Orange County Fair Preservation Society

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OC Fair Foundation Will Close Its Meetings to the Public

Meetings of the newly formed Orange County Fair and Events Center Foundation will be closed to the public, Orange County Fair Board chair Kristina Dodge and vice chair David Ellis said this morning.

The nonprofit, formed by six Orange County Fair Board members, was created to buy the 150-acre fairgrounds property, which the state has put up for sale.

Reggie Mundekis, publisher of Pacific Progressive, asked the fair board today at its monthly session if the foundation’s meetings would follow open-meeting laws since the majority of the fair board would be convening about business pertaining to the fair.

The board didn’t answer her question, but after the meeting, Dodge and Ellis said the closed meetings wouldn’t violate open-government laws because its board members weren’t going to be talking about fair business.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, the Bagley Keene Act defines a public meeting as occuring when a “quorum of a body convenes, either serially or all togther, in one place, to address issues under the body’s jurisdiction. Obviously, a meeting would include a gathering where members were debating issues or voting on them. But a meeting also includes situations in which the body is merely receiving information. To the extend that a body receives information under circumstances where the public is deprived of the opportunity to monitor the information provided, and either agree with it or challenge it, the open-meeting process is deficient.” You can read the entire opinion here.

The state has estimated the price tag for the fairgrounds would be between $96 million and $180 million.

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