Public Records Requests

September 2018 Fair Board Meeting Agenda Packet Posted

Check It Out (1)

The full agenda packet with the contracts has been posted. Choose the “September 27, 2018” meeting to access the files. Please share with others who are interested.
https://ocfair.com/public-information/public-meetings/

Master Site Plan Process (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
The plan is to hold one (1) public meeting in October and finalize the Master Site Plan in November.

Equestrian Center and Facility Wide Infrastructure Analysis (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
The proposal is to analyze the infrastructure of the Equestrian Center and then sometime in 2019 to analyze the infrastructure of the bulk of the Fairgrounds. An analysis of infrastructure needs to be done before the Master Site Plan is created in order to determine infrastructure which needs to be updated or replaced. The Fairgrounds has $55 million in reserves, so money is not the problem. Staff is considering using the Equestrian Center for storage space. See “Long Term Storage Solutions.”

Sales Tax Collection and Remittance to City (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
Fairgrounds staff take the position that a City business license is not required. Fairgrounds staff discuss sales tax and point out contract language requiring reporting of sales tax but does not state that Fairgrounds staff will be active in having sales properly reported to allow money to earned in the City to be returned to the City. Should the City implement a gate tax, a per drink tax, and/or a parking tax to receive revenue from the Fairgrounds?

Long Term Storage Solutions (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
Solutions for long term storage are needed. Offsite storage space can be rented for about $100K per year or a Butler building could be constructed or the Equestrian Center space could be used for storage.

New Safety and Security Board Policy (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
The proposed policy is:
Draft Policy 2.12

The CEO will not operate without safety and security planning, procedures and training for the protection of the Association, the staff and guests.

1. Operate without an Incident Command Procedure/Emergency Preparedness Plan, reviewed by appropriate governmental agencies, and communicated to key staff, vendors and production personnel.

To this end;

A. The CEO will schedule a security meeting with the appropriate security partner representatives and two policy representatives from the Board of Directors prior to the start of the annual OC Fair and once in the approximate mid-point of the annual OC Fair.

The CEO will ensure the continued development and delivery of Security, Health and Safety training annually for staff and management of the OC Fair & Event Center.

The CEO will ensure the annual budget supports continuing investment in technology and equipment for Security, Health and Safety.

The CEO will ensure the ongoing investment in staff/management continuing education in Security, Health and Safety for the advancement of procedures and best practices.

The CEO will ensure risk management facility inspections are conducted regularly and corrections are made in a timely manner.

 

Approval of Travel Request to San Antonio, TX (See 18_09_Staff_Reports_A_J1)
State travel is prohibited to states such as Texas which discriminate against same sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The proposed trip is to the annual International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) allegedly for training. CEO Kramer is making a presentation on “How to Market Your Facilities” and “Creating Community Giveback Programs on Your Fairgrounds with Any Budget”. Ken Karns is presenting in a panel on “Fairgrounds Master Planning - Developing a Vision.” This is an unneeded trip at Public expense and does little to benefit the Public.

Checks and Contracts:
Cash and cash equivalent reserves are over $55 million. See 18_09_Financial-Packet_Aug


Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP is an immigration law firm which was previously engaged to process VP of Operations Ken Karns NAFTA TN clearance and H-1B work visa. Fragomen was paid $5,800.00 on June 7, 2018, using check 84090. See 18_09_Financial-Packet_Aug


Ray Cammack Shows (RCS) which operates the carnival and midway was paid $7,535,495.71 for the 23 day run of the 2018 OC Fair. This money leaves Orange County and does not return. See 18_09_Financial-Packet_Aug Electronic Payments Summary August 2018


Straub Distributing / Anheuser-Busch paid $156,712.00 in sponsorship fees. See contract SA-272-18SP in 18_09_Standard_Agreements1

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


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

 

 

 


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.

 

 

 


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 


Master Site Plan: Is a $58,239 Contract Amendment Funding Studies of Cannibalization of Existing Facilities?

When Everything is for Sale (1) 

In October 2017, the contract with C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc.  was amended by $58,239.00 which raised the contract total to $252,369.00. CEO Kathy Kramer, VP Ken Karns,  and the Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) were asked what the additional money would be used for and refused to answer the questions.    This post discusses a section of the C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. RFP which is listed as an optional task and could be the work being performed but CEO Kathy Kramer, VP Ken Karns and the Directors refuse to let the public know what they are doing with public money.  Directors and Executive Management of the OC Fairgrounds choose to act as if they are above the law and do not have to answer for their expenditures of public money or use of public property. 

The Master Site Plan process is a revenue centered process, not a community, education, agriculture, or recreation centered process.  This is the section from the winning proposal for the Master Site Plan process which discusses financial plans and projections. It should be noted that multiple requests have been made for documents regarding this work and no documents have been produced. [A] This section is from pgs. 25-26 of the C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. proposal:

This Task commenced in Task 5 and will be finalized in this Task (Task 9). It will consider the initial work done by all parties and will result in finalized economic and fiscal impact analyses considering the developed business and masterplan. Our Impact approach is described below .

To the extent that state and local governments will be participating in the project, part of the return is measured in economic benefits of the project. For this project, it may be important to determine where impacts would occur, as this data can be used to advance the project through the public review and approvals process. It may also be helpful in obtaining final funding grants and ongoing operating support by communicating how the project can help drive demand to the area, how much employment will occur and how much tax revenue will be generated. As such, for this analysis, we will:

  • Use the most recent ExPact survey, an excellent survey prepared by Destination Management Association International (DMAI, formerly known as the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus), to estimate direct spending by attendees, associations, exhibitors, and the facility itself, adjusted for local market price indices.

  • Identify from where attendance will likely originate.

  •  Indicate the volume of hotel room nights generated by the project.

  • Identify where spending will most likely be captured.

  • Use the IMPLAN model (an input-output model of the local economy) to estimate indirect and induced spending and employment impacts of the proposed facility for both the projected events and attendees in a stabilized year of operations, based upon the demand projections and the construction of the facility. 

  • Summarize local and state tax structures, including all relevant City, State, County, and other municipal taxes that may be appropriate.

  • Project the facility’s impact on City revenue collections, which include retail sales, lodging, restaurants, and any other areas impacted by the project, and determine whether there will be any cannibalization of existing facilities. 

  • Analyze the impact of the one-time construction activity.

[A] The documents regarding the work performed may have been disposed of or in the custody or control of another unnamed state or local agency or may not be able to be located according to CEO Kathy Kramer. 

Contact CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com

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

Contact Fair Board Directors Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk by emailing Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com

C. H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. from Chicago, IL  is the contractor for the Master Site Plan process. A copy of the entire proposal is available on the "OC Fairgrounds Documents" page listed on the right side of this page. We have no idea why the OC Fairgrounds hired a company from Chicago and could not find a planning firm in the Los Angeles-Orange County area or even in California.   

This is one in a series of posts looking at individual Master Site Plan tasks to gain a greater understanding of how the OC Fair Board Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) and Executive Management want to push the OC Fairgrounds away from being the fairground we currently enjoy. 


Over 111 Day Wait for Answers About OC Fair Board Expenses & Still No Answers

2017 OC Fair Aerial View Cropped

The 2018 budget for the OC Fairgrounds was discussed and approved in November 2017.  Budget questions were emailed to CEO Kathy Kramer a few days before the meeting and were not answered. The same questions were asked during the November 2017 Board meeting when the 2018 budget was discussed and were not answered.  Attempts to follow up to receive answers to questions about expenditure of public money have been met with obstructionism.  OC Fair Board Directors are supposed to be serving without compensation and it is unclear why these expenses are needed.

During 2016 and 2017, OC Fair Board Directors received free nightly catered gourmet dinners for themselves and their families; free concert and admission tickets for themselves and their families including tickets to more than one event per day; use of a private bathroom costing over $14,000 for the 23 day run of the OC Fair; and use of a public employee tasked with being the Board Concierge to coordinate tickets, dinners, and guest lists for Directors. The OC Fairgrounds can't answer public records requests but has enough staff to give the Board a Concierge to manage their busy days of free dinners and free tickets. Executive Management, including those who are responsible for overseeing public records requests, are also recipients of the free nightly catered gourmet dinners and concert tickets. 

CEO Kathy Kramer appears to have the support of  the Directors (Ashleigh Aitken, Barbara Bagneris, Nick Berardino, Sandra Cervantes, Doug La Belle, Gerardo Mouet, Newton Pham, Robert Ruiz, Stan Tkaczyk) in keeping this information under wraps as no Director answered the question at the November 2017 Board meeting and no Director has compelled release of the information after being made aware of stonewalling on the part of staff.

What Was Asked & Not Answered

Note: The account numbers refer to line items in the 2018 budget.

Regarding account 5150 Directors Expense budgeted at $11,597, what are the activities, personnel, and other items paid for with this money?

Regarding account 5155 Directors Meeting Expense budgeted at $12,300, what are the activities, personnel, and other items paid for with this money?

What is the budgeted amount in 2018 for the nightly catered Board/Business Development dinners held during the OC Fair? What is the budgeted amount in 2018 for Board Concierge services? What is the cost in 2018 of the complimentary parking and OC Fair tickets given to the dinner guests?

Will private bathroom facilities in the Board/Business Development dinner area be provided in 2018? What is the justification for these facilities given that the dinner attendees walk past a bathroom on their way into the event?

Has there been consideration of replacing the area used for the nightly Board/Business Development dinners with a revenue generating activity such as space rentals to concessionaires and vendors or creating a restaurant open to the Public? The restaurant would allow OC Fair patrons to dine on the same food as the 32nd DAA Board members while generating revenue for the 32nd DAA.

What are the costs including face value of tickets and staff time to fill orders associated with Directors and their families receiving complimentary tickets to the events held in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena in 2018?

Will Directors be able to receive tickets to more than one event in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena per day in 2018? What is the face value of the tickets received from attending more than one event per day in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena?

Will the Executive Management Team be gifting themselves complimentary tickets to the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar, and Action Sports Arena in 2018? What is the face value of the tickets gifted to the Executive Management Team?

Has there been consideration of relocating Directors from the premium pit seats to less expensive seats and placing all of the pit seats on sale to increase revenue for the 32nd DAA? This move would generate revenue for the 32nd DAA while reigning in costs.

Contacting the OC Fairgrounds

Public records requests can be submitted to cpra@ocfair.com

CEO Kathy Kramer can be reached at kkramer@ocfair.com

Board Director Email Addresses 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