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FMW: Fairgrounds exec could apply with us

Facilities Management West, which continues efforts to buy the property, said recently that current full-time employees would keep their jobs.

December 03, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The current president and CEO of the Orange County Fairgrounds could apply for his position with the investment group interested in buying the 150-acre property if the sale is finalized, a spokesman for the buyer said Friday.

Newport Beach-based Facilities Management West, the group that offered $100 million to buy the fairgrounds from the state, has expressed its desire to allow the 81 full-time employees to keep their jobs.

The group announced that former fairgrounds president and chief executive officer Becky Bailey-Findley would act as interim chief, run the transition and recruit a new CEO.

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FMW spokesman Guy Lemmon says current President and CEO Steve Beazley is welcome to apply for the job, and he might be the one to get it after all.

"Because it's a significant position, we think we owe it to the employees to vet it carefully," Lemmon said. "We're just going to open it up and he might get it. Steve has done a phenomenal job. This year's 2010 fair had a record attendance; it's due to all the employees, of course, but he deserves the credit and it reflects on his leadership."

Beazley said he's only heard of that second-hand but he's open to applying.

"All I've been reading so far in the press is that they are not interested, that they would take all employees except myself, which, you know, I certainly understand," Beazley said. "When change of ownership happens, a change in leadership can happen. It has not been adversarial, it's business, and I do have an admiration for Guy Lemmon."

Beazley, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, would have to weigh his option of applying for the CEO position with all other opportunities that might open up for him, he said.

"I love the idea of being able to reinvent myself," Beazley said. "If reinvention would be through this job or another job, that would be my goal more than anything. But I wouldn't be close-minded to the idea, of course not. That would be foolish of me to be close-minded."

In addition to allowing all the employees to keep their jobs, Lemmon said there will be no lapses in pay or health coverage. FMW will pay the employees the salary they received before the state implemented some cuts in pay a year ago. The amount comes to about 5% of increase in pay for each employee, he said.

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