The Breaking Fairgrounds Swindle News: Screw the State’s Threats, see you at 5:30.

On the tense evening of June 28, while the Costa Mesa City Council sat deciding whether to take the plunge with the fatally flawed MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Facilities Management West, the Governor’s office – probably Chief of Staff Fred Aguiar – was frantically texting all five members with dire warnings of what would happen if they didn’t approve the deal. How appropriate is that?

Today, as the Council (wearing their “OC Fairgrounds Authority” hats) meets to vote on an equally flawed lease – and no doubt the Governor’s office is aware of all the dissent brewing in the OC public and the Sacramento legislature – they are apparently ratcheting it up PAST the threat level – as the Daily Pilot broke the story and the Potstirrer just alerted us, the state is putting the Fairgrounds back up for auction.

Nothing makes much sense, I’m still waiting to hear back from Katrina and Sandy and other smart people. The timing is obviously to pressure the Council into not listening to the public and just agreeing to the lease as it stands. So it stands to reason that the auction wouldn’t happen if the Council approves the lease, and the legislature approves it.

But the state says it won’t accept less than $96 million, and it has to be paid within 40 years, with a $20 million down payment. It’s very hard to see how it will get anything near that. They could barely get $56.5 million back in January, and that was BEFORE we passed Measure C to protect the property. FMW has agreed to pay $96 million on a longer time frame, under the terms of the lease we’re looking at today, which evidently allows them to skirt around Measure C and the city’s General Plan. Why would they or anyone else agree to pay more and get less flexibility to make their purchase profitable?

It’s another damn bluff from the state, and we need to call their bluff. I’ve unfortunately had to re-write my song a second time TODAY now! It’s gonna be a sequel to the “Tainted Sale” I performed at City Council in November:

THE NEW VERSION (a little longer)

Now I know that we’ve got a
Tainted Lease, rushed thru in an ungodly hurry,
giving up all our public oversight,
under threats from Sacramento.
And now they’re doing it again,
But they won’t get 96 million,
…and even if they do we’ve got Measure C!
Once I said “Buy the Fair.”
Now I say “Derail this Deal!”
It’s time to call the state’s bluff until we’ve got a new Governor,
whether it’s Nutmeg Whitman or Jerry Brown!
Tainted Lease (wo…) Tainted Lease (wo…)
Don’t sign this mess,
You shouldn’t have to work under such duress!
We know you all did your best,
but we’ll just be back here in a year or two saying
Councilmen, councilwomen, Where did our Fair go?
oh… we can’t recognize it
in this 24-7 OC Fame,
oh, everything is resized.
The stables are a donkey ride!
The farm’s just a vegetable patch,
and the Swap Meet’s a shopping mall,
nothing but traffic and gridlock,
and no-one to complain to,
until the annual meeting,
with Ken Fait laughing and counting his dough, oh,
councilmen, councilwomen,
This isn’t what we fought for!
With apologies to Riggy,

let’s blow this deal up.

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.