A small gaggle of malcontents led by a self-important blogger from Long Beach have been trying to compare the actions of our city council here in Santa Ana to those of the infamous Bell politicos and city officials. This comparison is a complete stretch and very likely could be nothing more than race baiting by many of those involved. You see both Santa Ana and Bell have all Latino city councils and white city managers but the similarities end there.
In the city of Bell eight city officials were arrested and charged with cheating taxpayers out of nearly $5.5 million. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said, “This was calculated greed and theft.” The residents of Bell were paying the highest property taxes in the state and city workers were being laid off due to lack of funds. While this was going on the city manager was making close to $800,000 a year, the city council $100,000 a year and they were all lining up to get millions in state pensions.
In the city of Santa Ana three councilmembers, David Benavides, Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez all received campaign contributions from developers and real estate brokers in excess of $250 and voted on projects pertaining to these folks. Santa Ana laws state that council members cannot participate in a vote that could financially benefit a campaign contributor who gave $250 or more to their campaigns.
Benavides, Tinajero and Martinez had all openly reported these donations and made no effort to conceal or hide the fact that they had gotten them. The fact that they voted on these projects was clearly nothing more than an oversite on their behalf and clearly demonstrates no sort of criminal intent whatsoever. Tinajero and Martinez returned the donations immediately and Tinajero has gone to great lengths to try and rectify the matter by calling for revotes. It is not known if Benavides returned the money.
This certainly does not sound like a grand criminal conspiracy and a fleecing of the taxpayers that the whole Bell scandal appears to be. Santa Ana City Councilmembers have not received a raise since 1952 and they make nowhere near six figures a year like the folks in Bell and our city manager Dave Ream, while well compensated, is not even in Robert Rizzo’s ballpark of $800,000 a year.
While other Orange County city councils are receiving much greater compensation and benefits they are completely ignored by the obsessed little fella from Long Beach and the so-called legitimate journalists like Doug Irving of the Register. Of course most of those city councils are made up of predominantly Anglo members so the attacks would not have enough “red meat” for their Orange County audiences.
There is yet another rehashing of the same ol same ol this week by these folks and yet another allegation of Brown Act violations by Santa Ana officials. Will they be filing yet another frivilous complaint with the Attorney General’s office and how much will that cost the taxpayers? The last time they pulled this the AG’s office dismissed it as unfounded.
These allegations comparing Santa Ana to Bell are offbase, irresponsible and unfounded as well. If Santa Ana were not an all-Latino city council I am sure none of this would be thrown about by the Long beach resident or his Irvine counterpart. Why don’t you guys stick to doing what you do best, stalking us and reposting press releases from Nick Beradino and Melahat Relafei.