Blinked? Don’t! The Derailment proceeds apace…

As Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley memorably texted Wednesday morning, “Things are moving fast.  Don’t blink!” And sure enough, all six of these developments in the Derailment of the Sale of our Fairgrounds transpired in the five days since then:

1. Attorney General Brown Cuts Ties With Fair Board Miscreants

We ardent Derailers had been somewhat impatient and frustrated with Attorney General Jerry Brown for his apparent jerryinaction in the face of all the shady and probably illegal machinations of the Fair Board, in their attempts to shake this lucrative Tree and hope that the Fairgrounds Fruit falls into their grasping hands and not someone else’s.  But it is true, as Jerry pointed out a couple weeks ago, that his Justice Department couldn’t actually investigate and prosecute the Board since it has been the legal counsel for the Board up to now (in the person of a timid and ineffectual underling.)  It’s still true that Brown’s department can’t actually move against the Fair Board, even after what Gus calls Brown’s “stunning move” this week – withdrawing his representation of the Board and advising them to go get their own damn lawyer.

As the Justice Dept’s letter states, “Given the seemingly intertwined and potentially conflicting interests of the District, the District Board members and the nonprofit, we have determined that we should withdraw from providing legal services.” Brown’s Department may still be hamstrung in the matter, but there must be another investigation in the works from either the county or US Attorney, and Brown wants no part of defending the indefensible.  Reggie at Pacific Progressive neatly lays out all the ramifications for the Board, leading to the inescapable conclusion:  their membership needs to be replaced forthwith.  And that will be good news for everybody (except them.)

2. The Latest on Dick-Ackergate

Speaking of illegalities, we’ve at least finally determined ackermanhow much (public) money the Fair Board/Foundation paid ex-Senator Dick Ackerman to lobby on their behalf and grease the skids for the sale.  Getting any sort of information from the Cheney-like Board is like pulling teeth, and Board CEO Steve Beazley likes to feign Reaganesque lack of recall, but the Daily Pilot’s intrepid Mona Shadia finally managed the task through a California Public Records Request; the figure is $19,070.20. (Of  OUR money, remember.)

Of course ever since attention was brought to the fact that it was illegal for Dick to lobby so soon after leaving his Senate seat (a year is supposed to elapse) Dick and his friends have been trying out other more innocent terms:  he was “consulting” for them up there, “gathering information” while “doing preliminary work” on the “budget language.”  But some of our local reporters – notably the Times’ Barboza and the Pilot’s Shadia – are refreshingly resistant to politicians’ euphemisms, and blithely refer to lobbying as lobbying.

Still Gus has fun here speculating on what services that $19,070.20 may have paid for.  We all remember Van Tran defending his friend on the grounds that it couldn’t have been lobbying, as lobbying “would have been illegal.”  Finally Gus notes that the legal name for the Fair Board is the 32nd Agricultural District, recalls how the Federal Department of Agriculture is known to pay farmers not to grow crops, and sarcastically theorizes that the Board was “paying Dick not to lobby.”

We joke, because we sense justice closing in, and it puts us in a good mood.

3. “Lobbyists” for We the People Head up to Sac-town

So, first thing tomorrow this morning, steadfast and tireless Fairground katrinaDefenders Katrina Foley, Wendy Leece and Alan Roeder (a bipartisan contingent from the Costa Mesa government) are heading on up to Sacramento to meet with the Governor’s office, to present Arnold and his staff with all the compelling arguments against selling the property.  And we wish them the best of luck with the Governator; the truth and justice are certainly on their side.

The contrast between these, the people’s lobbyists, and Mr. Ackerman’s activities above, could not be more striking.  As he operates in the shadows, we can never be sure exactly what Dick did to earn the 19 grand that the secretive cabal of would-be profiteers slipped him.  In contrast, the People’s Trio are carpooling to John Wayne Airport to save taxpayers’ money; their air fare and lunch are covered by the city; apart from that they are LOSING money doing something they truly believe in – for example Katrina is losing at least a day’s work at her law practice.  But hey, some folks believe in public service, and some are just guns for hire.

4. José Solorio’s Assembly Bill 1590

Our celebrations of Assemblyman José Solorio’s introduction of AB 1590 to stop the sale of the Fairgrounds josewere tempered somewhat by our puzzlement at parts of his accompanying press release, to wit:  “Since I am now convinced that the State of California has not positioned itself to maximize the price of this particular sale, nor is it setting best-practices for future transactions, I plan to stop it.  In fact, I believe the circumstances have been set to encourage low bids and discourage private sector bids. We can sell the fairgrounds only once, let’s stop, evaluate the process and do it right.”

We’re assuming for now that, literally true as all that may be, it is rhetoric designed to appeal to the Governor and other privatizers who are just dying to sell off any public property but prefer to get the maximum profits.  Well, whatever it takes to put the brakes on! AB 1590 is still a simple and perfect bill, and its only problem is that it won’t be up for a vote till January which is really pushing the time frame.

5. Hector De La Torre’s Mega-Letter Project

For this reason, Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) who has taken a great interest in helping
hectorus defend our Fairgrounds, has proposed sending a letter to the Governor opposing the sale, signed by a “supermajority” of the legislature; our own Jim Silva (R-Huntington Beach) is expected to help him get Republicans on board.  Hector is going to start collecting signatures this Wednesday and Thursday and expects to have the letter to Arnold within a week.

The way I see it, the bipartisan supermajority (2/3 or more) is exactly what we will need if the Governor refuses to sign AB 1590 when it passes – that is what it would take to override his veto (a worst-case scenario, we still hope the best from Arnold!)  All the OC Republicans added to all Democrats gets us to 2/3 – that’s why it’s so important for us to contact and persuade Senators Harman, Walters, Huff, Wyland and Correa;  and Assemblymen Tran, DeVore, Hagman, Miller and Harkey!

(As it happens, Assemblyman De La Torre is running for Insurance Commissioner next year, and he seems to be a great candidate for the position with his sterling record on healthcare justice and standing up to the profiteers.  I think Orange County voters should remember the help he’s giving us on this issue so dear to our hearts.)

6. Cities of Orange & Huntington Beach Jump on Derailment Bandwagon

This week, heedingjill the Board of Supervisors’ clarion call to all OC cities, Orange and Huntington Beach follow in the footsteps of Costa Mesa by passing resolutions asking the Governor and their state legislators to stop this Tainted Sale:

Tonight – Monday night, Dec. 7 – the Huntington Beach City Council’s Intergovernmental Subcommittee (consisting of Mayor Keith Bohr and Councilmembers Don Hansen and Jill Hardy – pictured to right)  will be taking this up as an “emergency measure.”  Being an emergency measure, it will probably bypass the rest of council, and not be open to the public, but I’m not worried about the outcome.

And then tomorrow, Tuesday, December 8, “the Orange City Council will consider a resolution asking Governor Schwarzenegger to stop the sale of the Fairgrounds.  The resolution is being brought forward by Councilman (and Former Mayor) Mark Murphy.  The Orange City Council meets at 4:30 at 300 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA.  Parking is located behind City Hall.”  (hat-tip Pacific Progressive.) Come and speak, especially if you live in Orange!

It Ain’t Over – What YOU still need to do:

First of all, we cannot badger the Governor enough – the Governor who could stop this sale tomorrow with a stroke ofarnold his pen, and otherwise will be needed to sign AB 1590 when it passes in January; he cannot hear too often or from too many of you the simple message that he needs to call off this sale.  So write, call, fax!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841 (option 1…then 6 to speak to rep)
Fax: 916-558-3160
And as Brad the Equestrian says, keep it positive:  “Please let him Know He’s our Hero for Stopping the Sale!”

And ask your Assemblyman and State Senator to sign Hector’s letter, sign on to José’s Assembly Bill 1590, and do whatever else they can to stop the sale.   Here, I’ll make it EASY……..

1) Find out who your Assemblyman and State Senator are here:


Tom Harman, (714) 957-4555
950 S. Coast Drive Suite 240
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Lou Correa,  (714) 558-4400
State Capitol, Room 5052
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mimi Walters,  (949) 457-7333
24031 El Toro Rd. Suite 210
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Mark Wyland,  (949) 489-9838
27126-A Paseo Espada, #1621
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Bob Huff, (909) 598-3981
20888 Amar Road, Suite 205
Walnut, CA 91789


Jim Silva (*already on our side, thank him!)  (714) 843-4966
17011 Beach Blvd Suite 570
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Van Tran,  (714) 668-2100
1503 South Coast Dr. #205
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

José Solorio – thank for his bill! (714) 939-8469
2400 E. Katella Avenue
Suite 640
Anaheim, CA 92806

Chuck DeVore, (949) 863-7070
3 Park Plaza, Suite 275
Irvine, CA 92614

Curt Hagman,  (909) 627-7021
13920 City Center Drive, #260
Chino Hills, CA 91709

Jeff Miller, (949) 598-7171
20532 El Toro Rd, Suite 203
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

Diane Harkey,  (949) 347-7301
29122 Rancho Viejo Road, Suite 111
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Tony Mendoza, (562) 864-5600
12501 E. Imperial Highway
Suite 210
Norwalk, CA 90650


COMING UP, at your request: a “Who is the Fair Board” series, beginning with

(A rare photo of Newport Beach “uber-consultant,”
Fair Board Vice-Chairman and chief miscreant DAVE ELLIS
– right –
sighted with state Senator Tom Harman and another Fair Board member)

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.