MOORLACH UPDATE — Daily Pilot — October 28, 2009

During yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting the Clerk of the Board reported out that we have decided to review the possibility of being a purchaser of the OC Fairgrounds.

I’m also attaching a map for tomorrow’s tour of the Tustin Blimp Hangars, for those who have responded that they are attending.   More information about the logistics can be found below.

County mulls fairgrounds buy

Supervisors set up committee to examine the possibility of acquiring fairgrounds in a closed session.

By Mona Shadia

The Orange County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday that the county will explore the prospect of buying the Orange County Fairgrounds.

In a closed session Tuesday, the supervisors established an ad hoc committee to look at a purchase, Supervisor John Moorlach said.

He and fellow Supervisor Bill Campbell will comprise the committee, said Moorlach, whose 2nd District covers Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.

The state announced earlier this month that it is putting the 150-acre fairgrounds in Costa Mesa up for sale. The deadline for potential buyers to submit bids is Jan. 8.

Meanwhile, the Costa Mesa City Council wants the newly formed Orange County Fair and Event Center Foundation, a nonprofit looking to raise money to buy the fairgrounds, to provide paperwork and more details on its activities before the city can appoint two non-elected citizens to the foundation’s board.

In an Oct. 20 letter, the city asked the foundation to provide it with at least five documents, including bylaws and articles of incorporation, as well as any plans to do with financial planning for acquiring the fairgrounds, and any changes to the site’s proposed operation. In addition, the city is asking the foundation to hand over copies of agreements and contracts into which it has entered since its establishment.

“…As a government entity, the city of Costa Mesa has an obligation to the public to insure that our participation in the foundation is completely transparent and fully compliant with applicable state and federal law,” states the letter from Mayor Allan Mansoor. “As a matter of public policy, our participation is the public’s participation, and as a consequence, we must act in an informed, open fashion.”

The foundation’s board has yet to respond to the letter, but foundation board Chairwoman Kristina Dodge said the trustees are working on a response.

“Everything they asked for was very standard, and we have that stuff readily available and we will be responding,” she said.

Dodge, who is also the chairwoman for the O.C. Fair and Event Center Board of Directors, noted that the foundation has yet to enter into any agreements.

The foundation’s board comprises six members who were also appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the Orange County Fair & Event Center Board of Directors, the fairgrounds’ governing body.

A private meeting among the board members to talk about the foundation has raised questions about whether they violated the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, a provision in the California Constitution that requires members of a state board to notify the public about any of its meetings.

The foundation, which officially formed Oct. 7, has asked Costa Mesa and Orange County to each appoint two people to serve on the foundation’s board.

The 10 members then are expected to appoint an 11th member.

Mansoor’s letter, which was addressed to Dodge, also seeks clarity on some questions, including how exactly most of the foundation’s board members will be selected, and why elected city officials would be blocked from being appointed.

“It would be helpful to understand why elected officials were singled out for exclusion from participation on the board,” Mansoor wrote.

“I personally do not have any predisposition regarding these appointments, but asking the City Council to make two appointments to represent the city yet exclude elected officials needs clarification.”

INVITATION

OCTOBER 29 — THURSDAY

Join us for a tour of the Tustin Blimp Hangars.  OC Parks and the U.S. Navy will be escorting us for a tour at 1:30 p.m.  We have a good sized group that is attending, so arriving a few minutes early may be a good idea.

We will meet at Gate 14, which is at the end of Armstrong Avenue, next to the Sheriff’s Academy Training Center.  Be prepared to drive on a gravel road.

We have been requested to encourage everyone to enter at the same time because the gates will be closed once we enter, so it might be difficult for latecomers to enter the hangar.  We are working on a solution for those that cannot arrive at or before 1:30 p.m.

To whet your appetite, please go to the City of Tustin’s website at http://www.tustinca.org/ and click on “The Tustin Hangars:  Titans of History.”  This documentary, written and directed by Costa Mesa’s Peter Buffa, is an outstanding program on local history.  It premiered on September 21st, so it is hot off the press.

Please RSVP by responding to this e-mail or with Margaret Chang at Margaret.Chang@ocgov.com.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

October 26

2004

On the November 2, 2004, General Election Ballot, there were 16 statewide propositions!  Proposition 1A (the one that the Governor suspended this year—raiding city and county funds to balance the state’s budget) and 59 through 72.

When you have a crowded ballot, you don’t get much media attention on each one.  But, Proposition 71—Stem Cell Research, Funding, Bonds, was a measure that I got involved with.  In retrospect, Proposition 71 was one of the most abusive uses of the ballot measure system ever foisted on the voters of our state.  And it is still being mentioned as an example to oppose the use of propositions.  For a great read, The Claremont Institute’s “Brave New Gold Rush,” at http://www.claremont.org/projects/pageid.2034/default.asp, is worth the time as it covers the topic well.

So, on top of the continuing fiscal woes that California is facing, this bond issue just adds to our financial misery.

Deirdre Newman of the Daily Pilot covered the topic in “Prop 71 opposition opinions vary—While churches oppose the proposition for several reasons, Orange County treasurer’s resistance to the measure is purely fiscal.”  I can appreciate all of the emotional rhetoric that goes into pushing a ballot measure.  But, as an accountant, we also have to be fiscally prudent.  If stem cell research was such a great investment opportunity, then why didn’t CalPERS invest in it?  They didn’t because there was no “dramatic” money to be made.  It was an honest way to pick the taxpayers’ pockets.

            [Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach] opposes [Proposition 71] so strongly that he is one of the signers of the argument against it in the state voter information guide.

            Moorlach said now is not the time for the state to borrow $3 billion and have to pay back another $3 billion in interest.

“We’re adding debt when our state is in the worst shape it’s ever been historically,” Moorlach said.  “If the research does not produce any royalties or residuals, then the payments have to come out of the general fund.  Most of the patents on stem cell research have already been pulled.  We’re not talking about anything dramatic here . . .  Some of the holders of the patents are the biggest funders of Prop 71, so it’s sort of a big money grab.”

October 27

1999

With the school bond measures on the November ballot, Martin Wisckol of the OC Register continued to educate (literally) his readers with “School Bonds 101:  Build a coalition—NEWS FOCUS:  Supporters in two cities find demonstrating need isn’t always enough.”  Here are some fun segments on Huntington Beach Union High School District, which met all of my criteria, including setting aside funds to avoid a bond in the future.  It would be fun for Martin Wisckol to do a ten-year reflection article to see how the District actually faired in meeting the commitments.

            GOP activist Jim Righeimer typically opposes new taxes, but [Assemblyman Scott] Baugh won him over.

“We would have had to work to kill it, and that still wouldn’t have solved the problem,” said Righeimer, an Assembly candidate who was a chief negotiator in getting the district to tighten up its plan.  “I saw an opportunity to do something revolutionary—to get schools to set aside money for ongoing maintenance.”

Indeed, a chief selling point of the plan is that the district will be required to put 4 percent of its annual budget toward long-term renovation.

County Treasurer John Moorlach gave the Huntington Beach proposal straight A’s—and said a good bond can be in the financial best interest of homeowners.

“If you want to maintain good home values, you have to have good schools,” he said.

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