Bailey-Findley, city come to agreement

COSTA MESA — Is she or isn't she working for the city of Costa Mesa?

There seems to have been some confusion about the employment status of Becky Bailey-Findley, whom Costa Mesa hired as a consultant to help with its negotiations to buy the Orange County Fairgrounds from the state.

City officials late today issued a statement clarifying her status and saying that Bailey-Findley is still working as a city consultant. She will step aside once she completes her current assignment, City Manager Allan Roeder said in an interview Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, during a special joint meeting between the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority and the City Council, an exchange between Councilwoman Katrina Foley and City Manager Allan Roeder had given the audience the impression that Bailey-Findley no longer worked for the city.

That came as a surprise to Bailey-Findley, who thought she was still employed with the city Tuesday.

Bailey-Findley, who had just returned from vacation in Europe, said after the meeting that she needed to speak with Roeder to get clarification on her employment with the city. When she reported back to work Tuesday, she assumed that she was still employed by the city, she said.

"I should've stepped up and corrected that at that moment. That was my bad judgment for not making that clear," Roeder said of Tuesday's discussion, adding that he accepted full responsibility for causing any confusion.

Facilities Management West, the real estate company that Costa Mesa is working with to finance the purchase of the fairgrounds and operate the property, had recently asked Bailey-Findley to take over as the fairgrounds' acting chief executive if the $96-million sale went through. Bailey-Findley, who served as the fairgrounds' chief executive from 1994 to 2008, welcomed the invitation to help ensure a smooth transition, but that wouldn't have occurred until the sale between the city and the state was final, she said.

In response to numerous media and community inquires following the joint meeting, the city issued its statement clarifying on Bailey-Findley's employment.

"During the course of her engagement with the city, Ms. Bailey-Findley was approached by Facilities Management West (FMW) regarding its interest in potentially employing her in a 'to be defined' capacity in the future," Roeder said in the news release. "Ms. Bailey-Findley advised me of the future employment opportunity and we agreed that she could not serve both the city and Facilities Management West as it would represent a clear conflict. While Ms. Bailey-Findley is not presently employed by Facilities Management West, it was mutually agreed that she should complete her current work for the city, terminate her services before further employment discussions with Facilities Management West."

Her employment will end once she completes the due diligence project she's working on, which includes a complete evaluation of the entire 150-acre property, record checking of all the documents and the equipments, Roeder said.

During the joint meeting, Roeder also talked about people who are working in Sacramento on behalf of the city. According to the California secretary of state's website, lobbying firm Sloat, Higgins, Jensen and Associates was hired by Costa Mesa on July 23.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley said Roeder was given authority months ago to hire the necessary consultants to help the city with the purchase of the fairgrounds.

City Atty. Kim Barlow also announced that a law firm was retained by the city to assist her in drafting the ground lease between Facilities Management and the city. She said the ground lease is expected to be completed in September.

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