OC Fair Follies: The Deafening Sound of Silence

An e-mail from our long-time Friend Joe Sipowicz was discovered in this afternoon’s mailbag. Seems Joe is a little put out at being called “gutless” by blogger Matthew J. Cunningham for criticizing the latter “off topic.” Here’s Joe’s letter. I added the graphics!

Colonic extraction was deemed necessary...
Colonic extraction was deemed necessary to save the patient

Several OC blogs (including this one) have raised this issue of the role played by former State Senator Dick Ackerman in the possible sale of the OC Fairgrounds. Last summer he was hired by a group of Fair Board members meeting on the sly to get the necessary language into the State budget bill that would enable the sale to go through.

That activity was illegal. State law prohibits ex-legislators from lobbying for a full year before they can start their lucrative lobbying revenue stream; and Ackerman only checked out of the legislature last November. And the Board members in question seem to have put this deal together secretly – an intentional violation of the Brown Act.

Now to the point of this little essay. Let’s review how many references to the Ackerman activity and the possible Fair Board violation of open meeting laws have been made on the Red County blog. In round numbers. The roundest of all: 0. That’s right. None. Zero.

Why is this interesting? Because the editor at that site, Matt Cunningham loves to visit this site to call people “gutless” and “cowardly,” and has repeatedly criticized this blog for not holding Norby to the same standards it uses to attack the comical Linda Ackerman, and  meanwhile basks in his own self-assigned integrity, courage, and honor. He has at least twice accused the FFFF administrator Tony Bushala of breaking the law, without a shred of evidence; just the sort of thing he loves to attack his opponents for doing, and would in fact, ban them from his blog if they pulled the same stunt.

And yet when Dick Ackerman himself has already admitted to a newspaper that he worked on the Fair deal, Red County’s own Cunningham remains silent, even as he advertises the motives of a current concessionaire who is questioning the whole slimy insider deal in a lengthy post.

If he knows what's good for him, he'll keep his mouth shut...
If he knows what's good for him, he'll keep his mouth shut. And next time he'd better get the tires...

Okay, fine. You don’t attack the head of your gang if you want to stay in it, and clearly he does. And Cunningham has made looking the other way into a full time profession, whether it be defending the Pedo-priest protectors, ex-Sheriff Mike Carona, or any of the other ethically challenged institutional shot-callers he looks up to.

But is it asking too much for this individual to just keep his self-righteousness to himself?

25 Replies to “OC Fair Follies: The Deafening Sound of Silence”

  1. Joe – you nailed it! I read that post he did about the fair. Absolutely pointless – except as a way to backhandedly undermine resistance of the sale of the property to his pals. And no mention of Ackerman’s or how the Fair Board actually met to decide they wanted to buy their own fair.

    If the subject were so important you’d think…

  2. The fair situation reminds me a LOT of the airport back in the early 2000’s. Just when they get John Wayne Airport all expanded and upgraded, suddenly there are selfish republicans showing up telling everyone to use the El Toro base as the new international airport ( that would have to be BUILT) and to let go of the underused John Wayne for people who have private jets there.

    Have you been to the fairgrounds lately? They have greatly upgraded and expanded the fair venues and buildings. It is beautifully upgraded from just a few years ago. and true to form, a selfish horde is showing up to take the OC fair away from the community.

    I have heard from a number of citizens who are attending those meetings that there is a plan to simply zone the hell out of the fair property so that those selfish individuals will not be able to profit from their theft of that property.

    I hope CM is able to fight for the rights to keeping the property.

    Everytime I see that Cunningham is associated with some person or project, I immediately suspect the worst. He is the ONLY one who is claiming he’s upstanding and ethical. NO ONE else has ever come to his defense. He protests too much. I think his outing of those victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church is evidence enough of his self-serving, hard hearted approach towards others. Despicable.

  3. Sad…

    The opposition to this tainted sale cuts across parties and ideologies. Like I write in my upcoming piece on Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer, the only explanation for backing the sale is if you’re personally benefitting from it. (Or want to stay friends with those who are, as Matt & crew evidently do.)

    It’s not like the ten or twenty million they might get from this strictly zoned property is going to make a dent in California’s insane debt, after all.

    1. …the only explanation for backing the sale is if you’re personally benefitting from it. (Or want to stay friends with those who are, as Matt & crew evidently do.)

      Vern, you’re too smart to advance such an intellectually and logically limp…I can’t even call it an argument. It doesn’t even rise to that level. It’s a shout-down. And you presume to know where I stand on this issue. You’ve e-mailed me before Vern — and you’re not shy about using your keyboard. Try taking 5 seconds to contact me before making baseless allegations (that could be why the ankle biters here like you so much).

      Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. I don’t have strong feelings one way or another. But to declare that all support for a sale stems either from greed or sycophancy is pure stupidity.

      1. Matt, I guess my “shoutdown” may seem “limp” and not an “argument” because it grows from real arguments I’ve made at length elsewhere. Note that I said “evidently” regarding you since I haven’t seen this story of yours that my Fringefriends are referring to. I’m guessing they don’t link to your site as a matter of policy. I’d like to read your story if you can e-mail me a link. But I’ve been frustrated lately trying to get around and comment at OCBlog. For example I tried to comment more than once on this undeniably sale-apoligist article by the very, very macho anonymous blogger “Iron Grip,” and not only did my comment never show, but the Iron Gripster never deigned to respond to my ally Brian:

        Coupla quick points:

        This is somewhat of a special situation; the Fair sale is a juggernaut that in less than two months really will be irreversible. So when somebody like Righeimer, Monahan, and apparently you, spend their public moments counselling acquiescence or trying to discredit the other side, I call that being “objectively pro-sale” (In memory of when we opponents of invading Iraq were dubbed “objectively pro-Saddam” except THAT was a slander; my usage is either accurate or a challenge.)

        Also, NOBODY I have heard actually SAYS they favor the sale. It would be an embarrassing and possibly indefensible position. I’d like to hear some real arguments in favor of it – how do you justify the almost certain eventual destruction of an Orange County treasure just for dumping 20 or 30 million into Sacramento’s black hole?

        Maybe a truly RELIGIOUS objection to the existence of public property – a truly fervent Ayn Rand / Fraser Institute belief that nothing whatsoever should be held in common – maybe that would be a forgivable position unrelated to greed or sycophancy. But I thought I was ALREADY hanging out with the “Fringers” here, and I’m not hearing that. Is that where you’re coming from these days?

        Lead, follow, or show your true colors, this is a momentous local issue, Matt.

  4. That reminds me – guys, where does your good friend Norby stand? Republicans Silva and Duvall were the only OC pols brave enough to vote against the sale after all; would Norby stand up for our crown jewel? (MacMurray would)

  5. I’ve noticed that stories this usually send Cunningham into full-spin mode. It’s not like him to be completely silent when one of his masters is in trouble. This is serious.

    1. Against. I post here because the right of free speech is respected.

      ‘Sides, seems like Matt Cunningham is digging his own public relations grave just fine.

  6. The banning thing is not really working over at OJ. When I see Matt’s posts in the spam filter first, I just delete. But it looks like some others don’t take as hard of a line there.

    Generally I am against censorship and banning. Banning is for people who are obnoxious pests, imo.

  7. No, we don’t ban. If a comment like #7 becomes just too gratuitously vulgar (and believe me – we set the bar pretty low) we will try to edit it. But that commenter wasn’t banned.

  8. Vern, just hover the cursor over a comment and click the “reply” button.

    Speaking for myself and not the other Fringers, I don’t necessarliy see a big problem privatizing the Fair, per se. But like almost everyone else I see ulterior motives behind every horse stall.

    It looks like there is a real rush to get the proverbial foot in the door. It’s hard to get around the idea that the real value of the site is in redevelopment – not operating what’s there now.

    Moreover I see real potential for corruption – which looks like it started from the get go. Selling to the highest bidder? Is there a reserve price?

    That’s a real problem – placing a value on a Fair? Not sure how you appraise something that.

  9. An honest attempt there, Harpo. But you should think about everything you just wrote. And maybe you’ll see there’s only so far any of us should take our ideologies in real life. You’re reluctant to come out against “privatization” but you also know the end result is inevitably redevelopment of the fair. We all need to discover some moderation within ourselves when it comes to public treasures.

    Someone was telling me the other day, “Our great-grandparents paid for this Fair with their tax dollars so we could have it.” Are we gonna betray the Greatest Generation? So some inveterate weenie or other can make bank?

    (Plus just like you, I like jabbing the Harpoon into corrupt liars, just for the bloodsport.)

  10. Vern, would you like me to attach your comment to #5’s?

    Also, Norby told me he would favor a sale of the property to the County with a covenant the property is kept as a County Fair.

  11. admin, the all-powerful, please delete this comment, and #21, and attach #19 to #5 if that will make Matt more likely to see it. And let me think for a bit about Norby’s Solomonic split-the-baby response. Thankyou.

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