Over the past fifteen years few people have criticized the City of Santa Ana as much as I have. However, I have noticed significant improvement over the past year or so.
Apparently some folks in our community do not share that sentiment. A campaign email message sent out by Alfredo Amezcua, the local attorney who is challenging incumbent Mayor Miguel Pulido, in November, included this laundry list of criticisms aimed at City Hall:
- Our city government appears to be closed off and inaccessible
- City Hall does not address everyday problems
- Issues need long-term solutions not election time speech-making
Are these charges fair? In my opinion the answer is no. Allow me to explain.
Earlier this year I noticed that strange men were lurking at Santiago Park. I launched a campaign to curtail this activity and Santa Ana Chief of Police Paul Walters too note. He conducted a sting operation at the park and arrested nine perverts in a few hours!
Now I don’t always agree with our police department. In fact I conducted a massive research project this year and disclosed exactly where the SAPD conducts their DUI checkpoints. I found that they do these only in the middle of our city, never in the north or south. But Walters did meet with me and he took the time to explain his position, which is that the department has to enforce the law.
Well, I still don’t like those checkpoints, but Walters met with me. How can Amezcua call our City Hall inaccessible? It simply isn’t true.
I also asked Walters to consider conducting an animal license amnesty day, similar to what the County of Orange did, and guess what? He did exactly that!
I also have worked hard on a proposal to build a dog park here in town. And our Parks and Recreation Agency Director, Gerardo Mouet, took the time to meet with me to discuss my ideas. He also conducted a feasibility study into the issue, which is still in process. Mouet is about as busy a guy as you can imagine, but he took the time to meet with me.
And Mouet also took seriously my proposal to change the free day at our Santa Ana Zoo from a Tuesday to a Sunday, so working people could enjoy the Zoo. This month that new policy will begin, on Sunday, July 18.
Again, does this sound like a City Hall that does not address everyday problems? No, that is simply a lie.
Earlier this week a tipster emailed me about the residents at Santa Ana’s Saddleback Inn, who are being evicted. I called Mark Lawrence, at the City Manager’s office. He was very cordial and he pointed me to Karen Haluza – in the Planning Department, and he gave me her direct number. I called her and found out that the City is not to blame for the mess at the Saddleback. She took the time to talk to me and carefully explained the nuances of the case.
Lastly, earlier this year I contacted Councilwoman Michele Martinez and asked her to see if City Hall could add the Google language translator to our city website. They finally did so recently and I am very pleased that the site now offers information in over 80 languages, to our residents. Again, City Hall responded.
Here is my point. When I have a question or an idea I pick up the phone and call City Hall. I am never turned away. They are incredibly responsive.
The folks that work at City Hall have had a very tough time over the past few years. Many jobs have been cut or outsourced as the different agencies have struggled with tons of red ink. But they are persevering and I really appreciate their efforts to serve our residents. Do we always agree? No, but Amezcua is full of it when he says our City Hall is closed off and inaccessible.
I have to laugh when Amezcua says that “Issues need long-term solutions not election time speech-making.” The only guy engaging in empty speech-making is Amezcua himself! Go to his campaign website and see for yourself. Not one idea or proposal is on that site. It is full of, you guessed it, empty speech-making. Go figure.
Here are Amezcua’s own words:
Rebuild!…our city’s image by making our streets safe for every resident, in every neighborhood, repairing our streets and broken infrastructure and celebrating the diversity of our community.
Renew!… our public schools by creating and maintaining an ongoing dialogue between parents, students, teachers, the school board and City Hall.
Revive!…our city’s economy by supporting those businesses which we already have, bringing in new businesses that will benefit our whole city and by making Santa Ana an affordable and friendly place for all businesses, both current and new.
Does Amezcua cite how we are going to do all this? No. Of course not.
It is one thing to slam Pulido, but attacking our City Government with loaded, false charges is just politics as usual. Don’t we deserve more from our candidates?