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May 2019 OC Fairgrounds News: Construction to Worsen OC Fair Traffic and Parking, Getting Fair Share of Sales Tax Revenue & More

Check It Out (1)

In This Issue: 

  • Lack of Planning for 405 Freeway & OCC Construction Expected to Compound OC Fair Traffic & Parking Problems
  • Is a Fair Share of OC Fairgrounds Sales Tax Revenue Coming Back to Costa Mesa & OC?
  • Did the OC Fairgrounds Pass Up on a Share of $18 Million in Grant Money to Improve Emergency Readiness?
  • Over $129,000 of State Money Spent on Personally Motivated Investigations 
  • OC Fairgrounds Sent $75,000 to LGBT Opponent While Trying to Hide Behind Rainbow Flag

Lack of Planning for 405 & Freeway Construction Expected to Compound OC Fair Traffic & Parking Problems
OC Fairgrounds staff did not get ahead of problems arising from the demolition of the Fairview Rd bridge and construction at Orange Coast College. No plans are in place to have more parking lots with shuttle bus service or expanded OCTA Fair Express bus service. Expect traffic to be worse and more Fairgoers to attempt to park in Costa Mesa neighborhoods.

Is a Fair Share of OC Fairgrounds Sales Tax Revenue Coming Back to Costa Mesa & OC?
We started asking questions when we saw that sales tax revenue received by Costa Mesa from the OC Fairgrounds was flat since since 2004 despite OC Fairgrounds revenues nearly doubling since 2004. Sales tax revenue is a major source of funding for local governments. A new law enacted in 2018 makes it easier for sellers to report sales made at the OC Fairgrounds.  Preliminary numbers show an increase from the 2004 numbers and we continue to work on this issue.

Download 32nd DAA Historic Revenue Chart

Download Fairground Flat Sales Tax

 

Did the OC Fairgrounds Pass Up on a Share of $18 Million in Grant Money to Improve Emergency Readiness?
The OC Fairgrounds is a key part of the emergency readiness plans for Orange County and can be used as a shelter site for people and animals in addition to a staging site for emergency and rescue equipment. Gov. Newsom has made emergency readiness a priority and $18 million in from Proposition 68/SB 5 has been allocated to be used to improve emergency readiness infrastructure at fairgrounds. We are digging to find out if the OC Fairgrounds applied for a grant.

Over $129,000 of State Money Spent on Personally Motivated Investigations 
CEO Kathy Kramer targeted two Board Directors and the Chief Financial Officer for investigation for reasons which are unknown.  The bill has climbed to $129,270 with no end in sight.  If there are real problems to be investigated, law enforcement authorities such as the California Highway Patrol, Attorney General, State Auditor, Orange County Sheriff's Department, and other agencies should be brought in. The Fair Board has the legal authority to stop the investigations and has not stopped drain on the public coffers from the nefarious investigations. 

OC Fairgrounds Sent $75,000 to LGBT Opponent While Trying to Hide Behind Rainbow Flag
At its monthly meeting on May 23, 2019, the Fair Board voted to fly a Rainbow Flag over the Fairgrounds.  This despite the fact that the same Board has refused to order Fairgrounds CEO Kathy Kramer to cancel a sponsorship agreement she entered into with Vanguard University that has resulted in over $75,000 in public funds being transferred to the University.

Download Pride Resolution  

Download Contract 32nd DAA Vanguard

Vanguard University, which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, takes a hard-line fundamentalist Christian position regarding homosexuality. Engaging in a even a chaste romantic same-sex relationship or publicly questioning any of the University's policies on homosexuality are grounds for expulsion.  The Orange County Fair and Event Center (a state agency) entered into a sponsorship agreement with Vanguard in 2018, but apparently did not include state required non-discrimination language in its contract. State law (Cal. Gov't. Code §11135-11139.8) prohibits the state from contracting with groups such as Vanguard University which discriminate.  

CEO Kramer has also given thousands of dollars in free OC Fair admission and concert tickets to Vanguard University in addition to allowing the school to rent OC Fairgrounds facilities on terms not available to the general public.

Did You Know?

  • OC Fairgrounds employees are not paid overtime. All hours worked are paid at the regular pay rate. Download Morales v. 22nd Dist. Agricultural Assn
  • Free admissions to the OC Fair are around 25% of the paid OC Fair admissions.
  • Fair Board Directors can buy an unlimited quantity of general admission OC Fair tickets for $1/each. Former Fair Board Directors receive a lifetime admission credential and can buy up to 30 general admission OC Fair tickets for $1/each. Download Board Director Tickets
  • Spouses and dependent children of current Fair Board Directors receive free admission credentials.
  • A Board Concierge who is a state employee arranges the dinners and concert tickets for Fair Board Directors, their friends, and business associates. Former Fair Board Directors can use the Board Concierge to book concert tickets.
  • CEO Kathy Kramer wants to raise admission prices for the 2020 OC Fair.

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 nrubalcavagarcia@ocfairboard.com

The OC Fairgrounds is also known as the 32nd District Agricultural Association, 32nd DAA, Orange County Fair and Event Center, and OCFEC.  


Where do Fair Board Directors Sit in the Pacific Amphitheatre?

Goat Question (2)

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

 

 


Does the Fairgrounds Give Out “Lifetime Credentials”?

Cow Question (2)

Yes, lifetime credentials are given out. The lifetime credential is valid for complimentary admission to the annual OC Fair for the designated recipient plus one guest, and parking in a lot to be determined by Fairgrounds management. People eligible to receive a lifetime credential are:

Civil Service employees who have completed 240 service months (20 years).

Civil Service employees recommended by the CEO.

Event industry professionals recommended by the CEO and approved by the Board.

Employees of government agencies recommended by the CEO and approved by the Board.

Other partners who have been recommended by the CEO and approved by the Board.

 

Fair Board Directors who have completed their four year service receive a lifetime credential valid for complimentary admission to the annual OC Fair for the former Director and one guest.


Where Can I Get a Copy of the 2018 OC Fairgrounds Budget?

Porta Pottie Question (2)

You can get a copy of the 2018 OC Fairgrounds budget here.   Download 2018 Fairgrounds Budget

Revenues are shown in ($) while expenditures are shown as regular figures. Slides from the budget presentation are first, then the line item budget.

These are a couple of line items people have had questions about:

#4220 $3,721,500 in alcohol revenue at the OC Fair. This is the commission received on alcohol sales. Actual alcohol sales are estimated to be $9.3 million for 23 day OC Fair.

#4385 Camping Revenue $96,500 is paid by the carnival workers, vendors, concessionaires, and others exhibiting at the Fairgrounds who camp on site in trailers and RVs.

#4370, #4710, #4711 Parking revenues total $5,189,413 which is more revenue than #4355 Performance Admissions Revenue (Pac Amp, The Hangar, Action Sports Arena.)

#5101 Orange County Sheriff - Director Berardino directed Executive Management to reduce the $776,860 in the budget.

#5475 PR/Manager Functions $115,449 is the budgeted amount for the private nightly catered gourmet dinners for Fair Board members, their families, Executive Management, and business associates. The amount increased by nearly $7,000 from last year, but that's okay. It's the Sheriff's bill that needs to be cut.

Email your budget questions to CEO Kathy Kramer at kkramer@ocfair.com