Fred Aguiar’s Radical Vision of a Privatized California

Selling off as much state property as possible to developers because “Extraordinary Times Require Extraordinary Measures.”   Characterizing the Orange County Fairgrounds as “A Very High Value, Centrally Located, In-Fill Development Opportunity.”  Threatening the City of Costa Mesa’s attempts to protect the Fair with zoning ordinances:   “…if the City moves forward with the Specific Plan and the Fairgrounds’ value is diminished, the State will consider whatever options may be available to preserve the Fairgrounds value.”  Impolitically but instructively dropping the pretense that the forces engineering the sale have the slightest intention of keeping the Fair a Fair.

None of this would be troubling coming from some libertarian think-tank, or a single radical assemblyman like Chuck DeVore.  But Fred Aguiar (which he pronounces to rhyme with “Jerry Maguire”) is Governor Schwarzenegger’s right hand man, his deputy chief-of-staff and soon to be chief-of-staff proper, and is unmistakably having a decisive and negative influence on the Governor as we attempt to convince Arnold to be a hero by stopping the sale.

So, who is this Fred Aguiar, and who elected him to lead the crusade to divest Californians of our historic Fairgrounds, and our legendary parks and beaches?

Originally an assemblyman from Chino, now living in Paso Robles, Frank “Fred” Aguiar has served Arnold in various capacities throughout his term as governor, often seemingly as a sop to extreme rightwing critics to balance off Arnold’s “liberal” appointees like Susan Kennedy (outgoing chief of staff.)   To those of us trying to uncover the hidden roots of the OC Fairgrounds sale, he has been at all the right places at the right times to facilitate this swindle.  He generally served on the same committees as Senator Dick Ackerman, who lobbied so effectively, secretly (and probably illegally) for the sale.  At the time the sale of our Fairgrounds was inserted into July’s AB22 budget bill – we still don’t know how that happened – Aguiar was the head of California State and Consumer Services Agency, which manages the Department of General Services (DGS) which is now forcing the sale through at unprecedented top speed.

Reggie at Pacific Progressive has convincingly made the case that this issue has become bigger than simply saving our Fairgrounds.  And it’s not just Reggie, I’ve heard the same thing from many Sacramento folks I’ve chatted with:  the OC Fairgrounds sale is a test case, a coal-mine canary, to see how easy it will be in the future to pry the natural and public wonders out of California’s gaping mouth.   If we let these Fairgrounds go, next will be parks and beaches.  Reggie asks, and quite on point,

How much do you think Crystal Cove is worth if you allow homes to be built?

Does Arnold Schwarzenegger, lifelong portrayer of heroes,  really want his legacy to be the selling off of California’s storied public places, her parks, beaches, forests and fairs, to the highest bidder who hopes to make the biggest profit off them?   Well, if not, he needs to start listening to more than just his chief of staff Fred Aguiar.

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.