Failed Santa Ana mayoral candidate Alfredo Amezcua’s Political Action Committee, which he calls the “Santa Ana Coalition for Better Government,” (SACBG) has sent out a bizarre email asking its members to show up to Tuesday night’s Santa Ana City Council meeting in protest of Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez while at the same time advocating against the PBID – the assessment charged to property owners in part of Downtown Santa Ana.
Do these self-serving yahoos realize that Alvarez is the ONLY Santa Ana Council Member who agrees with them regarding PBID? Why would they turn on her when she is advocating their position? How ridiculous are these people?
To add to the irony, the SACBG is asking their members to wear white to the meeting. That is pretty funny since SACBG’s board includes several Mexican-hating Usual Suspects and Republicans – today’s version of yesteryear’s Santa Ana KKK. Will they wear their white hoods on Tuesday night too?
As for Alvarez’ statements, are they really as anti-Semitic as these malcontents are suggesting? Alvarez said “the Chases were interested in an “ethnic cleansing” campaign downtown, plotting to clear the area of Latino merchants. She also insinuated that the Chases had a plot to snatch up downtown buildings by bankrupting Latino businesses,” according to the Voice of OC.
Alvarez was right on both counts – there is ample evidence that Irv Chase conspired with deposed Santa Ana City Manager Dave Ream, for the past twenty years, to snatch up properties in downtown Santa Ana on the cheap, after Ream would use the city code to drive off Latino property owners.
For example, in 1983, Ream forced the business owners in Downtown Santa Ana to do seismic retrogrades on their buildings. The Olivos family, which owned the historic Yost Theater, was forced to take a high interest loan, to finance the upgrades to their building. They ended up defaulting on their loan. The city then bought the Yost from Olivos Sr. for $600,000, which was less than the cost of the theater, according to the OC Weekly.
The OC Weekly also reported that “A few months after forcing the Olivos family to sell the Yost, the city sold it to the partnership for $50,000 as part of Fiesta Marketplace. In fact, the city of Santa Ana paid $7.5 million for several downtown properties and sold them to the partnership for just less than $1 million, with the understanding that the buildings needed major renovations.”
Who was part of the Fiesta Marketplace partnership? According to the OC Weekly, “among these businessmen were Allan Fainbarg, whose money got the project off the ground, and his son-in-law, Irving “Irv” Chase. Chase spearheaded the $12 million project, partially funded by a tax-exempt $7 million bond program.”
Chase is on the record as saying that the area formerly known as the “Fiesta Marketplace” needed a “better class” of customers. To that end Chase forced out several Latino tenants and compelled others to change their product mix.
Chases’s father in law, Fainbarg, also is part of another company that recently served an eviction notice on El Centro Cultural de Mexico – and their reasons for the eviction were utterly bogus. Chase however agreed with the move. He “said he didn’t have any part in the decision to issue the 30-day notice to El Centro, he did describe the group’s space to The Orange County Register as being in “bad shape” and even “a disaster,” citing graffiti in the hallways, bathrooms and elevator—all communal spaces between the east- and west-wing tenants of the Knights of Pythias building’s second floor,” according to the OC Weekly.
So what about Alvarez’ Nazi analogy? I read up on exactly what Hitler did to the Jews in Germany and what I found out echoed what is happening in Santa Ana today.
Prior to WWII, the German authorities intended to “Aryanize” all Jewish businesses, a process involving the dismissal of Jewish workers and managers, as well as the transfer of companies and enterprises to non-Jewish Germans, who bought them at prices officially fixed well below market value, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s website.
Does that sound familiar? It sounds just like what Ream and Chase did in downtown Santa Ana! Only it was Ream, not Hitler, who took properties away from Latinos and handed them on a cheap platter to Chase and his allies.
It is ironic that today there is a real focus on building the nightlife in Downtown Santa Ana. Before Ream there was a nightlife – but he closed down just about all the bars, that catered to Mexicans. Ream killed what nightlife there was in town.
“Aryanization” effectively reduced the number of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany by approximately two-thirds. Isn’t that what will happen if Chase succeeds in driving Latino businesses out of downtown Santa Ana?
Alvarez had no idea that Chase was Jewish, when she made her comments. Nor did she know that members of his family were victims of the Holocaust. She did know however what Hitler did to Jewish businesses – and all she did was point out the fact that Chase is doing the same thing to Latino businesses in Downtown Santa Ana.
Did you know by the way that “Jews were barred from all public schools and universities,” as part of Hitler’s Aryanization campaign? You must surely know that this is a goal of the Republicans and Minutemen – but this time they are targeting Mexican immigrants, not Jews. Just look at the debate over the California Dream Act. I have had several arguments this week – with both pochos and white Democrats – who are against offering college educations to Mexican immigrants who grew up here and graduated from our public schools.
It should be noted that Alvarez herself came here as a Mexican immigrant. Her family struggled yet she prevailed – and finished college while also getting a J.D. Today she is a leader in our community – and Amezcua and his Mexican-bashing Republican pals want to bring her down over a bogus misinterpretation of her comments. What a shame.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for moving on and letting go of past wrongs. I am glad the Yost, for example, is open today. The point is however that Alvarez is right about Chase. There is a reason why he quit the board of Downtown Inc. Small businessmen in Chase’s East End and elsewhere in Downtown Santa Ana aren’t being treated right – and that is who Alvarez was standing up for. She deserves credit for her actions, not attacks.