Fair Tally for Talley?

In recent developments in a Superior Court case filed last year by Talley Amusement, Inc. alleging improprieties by the 22nd DAA (Fairgrounds) in scoring proposals for a Master Carnival Operator contract for the San Diego County Fair, the judge issued an Order on Jan. 28, 2022, denying Talley’s application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to halt the award of a carnival operator contract, while two former 22nd DAA employees have recently given depositions stating that scores were improperly changed to the detriment of Talley in the process of evaluating the two bids submitted under a Request for Proposal (RFP).


Three days after the Court’s denial of the TRO, in a special meeting on Jan. 31, the 22nd DAA Board voted unanimously to award a Master Carnival Operator contract to Ray Cammack Shows (RCS) under a different RFP in which RCS was the sole bidder.


The two former employees reportedly testified in their recent depositions that Carlene Moore, the 22nd DAA’s CEO, obtained two score changes from one of the evaluators, resulting in RCS, rather than Talley, achieving the highest score. Ultimately, the 22nd DAA cancelled the RFP, and no contract was awarded under it.


In denying the TRO, Judge Kenneth J. Medel noted that the RFP for the 2021 Fair was ultimately cancelled because of the COVID pandemic. (The 2021 Fair was a scaled-down event without carnival rides and games.) The Judge’s order stated that, even assuming that Talley’s allegations of scoring improprieties were true, those allegations related to the 2021 Fair, and thus, Talley had not met its burden to show a probability of prevailing with respect to any equitable remedy regarding the RFP bid process for the 2022 Fair. 


After canceling the original RFP, the 22nd DAA issued a new RFP in late 2021, seeking a carnival operator for 2022. Only RCS submitted a bid under the new RFP, with Talley claiming that the specifications had been changed to favor RCS and exclude Talley. The contract awarded to RCS by the 22nd DAA on Jan. 31 includes two 2-year extensions, for a potential contract term of five years.


Meanwhile, the court case continues. The judge has not yet considered evidence with respect to scoring changes, or ruled whether any such changes were improper under state law; nor has the court considered whether the RFP cancellation, or the failure to award a contract to Talley under the original RFP, was improper. The 22nd DAA asserts that its actions with respect to the scoring under the original RFP, and subsequent actions leading to the contract award to RCP, were fully compliant with state law.