It has been a tough ride for longtime Santa Ana Mayor Miguel A. Pulido since his successful re-election last November. He easily defeated Councilman David P. Benavides in that election, but Bneavides came out on top as part of a City Council that appears to be united in their pettiness towards Pulido.
The City Council fired City Manager Paul Walters, although he saved the city from a massive budget deficit by outsourcing our expensive Fire Department to the Orange County Fire Authority. And someone on the Council leaked damaging information to the Voice of OC about the embarrassing investigation of Deputy City Manager Jill Arthur, who has always been loyal to Pulido. She will almost certainly retire and not return to City Hall.
But despite all the attacks on him, Pulido has been in the news, a lot, because he has been heavily involved in two regional issues. Pulido has been leading the charge to save the fire pits on our Orange County coastal beaches. He has been doing so in his capacity as a member of the Southern California Air Quality Managment District’s Board of Governors. Even OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, who has no love for Pulido, has to begrudgingly admit that he is rooting for Pulido:
I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but SanTana Mayor-for-Life Miguel “Don Papi” Pulido just might be the last, best hope to save OC’s beach fire pits from the idiots at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)—and I’m rooting for him to do it.
While the fire pits are largely an emotional issue (although they do appear to generate a lot of income in Huntington Beach), Pulido’s work on closing the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has been perhaps his most important task this year. Southern California Edison, the owner of SONGS, announced today that they are going to close the plant.
New steam generators were installed in units 2 and 3 in the last 2 years, and leaking tubes that allowed radioactive steam to vent to the atmosphere forced the closure of both units this January, according to the Sandpiper, which also reported that Pulido had been speaking out against SONGS at public meetings. A Republican friend of mine in south Orange County emailed me this week to let me know how grateful he was for Pulido’s leadership on this issue.
Pulido is not new to this issue. He was one of several authors of an article published in a scientific journal way back in 1984, entitled “Economical Conversion of Unfueled Nuclear Generating Stations.”
Pulido’s critics used to say that he was an empty suit and that he was missing in action. This year he has made a huge difference – in all of our lives here in Orange Count. Yet he has not indicated any desire to move on to a higher office. His jealous Council colleague, Vincent Sarmiento, has already told Pulido that he is going to run for Janet Nguyen’s Supervisorial seat, in the First District. Does anyone really think that Sarmiento is a more capable leader than Pulido? Please. Sarmiento barely beat an unknown Council candidate last year – and she didn’t spend a dime on her campaign. It was hugely embarrassing to Sarmiento, who figures to lose to whichever Vietnamese American opponent who runs for the First District, which Nguyen gerrymandered to favor Little Saigon’s voters.
It is sad that our Council has not shown any willingness to work with the experienced and connected Pulido, but if Measure D is tossed out, which I am told could happen, then the deck will be cleared as Council Members Michele Martinez, David Benavides and Sal Tinajero will find themselves termed out. You can bet that Pulido will swiftly replace them with friendler, and probably smarter, Council members. That will be a huge relief!
Pulido’s leadership has been on display all year. What about the rest of the Council? What in the world are they leading on? They voted to spend $24K a month on temp City Manager Kevin O’Rourke. Now I am told that they are leaning towards making the city’s Public Works Agency Director, Raul Godinez II, our next City Manager. Sources tell me however that he reportedly left his previous job, as Oakland’s Public Works Director, under a cloud of suspicion – apparently having something to do with shaky references and a supposedly questionable job history on his resume.
I trust Pulido’s judgement but I must be frank – I don’t trust anything the rest of our Council comes up with. And, like Arellano, I am grateful that Pulido has jumped into the fray on two very important issues in Orange County. Would that his Council colleagues would likewise appreciate Pulido’s hard work. Ask yourself this – would either of Pulido’s last two mayoral opponents, criminal defense lawyer Alfredo Amezcua, or Benavides, be making a difference now if they were our Mayor? You know darn well that either of those two would likely be up to their chins in Bell-like graft and corruption and would probably be under scrutiny by the FBI…