Fairgrounds Swindle defeated in court! YEAH! Gimme ten! SPIKE that football!




So, good news this week if you hadn’t already heard – the Fourth Appelate District Court, which was but ONE place we were fighting against the sale of our Fairgrounds to developer sharks Facilities Management West, has ruled SOUNDLY and UNANIMOUSLY against that sale, agreeing with at least two of our arguments that the “bidding” process was rigged in favor of Schwarzenegger cronies at FMW.

Here’s the Court’s words:

In a word, this sale cannot go forward. There are two main reasons.

First, the Legislature required the Department to provide the Legislature with an explicit comparison between the Fairgrounds’ fair market value and any deal which the Department proposed to make. (Food & Agr. Code, § 3884.2, subds. (d)(2) and (d)(3); all undesignated statutory references in this opinion are to that Code.) The Department, however, neglected to provide that comparison. Indeed, the Department’s claim that the deal it made automatically equaled the fair market value of the property contradicted the position it had taken only a few months earlier in a previous round of bidding. In that round, the Department apparently had a good idea of the fair market value of the property, and decided that none of the bids it had received had come sufficiently close to be accepted.

Second, the bidding process itself was flawed by the total absence of any bid protest procedures. In section 3884.2, subdivision (c) the Legislature had required the sale of the Fairgrounds be “pursuant to a public bidding process designed to obtain the highest, most certain return for the state from a responsible bidder.” (Italics added.) Here, however, the Department implemented a bidding system that contained no safeguards to ensure responsibility, or even that bids be materially responsive to the Department’s own request for proposals.

These two flaws in the procedure by which Facilities Management was awarded the sale — particularly the failure to provide the Legislature a comparison between the fair market value of the property and the terms actually proposed by the winning bidder — mean that the proposed sale cannot be consummated. While the second flaw (the absence of a bid protest mechanism) might, in theory, be cured by simply sending the matter back to the Department to allow for administrative challenges to the bids received, the first flaw (failure to give the Legislature the comparison it wanted) is necessarily fatal. The Legislature reserved for itself the opportunity to veto the sale if it was not satisfied with the terms of the sale in comparison with the fair market value of the Fairgrounds. It never got that opportunity.

We therefore grant the requested writ of supersedeas.


DRAT - Foiled again!

Thanks and congratulations to Assemblyman Solorio and Senator Correa for joining in this suit from former Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley, OC Marketplace owner Jeff Teller, and others.  But as the Court notes, as hard as it is to imagine, the state could still technically go through the whole bidding process again and do it right this time, if Governor Brown wanted to.  Former CM Mayor and queen of the Sale Derailers Sandy Genis says:

“We are delighted that today’s Appellate District Court decision stops the current sale of our Orange County Fairgrounds but the property is still at risk due to 2009 legislation authorizing the sale.

“We must still convince Governor Brown to permanently take our Fairgrounds off the auction block and cancel any possible sale.   The Orange County Fair Board, which is responsible for managing the property, still includes members who conspired to put the property up for sale to begin with.  We call upon the Governor to appoint Fair Board directors committed to the public trust and to the preservation of our Fairgrounds in public hands for all time.”

This ruling is a reminder of the corruption of our last disgraceful Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also a big slap in the face to Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and CM Mayor Gary Monahan, who have been carrying FMW’s water more shamelessly than ever – and we must never forget.   And this whole saga is not complete until – not only are the guilty Fair Board members replaced – but the people who committed the most egregious illegal acts to put us through this whole wasteful two-year ordeal are somehow punished – especially Fair Board Chairman Dave Ellis and former Senate Minority Leader and illegal lobbyist Dick Ackerman.  That’s the ONLY way to make sure this kind of shit doesn’t happen again – impunity just ensures more of the same next time nobody’s paying attention.

Only then will I be able to write my final post wrapping this up, which will be in the style of Homer’s Iliad and entitled:

Sing, O Muse, of the fight to save the Fairgrounds.

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 vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.