ZOOM meeting info:
Wed, Dec 1, 2021 6 pm
Meeting ID: 899 1462 6790
Passcode: 639203 Dial In: 669 900 9128
In-person mtg: McCormack Hall, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo
Will ‘Silent majority’ of Fair Board influence gun show decision?
FAIRFIELD — A true silent majority – nine unfilled seats on the Solano County Fair Association’s 15-seat governing board – could prove to influence greatly whether gun shows will be allowed at the fairgrounds.
The Solano County Fair Association directors on Wednesday take up the issue again after voting 4-1 Aug. 9 to stop gun shows at the fairgrounds starting in 2022.
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at McCormack Hall, 900 Fairgrounds Drive in Vallejo. Access is also available online. Log-in information, including Meeting ID and password, can be found at www.scfair.com.
The August action was challenged as a violation of open meeting laws, and rather than push the matter into the courts, the Fair Board opted instead to take up the question a second time.
“Since that meeting, our board has received a fair amount of feedback from our community, as well as a concern about whether the SCFA was in full compliance with the Brown Act,” Lee Williams, the lone dissenter in August and current board president, said in a statement announcing the Wednesday meeting.
“The board has therefore decided to conduct another meeting where the gun show question can be revisited. We believe this will further ensure that anyone who wishes to have their opinion considered before the board takes its final action may do so,” he said.
The upcoming meeting is considered to be a “correction” of the Aug. 9 meeting, according to fair association Executive Director Mike Ioakimedes, after speaking with the association attorney Kim Alexander-Yarbor, a deputy county counsel assigned to provide legal advice to the association and its directors.
That means the Aug. 9 action is nullified, and currently, the official policy of the fair association is to allow gun shows at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds has traditionally hosted four or five gun shows each year, generating between $40,000 and $50,000 in revenue, Ioakimedes reported.
That is why the makeup of the board – and the unfilled positions – could be an important factor in the outcome.
The board currently has three members from the 1st District and three members from the 5th District.
The supervisors who appointed them to the Fair Board – Erin Hannigan, 1st District, and Mitch Mashburn, 5th District – land on opposite sides of the issue. Hannigan favors the ban; Mashburn does not.
One board member from each of those districts – Rhonda Smith, 1st District, and Jeff Moorhead, 5th District – were not on the board in August.
The other sitting members are: Norma Placido and Manuel Angel, 1st District, and Valerie Williams, 5th District. All favored the gun show ban in August.
Hannigan and Mashburn could not be reached to ask whether they have talked to their appointees about the gun show issue or the upcoming meeting.
It leaves a very real possibility that the board vote could end in a 3-3 tie, and by doing so, would leave in place the policy that allows gun shows at the fairgrounds.
For that to happen, however, Valerie Williams would have to change her vote to ban the gun shows.
At the time she noted she had “mixed feelings about whether we should be hosting gun shows . . . I don’t think a person’s gun rights trumps the right of a (student) to go to school and come home.”
Missing from this current board, but who represented the 2nd District at the August meeting, is Kari Birdseye. She resigned Oct. 26, but did not give a specific reason for leaving the panel in her email to Ioakimedes.
Birdseye voted in favor of ending the gun shows, citing Sen. Bill Dodd’s position that the state – and by extension the county – should not be in the gun and ammunition business.
Supervisor Monica Brown, who represents the 2nd District, said she favors the fairgrounds ban, so potentially there are missing votes there to support the prohibition.
She said in a phone interview Friday that it can be difficult to find people who want to serve on the Fair Board, and she did not have any time to replace Birdseye.
She fully expects gun shows to continue to be held at the fairgrounds.
“The fact the board is doing this over again indicates the pressure put on the board to bring (gun shows) back,” Brown said. “Sometimes that’s the price you pay when you don’t have votes on the board.”
That brings the issue back to those empty board seats, and how appointees might have influenced the decision.
Supervisor Jim Spering represents the 3rd District and has said he disagrees with banning gun shows at the fairgrounds, but called “fair” the criticism of him for failing to appoint anyone to the Fair Board.
Those are missing votes that may have opposed the gun show prohibition.
Supervisor John Vasquez, who represents the 4th District, could not be reached for comment about the upcoming meeting and did not return calls seeking comment after the first vote in August. He has not appointed anyone to the Fair Board for a number of years.
Three days after the Fair Board votes on the issue, a two-day gun show is scheduled to open at the fairgrounds.
The question is, will it be the last gun show at the fairgrounds?