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OCMA Campaign Adds Director; Fisker Rejects Romney’s ‘Loser’ Label

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The Orange County Museum of Art looks to be gearing up for some concrete steps toward its long-planned move from Newport Center to a new building on a 1.6-acre plot of land it has at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus in Costa Mesa. It recently hired Serena Overhoff as campaign director, tapping a veteran of USC, where the OC resident held a number of positions, including a stint as director of development at the Marshall School of Business. The campaign for the new OCMA building—which had a price tag estimated in the $72 million to $80 million range when it was first announced in 2008—remains in a “quiet phase.” That’s expected to change starting next year with Overhoff on the job …

No quiet phase at OCMA’s current home on San Clemente Drive, where the OC Collects exhibit features works from the “most important private modern and contemporary art collections in Orange County.” It was slated to open last weekend with a members’ opening party. Among the OCers who have loaned pieces is Anton Segerstrom, partner at South Coast Plaza (see related story, page 1) and son of Henry, who has indicated that OCMA’s building will finish off his decades-long vision for the Segerstrom Center. OC Collects runs through Dec. 30 …

The general consensus is that Mitt Romney won last week’s debate with President Barack Obama, but the folks at Fisker Automotive in Anaheim weren’t high on the Republican challenger’s performance. Romney took a shot at the Obama Administration’s loans and other subsidies to green technology companies, lumping Fisker and its $100,000 hybrid-luxury Karma model with Solyndra, the solar-panel maker that went bankrupt after getting $553 million in loan guarantees. “You don’t just pick the winners and losers—you pick the losers,” Romney said. Fisker has gotten $193 million of a federal loan, with another $336 million held up earlier this year after the company was late in getting its first model to market and had to issue a recall on the Karma’s battery. Fisker responded to Romney’s comments with a mix of defiance and political acumen, claiming ground among the small businesses that the GOP candidate has sought to champion. “We don’t consider ourselves a loser, having sold 1,500 cars already, raised over $1.2 billion of private equity and now expanding our export markets to [the Gulf Cooperation Council markets] and China,” said Fisker spokesperson Roger Ormisher. “We believe that is a quite an achievement for a small American business” …

Off Romney’s radar: Solar Star Boats, a Phoenix-based solar-powered electric boat builder, plans to open a rental and sales office in Newport Beach within the next couple of months. The company, which designs and builds its 23-foot boats in Arizona, aims to compete with hometown standard Duffy Electric Boat Co., a fixture in Newport Harbor. Solar Star launched the effort with a display of the model at the recent Lido Yacht Expo (see related story, “Sales Ahoy,” page 1) …

Fly-on-the-Wall Special: More than 160 former employees of Irvine Company were set to reconnect during a gathering at the Lyon Air Museum as the Insider went to press. Former president Tom Nielsen and several other senior executives from the ’80s and ’90s were expected at the event, hosted by Irvine Co. alums Gary Hunt, Bill McFarland and Mike Stockstill.

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