By GREG CAPUT
The Santa Cruz County Fair was facing bankruptcy when Dave Kegebein entered his position to save our county fairgrounds. The state had pulled back funding and thus threatened the existence of the fair.
Many county fairgrounds have shut down in California due to poor management. It is the hard work of Dave Kegebein and his father that maintained this vital resource. Anyone familiar with the man would see him regularly on the fairgrounds’ property. He was a mainstay that would always be found in the vicinity. The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds has not only remained open but has been thriving. Let’s not forget his leadership during Covid and the fires. I have personally worked with him during these most arduous times. He truly has done hero’s work.
Removing Mr. Kegebein for using his personal truck to do fairgrounds business is absurd. It is arguable that he should not have used the fairgrounds gas allotment for his own truck, but he was doing fairgrounds business. The worst a person can argue is that he asked people to take his word for it, concerning the use of the gas for fair business. I will attest, I will take his word for it that he was doing fairgrounds business with that gas he used.
In addition, they may argue that he didn’t provide receipts, but this is the same argument put in a different way. He spent fair money on the fair and fair employees. It is clearly better to write everything down and to make sure you have everything maintained, but this is overwrought when characterizing Mr. Kegebein. He worked without a salary for two years to maintain the fairgrounds. He did this by working over 60 hours a week.
This is clearly a rush to judgment, and it sounds like it was a pretext to railroad this man of high character and good moral standing. Was this decision political in nature? It certainly seems so, given that there has been a history of political attacks from people who want to remove the fairgrounds. Regardless, he has been tasked with saving this valuable resource and he is currently being steamrolled because he was good at his job. He made the fair a money-maker, and there are those who want to shut down shop.
This decision was based on an audit. When was the audit given to the board? Some board members didn’t receive the audit for review until the day of the board’s decision. Thus, they decided in the heat of the moment. What time was given to Dave Kegebein to respond? Apparently, none. If the audit was truly intended to be a fact-finding mission and look for the truth, then why was it not given a full process to review?
Greg Caput is the Fourth District Santa Cruz County Supervisor. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.