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.

 

 

 


April 2018 OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Concept and Proposed Phasing Released

The OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center aka OCFEC) has released the draft of the process for the Master Site Plan and draft proposal with phasing of costs. Problematic elements featured in the prior Master Site Plan proposal such as demolition of the recently constructed Main Mall and construction of massive convention center buildings have been removed from the proposal. The proposed phasing of the construction is:

Phase I - Expand Administration Building at a cost of $22.9 million.
Phase II - Replace livestock barn, upgrade Action Sports Arena & equestrian facilities relocation and upgrade at a cost of $21.8 million.
Phase III - Repurpose current equestrian center space at a cost of $16.1 million.
Phase IV - Build new education center and upgrade Centennial Farm at a cost of $27.4 million.
Phase V - Install perimeter fence at a cost of $9.4 million. 
Phase VI- Relocate Main Entrance to align with Main Mall at a cost of $50.8 million. 
Phase VII - Build parking garage and bridge to OCC at corner of Fairview Road and Arlington Drive. 
 
A draft proposal is posted to be considered at the April 2018 Board meeting and is available for download here.  Download CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April-2018-FINAL-DRAFT_040218
 
The constraints placed on the proposal included:
  •  No negative impact on the annual fair

  • Engage the OC Marketplace ownership on proposed changes

  • Review parking and engage Orange Coast College in parking opportunities

  • Insure education facility needs are reviewed

  • Re-visit community opportunities

  • Review Equestrian Center and Equine opportunities

The Master Site Plan Process Milestones to date are:

  1. Early to mid-2016 developed a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a Master Site Planning (MSP) consultant

  2. Awarded a consulting contract to Johnson Consulting November 2016

  3. First quarter of 2017 information gathering

  4. January 2017 OCFEC Board of Directors stakeholder meeting

  5. March 2017 OCFEC staff stakeholder meeting

  6. April 2017 on grounds partners stakeholder meeting

  7. May 2017 facility users stakeholder meeting

  8. June 2017 Community partners stakeholder meeting

  9. June 2017 Town Hall public meeting

  10. September Board of Directors workshop

  11. Late 2017 early 2018 Develop CEQA consultant RFP

The next steps are:

  1. April 2018 Board of Directors workshop – work towards finalizing draft MSP concept

  2. Date, TBD, (Evening, May 2018) hold public meeting to present the draft MSP concept

  3. April 2018 award CEQA consultant contract

  4. Over the next several months work through the CEQA process


Where do Fair Board Directors Sit in the Pacific Amphitheatre?

Goat Question (2)

Directors have assigned blocks of seats in the Pacific Amphitheatre. Each Director has six (6) seats assigned to them. The assignments for 2017 were:

Row AAA 1st row in pit: Nick Berardino seats 13 to 18; Barbara Bagneris seats 19 to 24.

Row BBB 2nd row in pit: Douglas La Belle seats 7 to 12; Gerardo Mouet seats 13 to 18; Ashleigh Aitken seats 19 to 24

Row CCC 3rd row in pit: Stan Tkaczyk seats 11 to 16; Sandra Cervantes seats 17 to 22

Row DDD 4th row in pit: Robert Ruiz seats 9 to 14; Newton Pham seats 15 to 20.


Submit Your Ideas for the OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan

MasterSite Plan Info (1)

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an agency such as the OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center aka OCFEC aka 32nd District Agricultural Association) is supposed to propose more than one project to be considered. Bringing forth one version of a project and declaring that the project brought forth is the only way to satisfy the need for the project is not supposed to be the way things are done under CEQA. This is referred to as consideration of alternatives where a reasonable range of feasible alternatives must be considered. 

If you have been noodling around with ideas about how the OCFEC can better serve the community and fit into the residential neighborhoods around the property, now is the time to start putting your ideas on paper to get them ready to submit to the OC Fair Board (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk.)

A map of the OCFEC is is available here and on Google maps. Use of the OCFEC is governed by legal settlements limiting noise levels in the neighborhoods to approximately the noise limits in the Costa Mesa municipal code (and again in 2012) and limiting the total number of people on the property outside of the annual OC Fair to a little over 25,000 persons, which is the number of persons accommodated by the onsite parking without resorting to offsite or neighborhood parking.

Creating overlays of your proposal and the existing facilities can be the easiest way of communicating your vision. You may also want to include a description of what the purpose is of your proposal including the community need your proposal serves. Start thinking and sketching because the community served by the OCFEC, which is all of Orange County, needs ideas to better serve the community.

Start sketching out your ideas and we will publish information about how to submit your ideas when the information is available.  

 

 

 


Community-Centered Alternatives to Consider for OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan

During May 2017, a group of residents met with OC Fairgrounds (Orange County Fair and Event Center aka OCFEC) staff and presented their ideas for how to improve the OCFEC during the Master Site Plan process. The complete presentation is available here  Download Community Master Plan Executive May 17

 Highlights from the presentation are follow.

Proposals center on the Community, Agricultural, Recreational, Educational Space and Programming (CARES Space and Programming). This is a community-centered series of alternatives. These are reasonable and feasible alternatives which maintain current programming while allowing for increased use by both the community and revenue generating groups.

CARES_Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

Alternative 1 is to remodel and improve existing structures which are currently in use. 

Alt1 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

The next 4 alternatives create green space by relocating parking to a parking structure behind the billboard at the corner of Newport Blvd and Fair Drive. A legal settlement with the City of Costa Mesa limits occupancy outside of the annual OC Fair to about 25,000 persons, which is about the number served by the current number of parking places. No new parking spaces need to be added because of the cap on occupancy. However, parking can be relocated to create open space and make the OC Fairgrounds feel more like a fairground and less like a huddle of buildings hiding in the back of a huge parking lot. 

Alternatives include moving the main entrance to Newport Blvd and making the needed changes to make traffic move quickly off the 55 Fwy and into the parking lots. Stacking traffic waiting to park or making cars turn onto Fair Drive and then onto Fairview Road or even onto Arlington Drive to park should be eliminated because OCFEC has more than enough space to stack cars waiting to park on their property and not on City streets. 

Walking paths are included in the Alternatives to connect the Arlington Drive trail with the interior of the property to provide recreation the the community and to aid in pedestrian flow inside the property.

Alt 2 Community Master Plan Executive May 17 (1)

Unlike the Master Site Plan proposals brought forward by Johnson Consulting, the open space was supposed to be open space with grass or plants and not trees in a parking lot as proposed in the proposals from Chicago based Johnson Consulting. The alternatives also maintain the current footprint of the annual OC Fair. 

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)

What are your ideas for a new Master Site Plan for the OCFEC?

 


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.

 

 


OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Information from March 2018 Board Meeting

Attention Question (1)

During the March 22, 2018 OC Fair Board meeting at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, the following updated information regarding the Master Site Plan process was provided:

  • A workshop will be held during the Thursday, April 26, 2018, Board meeting. The meeting starts at 9 AM with the workshop scheduled to begin around 10:30 AM.  If you want to speak during the workshop, your card to speak must be handed in before the meeting begins at 9 AM. 
  • More than one site plan concept will be brought forward to the Board Directors.
  • Work product from Johnson Consulting hired to manage the Master Site Plan process will be posted on the OC Fair website on or around April 2, 2018. The work product posted is promised to be the same as the information given to the Board. 
  • A second workshop to be held in the evening during early May has been promised but not scheduled as of this time.
  • A request for proposal (RFP) for services related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been released.
  • The Board Directors will review draft concepts at the May 24, 2018, Fair Board meeting. The formal CEQA process will start after the draft concepts are reviewed.
  • No final selection of a plan will take place until after the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is certified.
  • The CEQA process is expected to take 6 to 8 months.

OC Fair Board Director Contact Info 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

Questions to Executive Management can be sent to CEP Kathy Kramer kkramer@ocfair.com and VP of Operations Ken Karns kkarns@ocfair.com.  

 

 

 

 

 

 


"No Cost Rentals" at OC Fair & Event Center Are a Good Idea But More Details Are Needed

Chicken Scooter Question (2)

The Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) also known as the OC Fairgrounds is owned and operated by the state of California (called the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA) and has recently started a "No Cost Rental" program for non-profits, community groups and government agencies.  This is a good move, but more information is needed about how to apply for the program, what is included, what is excluded, and how the program will be administered in a content and values neutral way which does not discriminate or display favoritism.

 A list of a dozen questions to start to clarify how the No Cost Rental program works were sent to CEO Kathy Kramer and the Board of Directors. If we hear back on this, we will post the information.

  1. Please provide copies of any and all policies and procedures regarding the No Cost Rentals program.

  2. Please provide information regarding the application process for the No Cost Rental program and the supporting documentation which must be submitted during the application process.

  3. Please provide information regarding how eligibility to participate in the No Cost Rental program is determined.

  4. Please provide information regarding the screening process for applications to participate in the No Cost Rental program.

  5. Please provide information regarding the limitations placed on the No Cost Rental program including number of times an eligible group may participate, budget, schedule, and any other limitations on the No Cost Rental program.

  6. Please provide information regarding exclusions placed on the No Cost Rental program including schedule, facility, cost, and any and all other exclusions.

  7. Please provide information regarding the decision made to allow or not allow participation in the No Cost Rental program including: decision criteria; decision process; 32nd DAA Executive Management, and staff participating in the decision; and the appeals process when participation in the No Cost Rental program is not allowed.

  8. Please provide information regarding costs, fees, reimbursement, and charges included in the No Cost Rental program.

  9. Please provide information regarding costs, fees, reimbursements, and charges excluded from the No Cost Rental program.

  10. Is the No Cost Rental program in addition to or a substitute for the existing discounts given to non-profit groups and the rental assistance program previously announced?

  11. If the answer to (10) is “yes”, please provide information regarding existing discount and rental assistance programs which are altered or discontinued by No Cost Rental program.

  12. Please provide information regarding how the No Cost Rental program will be administered in a viewpoint and content neutral non-discriminatory manner.

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer kkramer@ocfair.com

Contact VP of Business Development Michele Richards who approves facility bookings  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


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