sent to the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) in February 2018 after Executive Management and the Board worked together to conceal information regarding a bid protest in which allegation were made regarding misconduct.  Concealment of the bid protest documents and other troubling questionable actions since 2015 raise questions such as:

  • What motivates these actions?
  • Who benefits from these actions?
  • What are the benefits received from these actions?
  • What do Board members gain by not fixing problems brought to their attention?

Here's the letter:

I am in receipt of the letter dated February 1, 2018, from the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) responding to my request of January 22, 2018, made under the California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov. Code §6250, et seq.). Yet again, the 32nd DAA has refused to produce documents in a timely manner which are known to be in their possession.

This refusal, which I have specifically addressed in a separate letter, is part of a series of dubious and suspect actions by the 32nd DAA, including efforts to hide its questionable activities, a pattern which started in, at least, 2015. These problematic actions or efforts to hide those actions have included:

Embarking on a complicated scheme to manipulate the bidding, contracting and financial systems by, without rational basis, revising the long-standing way in whichthe contract for Independent Sound Monitoring was structured and thus creating artificially high rates for those services, which are required to comply with multiple legal settlements and City of Costa Mesa noise limits:

During 2016, Executive Management worked with a consultant to alter the costs, terms and budget of the Independent Sound Monitoring services. This had the effect of artificially inflating rates by over 100% above what had been charged in the past for these same services. The artificially inflated rates garnered complaints from event promoters billed for the services about the sudden rate increase. Executive Management who had originated the contract changes that caused the rate increase used the rate increase to effectively terminate the long-standing and successful procedures and relationship with the existing Independent Sound Monitor. Executive Management then appointed an unqualified Sound Monitor, who was under direct control of Executive Management, to supersede the Independent Sound Monitor. The new unqualified Sound Monitor allowed promoters to conduct events unchecked, which was the apparent ultimate goal of Executive Management. This resulted in violation of multiple legal settlements and City noise standards by Fairgrounds events.

Eliminating, in 2016, the authority of the Independent Sound Monitor to require and enforce changes needed to bring sound systems into compliance with multiple legal settlements and City noise limits. This despite the fact that the professional sound monitor is required in legal settlements to which the Fairgrounds is a signator.

 

Engaging in a scheme to subsidize event promoter costs by billing event promoters less than the full amount of services provided and writing off the outstanding balance to a secret account approved by Executive Management from 2016 onward.Scheduling of events known to be dangerous and the subsequent hiding the financial impacts of those dangerous events:

In spring of 2016, Executive Management scheduled a rally for the Donald Trump campaign despite the fact that such events had led to problems at previous locations and the campaign was already notorious for not paying its bills and costs it incurred. Executive Management concealed their actions for several weeks and sprung the event on the Board and Public less than two days prior the event. Executive Management signed the contract without requiring adequate security and law enforcement staff to be paid for by the event promoter. The event ended in a riot which required hundreds of law enforcement staff to contain the riot.

A Board member and Executive Management have engaged in backroom dealing to have the taxpayers of Orange County pay a law enforcement bill from 2016, which exceeded $125,000, which resulted from an event that foreseeably ended in a riot that endangered the homes and businesses surrounding the 32nd DAA property. Executive Management and the Board stalled, obfuscated, and flatly refused to answer questions regarding payment of the bill from the fall of 2016 until the spring of 2017.

 

Engaging in dangerous and hazardous building practices and a multi-year coverup of structural deficiencies which put members of the public at risk:

Executive Management, with the support of Board members, evaded building construction standards including plan check, structural analysis and building inspection by a licensed building inspector during the construction of the nearly 50 ton Workers Memorial by designating the project as an art project rather than a construction project. An unlicensed contractor was permitted to erect the structure using methods which created structural deficiencies which rendered the structure unsafe to be around before the project was completed.

Structural deficiencies in the nearly 50 ton Workers Memorial were concealed for over a year after the structural deficiencies were discovered prior to the opening of the 2015 OC Fair. Executive Management delayed installation of fencing adequate to protect the Public from the collapsing structure until early 2016. Guests at the 2015 OC Fair were put at risk due to the placement of seating next to the structurally unsound memorial without being notified of, or protected from, the hazards. During early 2017, after the state of the memorial finally became known to the public, the collapsing structure was, finally, demolished and rebuilt by a licensed contractor.

 

Turning a blind eye to, or enabling, apparent conflicts of interest involving Board members:

A Board member management was granted oversight and responsibility for direction of a project which could benefit his employer and allowed by the Board to steer the project in a manner which is likely to benefit his employer.

The Board has allowed two Board members who are officers of a private non-profit corporation to solicit and receive donations from vendors and contractors of the 32nd DAA and to use facilities provided by the 32nd DAA vendor for the benefit of the private corporations other donors and members.

 

Compensating, through back-door methods, Board members who are supposed to be serving on the Board without compensation:

State resources have been utilized to fund private catered parties for Board members, their families, friends, nannies, and business associates. Over $60,000 is spent in a 23 day period on gourmet catered meals for private dinners held during the OC Fair. The private catered dinners feature a private bathroom costing over $14,000 for the run of the OC Fair and lavish décor paid for using public money. Countless hours of unaccounted staff time go into the planning and execution of the events. Board members receive free tickets to the best seats in the Pacific Amphitheatre, Action Sports Arena, and The Hangar, including receiving tickets to simultaneous events and more than one event on a given day. Board members have a Board Concierge who is paid staff member assigned to manage the tickets and dinners of Board members.

 

Engaging in and supporting suspect hiring paid for with state funds:

When the position of Vice President of Operations was filled, Executive Management may have made material misrepresentations to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service regarding the nature and duration of the employment of the position. In 2016, senior management of the Fairgrounds may have made misrepresentations to USCIS regarding the nature and duration of the work for which Mr. Ken Karns was hired including possibly asserting at certain points that he was hired as a temporary management consultant. Additionally, legal costs to obtain two separate USCIS clearances for this individual were paid for by the 32ndDAA. The Board has been made aware of these actions and has refused to act.

 

Attempting to increase revenues by evading legal agreements with the apparent support and encouragement of Board members:

Legally binding environmental mitigation measures and a 2012 legal settlement were ignored in order to increase revenues from the 2017 OC Fair by planned increases in seating capacity at the Pacific Amphitheatre. When confronted with documentary evidence of these actions during a Board meeting, Board members and Executive management denied the actions, accused members of the public who raised the issue of fabrication, and encouraged staff in the room to join the denialand disparagement which was taking place. After pressing the matter, an agreement was reached which resulted in compliance with the terms of the mitigation measures and legal settlement. Attempts to obtain information regarding the decision made to undertake this course of action were obstructed and continue to be obstructed, including blatant and obvious evasion and delay in response to reasonable public records requests.

This pattern and practice of bad behavior is costly and detrimental to the financial health and reputation of the 32nd DAA, but is reflective of a culture in which secrecy, confidentiality and a resistance to full disclosure to the public is reflexive and endemic. This latest attempt to hide the details of the bid protest of the proposed contract award to Ticketmaster are not going to work because facts of what happened and how it happened will be revealed. Concealing problems and attempting to contort the facts does not work and makes the problem worse.

I implore the Board to embrace openness and transparency, even if this means that changes in 32nd DAA leadership may be needed. If the fact that you've been appointed as stewards of the public in overseeing the 32nd DAA is insufficient motive to do this, then the long term financial and reputational risks to the 32nd DAA from this behavior should be more than enough incentive.

 

 

 


OC Fair Board Directors to Start Using Official Email Addresses on April 1, 2018

  GoodJob (1)

OC Fair Board Directors will have new email addresses for the public who own the OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center) to contact the Directors. This is a move in the right direction to allow Directors appointed by the Governor to hear from their constituents, who are all of Orange County. 

The new email addresses will be posted on this website and prior posts will be updated with the contact information.

Your OC Fair Board Directors are Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, and Stan Tkaczyk.

 

 


Public Has a Right to Know About What is Going On - Even at the OC Fairgrounds

Mansplain

Current OC Fairgrounds Directors and Executive Management pay lip service to claims of openness, transparency, and supporting the rights of the public, who own the OC Fairgrounds, to ask questions about what is going on. Obstructions to obtaining information including selective disclosure of information  have been used along with bullying and intimidation tactics by the Directors on members of the public. At times, members of the public who have connections to Directors have been asked to join in the bullying and intimidation tactics.

Directors claim that the public should "informally" ask CEO Kathy Kramer for information before submitting a public records request.  There is no requirement under the law that an "informal" request be made for information before a request is made under the California Public Records Act. Informal requests for information with CEO Kathy Kramer have not produced information and are met with stonewalling. Directors and Executive Management of the OC Fairgrounds act as if they are above the law.

A letter was sent to the Directors regarding the rights of the public to ask for and receive information about how business is conducted by the state employees and state officers managing the publicly owned OC Fairgrounds.  This is the letter: 

I am following up on the conversation which started during the February 22, 2018, 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) Board meeting during which a discussion of the rights of the public to ask for and to receive information regarding the conduct of the people’s business at the 32nd DAA was conducted. The California Constitution (Cal. Cons. Art. I, § 2-3) clearly grants the people rights to freely address a government body, petition the government for redress of grievances and to have access to information concerning how the government conducts the business of the people including access to the writings of public agencies and officials.

During the meeting, you publicly chastised me for exercising my Constitutional rights through public records requests and then suggested that I ask CEO Kathy Kramer informally for the documents. I followed up on your suggestion and CEO Kramer, who works for a state agency for which you have been appointed a Director by the Governor, ignored your suggestion and, of her own accord, converted my informal request into formal public records requests. CEO Kramer then chose to delay fulfillment of those requests by several months. 

I have spoken with CEO Kramer on many circumstances, and although I’m sure that, as a Director of the agency for which she is employed, she often appears receptive and interested in your point of view, she has often not been receptive or interested in my point of view or in assisting me in the past. And, if you would like the testimony of the degree to which she is receptive or interested in the viewpoints of others who do not already share her view point or are not Directors of the agency for which she is employed, I can arrange for them to contact you. I would also point out that, in this case, she was neither receptive nor apparently interested in your point of view that these requests be handled informally and promptly. I am not certain, what benefit, if any, can come from continuing a dialogue with you on this subject, given that CEO Kramer is not going to follow your suggestions and you are apparently unwilling to exercise authority over the multi-million dollar state agency which you were appointed to oversee by the Governor.

You have stated repeatedly that you believe that the public has a right to know what is going on at the 32nd DAA, but you have been among the most vocal critics of those who have chosen to exercise this Constitutional right. It is difficult to reconcile your statements with your actions. If the basis of your concern is cost, then that can be readily addressed, while furthering public access.

As was suggested at a 32nd DAA Board Meeting some months ago, a simple change in policy and a Dropbox account costing $150 per year would eliminate most need for public records request. A simple directive to employees that whenever a document or email is created by a 32nd DAA employee, a determination is made whether it fits into one of the very few, very limited exceptions to the California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov. Code § 6250, et seq.), and if it does not fit into one of those few narrow exception, it is automatically made available to the public via the Dropbox account. Adoption of this approach would make the 32nd DAA and the Board leaders and heroes in the cause of public oversight, openness, and transparent government.

 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards who oversees public records requests mrichards@ocfair.com

Contact Fair Board Directors Added May 3, 2018

Chair Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com
Vice Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com
Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com
Nick Berardino nberardino@ocfairboard.com
Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com
Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com
Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com
Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com
Stan Tkaczyk stkaczyk@ocfairboard.com

Public Records Requests cpra@ocfair.com 


Gun Show at OC Fairgrounds Shows Room for Improvements in Transparency & Accountability

Check It Out (1)

Students are walking out of school on March 14, 2018, to protest the deaths of students and others from gun violence. While Los Angeles County bans gun shows, Orange County allows gun shows. The Crossroads of the West gun show takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC), also known as the OC Fairgrounds, several times a year and is a steady source of over $300,000 in annual facility use revenue in addition to parking and concessions revenues.  About a year ago, OCFEC closed for the weekend because the Make America Great Again rally announced that they would hold their unpermitted rally near Fair Drive and Fairview Road on the same weekend as the Crossroads of the West gun show, which caused the cancellation of the gun show for that weekend. The irony is the gun show caused their own cancellation because they agreed to host the Make America Great Again rally without permission to do so.  The gun show was allowed to reschedule the date of the show which was cancelled due to their own actions. 

A recent trip to the gun show raises questions about the conduct of the show including:

  • Photography and video recording are prohibited.
  • A list of of sellers is not available.
  • A "pentagon AR-15 coupler" which attaches five ten-round magazines to an AR-15 was for sale. This apparently legal workaround allows up to fifty rounds to be fired in quick succession. The video linked to is for illustrative purposes only.
  • Several gun show sellers specialize in AR-15 weaponry and accessories.
  • It is not clear if a person is able to obtain the parts needed to assembly an AR-15 from the sellers at the gun show. 
  • Booths do not have signs with the name of the business at each and every booth and not all booths had marketing materials or business cards with the business name and contact information.
  • A number of sellers do not match to a list of Costa Mesa business licenses although a Costa Mesa business license is required to conduct business at OCFEC.  See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter I to learn more about business license requirements. A Costa Mesa business license allows sales tax generated at OCFEC to be paid to the City of Costa Mesa, Orange County, and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), among other agencies. OCTA uses the M1 and M2 OC Go sales tax increments to fund transportation improvements.  
  • Pawn shops which are called "second hand dealers" in statute are among the sellers.  Pawn shops/ second hand dealers need permission from the Costa Mesa Police Department to operate in Costa Mesa. See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter II, Article 12 to learn more about business license requirements for pawn shops/ second hand dealers. 
  • A man was observed pushing a hand truck with a box of ammunition for sale throughout the show for several hours. He was holding a handwritten cardboard sign asking people to purchase items from his box. There was less product in the box later in the day than at the beginning of the day.

 

Reform of gun laws is outside the jurisdiction of the OCFEC Board but the Board can require changes to be made in the way all public events are conducted on the property. Shows open to the public, with free or paid admission, should publish a list of all sellers and exhibitors at the event. The list should state the business name, mailing address, phone number, and email to allow sellers and exhibitors to be contacted outside of the show. Show promoters should be required to have the list available at the show and the information should be kept on file by the OCFEC staff to be provided to the public. One simple change to enhance transparency and accountability which is within the grasp of the OC Fair Board is a step in the right direction. 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Operations Ken Karns kkarns@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards mrichards@ocfair.com

Contact the OCFEC Board Added May 3, 2018

Chair Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com
Vice Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com
Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com
Nick Berardino nberardino@ocfairboard.com
Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com
Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com
Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com
Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com
Stan Tkaczyk stkaczyk@ocfairboard.com

Public Records Requests cpra@ocfair.com