$75K Paid to Employee to Not Show Up for Work at OC Fairgrounds Requires OC Fair Board to Clean House

Toilet Paper (2)

The OC Fair Board (aka 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA or Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC Board) will meet on March 28, 2019, to consider taking action regarding the 2016 audit of the OC Fairgrounds conducted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the parent state agency of the OC Fairgrounds. The audit found an employee paid over $75,000 in cash and benefits to not show up for work for about eight months, which was deemed to likely be an illegal contract by CalHR, the human resources department for state employees. An unredacted copy of the audit is available for download. An audit timeline prepared by CEO Kathy Kramer and her staff was presented at the February 2019 Fair Board meeting. CEO Kramer and her staff have attempted to create confusion and obstruction around the audit all while stalling Board action on the audit for nearly two years. 

Download CDFA Unredacted 2016 Audit   

Download Audit Staff-Reports-Combo1 

Understanding the facts about the the audit and why the Fair Board needs to clean house immediately can be broken down into four separate issues:
Issue 1: The propriety of the actions that resulted in the conclusion by CDFA and CalHR that the 32nd DAA entered into an illegal contract with a former employee.
Issue 2: The handling of the audit and interactions with CDFA and CalHR.
Issue 3: The disclosure of the audit to the Board and the failure to keep the Board in the loop regarding the audit.
Issue 4: Failure to accept the findings of the audit and address the issues raised.

CEO Kramer wants to confuse and conflate these four issues so that everyone will focus on Issue 1, and ignore the circumstances regarding Issues 2, 3, and 4, and what they say about her management of the OCFEC.

Issue 1: The propriety of the actions that resulted in the conclusion by CDFA and CalHR that the 32nd DAA entered into an illegal contract with a former employee.
CEO Kramer continues to try to re-litigate the propriety of her and staff's actions and characterize them as a mistake involving state employment procedures. This is a false narrative, intended to confuse the Board and others.

  • CEO Kramer made the same arguments to CalHR and they rejected them. CalHR has concluded that the contract is likely an illegal gift of funds.
  • CEO Kramer claims that prior outside counsel approved similar agreements, but has not provided such agreements to demonstrate that they were approved or comparable. Despite this, the Board accepts her unsupported claim that similar prior arrangements had been approved. Given the seriousness of these allegations, the Board should demand documentary proof of the defense.

CEO Kramer has attempted to portray paying an employee to not show up for work as a minor administrative matter, which the issue is not. This is a matter regarding misappropriation of public funds. Misappropriation of Government Funds is a felony in California (Cal. Penal Code §424), if done with knowledge of, or gross negligence regarding, the illegality of the appropriation or the lack of authority of the person making the appropriation to do so.

  • CEO Kramer was grossly negligent in that she did not take the least action to verify that this separation agreement was legal. She never sought the opinion of CalHR, or of the Attorney General's office, either one of which could have been done with a five minute phone call.
  • The separation agreement resulted in a cost to the 32nd DAA which exceeded Kramer's delegated authority, i.e., she knowingly made the misappropriation despite the fact that she knew she lacked the authority to do so.

Issue 2: The handling of the audit and interactions with CDFA and CalHR.
There is a substantial and unexplained gap in the timeline of this audit. CEO Kramer attempted to stiff-arm and delay the audit. Only when she know longer had any choice was the audit completed. This is not the behavior of a CEO who is cooperating with state officials.

The Board needs to get an explanation for gaps in the timeline and receive and review all communications or the lack thereof, between CDFA and the 32nd DAA to determine if CEO Kramer's interaction with the CDFA was in keeping with the standards that the Board would expect of the 32nd DAA's CEO.

Issue 3: The disclosure of the audit to the Board and the failure to keep the Board in the loop regarding the audit.
It is unacceptable that an audit uncovered a provisional finding of a major impropriety and this was not brought to the immediate attention of the entire Board. This calls into question the fitness of the former Board chairperson, who still sits on the Board to hold the position.

The Board needs to understand why two Board Chairs did not share this information with the entire Board membership and correct policies and guidelines to ensure that such critical information is not, in the future, hidden from the Board. 

The Board needs to find out why CEO Kramer did not disclose the final findings of the audit to the entire Board prior to her annual performance review. Willful failure to disclose such highly relevant information to the Board is suspicious and calls into question the ability of the Board to rely on the CEO to provide them with ALL information that they need to perform their oversight function.

Issue 4: Failure to accept the findings of the audit and address the issues raised.

The failure of CEO Kramer to accept the findings of CalHR and to continue to argue the propriety of the finding is indicative of someone who lacks the ability to recognize failures and take corrective action.

While all of the focus has been on the misappropriation of public funds, the audit made a fourth recommendation:
The 32nd DAA should comply with FAC 4051 by establishing written policies and procedures over its contracting processes.

Cal. Food & Agr. Code §4051 directs the 32nd DAA Board to establish and maintain written procedures for contracting. There is ample reason to recognize that current procedures are inadequate or not being applied:

  • There are multiple examples of expenditures of funds by the CEO and her staff which violate the established delegation of authority.
  • There have been identified examples of unilateral and retroactive changes to contract terms by the CEO without Board direction or knowledge.
  • The CEO has initiated and supported agreements that do not appear to be in the best interest of the state or which violate state policies or state law.
  • The amount of charges o the state authorized credit card (more than $2.3 million in 2018) raises serious questions as to whether state rules of the use of the card are being followed.

State law grants the Board authority over the affairs of the association and can make all necessary bylaws, rules, and regulations for the government of the association. (Look up Food and Agriculture Code section 3965)  It is time to clean house. 

Contact the OC Fair Board

Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com

Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com

Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com

Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com

Andreas Meyer ameyer@ocfairboard.com

Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com

Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia nrubalcavagarcia@ocfairboard.com


Restricting Public Comments & Hiring a Private Investigator on February 2019 OC Fair Board Meeting Agenda but No Action on State Audit

Cow Question (2)

 

The agenda for the Thursday,  February 28, 2019, OC Fair Board (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center, OCFEC, 32nd District Agricultural Association) meeting has been published.  The Board meets at 9 AM at the Administration Building off Arlington Drive. If  you cannot make the meeting, please email comments to the Board Directors using the emails at the end of this post.

Agenda available here Download 19_02_February_Agenda1

Complete agenda packet available here https://ocfair.com/publicmeetings/board-of-directors-meeting-february-28-2019/

Refusing Action on State Audit Which Found Employee Paid to Not Show Up for Work 

No action can be taken by the Board regarding the 2016 state audit which found an employee paid over $70,000 to not show up for work for approximately eight months because the matter has been agendized as "Information Only" notwithstanding either the seriousness of the matter or the multiple requests by the public for action to resolve the issues which permitted this to occur. The same management are in place now as were during 2016 when the deal went down.  The Board refuses to take action to address the underlying issues which allowed these actions to occur. Download CDFA Unredacted 2016 Audit

Restricting Public Comments

New restrictions on public comment are in place for the February 2019 meeting. The new policy called a "Statement of Meeting Decorum" limits what can be said during public and agenda item comment:

[. . .] To encourage and respect all views, The OC Fair & Event Center requests that members of the public not engage in personal attacks, profanity, obscenity, hateful or abusive language, physical violence or threatening behavior. Furthermore, and to further the purposes of the Act, members of the public are requested to direct their comments directly to the Board of Directors as a whole.

It is clear that enforcement of these restrictions will violate the law. The U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled in 1971 in Cohen v. California that governments cannot restrict speech in the interest of public decorum.  Download Cohen v. California 403 US 15

Hiring a Private Investigator

Over $58,000 was spent with private investigation firm Morley Group during 2018 without either a contract being brought forward to the Board or an explanation given of why a private investigator needed to be hired.  Morley Group is being given another no bid contract SA -051-19YR (agendized in the Standard Agreements file as "professional services" in an attempt to conceal the true nature of the contract) for $49,000 for the period from February to July 2019.  There is no need for the Morley Group contract as the OC Fairgrounds can request the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Costa Mesa Police Department, California Highway Patrol and/or other state investigative services to conduct investigations.  

Board Director Nick Berardino requested hiring an outside performance auditor and presented a report at the May 2018 Board meeting.  Download Performance Auditor Request Board Directors requested action to move ahead on a performance auditor while staff have not followed up on the request. Now is the time to bring in an outside performance auditor and request the State Auditor for assistance. If there is money for a private investigator, there is money for a performance auditor. Maybe the performance auditor can find out why the private investigator was hired and report back.

Video Recording of Meetings

Board meetings are held on Thursday mornings at 9 AM, when few people can attend.  Board intent was to look into both live streaming and recording of meetings for later playback, but the agenda says "video recording." Staff and at least one Board Director have used the specific wording of an agenda item to throttle the intentions of Board Directors on prior matters.  A push needs to be made to have live streaming of meetings and archiving of meeting records despite wishes of staff and some Board Directors to the contrary. 

Increasing Oversight of Requests for Proposals and Capital Projects

A number of surprises in requests for proposals (RFP's) and capital projects have come to light in the past few months. Several examples are:

  • Staff entered into a legally binding storm water management plan (SWMP) with the State Regional Water Quality Control Board (SRWQCB) in 2016, spent over $80,0000 on storm water consulting services, received a notice of violation for allowing runoff water from operations to enter the storm drain during 2018, and failed to let the Board know what was going on. Members of the public let the Board know about the SWMP in late 2018.
  • Nature and scope of the effort undertaken by staff to rebrand the property was unknown to several Board Directors and the public until October 2018 at which time the contract was in place and work had been started.  Staff had written the scope of work without Board or public input. The contract left out the Equestrian Center and tilted the process towards becoming an events and entertainment center.
  • Staff publicly stated that the much needed sound wall for the Action Sports Arena (ASA) was not planned to be built despite appearing in the budget for several years. Estimated costs of the sound wall are around $1 million, which is a small portion of the over $50 million in cash reserves. Staff had been leading on the Board and neighbors about building the Action Sports Arena sound wall.

Board Directors have requested to have input and oversight over how public money is spent on contracting and capital projects.  This is a good thing. 

Relocating A4 Skyhawk from Orange County Civic Center to OC Fairgrounds

Plans are being made to relocate the A4 Skyhawk currently located in the plaza at the Orange County Civic Center to the OC Fairgrounds and to place the plane near Heroes Hall Veterans Museum which would allow the plane to be used as part of the museum. Watchful eyes of the public are needed to insure that staff don't create an obstacle to this project. This is a great project. Are there other historic items which could be moved to the OC Fairgrounds?

Contact the OC Fair Board

Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com

Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com

Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com

Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com

Andreas Meyer ameyer@ocfairboard.com

Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com

Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia nrubalcavagarcia@ocfairboard.com


State Audit of Orange County Fair and Event Center Uncovers Employee Paid to Not Show Up for Work

Toilet Paper (2)

 

This post is available as PDF. Download 2016 Audit Accountability Handout

An unredacted copy of the 2016 audit report is available. The audit was conducted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) which is the parent agency of the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center, OCFEC, 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA). Download CDFA Unredacted 2016 Audit

An audit of the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) which operates the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) and conducts the annual OC Fair uncovered that the 32nd DAA paid a former employee over $74,000 in wages and benefits after she stopped working for the 32nd DAA in 2016. The audit report concluded that the 32nd DAA “overpaid the employee for work that was not performed and therefore may be considered a gift of public funds”, which is prohibited by the California Constitution. Auditors recommended that while attempts should be made to recoup the funds paid, it was unlikely that the funds could be recovered from the former employee. The 32nd DAA contends that the payments were made to incentivize an employee who allegedly created a hostile work environment to leave the 32ndDAA, although no explanation has been offered as to why the employee was so incentivized and not simply terminated for creating such an environment

CEO Kathy Kramer was aware of the issues raised in the audit which included a failure to update contracting procedures to remain in compliance with statute in May 2018. The May 2018 32nd DAA Board of Directors (Board) meeting agenda included enacting new policies and procedures regarding the issues regarding contracting procedures but made no mention of payment of the over $74,000 to a no-show employee.

The public remained unaware of the audit until late 2018 when CEO Kramer placed Vice President of Finance Adam Carleton on administrative leave. Mr. Carleton is the fifth VP of Finance under CEO Kramer since her arrival at the OC Fairgrounds four years ago. Mr. Carleton alleges he was placed on administrative leave as part of the effort to conceal the audit findings of payment to an employee to not show up for work. Mr. Carleton made the public aware of the existence and findings of the audit. CEO Kramer has not offered any other reason for placing Mr. Carleton on leave, but simply denies it was for this reason. No actions have been taken relating to other senior members of the executive management team including Vice President of Operations Ken Karns and Vice President of Business Development Michele Richards despite serious problems at the Fairgrounds including critical health and safety violations going uncorrected for more than a year and the booking of controversial events which have led to problems up to, and including, a riot at the Fairgrounds.

There is a runaway administration which is trying to operate without oversight and transparency which has placed the safety of the public and financial health of the 32nd DAA at risk. Among these are:

  • Reports from the State Fire Marshal in 2016 and 2018 contained numerous violations which required correction, with many of the issues identified in the 2016 report remaining uncorrected in the 2018 report.
  • A culinary program for high school students was conducted in a kitchen where the fire suppression system was rendered effectively non-functional.
  • CEO Kramer and VP Karns signed off on over $250,000 invoices for the master site plan without receiving the deliverable items.
  • The Fairground was cited for violations of storm water discharge regulations by authorities after an inspection triggered by their washing of animal waste into the storm water system.

CEO Kramer and the management of the Orange County Fairground attempts to operate the facility with a lack of transparency that verges on outright opacity.

  • The Fairgrounds management regularly fails to provide documents requested under the California Public Records Act for months after the requests (rather than the 10 days found in the law) and makes no effort to work with requesters to streamline this process, as required by law.
  • The Fairgrounds management worked with contractors to develop a master site plan which ignored public input and proposed demolition of the Equestrian Center to create an RV park despite the Board and public expressing the need to keep the Equestrian Center, but which captured most of the wish list given to the contractors by Fairground VP Karns prior to gathering input from the public or the Board.
  • Management made a further attempt to reduce the size of the Equestrian Center to provide more space for shipping containers by misleading the Board that a parking lot adjacent to the Equestrian Center would be used for storage and did not state the Equestrian Center was targeted to become a storage area.
  • Management spent nearly $100,000 with a contractor to generate a Storm WaterManagement Plan that legally committed the Fairgrounds to certain actions without ever raising the contracts or the plans to the attention of the 32nd DAA Board that was appointed by the Governor to oversee the Fairgrounds.
  • Recently, management attempted to use state funds to pay for travel by CEO Kramer, VP Karns and VP Richards to Texas despite the ban on travel to Texas using state money due to discrimination by Texas against the LGBTQ community.

The 32nd DAA Board fails to effectively oversee the Fairgrounds, despite being charged with the authority to “manage the affairs of the association” (Food and Agriculture Code §3965(b)). The senior management of the OC Fairgrounds has convinced a number of members of the Board that they are “merely volunteers,” have only an advisory role and should not weigh in on the actions of Fairgrounds Management. These “captured” Board members facilitate the actions of Fairgrounds management, stymie the efforts of other Board Members to do their appointed job, and refuse to meet with members of the public regarding management of the 32nd DAA. Board members are well rewarded by Fairgrounds management with free catered gourmet dinners, free tickets for front row seats to headliner concerts, and free trips to meet with trade association lobbyists in addition to staff providing assistance with furthering the social lives of Board members using state funds.

About the 32nd DAA

The 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA) was formed after WW II by the state and made responsible for conducting the Orange County Fair which had been held since 1890 by private organizations. A portion of the former Santa Ana Army Air Base was purchased by the state to be utilized by the 32nd DAA. The approximately 150 acre property is currently owned and operated by the state and staffed by civil service employees and state contractors. Annual revenues of the 32nd DAA are over $48 million with operating expenses of about $39 million and cash reserves of about $50 million. The 32nd DAA uses the names “Orange County Fair and Event Center” and “OCFEC” to conduct business. A nine member Board of Directors appointed by the governor oversees the management of the property. California Department of Food and Agriculture Fairs and Expositions Branch under the Division of Marketing Services is the parent agency of the 32nd DAA.

About the Equestrian Center

The Equestrian Center at the Orange County Fair and Event Center is owned by the state and operated by a private company and features eight barns with stalls and offices and five riding arenas. Programs include therapeutic riding, Pony Club to children to learn horsemanship, OC Vaulting featuring gymnastics performed on horses, in addition to riding lessons for jumping, hunting, eventing, and English riding, among other styles. The Equestrian Center is open to the public.

About Friends and Neighbors of the Orange County Fairgrounds

Friends and Neighbors of the Orange County Fairgrounds (FANOCF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation which was formed to foster and support the operation of the Orange County Fairgrounds so as to benefit the interests of the neighboring residents and the public. FANOCF strives “For a Fair and Fairgrounds that is for, and of, Orange County”. FANOCF advocates for uses of the OCFEC property which prioritizes the needs of Orange County residents for educational, agricultural, and community based programming.

Contact the OC Fair Board

Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com

Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com

Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com

Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com

Andreas Meyer ameyer@ocfairboard.com

Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com

Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia nrubalcavagarcia@ocfairboard.com

 


Help Us Trace $46K in Payments for OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Meetings

What They Arent Telling You (1)

Help us trace payments for meetings held regarding the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC)  Master Site Plan from October 2017 to  April 2018.  A total of $46,000 was spent on meetings outside of the September 2017 and April 2018 public meeting and which was not included in the original contract. Fairgrounds staff hasn't been able to explain what the $46,000 was spent on.

The companies and staff working on the project were:

C. H. Johnson Consulting: Charles Johnson

SWA: Elizabeth Shreeve

HPI Architecture: Lawrence (Larry) Frapwell, Megan Gaunce

The meetings and charges we need help with are:

Date     Payment
Additional Meetings Prior to October 2017     $6,010
October 2017  $3,673
November 2017 $4,070
December 2017 $2,628
January 2018 $10,877
February 2018 $3,600
March 2018 $5,475
April 2018 $13,668
Credit for Attending April 26, 2018 Board Meeting ($4,000)

 

If you met with the consultants between October 2017 and April 2018 outside of one of the public meetings described below, drop us a line at leadership@fansocfairgrounds.com because we want to learn more about how public money was spent. 

When Public Meetings Were Held

Public meetings were held at the September 2017 and the April 2018 Board meetings on Thursday mornings. A public workshop was held in The Hangar during June 2017.  Small group meetings for vendors, concessionaires, tenants, government entities, and community groups were held during the spring of 2017.


Rebranding the OC Fairgrounds: Public Input Needed Jan. 29 & 30, 2019

Bullhorn Meeting (1)

Does the OC Fairgrounds (aka OC Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) need a new image and brand or is the current image and brand working fine?  Keeping the current image and branding is an option.

You can give your input on:

  • Tuesday January 29, 2019 from 2-3 PM 
  • Wednesday January 30, 2019 from 6-7 PM

Meetings will be held in the Administration Building located off Arlington Drive. The property address is 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Info from OCFEC about this project is available. 

What's Missing from the Rebranding Effort

A number of important uses of the property are missing from the branding questions such as the Equestrian Center  along with community, educational, and agricultural use. There are no questions about how the property fits into the local community. Please let the branding consultants know these uses are important to you. 

Expected Questions for the Rebranding Workshops

The Board was asked questions about rebranding during the December 2018 Board meeting and expect similar questions to be asked during the workshops. Those questions were:

What makes the OC Fair & Event Center great?

How have you seen the OC Fair & Event Center change in the past five years?

What's your vision of the organization in the next five years?

What do you think are the biggest challenges in attracting new events here to the property?

When you think about events that you go to outside of those that are here at the OC Fairgrounds, what are some of the interesting changes that you see happening at other events that you frequent or that you have attended.

Who would you say the competitors are?

To what extent do you believe we've built goodwill and equity into some of the particular venues here on the site?

Up here on the screen, we just put a few logos together here and we're calling this the OC Tourism Slide. Basically, things that you can experience here in Orange County or near Orange County. And we would just like to hear youth thoughts if there are any particular logos that you think are very effective or that speak to you -- resonate with you?

OCTourismLogos (1)

 

These are fairground brands. Do any of these stand out to you as being particularly effective?

Fairgrounds Logos (1)

 

These are more venue logos where you might go to hear a concert or have an experience. So we'd just love to hear your thoughts about which of these you feel are interesting or effective.

Venue Logos (1)

 

Contact Information

You can share your thoughts with staff and the Board regarding the rebranding effort.

Contact VP of Business Development Who is Managing the Rebranding Work

Michele Richards mrichards@ocfair.com

Contact the Fair Board 

Chair Robert Ruiz rruiz@ocfairboard.com

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes scervantes@ocfairboard.com

Ashleigh Aitken aaitken@ocfairboard.com

Barbara Bagneris bbagneris@ocfairboard.com

Doug La Belle dlabelle@ocfairboard.com

Andreas Meyer ameyer@ocfairboard.com

Gerardo Mouet gmouet@ocfairboard.com

Newton Pham npham@ocfairboard.com

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia nrubalcava-garcia@ocfairboard.com


OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Postponed to Until Infrastructure Assessment is Completed

GoodJob (1)

The OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center, OCFEC) Master Site Plan is now on hold. The Board will have a comprehensive facility wide analysis of infrastructure and related deficiencies completed prior to re-starting the Master Site Plan process.

Issues which have been identified as needing further assessment include:

  • Inspections by the State Fire Marshal uncovered problems with inadequate electrical systems which could lead to fires.
  • Electrical power delivered to the property needs to be upgraded to allow shows such as Cirque du Soleil to use the power grid instead of using diesel generators to power the show for several months.
  • The Board became aware of ongoing issues with stormwater pollution prevention management. Staff had made legally binding commitments and hired consultants to perform work without bringing the matter to the Board.
  • ADA access needs to be evaluated facility wide. Problems with ADA access have been present during Board meetings.
  • Parking lot lighting needs to be evaluated and updated. Multiple sets of temporary lights on diesel generators are used on an ongoing basis to provide parking lot and facility lighting.


Have you seen infrastructure, environmental or safety issues which need to be corrected? Please bring the issues forward to allow the issues to be added to the infrastructure assessment.  Please post a comment or email the Board to bring the issue forward for study and possible resolution.

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


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

 


Let's Crowdsource: Tell Us How You Want to Use the OC Fairgrounds

Bullhorn Meeting

Your input for the OC Fairgrounds (aka Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) Master Site Plan is needed because the Master Site Plan process will start after the 2018 OC Fair closes in August and finish by the end of December 2018.  Two prior Master Site Plan proposals included converting OCFEC into a convention center (September 2017) and demolition of the Equestrian Center to create an RV park (April 2018).  The April 2018 proposal included $170 million in bonds for a series of projects with the nearly half a billion dollars in  debt payments on the bonds forcing OCFEC either into bankruptcy or to more than quadruple revenues to simply make the debt payments.  Only one meeting was allowed for Public input during these two proposals even though the Public owns the property.  

There has been a lack of participation by the Public and FANS of the OC Fairgrounds is providing a channel for Public input. 

 

Let's Crowdsource: Tell Us How You Want to Use the OC Fairgrounds (OCFEC)

Friends and Neighbors of the OC Fairgrounds (FANS of the OC Fairgrounds) is crowdsourcing how the OC Fairgrounds (OCFEC) can be used in the future to better serve the needs of the Public who own the property.  We want to know your vision of how the OC Fairgrounds (OCFEC) should be used in 5 years (2023), 10 years (2028) and 15 years (2033). Here are some questions to get your ideas going:

  • What works well and what needs to be improved?  
  • Are there activities which should be expanded or shrunk?
  • Are new activities needed and what are those activities?
  • How can the OC Fairgrounds (OCFEC) better serve the community?
  • The property is supposed to serve the needs of all of Orange County. What are those needs and how can those needs be addressed? 

Ideas which are submitted will be posted and the Public allowed to review and comment on the ideas. During the Master Site Plan process during late 2018, these ideas will be brought forward to show how the Public wants to use the OC Fairgrounds (OCFEC.)  Any member of the Public can submit ideas.  We ask that submissions be no longer than 6 US letter sized pages with all pages in PDF format. 

How to Submit Your Ideas

Email your submission as a PDF attachment to  fansocfairgrounds@gmail.com with the Subject Heading: Crowd Source Submission

Each Submission Needs a Cover Page

  1. Your name.
  2. The ZIP code in which you reside. (Anyone, who lives anywhere, can make a submission and it will be considered, this information is to allow us to determine the geographic effect of our outreach.)
  3. A contact phone number or email address at which you may be contacted if there are any questions about your submission.
  4. The following language: I am submitting the following proposal for use of the Orange County Fairgrounds and I agree that the 32nd District Agricultural Association of the State of California can use anything in this submission for the Orange County Fair and/or Fairgrounds.

Your cover page may include:
Any other statement or background information regarding your relationship to the Fairgrounds, the Fair, or your submission, that you wish to include. As discussed below, this statement will NOT be included in the portion of the submission that is made available for review to the public.

Submission Recommendations
Although there are no formal format or content requirements for your submission, we request that you:

  • Focus on USES, i.e., how you want to see the fairgrounds used, both for the annual Fair use (if any) and year-round use (if any)
  • Discussion of facilities, demolitions, modifications, upgrades, or additions should be tied to USES

Although not required, the following suggestions, may assist you in preparing your submission:

  • Include specific discussion of USES of current major Fairgrounds Facilities, the PacAmp, Centennial Farms, the Equestrian Center, Heroes Hall, the Action Sports Arena/Speedway, and the Ag-Barn facilities
  • If the envisioned uses will significantly increase the number of visitors to the Fairgrounds, you may wish to address, at least generally, impacts on and possible ways to address traffic, parking, and noise issues
  •  If you think it is helpful in understanding your submission, address, at least generally, operating costs for, or revenues from, the identified uses.

What Will Happen to My Submission
Approximately one week after it is submitted, your cover page will be removed from your submission and your submission will be assigned an ID number. All submissions, except those which would subject the Friends and Neighbors of the Orange County Fairgrounds to potential legal action, will then be made available to the public for review and comment.

Submissions will be available to review at Crowdsourcing the OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan.
Comments regarding submissions (referencing the ID number) may be posted in the comments section of this post.


What Johnson Consulting Didn't Tell You About the OC Fairgrounds Master Site Plan Bond Financing Plans

A Master Site Plan proposal for the OC Fairgrounds (also called Orange County Fair and Event Center or OCFEC) created by a team of Johnson Consulting, HPI Architecture, and landscape architects SWA relies upon a $170 million bond issue to fund projects including doubling the size of the Administration Building, moving the Main Entrance about 200 ft closer to the 55 Freeway, demolishing the Equestrian Center, and reviving a parking garage next to a residential neighborhood cancelled in 2015 after loud neighborhood opposition, among other changes. The $170 million bond funding proposal was glossed over in two slides which are deficient in material facts, at the most charitable. As you consider these matters, remember that over a quarter of a million dollars has been paid to the consultants to create this work product in addition to countless hours of staff and Board Directors involved with the Master Site Plan process.

OCFEC was founded in 1949 by a grant of land from the former Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) for use as a public park, fairground, and recreation. Download the deed and most recent title report  

Since 1949, construction has been financed without going into debt. This has allowed OCFEC to weather economic problems better than other fairgrounds.  For unknown and unclear reasons, Johnson Consulting, HPI Architecture, and SWA propose a high priced set of projects of little real value which could bankrupt OCFEC or force a major change in operations while causing long term and irreversible harm to the surrounding residential neighborhoods. This process cost over a quarter of a million dollars in consultant fees, uncounted staff time, and took over a year to conduct.  More scrutiny is needed of what has transpired before the Master Site Plan process can move ahead. 

The two slides about bond finacing presented by Johnson Consulting, HPI Architecture and SWA follow and can be downloaded here  Download Financials_CHJC-OCFEC-Board-Presentation-April-2018

Balance Sheet Bond Slides_Board-Presentation-April-2018

Phases Bond Slides_Board-Presentation-April-2018

Bond Payments are Missing from the Financial Projections

The phased build out of the Master Site Plan proposal takes more than a decade and relies on $170 million in bond financing. No analysis of the impacts of bond financing or supporting information is presented in the April 2018 proposal. The hard consequences of the massive debt issue are ignored, at the most charitable. Payments for the bonds are missing from the financial projections prepared by the consultants.  Estimated payments on a one time capital infusion of $170 million at 6% is about $15 million per year for 30 years.  Johnson Consulting, HPI Architecture, and SWA slides show project phases being paid for and revenues generated by the phases but do not show the $15 million per year deduction needed to pay for the $170 million in bond debt.  

When asked about this during the April 2018 Board meeting, representatives from Johnson Consulting seemed surprised that this was an issue. 

 

Nearly Half a Billion Dollars Paid Out to Build What Amounts to Parking Lots

Interest more than doubles the $170 million bond to $450 million (30 years X $15 million/year = $450 million). Paying nearly half a billion dollars to build what amounts to a few more parking places is insane. This proposal was a non-starter and should have been shredded instead of being brought forward. 

 

Project Locked In & Cannot Be Changed Under Bond Financing

Bond financing locks in a project once the bonds are underwritten. The underwriting process sets the cash flows which must be obtained to maintain solvency and to meet debt covenants entered into as part of the bond underwriting process. It is difficult if not impossible to change a project once the bonds are sold. A future Board would face a high if not impossible hurdle to changing a project funded by bonds.  Representatives from Johnson Consulting did not mention this during the April 2018 Board meeting and it is not clear if OCFEC Directors understand that bond financing locks in a project. 

 

No Good Choices Come from $170 Million in Bonds: Bankrupt OCFEC or Quadruple Annual Revenues to Pay Debt Service 

Annual payments on the $170 million bond issue are $15 million per year for 30 years at 6%. Each and every year a $15 million check needs to be written to pay off the debt of building what amounts to parking lots. Current OCFEC operations have revenues of around $45 million per year and around 10% in net proceeds in 2017 which is about $4.5 million. How is that going to pencil out? 

Choose to Declare Bankruptcy: Once the $15 million annual debt payment starts, current reserves of about $45 million only last a few years until an over $10 million deficit occurs each year because the $4.5 million in annual net proceeds is not enough to pay the $15 million in debt payment.  At that point, OCFEC faces long term insolvency of their own making. A private company could declare bankruptcy to restructure the debt but it is not clear what happens to a state agency which becomes bankrupt caused by actions of the state agency.

Choose to Quadruple Annual Revenues to Avoid Bankruptcy: Quadrupling annual revenues from $45 million to about $180 million can produce annual net proceeds of $18 million, if everything goes just right. Annual revenues of $180 million pay the annual debt bill due but do not provide enough cash flow to re-build depleted cash reserves. Going to five (5) times annual revenues which is about $225 million per year allows debt to be paid and reserves to be re-built.

Achieving annual revenues of at least $180 million will bring heavy year round use of OCFEC such as that experienced by the residential neighborhoods during the annual OC Fair. Traffic will clog public streets, lights and noise will continue into the night every night of the year and it is unclear if the drive to book events for the sake of booking events will be kicked into hyperdrive to make more money to stay solvent. Who knows what events will be booked to make at least $180 million a year in revenues.

The current buildings may not be enough to bring in $180 million in annual revenues. New buildings may be needed to have more events to make the minimum required $180 million in annual revenue. New buildings will need new debt financing because OCFEC does not have significant reserves at this time because OCFEC is barely keeping up with what they owe. More debt needs more revenue and the debt death spiral of OCFEC becomes obvious. OCFEC destroys College Park, Mesa del Mar, and Vanguard neighborhoods along with themselves with self-created problems arising from their greed.

Johnson Consulting, HPI and SWA did not discuss the financially destructive nature of the proposal brought forward by their firms.  The Public is owed answers from Johnson Consulting, HPI and SWA regarding these matters. 

 

Bond Financing Proposal Shows Why Audits of Fairgrounds Operations are Needed

The April 2018 Master Site Plan should have never seen the light of day and was treated like a homework assignment that had to be handed in to be checked off in a grade book.  Consultants and staff handed in their homework and expected a star sticker in return but were met with well earbed negative responses and hard questions regarding the plans. Over a quarter of a million dollars has been paid to consultants who did not seem to notice that their proposal would offer OCFEC a choice between bankruptcy or destroying OCFEC along with the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. Board Directors who wanted to press forward on the Master Site Plan process without having a workable, buildable plan which is supported by the Public in hand are not serving the interests of the Public who own OCFEC and whom the Directors represent.  

A Board Director who touts her financial credentials did not question the impact of the bond payments on OCFEC solvency and wanted to hurry the process along for the sake of moving things along. A Director such as this is not needed and may find themselves to be happier outside the scrutiny of the Public and with more free time to use as they choose. We thank you for your service and wish you well on your future endeavors. 

 

What Needs to Happen to Regain Public Trust
Work on the Master Site Plan needs to stop.  An audit of the Master Site Plan process is needed to find out where the money went, how two sets of Master Site Plan proposals which were not acceptable to the Public and destroy the nature of  OCFEC were brought forward and who could benefit from these proposal, among other questions to be answered. 

The Voice of OC has joined Director Nick Berardino in calling for a performance auditor to be hired at OCFEC to aid in staff oversight. Empowering a performance auditor is supported. Hiring a performance auditor is money well spent and needs to happen as soon as possible.

  

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