Fair Board, Activists Do Their Usual Thing

As the fate of the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds hinges on a March appellate court hearing, the Fair Board Thursday conducted business as usual, pursuing a public-private partnership for management of the Pacific Amphitheater and reappointing Dave Ellis to the chairmanship of the board.

Also, the board, as expected, announced that it would be engaging with Gov. Jerry Brown to try and secure a revenue sharing agreement.

It wasn’t just the Fair Board members going about business as usual. Activists critical of the proposed fairgrounds sale strenuously objected to moves by the board, including Ellis’ reappointment and the pursuit of a private sector partner for increased use of the amphitheater.

A lawsuit by activists and elected officials has temporarily frozen a possible sale of the fairgrounds to the private company Facilities Management West. Because of the lawsuit, the fair board is under a restraining order not to pursue the deal.

Activist Greg Ridge took shots at, among other things, a sudden discovery by the Fair Board last year that it might actually hold title over the fairgrounds.

“What — was it in somebody’s glove compartment?” Ridge said to laughter from other activists.

Activists’ distrust of the board runs deep, and one even suggested that new board member Ali Jahangiri take the reigns because of his decision to abstain on the entire consent calendar. But no board member inspires contempt from the activists like Ellis.

“There is a cancer on this board,” Ridge said. “And the malignant tumor just got re-elected to board chair.”



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