Kill This Bill: AB 2396 would bring the Carnival of Corruption Back to the OC Fairgrounds


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[Cross-posted from the “Fans of the OC Fairgrounds” blog.]

Remember back to 2009 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the Governor and our OC Fairgrounds was put up for sale? Directors of the Fair Board asked for the property to be sold and a majority of Fair Board Directors formed a non-profit corporation, the Orange County Fair and Event Center Foundation, to buy the property from the Fair Board that they were on. This kleptocratic self-dealing scheme surfaced and was called out by the California Attorney General who represented the Fair Board at the time. Due to possible conflicts of interest arising from a majority of Directors being on both sides of the transaction, the Attorney General refused to represent the OC Fairgrounds in late 2009. Nearly 6 years later in 2015, the Attorney General agreed to begin to represent the OC Fairgrounds again.

The Public, who own the OC Fairgrounds, were able to fight back in 2009-11 because the California Government Code (Sections 1090, 18000, and 19990) bars Fairgrounds Directors and employees from having financial interests in contracts with the Fairgrounds, holding employment which may conflict with their Fairgrounds employment or Director duties, and accepting extra compensation not paid by the state for their services. Conflict of interest laws are on the books to protect the Public from self-dealing self-interested kleptocrats and those laws are usually amended to strengthen the laws when the kleptos find a way around the laws currently in place. For some reason which needs serious explaining, those conflict of interest laws are now on the chopping block.

AB 2396 introduced by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow (AD 05; pic to left not joking) proposes to remove conflict of interest laws for the OC Fairgrounds and all other state-owned fairgrounds (aka District Agricultural Associations).  State conflict of interest codes are found in the California Government Code sections Sections 1090, 18000 and 19990. Self-dealing in government contracting and employment is legalized under AB 2396 Bigelow.  Under this bill, Fairgrounds Directors and employees can set up companies and funnel contracts to those companies. This can be done because Fairgrounds employees and Directors make the purchasing decisions without oversight from the state. This is a bad sequel to the carnival of corruption which played the OC Fairgrounds from 2009 to 2015. There is no good reason for this bill to exist other than to further self-dealing, corruption, and graft. 

This bill allows the OC Fairgrounds to be privatized and leaves the Public with no real tools to stop the privatization. OC Fair Board Directors and employees would be allowed to form a company to manage the OC Fairgrounds, be employed by said company, and have the OC Fair Board enter into a contract to manage the OC Fairgrounds on whatever terms the Directors and employees negotiated for themselves.This would be hard or even impossible to stop because this time it would be legal. Annual revenues around $45 million with a profit margin of around $8 million a year make legalized kleptocracy lucrative. This bill does not serve the interests of the Public.

Job #1: Kill the Bill

The bill is in the Assembly and we need to contact Assembly Members to have the bill killed. The Assembly email system does not allow you to email anyone but the Assembly Member representing your district, but you can call their offices. Email your Assembly Member using the emails on their page found at the Assembly Member list.

Call Assm. Frank Bigelow (AD 05) at (916) 319-2005  and ask that AB 2396 be killed. Assm. Bigelow represents the area around Yosemite.

Call or Visit Local Assembly Offices

Call, visit and write letters to our Assembly Members to ask them to oppose AB 2396.

Travis Allen (AD 72)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2072
District Office 17011 Beach Blvd, Suite 1120, Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (714) 843-4966

William Brough (AD 73)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2073
District Office 29122 Rancho Viejo Road, Suite 111, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 (949) 347-7301

Phillip Chen (AD 55)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2055
District Office 3 Pointe Drive, Suite 313, Brea, CA 92821 (714) 529-5502

Steven Choi (AD 68)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2068
District Office 3240 El Camino Real, Suite 110, Irvine, CA 92602 (714) 665-6868

Tom Daly (AD 69)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2069
District Office 2400 East Katella Avenue, Suite 640, Anaheim, CA 92806 (714) 939-8469

Matthew Harper (AD 74)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2074
District Office 1503 South Coast Drive, Suite 205, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (714) 668-2100

Sharon Quirk-Silva (AD 65)
Sacramento Office (916) 319-2065
6855 La Palma Avenue, Buena Park, CA 90620 (714) 521-6505

Job #2: Contact the OC Fair Board & Ask Their Help to Kill the Bill

Please contact the OC Fair Board to ask them to oppose this bill and to do everything in their power to kill the bill. As one of the largest fairs in the western US, the OC Fairgrounds can influence fairs legislation. Directors did not give clear direction during the February 2018 Board meeting to take action to kill AB 2396 Bigelow and need to hear from the Public, who own the OC Fairgrounds, to kill the bill.

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

OC Fair Board Directors choose to not have official emails so you have to mail a staff member and ask the staff member to forward your email. Email Summer Angus sangus@ocfair.com.

You can do a public records request to check if your email was forwarded to the Board.cpra@ocfair.com

If You Don’t Like State Conflict of Interest Laws, Then Find a New Position!

There is no excuse for what you are doing by proposing to ending conflict of interest laws for state owned fairgrounds. If you do not like conflict of interest restrictions placed on you as a Director or an employee, no one is forcing you to be a Director or an employee.

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Note from Vern:  You don’t remember the attempted Great Fairgrounds Swindle of 2009-11?  This blog was in the forefront of stopping that!  Just some of our coverage:

And of course of necessity there was this:

 


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