Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

It has become increasingly obvious that the so-called “Santa Ana Spring” is actually a collection of Santa Ana politicians with different axes to grind, who have come together as their mutual petty hatreds have temporarily converged.  This alliance is a shaky one at best.



The drivers of this movement are failed Santa Ana mayoral candidate Al Amezcua, who resigned from the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Education a few years ago, after he got caught living outside of the area he was elected to represent; Santa Ana Unified School District John Palacio, who survived the recall of his close friend and ally Nativo Lopez; Santa Ana Councilman Vince Sarmiento – who is bitter because he didn’t run for the 69th Assembly District and who has designs on the Santa Ana Mayor’s office; Santa Ana Council Member Michele Martinez, who was soundly defeated by Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido back in 2008 – and who did poorly again this June as a candidate for the 69th Assembly District; and Council Member David Benavides, who is embroiled in a controversy regarding allegations of infidelity and divorce.

Why would this disparate cast of characters come together to challenge Pulido?

The Palacio/Amezcua faction certainly has not been close to the Council Members over the past few years.  In fact Amezcua sorely mistreated Martinez when she refused to endorse him against Pulido in 2010.  Now they are all back together, but it can’t be a comfortable relationship.

Here is how this mess went down.  Palacio threatened a few weeks ago to run for Ward 3 on the Santa Ana City Council – a race which at the time featured only one Latino – Planning Commissioner Eric Alderete.  This turned out to be an empty threat but Alderete’s supporters panicked.  They cut a deal with Palacio to keep him out of the Council election and in return they agreed to back Palacio’s ally, Benavides, for Mayor – and Amezcua’s daughter, Valerie, for the SAUSD School Board.

Councilman Sal Tinajero joined the cabal as well, in return for their pledged support for his sister, Myriam, for the SAUSD School Board.  However the Santa Ana Educators’ Association (the teachers’ union) recently endorsed Amezcua and the two incumbents – Rob Richardson and Jose Alfredo Hernandez.  They didn’t endorse Tinajero.  Trust me when I tell you that this was Palacio’s doing.  He has double-crossed the Tinajeros.  His goal is to elect Amezcua and only Amezcua.  There is more to Palacio’s motives – but I am covering that in a subsequent post.

What about Benavides?  Well, he is getting played by Palacio and Amezcua too.  They have no interest in electing him.  Note that Alderete has already hosted three successful fundraisers.  Benavides?  None.  He is in the race just to pester Pulido – and he entered the race to keep Tinajero out of it.  Palacio and Alvarez know that Benavides is toast and they don’t care.  Remember that they used Martinez in 2008 under similar circumstances.  At the time Amezcua wanted to see if Pulido was vulnerable.  Two years later, after using Martinez, Amezcua took on Pulido – and got his butt kicked.

Now Amezcua and company are back.  And if you think they are running his daughter for the SAUSD School Board for the right reasons, they you are wrong.  They will eventually run her for something else if she can fool the voters this November.   Like Roman Reyna, who was dragged into the “clown car” by his pal Benavides, she will at most serve one term on the SAUSD School Board, then look to move up and out.

The one candidate in this disastrous cavalcade that anyone really respects is Alderete – and he has quickly acted to distance himself from Amezcua and Palacio.  Smart move!

By Editor

Art Pedroza started Orange County's first political blog, the Orange Juice, back in 2003. He now publishes the top civic blog in Orange County - New Santa Ana, plus other blogs including New Anaheim, New Fullerton and the Irvine News Blog, as well as the OC Politics Blog.

17 thoughts on “Palacio and Amezcua are driving the so-called “Santa Ana Spring””
  1. Palacio is a once well meaning man who got eaten up by the machine.

    Now he is going to feed the young ones in too.

  2. Mr. Palacio was and is well meaning. He could have easily run and won a council seat this time around but he chose to let the young bucks have their turn. He is happy to work behind the scenes in city politics while working to help the kids in our community get a solid education. Mr. Palacio is a selfless man who puts Santa Ana first and is not influenced by the political forces that have ruled this city for the last few years. He also raises money for the Boy Scouts of America and is one of the few Politicians I have come to respect.

  3. The political witch hunts expand. Your source is misguiding you. Your objective then is not accuracy but witch hunt material.

    1. Really? My objective is not accuracy? Perhaps you failed to note the 15 or so links in my post to L.A. Times articles? How much more accurate can we get?

      You know what I realized as I did all of this research? Palacio, Amezcua and the rest of their clown cabal are not interested in returning power to the people. They are looking to take that power for themselves – just as Palacio’s old homies did. These people use non-profits and local government to enrich themselves and their friends. Shame on them!

    2. Same clowns different year Mr. Lomeli…Palacio, Acosta and Amezcua. They’ve been fleecing the Latino community for decades. Pulido got in their way and put a crimp in that flow of money. They want things back to they way they used to be.

  4. I don’t know about all this political stuff but they should name schools after John Acosta and John Raya for all they have done for the Latino Community. John is a fighter with a heart.

  5. I mean if they can name a Santa Ana school after one term councilman and ne’er-do-well insurance man Ray Villa, then surely they can name a school after Johna Acosta, John Raya, or Sal Mendoza.

  6. Instead of a school they should name a strip bar after Acosta. Publicly he crusaded to close down the local porn theatre while he privately judged nude beauty contests at sleezy bars.

    1. I deleted what appeared to be a duplicate comment.

      FYI, I post and comment only as “Editor” and under my own name.

      Disagree with me if you want to but don’t resort to attacking me by impugning my character. I am not doing that to you.

  7. Was not duplicate. Please post. Not going to argue your other anonymous names. You do or not has nothing to do with your character. Others post anonymously , I am sure their character is just fine.

    1. Art is a good guy but he served on an Anaheim School Board as I recall, not here in Santa Ana.

      I prefer to see schools named after prominent historical figures, war heroes, etc. There are many distinguished Latinos who grew up here and went on to great things. Naming schools after politicians should be the last resort, IMHO.

  8. John Acosta? It’s been a while since I’ve heard that name. I do remember hearing about his divorce from his 1st wife Sally. He was screwing a secretary on the 8th floor and he got busted. How many times has be been married now? Does anyone know?

  9. My grandpa says there was another Councilman named Wilson Hart who did the same thing in Santa Ana! Knocked up an 8th Floor secretary and and she went on to be city manager of Irvine! Those wild and crazy 1980’s! What every happened to Hart?

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