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The Region

O.C. Fair Director Will Close Ticket Booth to Avoid Conflict

December 19, 2003|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

Orange County Fair Board Director Frank Barbaro said Thursday that he will close the ticket-selling booth his company operates at the Costa Mesa fairgrounds' weekend swap meet to avoid a conflict of interest.

Questions about Barbaro's majority ownership of Aamerican Online Tickets, which also sells tickets to concerts and other events on the Internet, had stalled the selection of an operator for the lucrative Orange County Market Place for the next 10 years.

State law forbids officials to be involved in decisions on matters in which they have a financial interest.

Fair officials are awaiting word from state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's office on whether they can now choose an operator for the swap meet, Executive Director Becky Bailey-Findley said after Thursday's board meeting.

In July, the nine-member fair board scrapped a bid process after a firm questioned whether the ticket booth posed a conflict for Barbaro, a Santa Ana trial attorney and a fair board member since July 2002.

Barbaro said he sent a letter to Lockyer's office this week declaring his intent to close the ticket booth. Lockyer's office declined to comment Thursday.

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