Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez apologized today, in a phone call to the L.A. Times, for making statements that could be construed to be anti-Semitic.
“What I said was inappropriate, and I let my emotions get the best of me,” Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez told the L.A. Times. Here are a few more excerpts from the L.A. Times article:
Alvarez said getting emotional did not justify her statements. She said the debate has affected her personally because her father owned a business downtown, and the incident is the culmination of escalating tensions surrounding the downtown area.
“The conversation is not over,” she said. “I obviously need to learn how to keep my cool.”
What the heck is all this about, you might be wondering?
It all went down last night, at a special session of the Santa Ana City Council. They held a public hearing regarding the PBID – a property tax assessment that affects businesses in the Downtown area. The money is used to market, secure and clean up the Downtown. A group of businesses has been upset over the assessments, arguing that the PBID doesn’t benefit them.
“Alvarez, who works as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office, made an effective argument for why the PBID should be disestablished,” according to the O.C. Register. The Council instead opted to change the PBID’s boundaries – thereby excluding many of the businesses that were complaining.
Alvarez was not pleased that she couldn’t kill the PBID so she unleashed on Irv and Ryan Chase – property owners and developers who have changed what used to be the Fiesta Marketplace into something called the East End.
Ryan Chase (shirtless) at the 2011 Maccabi Games
Here is how the Voice of OC reported what she said:
Alvarez publicly accused Irving Chase and his son Ryan Chase of conducting an “ethnic cleansing” campaign in the city’s downtown core, saying they were essentially plotting to clear out Latino merchants who have owned businesses in the downtown for decades.
Specifically, Alvarez said: “So if Hitler rents you a place and gives you a good deal, do you take it?”
Gustavo Arellano wrote a post about this incident too, over at the OC Weekly. Here are a few excerpts:
Alvarez started going into a rant against Chase (and his son, Ryan), for willfully kicking out wab tenants in favor of hipster ones, following the whispers of Brave New Urbanist Dennis Lluy and others. That’s an absolutely legitimate stance, given it’s true.
…what’s happening in downtown SanTana is NOT ethnic cleansing; it’s class warfare. Chase and others are replacing poor Mexicans with hipster ones, hipster ones with disposable incomes and no politics other than self-serving liberalism.
Alvarez is actually on the right side of the gentrification battle in downtown SanTana…
As you might imagine, Alvarez’ enemies went off on her. Council Members David Benavides and Carlos Bustamante ripped her at the Council meeting.
Benavides is one to talk. He honored a bunch of Minutemen last year, including the notorious Lupe Moreno, after they took over the 2010 Santa Ana 4th of July event. One of our readers videotaped one of Moreno’s pals calling Santa Ana residents “wetbacks.” The rest of the Council walked out when Benavides honored the Minutemen and their allies.
As for Bustamante, Alvarez fired back right away – reminding us about his “day job.” Bustamante is an overpaid Orange County middle manager, who got raises he did not deserve and which were not processed correctly.
Bustamante also soiled himself last year, holding a fundraiser for Republican Congressional candidate Van Tran, who has been reliably anti-Mexican throughout his political career – even flying, at taxpayers’ expense, to the border to criticize immigrants.
Failed Santa Ana mayoral candidate Thomas Gordon, who was involved with Moreno in her 4th of July escapade, also attacked Alvarez, in a comment posed over at the Liberal OC blog. Gordon, who also failed to correctly collect sufficient nominating signatures when he tried to run for the Santa Ana City Council last year, did not note in his comment that Moreno signed his nomination papers.
What Gordon did say was that “The Nazi’s portrayal of Jews and others as non- human, is a painful, disgusting part of our World history. That practice has no place in this nation and certainly not in this county.”
That is pretty ironic since Gordon’s Minuteman allies treat Mexicans like “non-humans.”
Gordon’s friend, Mary Bloom-Ramos, ripped Alvarez on the Santa Ana Citizens Yahoogroup – and accused her of “attempting to incite a hate crime.” I don’t recall Bloom-Ramos EVER saying that about any of Lupe Moreno’s hateful statements and actions!
And another Gordon ally, Connie Hamilton, ripped Alvarez over at the O.C. Register, under the name of “Booper.”
I hope Alvarez will now take steps to stop funding Com Link and the Neighborhood Associations. All these people do is rip our Council Members!
Not everyone has been bashing Alvarez. Santa Ana artist and musician Theo Hirsch had this to say about her comments, over at the Voice of OC:
It makes me mad when Jews try to cover up their prejudice just because their ancestors were persecuted, such a joke! Jews from Persia, along with the prudish English persecuted the heck out of the Chinese during the opium wars. there are many examples of Jewish intolerance and genocide in history. This Chase Character and his son sound like a couple of douche bags to me. “My parents were in the holocaust, boooo-frickedy-hoo, waaaaahhhh, sniff, sniff”. Down town inc. is now on my poo list too, I’m over that organization and their paper pushing B.S., there is nothing special they provide that the city can’t do on their own. Without down town inc. there were awesome punk shows in the promenade different activities all the time and we didn’t have all of this non-sense near as bad as we have it now. So I say down with the PBID!
My own take on this episode is that Alvarez is not anti-Semitic. She just used the wrong words to make her point. I don’t agree with her regarding ending the PBID, but I do agree with Council Member Michele Martinez, who suggested yesterday that the PBID and Downtown, Inc. consider a few more changes: she asked that the Downtown Inc. board increase its diversity, improve compliance with the state’s open meeting law, known as the Ralph M. Brown Act, and change the organization’s bylaws to allow more open membership, according to the Voice of OC.