My speech to the Fair Board this morning

Vern Nelson, Huntington Beach.  I just want to get a few things straight here.   Let me know when I’m done if I have anything wrong, because I write for a blog and I hate to get things wrong.

OK.  When you heard there was a chance these Fairgrounds would be sold, rather than fight the sale and protect the Fair as any other Fair Board would have done, you began plotting how to buy it for yourselves.

One of the first things you did was hire former Senator Dick Ackerman to go back up to Sacramento to make SURE the sale went through.  The world calls that lobbying.   I realize you call it other things, since it was illegal for him to lobby.

In any case he convinced most of our legislators that Costa Mesa and Orange County wanted the Fairgrounds sold, which you know was a bald-faced lie.  Around the same time there was a conference call with the Governor’s office on which somebody falsely claiming to represent Costa Mesa gave the green light for the sale.  We’d sure like to know who that person was.

And we’d also like to know who sneaked the sale language into AB22 late at night July 23rd.   It’s hard to imagine it wasn’t Ackerman, who has admitted to “drafting legislative language” facilitating the sale.   But notably, NOTHING was included about keeping the Fair a Fair, and the bill in fact encourages sale to the highest bidder, with future profits to be shared by the state.

Shortly before that, most of you had formed yourselves into a non-profit “Foundation” to buy the Fair yourselves, meeting in violation of both Open-Meetings Law and Agricultural Code 3964.5.  What made you think you’d end up with the winning bid, or that the property would go to anyone who cared about saving the Fairgrounds?

In October you paid Probolsky Research to conduct a poll of OC residents, and 84% of us told you we opposed selling the Fairgrounds to a for-profit entity.   Well, that’s exactly what’s ended up happening thanks to your machinations.

At some point you evidently gave up on your plan and didn’t submit a bid, so now it looks like the winning bidder, as we’d always feared, will be a developer, a developer of malls.  Was this your plan all along?  And as nice as Craig Realty is talking right now, they’ll certainly do whatever they need to do to maximize their profits after putting up $56.5 million plus untold millions in transitional costs.

So that means goodbye to the beloved, historic Fairgrounds you people were entrusted with.  And Costa Mesa is left having to spend $200,000 to try to protect their crown jewels – a sad outcome for alleged fiscal conservatives, I should think!

Maybe there’s some secret reason you wanted it to turn out this way, but as guardians of our Fairgrounds you have FAILED EPICALLY.   Herbert Hoover failure.  Enron failure.  If you were in Japan, you’d be disembowling yourselves about now.  If you were in South Korea you would jump off a cliff.  The least you could do as self-respecting Americans is either resign in shame, or call the Governor NOW and tell him to stop the sale!

Thank you.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.