David Ellis Opens Up About the Fair Board Foundation, the Appraisal and His Reputation

Categories: OC Fair View
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Mr. David Ellis
​With that pesky controversial sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds out of the way (or so we hope), it seems the time for bridge building. Relationship mending. Or pointing out any inaccuracies in any accusations that may have been fired off since the land was put on the auction block by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2009. 

David Ellis opted for the latter. 

You remember Ellis, don't you? The chairman of the board of directors to the OC Fair & Event Center; the businessman with the scandalous background; the favorite punching bag of the Preservation Society; the guy who wouldn't comment when the Weekly was reporting its cover story about the sale. Yeah, that guy. Well, Ellis is talking now: "I get to choose when I comment and when I don't comment," he said during a recent conversation, explaining why he wouldn't return phone calls or emails for months. (According to Ellis, it was a blanket decision, pushed by fellow board member, Kristina Dodge.) He then did something more surprising than calling: he invited us into his office to view highly sought after documents: the articles of incorporation, the bylaws and all the other jargon for the controversial OC Fair & Event Center Foundation.

Ellis and his company, Delta Partners LLC, are located in a quiet building on 17th Street in west Tustin. The second floor is an apt representation of the real estate industry, with empty offices and cubicles and the ability to hear each step toward his corner office. On his walls are pictures with various recognizable figures, including Schwarzenegger and Fidel Castro. On this day, his flat screen television is dialed to FOX News.

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Can they be trusted?
​The document has 71 pages in total, and lays out the structure of the non-profit foundation Ellis and his fellow Fair Board members tried to create. They had hopes of purchasing the Fairgrounds when they were up for sale. The foundation's creation was done quickly and quietly. The document shows that it was incorporated on July 24, 2009, with the signature of the Secretary of State, Debra Bowen. The public wouldn't have any knowledge of the foundation's existence until more than a week later. The immediate response was one of distrust--if the fair board was being so secretive about creating the foundation, what was it trying to hide?

As Ellis conveyed in his initial phone call, the documents clearly show that members of the foundation are unable to profit financially from the fairgrounds. All the proper legal jargon pertaining to conflicts of interest, non-disclosure and non-competition are in there. Among the 20 pages of bylaws, it states that the board members would receive no compensation, but they would be granted tickets to the Pacific Amphitheater

"It was modeled after Los Angeles," says Ellis, referring to the non-profit foundation that oversees the Fairplex. The goal, as Ellis claims, was to try to run the fairgrounds more "like a business." Of course, that statement can be interpreted in various ways.

Ellis acknowledges that the Fair Board has made mistakes in recent months. He called the rushed-attempt at a New Year's Day meeting a "debacle," orchestrated by the governor. And he insisted that the appraisal of the 110 acres of land that everyone was seeking was never determined. Ellis says the process was initiated, and yes, money was spent, but the process was terminated.

Ellis doesn't understand the public apprehension toward the Fair Board's various movements. He referred to his colleagues as "stand-up members of the community," and asked what would seem a valid question: "do you really think they're going to squander everything they're created for themselves over a volunteer position?"

As for the negative attention on his own past--Ellis considers it "fair game."

"I'm an aggressive Republican," he said, "and I win a lot. Some people don't like that."

If, in fact, the fairgrounds are going to remain state-owned and public-operated land, that's a reputation he'll need to work on.

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3 comments
MPetersen
MPetersen

Ellis is a foot note.Watch as the wheels come off,I wont be spending my hard earned money at the fair until he's gone.What an a-hole.

Jphorsevet
Jphorsevet

It does seem often convenient that this comes now.  I have attended many OC Fair board meetings.  I stand my opinion that this particular board has their own agenda and is unwilling to hear the public.  They have been poor stewards, especially under Kristina Dodge and Dave Ellis leadership.  

I have also publicly called for their resignation at one of their board meetings.  I stand by that request.

Janice Posnikoff DVMOrange County Equestrian

Fran Levy
Fran Levy

And we are to believe this prick is honorable and trustworthy because he decides on his own terms when to reveal documents having to do with the business of the Orange County Fairgrounds? He blames GOVERNOR ARNIE for the January 1 "special board" meeting!!! Are you kidding me? Easy to throw the disgraced governor now under the bus, but please don't underestimate the intelligence of FIRST HAND knowledge of WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.  Better enjoy this fair as much as you can Dick Ellis because next year you'll be in a striped costume.

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