CONTEMPT: Arnold defies Court Orders, pushes ahead with Fairgrounds Sale.




Remember this?

“I was always dreaming about very powerful people. Dictators and things like that. I was always impressed by people who could be remembered for hundreds of years.”

Or this other, more recent, Schwarzenegger quote:

“I admire Hitler because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education to great power.  And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on.”

We probably should have taken all of that more seriously. The Governator in his final days of power is behaving for all the world like a tin pot despot answerable to no other branch of California’s government.  Can he really get away with this?  I tend to think not, but who is going to fight to defend the Constitution from domestic enemies like the Terminator?

Remember, last month Judge Horn put a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on Arnold’s Department of General Services (DGS), ordering it not to proceed with the sale of the Fairgrounds until all the issues in question were resolved by the court.  Immediately afterward the Governor fired all the Fairgrounds workers – and immediately after that, Facilities Management West (FMW), Arnold’s chosen buyer, called in the fired employees and offered them their jobs back “once FMW took over.”

We plaintiffs and our counsel considered THAT action to be sufficient for the court to hold the state in contempt, but Judge Brenner, the state-friendly justice we got last week for our second hearing, disagreed.  Still he kept the TRO in effect until yesterday, when we were to make our case to the Court of Appeals.  Well, we were successful yesterday, that Court agreed to hear our case next January 10, and upheld the TRO until then.

But once again, Arnold and his DGS are proceeding even more aggressively with the sale.  One issue that’s been up in the air is who actually holds the deed to the property;  many of us have contended that it is actually held by the “32nd DAA” which is the legal name for the Fair Board;  beginning in September that Board began claiming the same thing, complicating Arnold’s plans a bit;  now it seems we were right.

Because what Arnold did today, quite dramatically, was replace three members of the Board (who maybe were beginning to look undependable to him) with three brand new pliable people;  re-appoint Swindle backers Dave Ellis and Dale Dykema and name Ellis – the most aggressive sale champion – chairman of the Board;  and instruct them to meet on Saturday January 1 (two days before Jerry Brown’s inauguration) to sign the deed over to the state.

How is all THAT not naked contempt of the Court’s order?

Obviously this sale is important enough to Arnold and his friends that he doesn’t mind risking a minor Constitutional crisis over it.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see how this can work for him.  Our courts haven’t become that impotent, have they?

Aren’t Arnold’s people and FMW maybe shooting themselves in the foot with this behavior?  I can’t imagine ANY judge in the future looking kindly on this brazen defiance of the judicial branch, and ruling in the culprits’ favor.

And some of us have also been thinking:  Now that it evidently turns out that the property never WAS the state’s to sell, how are all the state’s actions up to now not illegitimate – beginning with the legislation AB 4×22?

Norberto and the Pot Stirrer seem to think that it’s possible these swindlers could get away with what they want through sheer force of will – of course they both spend some of their time talking to FMW spokesmen.  Am I absurdly naive to think we still have a divided government with a balance of powers?

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.