After Rave Deaths, County Officials Call for a Closer Look at Venue

HARD Summer at the Fairplex in PomonaEXPAND
HARD Summer at the Fairplex in Pomona
Mathew Tucciarone/L.A. Weekly

Los Angeles County government is ordering an audit of the nonprofit group that runs the taxpayer-owned Fairplex in Pomona.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis says her proposal, approved by the full board yesterday, was inspired in part by the deaths of two young women at the HARD Summer festival at the fairgrounds in August.

"Over the past several months, the fairgrounds in Pomona, a county-owned property, has received an increasing amount of scrutiny after two women died at a concert on this property this summer," she said. "As a result, the county has initiated a full review of this matter and has created a task force to ensure that public safety remains a high priority."

"In addition to public health and safety concerns, we must ensure that the fairgrounds is managed appropriately," Solis added. "With lease negotiations under way, it is an appropriate time for the county to fully review its relationship with the Fair Association, including its operations and events held on the property."

After canceling one event following those deaths, believed to have involved drug use, HARD was back at the Fairplex last weekend with HARD Day of the Dead, featuring electronic dance music titans Deadmau5, Skrillex, Nero, Felix da Housecat and more.

Pomona police said 310 arrests were made during the two-day dance music festival. 

"The arrests primarily involved offenses related to public intoxication, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and the possession of a controlled substance for personal use or for the purpose of sales," the department said in a statement.

The audit, however, appears to be about more than just kids and drugs. 

The Los Angeles Times recently discovered that the nonprofit that runs the venue, the Los Angeles County Fair Association, was paying its CEO $900,000 a year in total compensation.

Four other executives at the nonprofit were getting total compensation of more than $300,000 annually, the Times found.

This for a venue that lost $6.25 million from 2010 to 2013, a time when it was granted a tax exemption and taxpayer subsidies. "The audit will also review the fairgrounds’ operations to ensure that the public good remains its focus and mission," Solis says.

Wherever raves go, scrutiny of under-the-radar guardians of public property follows.

In 2010, after a 15-year-old who sneaked into a festival at the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum died of an ecstasy overdose, it was alleged that a manager of the venue was taking money under the table from rave promoters. The public-corruption case is still pending.

This isn't that. We hope.

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