The Orange County Register’s Editorial Board slammed the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) today in a stunning editorial that is 100% spot on. Here it is – please read it and share with your friends, family and neighbors.
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The Santa Ana police union-funded recall campaign against Councilmember Cecilia Iglesias last month submitted 16,000 signatures to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, which has until February to verify the signatures before putting it on the ballot. The union has dropped $220,000 on the effort — and another $100,000 on a separate (but now stalled) campaign to recall Councilmember Juan Villegas.
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What have these elected officials done to deserve this harsh reaction? They had the audacity to tell the truth about the city’s finances.
They opposed massive police raises that the city couldn’t afford and that drained funds from a previous tax hike that slapped residents with a county-high 9.25 percent sales tax.
They refused to be intimidated by over-the-top rhetoric from Police Officers Association officials.
The union has enormous influence on the council, which in part explains why it voted 4-2 in last year to approve $25.6 million in retroactive raises over three years even though it had not identified how it was going to pay for them. The approval pushed the city’s deficit from $600,000 to $4.8 million in one fell swoop.
In September, the Register reported that money from Measure X — the tax hike that promised to fund street and park maintenance, neighborhood safety, homeless prevention and other needs — was not apparently being spent as promised, according to oversight committee members. The money, members feared, might mainly to cover these police raises and pension obligations. By the way, the city projects a significant budget deficit for the coming year.
Members of Measure X’s oversight committee also feared that the tax boost was a Band-Aid and that the city is locking itself into unsustainable long-term expenses. That echoes the warnings that Iglesias and Villegas had previously made.
H.L. Mencken wrote that the politicians Americans “detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” We think the curmudgeonly late journalist was being overly cynical. After Santa Ana voters evaluate the Iglesias recall, we suspect they will stand by a council member who levels with them rather than trades in fiscally imprudent fantasies.