Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez Tries to Walk Back Brown Act Violation – Sans an Apology

The Santa Ana City Council meeting, held at the historic Yost Theater last night, failed to produce much in the way of fireworks. As expected Councilwoman Michelle Martinez’s Commissioner Tish Leon was removed from the Parks and Recreation Commission on a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Benavides voting no. And while that act of political retribution was somewhat entertaining, it played out more like a the ancient Roman spectacle of spectators cheering at a summary execution — albeit with less than half a dozen people standing to applaud when the deed was done.

Claudia Alvarez and Miguel Pulido

The Public Comment portion of the meeting went smoothly, with Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez sitting smugly, and silently, next to Mayor Pulido managing to not cut off any speakers this time. After all the speakers had finished, Alvarez took to opportunity to address her actions at the previous meeting by claiming, without any apology, that she had not prevented Albert Castillo from speaking at the August 2nd meeting, that he was given his three minutes, and he was warned three times. Then in a spectacular display of contradiction, she made a motion to recognize Mr. Castillo, who was sitting in the audience but had not signed up to make public comment, and let him speak for three minutes promising not to interrupt him.

The motion by Ms. Alvarez, then allowed the council the opportunity to discuss the action they had taken at the prior meeting to cut off the microphone on Mr. Castillo. Councilman Benavides apologized for his failure to stand up for Mr. Castillo’s right to speak at the previous meeting saying that his First Amendment rights never should have been violated. Councilman Sarmiento commented how he had spoken to Mr. Castillo the day after the meeting to explain his actions, and had invited him to come back and address the council uninterrupted. Sarmiento also said that he had engaged in a number of conversations with the City Attorney since that meeting in an effort to move him to provide more clarification of the application of the Brown Act in relation to the city policy for speaker conduct. He stated that he wanted to cure the problem. If I had the opportunity, I would have asked Sarmiento, why he didn’t take the initiative to speak to the City Attorney back in April, when Alvarez did the same thing?

Interesting, the term “cure” is exactly the legal term used when a government body is asked to correct a failure to follow the Brown Act. At any rate, Mr. Castillo was having nothing of the show, and refused to comment, in fact he did not even acknowledge the offer to speak. The motion did pass 7-0.

Note to the City Council: One of the key components to correcting and “curing” a violation of the Brown Act, in particular one that you have repeated countless times, is to admit you actually made a mistake and then make a good faith effort to prevent future violations of the law. Claudia Alvarez’s failure to even recognize, much less apologize, for her conduct negates the grand show that you put on. Sorry nothing less than a full apology from the entire council, and a clear promise to correct the behavior and prevent it from happening in the future will work in this case. Skirting the Brown Act by making an off agenda motion to let someone  speak, so that you can discuss the matter doesn’t quite cut it here.

If you really want to sincerely address this issue, put a Resolution of Apology to Mr. Castillo and the citizens of Santa Ana for your conduct, and outline steps you intend to take to prevent such violations from happening. Make the resolution in a fully televised meeting of the Council, not an off site “Study Session” that is broadcast later and only once.

  11 comments for “Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez Tries to Walk Back Brown Act Violation – Sans an Apology

  1. art lomeli
    August 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Section of the Brown Act that pertains to this issue:

    (c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body. Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.

    What is so difficult to understand of this law? Why is there need for multiple meetings with the City attorney on how to interpret the above section of the Brown Act.

    From this post the only one directly addressing the blatant violation is Benavidez. Sarmiento less so presenting an argument of no clear understanding on The Brown Act.

    Alvarez directly feels there was no violation as she says:

    “Alvarez took to opportunity to address her actions at the previous meeting by claiming, without any apology, that she had not prevented Albert Castillo from speaking at the August 2nd meeting, that he was given his three minutes, and he was warned three times. Then in a spectacular display of contradiction, she made a motion to recognize Mr. Castillo, who was sitting in the audience but had not signed up to make public comment, and let him speak for three minutes promising not to interrupt him.”

    “and let him speak for three minutes promising not to interrupt him.”

    Apparently the only thing she believes happened was that she interrupted Mr. Castillo.

    Apparently Tinajero, Pulido, Bustamante nor Martinez thought violation of the Brown Act was important to comment on.

    This all happened ….discussion on the Brown Act violation,dismissal of Tish Leon and Public comments in less than 30 minutes. There were no certificates of appreciation to staff and public as occurs at every council meeting.

    The audience knows the time for presentations and arranges time to tune in after this. This is the reason for no appreciation presentations and the rush to cover the controversial topics.

  2. jose s.
    August 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

    smugly and silent is just the way i want to see alvarez from here on out. what an absolute disgrace she is. it blows my mind that the two “lawyers” on the council did what they did to mr castillo an apology would have been in order on this matter. but then that would have been the right thing to do so thats out.

  3. Steve
    August 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

    This Mayor, and this Council, should be ashamed of themselves for conducting these off-site meetings. The advantages (at least for the public) of having meetings held CONSISTENTLY in official Council chambers FAR outweigh the supposed benefits of these alternative sites.

  4. Santa Ana resident #1.5million
    August 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Anyone know how to limit the term for these clowns? I agree, they will be replaced by some other circus act but at least it will be limited.

  5. Steve
    August 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Santa Ana resident,

    Only Benavides and Martinez have been consistently for term limits, especially for the Mayor. When you’re outnumbered, and you create a phony initiative like Measure D, it’s hard for change to happen.

  6. cook
    August 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Term limits has proven to be a bad idea.

    The voters are lazy cause they think term limits will do the job.

    It hasn’t and it doesn’t

  7. art lomeli
    August 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    cook,

    Explain your point of “it doesn’t work”. It definitely works in eliminating candidates to a term number. It works for the Santa Ana Council why would it not work for the Mayor of Santa Ana?

    It works for Anaheim. See how different in economic, social and education it is relative to Santa Ana.

    Keep in mind that Anaheim is similar to Santa Ana in population, budget and demographics. The difference is then management. The mayor that is.

    The Mayor of Anaheim has said that he and others attribute the success of Anaheim to Council and Mayoral term limits.

    The solution is as plain as the nose on your face. Change the Mayor. The current one has proven to not know how to manage the city successfully like it’s neighbors have.

    If Amezcua can not produce, then because a campaign issue of his is Mayoral term limits, a replacement is guaranteed at his term limit if not sooner. What else can you wish for politically for Santa Ana.

    Amezcua is saying give me a shot the current Mayor is not capable of proper management. I have the plan to create educational, social and economic opportunity for the Santa Ana residents that will result in Santa Ana catching up and surpassing it’s neighbors. I will produce the environment…mayoral term limits to be replaced at the end of the term if not sooner providing opportunity for others with new and better ideas.

  8. booper
    August 18, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Yes, Mr. Lomeli, I am quite ready to bring Anaheim-style management to Santa Ana and get things moving in a better direction, but Curt is not available… I’ve already asked :-) If we could just break this “group-think” mentality and get the “powers” to realize that this current direction is not the one that is the truly healthy one for Santa Ana, regardless of what some juicy blogs are leading others to believe…

  9. art lomeli
    August 18, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Booper,

    You can’t break the current approach. It has been in place for the 16 years the current Mayor has been in power. It will continue as this method of governing has kept him in power…..it is working for him why change it is meeting his needs but not the needs of the residents.

    This grip of power and mismanagement needs to be broken in order to have the City prosper. No need for Pringle, Amezcua can produce the changes.

  10. kee da peace
    August 18, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Alvarez is an absolute disgrace to the citizens of Santa Ana. Unfortunately, nothing will be done by the AG now or by the voters in a few years because they will have forgotten what an embarassment she is to them.

  11. Bladerunner
    August 19, 2010 at 12:09 am

    This post and thread somewhat got hijacked with a discussion on term limits, which in my opinion is a bad and unnecessary concept. If the voters want to get rid of Mayor Pulido they have had numerous opportunities to do so. Maybe they will do so this time. If they don’t, then the public gets what they deserve and perhaps the Mayor is doing a better job than his critics claim.
    But on the point of the thread, Mr. prevatt has made an excellent suggestion for what the Council should do to address this issue. Time to come clean.

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