I am covering tonight’s Santa Ana City Council meeting – which figures to be an epic confrontation between Republican Council Member Carlos Bustamante and his sidekick, David Benavides vs. Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez. The “B Boys” have put an 85 A item on the agenda to punish and maybe even ask Alvarez to resign from the Council.
This all came about as a result of an analogy made by Alvarez at the last Council meeting, when she compared developer and property owner Irv Chase to Adolf Hitler. She has since apologized.
We have a number of readers at the meeting. I am told that the Usual Suspects are well represented.
I am hearing that Santa Ana Council Member Michele Martinez is leaning towards siding with the “B-Boys.” It may well be that she is still sore over the attacks made by Alvarez when Martinez ran for Mayor, in 2008. At the time Alvarez called Martinez a “drug dealer,” which was not true.
Right now it appears that Council Member Sal Tinajero is the swing vote.
I am told that Mayor Miguel Pulido is solidly behind Alvarez. You can see them right now, talking while Martinez makes a presentation to a group of young baseball players, which include of one Council Member Sal Tinajero’s sons.
Earlier today Archer Altstaetter, the marketing director for the East End Promenade, which used to be called the Fiesta Marketplace, emailed supporters with information about the PBID. The PBID is the assessment charged to property owners in part of Downtown Santa Ana, to help clean up and secure the area and also to market the Downtown.
Here is what Altstaetter distributed via email:
The average is $1500 similar to a homeowners maintenance agreement. Attached is sort of an outline detailing some of the misinformation going around. It has been sent to the City Council and Mayor who also receive a complete annual report. The Annual Report will be finished by the end of the month. Typically it is done in August but this year we did not know what our budget would be until after the last council meeting when modifications were made. Go online and look at last year’s report. It’s amazing what has been done in such a short time. http://newsletter.downtown-santaana.com/category/annualreports/
Downtown Inc. receives its support primarily from property assessments. The management district encompasses 281 parcels equaling 40,000 linear feet of street frontage, 4.3 million sq. ft. of land and 3.1 million sq. ft. of buildings. DTI’s assessment rates are based on flat Parcel fee + Street frontage fee + Land area fee + Building area fee. Full assessment formula on page 21. The district’s operating budget allocates 87% of funds to core activities: public safety, maintenance, marketing, physical enhancement while 13% is allocated to administration. The Board of Directors voted at their July 2010 regular board meeting, no changes to the Community Management District boundaries and no increased assessment for 2010/11.
*As of June 30, 2010. Financial Review pending, prepared by ELLS, CPA’s.
Alstaetter has also been defending Chase.
Los Amigos of Orange County, who are based in Anaheim, also sent out a release today regarding the Alvarez vs. Chase skirmish:
LOS AMIGOS OF ORANGE COUNTY
1585 W Broadway, Anaheim, Ca 92802
Tel (714) 758-8090; (562) 397-9451
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 6, 2011
RE: COMMENTS BY SANTA ANA MAYOR PRO-TEM CLAUDIA ALVAREZ
Los Amigos of Orange County strongly denounces the words and hurtful references of Santa Ana Mayor Pro-Tem Alvarez in addressing the Chase family, which took place on the evening of August 24, 2011. We in no way condone the act of any public official abusing the power entrusted in them by the public to reprimand or launch personal attacks on any member of the public. Such hurtful rhetoric, even in the heat of a discussion, is inexcusable and has no place in public discourse. As a community, we must rise above such moments and not allow contentious debates to get the best of us; thus, lowering the bar of our civil discourse. Public officials are elected to serve as trustees of the public good and therefore must set the standard for who we are as a community. As such, while we denounce and condemn the hurtful references by Mayor Pro-Tem Alvarez, we also applaud her immediate public apologies to the community and her more recent statements expressing her regret and apologies to the Chase family.
In addition, we, Los Amigos of Orange County, believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, thus we would also like to ensure that the original contentious debate that brought about the actions of Ms. Alvarez does not go unnoticed. We would like to call attention to the inequitable economic realities that the PBID has inflicted upon Santa Ana’s downtown merchants, and would like to make it clear that we champion their cause. As noted in Council meetings and affirmed by local merchants, the PBID is an egregious “taxation without representation” clause that has been undemocratically placed on local downtown property owners, which has doubled, and at times, tripled their annual tax rates, with the fees going to support other businesses rather than their own. We are also aware that the rhetoric of displacement and resulting actions denigrate and threaten the cultural value and history that local merchants bring to the heart of Santa Ana—a value and history that needs to be respected and honored. Downtown Santa Ana is a thriving cultural marketplace for all of Orange County that reflects the great pride and resilience of our rich Latino history—a history that has too often been marginalized, undervalued and erased.
It is in this spirit that while we unequivocally denounce the hurtful rhetoric used by Mayor Pro-Tem Alvarez, we do support the local downtown property owners at whose defense she was speaking on behalf of. We expect that others who have justly denounced Councilwoman Alvarez’ words also speak against and denounce the actions that are causing the cultural gentrification of Downtown Santa Ana. As communities of conscience, let our common histories as a people bring us together in a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood/sisterhood so that Downtown Santa Ana, and all of those who have built it, can enjoy its rich history and traditions.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”
Jose F. Moreno, President Amin David, President Emeritus
Los Amigos of Orange County Los Amigos of Orange County
Mayor Pulido is about to open up public comments on 85 A.
Julie Stroud is coming up shortly. We know all about her. Artist Theo Hirsch will follow her – with a big surprise!
Hilarious! Stroud is talking about bullying! She bullied a teenage commissioner on the Parks and Rec Board and guess what? She is no longer a City Commissioner!
Wow! Theo Hirsch is talking in Spanish! He ended his comments with “Viva Santa Ana and Claudia!”
This just in – Downtown business owners brought about 40 baskets of fruit and flowers to honor Alvarez!
Architect Ralph Allen is now talking. He says Alvarez has the nerve to tell the truth.
Business owner Jose Ceballos is now thanking Alvarez.
Business owner Joe Jimenez is now weighing in on defense of the PBID. He is accusing Alvarez of racism.
John Raya is now talking about TKO Boxing.
And here comes Albert Castillo, who is a supporter of Al Amezcua but who is NOT wearing white. (Amezcua asked his supporters to wear white at the meeting tonight.)
Sam Romero is now at the podium. He is saying that the ADL are hypocrites. And he is thanking Alvarez.
Now Mike Tardiff is reading the Code of Ethics. This guy has some nerve. He is one of the rudest blog commenters in the County. He often blogs as “Junior” – saving his worst screeds to post under that name.
Sean Coolidge, a resident of the Santiago lofts, is talking about how the PBID has made Santa Ana safer for him as he jogs every day.
Stanley Fiala is now at the podium. He is challenging the legality of the 85 A item. I will post it later if it is OK with him. He just brought up SLAPP – any speech in a legislative setting has absolute privilege. He says you can say what you want and not be removed from office.
A guy named Dave Brandt is now talking about the Code of Ethics. He is wearing a white shirt. It sounds like he is a former City Councilman and School Board Member. He just called all the state legislators buffoons. Hypocrite. And now he is talking about the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Huh? I am pretty sure this guy is on the Com Link board. The City of Santa Ana needs to cancel their funding.
A resident named Chad Barker is now going off on Alvarez and the entire Council. He is wearing a white shirt. He is another Code of Ethics fan. He is insisting that Alverez resign.
And now here comes our reader, Rob Cook. He is not a fan of Alvarez. He too is talking about the Code of Ethics.
You know, it is my fault that there is a Code of Ethics. Alvarez herself added this Code to Measure D, which allowed her to run for a third term. The Code was designed to muzzle me and other bloggers who were put on City Commissions after Martinez and Tinajero won. Now the Code is coming back to haunt Alvarez.
Now Claudia Arellanes is defending Alvarez. She and her husband own a business in Santa Ana. She says that her store has been adopting to changes but the PBID is taking her money and she has no idea where it ends up. She says the PBID should be voluntary – and she will be glad to see who signs up.
Business owner Nina Jeung is now thanking Alvarez for questioning the PBID. She says the PBID passed with less than a fifty percent vote and that the city gave hundreds of thousands of dollars free to a PBID director to renovate his business. She is asking if the PBID is even working. She is a pretty good speaker.
A property owner named Herb Rose is now talking about Alvarez’ apologies. He says it is unfortunate that her mistaken analogy has taken the attention off the real issues. He says that Alvarez is not an anti-Semite and that she actually embodies the mission statement of the ADL. He says the Hispanic Affairs section of the ADL’s website – oh darn, the streaming broadcast just cut out.
Now George Collins is talking. He says the Council Members have all made racial statements. He says that the underlying problem is that if the leaders bleed racial statements that will “go out through all the city.” Collins is trying to make a motion to make Bustamante the Mayor Pro Tem. I guess he forgot that Bustamante already was Mayor Pro Tem – and he was so awful that the Council gave the title back to Alvarez! Not to mention Bustamante’s waterbra comments.
Now Francisco Barragan is talking. He is wearing a white shirt. He is an ally of Amezcua. He says the PBID should be canceled as many property owners did not have a chance to vote. Now he is ripping Alvarez. He is even questioning her apology. He is asking her to apologize again. He just compared her to a criminal! Good grief.
A lady by the name of Thena Chavez is now defending Alvarez. She says that perhaps if Alvarez had used the name of Zapata or Villa people would still be hurting. She says a Jewish friend of hers had a son who was getting married to a non-Jew. The couple got married even though her Jewish friend opposed the marriage. She is asking us to calm down. She says Alvarez listens to the property owners and has become frustrated in trying to do the right thing. She says her taxes went up from $900 to $3,200 because of the PBID.
And here comes Alstaetter. He says his daughter went to OCHSA and his son works at the Santora Building. He says many of the shops in Downtown Santa Ana are not open early. He wants Alvarez to resign. He says he went to Dauchau. He says Hitler took over because of small little comments from a vindictive hateful tyrant. He says Alvarez has made him a “them.” He asked the Council to remove the “tyrant.” (Is it just me or did he just compare Alvarez to Hitler?)
Dave Hoen is now ripping Alvarez. He brought up 9/11. He is now reading from the Code of Ethics. He says Alvarez has violated all of its principles. He is calling her a bully now. He just called Alvarez a cancer.
Darren Shippen is now apologizing to the Chase family. He just thanked Bustamante and Benavides for opposing bigotry. Really? Where was Shippen when Benavides was honoring Minutemen last year?
Nestor Medrano is now talking about racist comments against Latinos made by Council Members and members of Downtown Inc. He says that they have belittled Latinos. He asks that the Council stop the displacement of Latino businessmen. He says that Alvarez is defending the unrepresented majority.
Another young man is now defending Alvarez and slamming xenophobics and big corporations. He says that we are in the middle of class warfare. He says rich people hide behind good works. He said I stand for you Alvarez, thank you for standing for us.
Now Ham Makhani is talking. He says he is Jewish and that he thanks Alvarez for opposing the “illegal tax.” He says we are not supposed to pay for “barbers and restaurants.” He does not want to pay the PBID. He supports Alvarez. He does not feel or agree that Alvarez is at all racist or prejudiced. He says she has the guts to stand behind the downtown business owners.
Now a fellow I think is named Juan Rodriguez is talking about how Alvarez deserves support. He says a small group is against Alvarez and that only the city at large should be able to judge her. He says that the Alvarez bashers could set off a race war. He says Alvarez has been working hard for the community for many years.
Now Desi Reyes, another Com Link guy, is ripping Alvarez over the Hitler comments.
The last speaker, Ernesto Figueroa, is defending Alvarez. He says to forgive is divine. Good point. He said she cares for the community and has helped his family.
Now Pulido is going right to the 85A item. He says we don’t all agree but that Santa Ana is a wonderful city and we are moving forward. He says we have come a long way. He believes we have a very exciting Downtown with issues and conflicts we didn’t have a few years ago. He is citing the new restaurants, theaters and the Yost. He says that there are people behind that progress. He thinks they are all people who are investing, or live in the city.
A reader just texted me to say that Martinez looks sick.
Pulido says we must all bring harmony back to the city and we must be tolerant and open. He asks that Benavides and Bustamante let Alvarez speak first.
Alvarez says she did not intend to insult anyone. That she erred. She says she has tried to reach Chase but he has not been ready to come to the table. The next morning she was trying to figure out how to apologize. She was asked by many in the media what happened. She used the media to apologize. She said that she never said she would not apologize to Chase. She asked the city to help get a mediator so she could apologize to Chase. She says this is a very passionate issue. She says that for the last six months there have been a lot of comments. I am assuming she is talking about the PBID. She says she knows that the issue has impacted people outside of the city. She is embarrassed. She understands that she hurt people but that she is not anti-Semitic. She says Rusty Kennedy, Loretta Sanchez and Pulido have reached out to help her. She says she met with three Rabbis and the ADL at Sanchez’ office today. She said a lot of things came to light and she invited the ADL to come to the Downtown and see what is going on. She says that this is not a Jewish-Latino fight. She says both communities have worked hard for justice and to stop racism. She says that conversations will continue. She says she thinks some people think nothing has gone out.
She is now reading a statement which sure sounds like a sincere apology. She is sorry she let her emotions get the best of her. She is now apologizing to her city family. She says we have a lot of issues and mistakes have been made. She doesn’t think anyone in the room has not made a mistake. She asks that we all work towards unity, take three steps back and resolve the PBID issue. She asks that we all calm down.
She said she begged her family not to come to the meeting as she thought they would be attacked. She thanked her family for their support.
She apologized again and said she would continue to fight injustices. She just concluded and got a lot of applause.
Now Pulido is saying that everyone is welcome. He says everyone has stories and contributions. He says we all make up the community. He says we must all remain active and committed. Very classy. He asks that we not lose sight of our dreams for a better Santa Ana.
Now he is allowing Benavides to speak. He says that these have not been easy days for us. He is now talking about the Code of Ethics. He is reading from it. Very pedantic.
Benavides is now saying that what Alvarez said was inappropriate and uncalled for. He says that the 85 A item lists all the actions the Council could take. He says he believes Alvarez is sincere in her apology and that we all make mistakes. He says he believes in second chances. He now says he is not going to ask for her resignation. He is now talking about removing her as Mayor Pro Tem. He says that this is a senior position of leadership and that when we make mistakes we need to be accountable and his motion will be to remove her title. He says that she made her comments as Mayor Pro Tem and it would be fair and just to take away that title.
Benavides says that Alvarez brings a lot to the Public Safety Committee – he cited her professional background. He is not going to recommend moving her off that Committee but he does think that the Mayor should take away her Chairmanship of that Committee.
He is now talking about the OC Water Board. He believes she brings a lot to the table and he says that she represents the city and her peers at the OC Water Board. He says that as long as her fellow Board members recognize her leadership he is not going to recommend removal from that board.
Lastly, he is talking about condemning her comments. He is going to ask the Council to support that motion.
He says he and Bustamante were compelled to go after Alvarez because if they didn’t deal with this tonight the City would not be able to put this behind us.
Bustamante is now talking about Alvarez’ anger issues. He thinks Alvarez is sincere but that this is not about the PBID. He hopes that both sides of the PBID debate need to not exclude people from the Downtown. He says taxes put his father out of business. He says we need to not perpetuate the racial issue. He says that he has experienced racism and that his parents were born in Mexico. He says we need to welcome folks because they are coming here to spend money.
Bustamante just threatened to raise taxes if we don’t allow others to come here and spend money. Weird.
He thanked Alvarez for her apology but he said there was a clear violation of the Code of Ethics. He says the right thing to do is the hard thing to do. He says he is not enjoying this.
He just closed his comments after talking about how he was not able to enjoy his four year old’s first day at school because of all this.
Now Sarmiento is talking about respect and civility. He says he cannot defend Alvarez’ comments. He won’t begin to try. He says they are regrettable. He agrees that they have tainted the Council. He says it reflected on the entire body, staff, residents and business owners. He says that the City has always advocated tolerance. He says the Council was the first in the County to support Harvey Milk. He says they support Viet, African American and Mexican events. He says that they cannot be faulted for intolerance but can be faulted for intolerance.
He says he has heard many regrettable comments from his colleagues with no sanctions or apologies. He says that as an attorney he looks at the totality of circumstances. He says Alvarez went to law school with his wife. He says she is passionate and that as a first generation immigrant sometimes she uses unfortunate analogies. He wants to offer an alternative and substitute motion – he also wants to solicit the Human Relations Commission to provide a Town Hall regarding tolerance, racial division and civility. He says that what is going on here is not isolated. He says we should look at the vile ruthless comments over at the OC Register. He is upset that organizations that condemned Alvarez have not said anything about other such issues.
He says we need an open discussion about how we all feel about one another. He says that the perception of Santa Ana is very misguided.
Tinajero is now apologizing to everyone for the comments made at the last meeting. He says he anticipated that Alvarez was going to be very straightforward. He said he had voted and made his comments. He says he does not believe Chase is an ethnic cleanser. He says that it wasn’t until he was getting into his car that Martinez asked about what he thought about what Alvarez said. He said she was what he expected. Apparently he did not hear the bit about Hitler. He says he tuned out and was in a happy place and was thinking of other things. Then he realized why people left the room. He says her comments were below the belt. He also said that he read some of the comments at the Register and he agreed with Sarmiento. He mentioned that Register readers often talk about cesspools. He read several comments that were horrible.
He said that he is the darkest one up here and that he has had to deal with racism. He says that some people have said you’re not like “those kinds of Mexicans.” He said he took that as a compliment but that it took years to realize he was alright. He said he criticized his African American friends for being militant. But he eventually realized that racism is a problem. He now tells his kids to get to know people of different orientations. He says his kids are 100% Mexicans and 100% white. He says his kids can practice two cultures.
Tinajero mentioned that some of the speakers were appalled by Alvarez’ comments but are not appalled by anti-Mexican comments. He said one of the speakers said in December that you guys are too politically correct. He said why not say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Tinajero said the same guy was not appalled by the comments. Another guy said to a Jewish friend of his, when they were at the Bowers, was that the City Council won’t say Merry Christmas. I think Tinajero was trying to say that these guys would insult Jews by talking about Christmas at city functions.
Tinajero just mentioned he is happy about the new gay bar in Downtown. He is talking about healing. He says he does not condone Alvarez’ comments. He says we need to publicize merchants that close at 5 pm.
Martinez is now talking. She looks very sad. She says that Alvarez will have to live with her words for the rest of her life. She says there is a lot of anger and the community is fractured. She says we are diverse and we should be inclusive and respect each other’s opinions. She says some folks may not like that we are an all-Latino Council. She says that she does what she does for the best interests of the people. She says it is unfortunate that things get very political. She says this is a great city and she fights for it every day. She says her family does not reside here. She says she is very forgiving. She says she has forgiven Alvarez and she thinks Alvarez cares a lot for the city. She says it is the right thing to take the higher ground and that we all need to do that. She says Alvarez has asked the Chase family and the Jewish community for forgiveness. She says she respects the Chase family.
Martinez says that what Alvarez is facing hurts. She says that Downtown Inc. deserves a second chance too. She says she accepts Alvarez’ apology. She says she does not feel she has the authority to pass judgement on Alvarez. Some in the crowd went nuts when she said that. Pulido told them to settle down.
Martinez said we must as a collective body serve the community. She says she can see the looks on people’s faces. She says that her decisions are her decisions. She says she does not vote because of pressure put on her. She does what she feels is the right thing to do. She says it is unfortunate that some in the crowd cannot respect the Council’s decisions.
Martinez says she respects Alvarez and the work she has done for our great city. She says she sees what Alvarez does to serve the community and that much of this goes unnoticed. She asks us to be more tolerant and deal with issues head on.
Pulido is now talking about the substitute motion. He says he accepts Alvarez’ apology. She has apologized to everyone. He says that this has made everyone’s lives difficult. He says the Chase family are great Americans. He says that as we go forward he wants to work with Alvarez to have meetings so she can apologize to them. He also says that she has learned a very valuable lesson that she will not forget.
He says that the other items brought up by the B-Boys would be wrong. So he is supporting the alternative motion, to condemn her comments. He says this accepts her apology. He says he believes in forgiveness and second chances. (That is true considering the fact that he was willing to work with me last year after I spent so many years attacking him on the Orange Juice blog).
Pulido says we all need to work together and find common ground. He says the real issue is the City budget, in year four of the recession. He says we have a thirty million dollar budget deficit that is accelerating. He says we need to close this chapter. He says he pledges to work with Alvarez to work with Kennedy and the three rabbis. He also pledges to reach out to the Chase family and get in meetings so there can be apologies and discussion of a proper way to move forward.
Pulido called for the vote. The substitute motion passed on a 4-3 vote. The B-Boys lost.