Santa Ana Council Members Martinez and Tinajero run ‘Pay to Play’ racket in Santa Ana

Councilwoman Michele Martinez (Santa Ana)

In mid-May 2010 Council members Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero and each received $500 campaign contributions (Tinajero, Martinez) from United Latin Soccer League, Inc. a for-profit Soccer League based in Santa Ana.

At the first June meeting of the City Council, on June 7, 2010, staff was directed to review soccer fees and look into modifying them. At the Santa Ana City Council meeting of September 7, 2010, Item 55 B came before the Council listed as “resolution amending the residential parking permit and soccer surcharge fee for fiscal year 2010-2011.” This item reduced the fees that for-profit soccer leagues pay to use sports fields in Santa Ana from $14 a game to $14 a day. Currently these for-profit leagues pay the City of Santa Ana $ 1148 a week for a grand total of $59,696 a year. The reduced rate has them paying $392 a week for a grand total of $20,384. This equates to an additional profit of $ 39,312 to these for-profit sports leagues. The  purpose of the soccer surcharge fee is to generate revenue to convert a natural turf fields to synthetic at the Dan Young Sports Complex. According to the staff report “the reduction of these fees will affect the time frame for the development of the new field.”

According to the laws currently in effect, it’s a criminal violation to “participate in or influence a decision will have a material financial effect, apart from its effect on the public generally or a significant portion thereof, on a recent major campaign contributor. As used herein, “recent major campaign contributor” means a person who has made campaign contributions totaling two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) or more to the councilmember.’ Violation of this City Code is a misdemeanor (Ord. No. NS-2170, § 1, 7-20-92, approved at election 11-3-92).

Sal Tinajero

This is probably one of the most egregious examples of “pay to play” revealed since former Councilmember Ted Moreno was convicted ten years ago on September 5, 2000 for accepting $31,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Yep, Martinez and Tinajero took their illegal votes almost ten years to the day after Moreno’s conviction which was also on the day after Labor Day. While the reduction in fees passed on a 7-0 vote, these two council members should have recused themselves from voting on this matter. Who knows what influence these two members exercised over the review of the fees and the recommendation for their reduction. But I’ve got to hand it to the United Latin Soccer League, they sure got a great return on their $1,000 investment.

BREAKING: More ‘Pay toPlay’ Martinez in hot water over Station District Redevelopment vote

  24 comments for “Santa Ana Council Members Martinez and Tinajero run ‘Pay to Play’ racket in Santa Ana

  1. junior
    September 13, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Assuming this is a violation of law – who files charges?

  2. September 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

    You forgot to mention the part where they admitted to all this…

    • September 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

      Gustavo — they both issued press releases after 6PM on a Friday night which is traditionally the time for releasing “bad news.” And neither one of them sent the announcement to us.

      I think if they are going to cut deals, do it for rec soccer leagues and not-for-profit ones

      • September 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

        Michelle’s release came out after 10PM on a Friday night…

      • DFCC
        September 13, 2010 at 5:49 pm

        These adult soccer leagues are not your typical city recreation leagues. These are for profit leagues run in our public park system. The Committee on Field Usage (COFU) worked with staff and field users (little league, pop warner, youth and adult soccer, etc) for years to regain control of our city park system. Now we see why Sal and Michele voted to get rid of COFU, and going back to times when power and money controlled our park system, with elected officials looking the other way.

  3. art lomeli
    September 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Dan Chmielewski on September 13, 2010 at 11:13 am
    Gustavo — they both issued press releases after 6PM on a Friday night which is traditionally the time for releasing “bad news.” And neither one of them sent the announcement to us.

    I think if they are going to cut deals, do it for rec soccer leagues and not-for-profit ones

    Dan ,

    The press release is about this issue? If so,can you paste it here.

  4. junior
    September 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I read their lame press releases. The problem for Sal and Michele is that you cannot “unbreak” a law.

    You can’t say – “I’m sorry judge, let me drive through the intersection again and this time I will stop at the red light.”

    The law was broken. The process should be followed and charges filed

  5. Tinajero broke the law
    September 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    COUNCILMAN SAL TINAJERO TAKES PROMPT ACTION TO CORRECT POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST

    SANTA ANA – Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero acted promptly today to correct a possible conflict of interest.

    Tinajero accepted a check this year from an adult soccer club. He voted at the last Santa Ana City Council meeting for a measure that reduced a city fee that is paid by seven adult soccer clubs, including the one that gave him a campaign donation. The city fee is dedicated to a fund that will eventually pay to replace the grass at the Dan Young Soccer Complex with artificial turf.

    “There was some confusion with regard to the agenda item as it included both a city parking fee and the turf fee reduction,” said Tinajero. “When I discovered that there was a perceived conflict of interest, I quickly contacted Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and asked him to hold a special session of the City Council, for the express purpose of taking a new vote on this issue, which I will then abstain from.”

    “Furthermore, I have returned the donation to the soccer club in order to assure that there will be no further conflicts in this matter,” stated Tinajero.

    The City Council voted unanimously for the measure in question, by a 7-0 vote. It would have passed even if Tinajero had abstained from voting.

    Tinajero is a public school teacher. He is also a nationally recognized high school debate team coach. He was awarded the 2009 Golden Bell Award for Excellence in Education by the California School Board Association.

    “We will direct our city staff to increase their vigilance in future matters like this one so as to avoid any possible conflicts of interest,” said Tinajero.

  6. Martinez broke the law
    September 13, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    COUNCILWOMAN MICHELE MARTINEZ TAKES PROMPT ACTION TO CORRECT POSSIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST

    SANTA ANA – Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez acted quickly today to correct a possible conflict of interest.

    Martinez accepted a check this year from an adult soccer club. She voted at the last City Council meeting for a measure that greatly reduced a city fee that is paid by seven adult soccer clubs, including the one that gave her a campaign donation. The city fee is dedicated to a fund that will eventually pay to replace the grass at the Dan Young Soccer Complex with artificial turf.

    “Accepting this check left the impression of a conflict of interest,” said Martinez. “City staff did not apprise the Council that a conflict existed. When I found out I immediately asked Mayor Pulido to conduct a special session so that the rest of the City Council may retake the vote in question, while I will recuse myself.”

    Martinez acknowledged that there was some confusion about the agenda item in question as it included both a city parking fee and the turf fee reduction.

    Martinez also immediately directed her campaign treasurer to return the funds to the soccer club in question.

    The City Council voted unanimously for the measure in question, by a 7-0 vote. It would have passed even if Martinez had abstained from voting.

    Martinez has been a longtime supporter of youth and adult sports and fitness programs. She is an advocate for nutrition and health programs for young people.

    “It is important for the people of our city to know that we, as Council Members, are ethical and are committed to transparency in our local government,” said Martinez.

  7. art lomeli
    September 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Junior,

    Where can I read it? Give us a link.

  8. junior
    September 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/notes-from-the-banana-republic/santa-ana-councilmembers-sal-t/

    Gustavo posted an article which contains their lame-as press releases.

  9. art lomeli
    September 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    The added associated damaging issue is, what is the rational to have a for profit business run public park facilities and pass a law increasing their profits while decreasing the resident’s budget which is to provide them with much needed infrastructure and general services.

    Because of lack of city funds city employees are have their week work decreased, laid off and benefits decreased. While the council takes away money from them and giving much needed city money to the profit group managing the city’s public park space.

    Why is this supported by the council no never mind the vote. The problem of taking money away from the city’s residents and blaming city staff for not knowing their contribution sources is condensation and offends the resident’s intelligence.

    The contribution issue is not the responsibility of the city staff it is their campaign’s responsibility and so it is their responsibility and they should not pass the buck.

    This translates to a lack of confidence and faith from the residents of Santa Ana towards the council.

  10. Endorsed by Santa Ana Police?
    September 13, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Doesn’t Sal Tinajero claim to have the endorsement of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association? Do they really want to be associated with a criminal?

  11. Steve
    September 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Still no mention of this at The Orange Juice…a blog that would more aptly be renamed CouncilMajorityShills.com

  12. September 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Sean was sending around Sal’s press release this morning. Shilling

  13. art lomeli
    September 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    55B RESOLUTION AMENDING THE RESIDENTIAL PARKING PERMIT AND SOCCER SURCHARGE FEE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010-2011 Parks, Recreation & Community Services Agency and Public Works Agency MOTION: Approve a one-year moratorium on soccer surcharge fee and revise resolution accordingly.
    A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SANTA ANA AMENDING THE PERMIT PARKING FEE AND REPEALING IN PART RESOLUTION NO. 2010-023
    MOTION: Sarmiento SECOND: Tinajero

    VOTE: AYES: Alvarez, Benavides, Bustamante, Pulido, Martinez, Sarmiento, Tinajero (7)

    NOES:
    None (0)

    ABSTAIN:
    None (0)

    ABSENT:
    None (0)

    You can find Item 55B here-http://www.ci.santa-ana.ca.us/coc/documents/agenda.pdf

    I SEE A MOTION ABOUT THE MONETORIUM BY SARMIENTO AND A VOTE ON THIS MOTION.
    WAS THERE A SEPERATE MOTION FOR THE PARKING FEE. I DO NOT SEE THAT (OBOVE) AS A MOTION BY A COUNCIL MEMBER AND A VOTE. DID THAT HAPPEN OR JUST THE MOTION BY SARMIENTO? DOES ANY ONE KNOW.

    FROM ABOVE:

    ” MOTION: Approve a one-year moratorium on soccer surcharge fee and revise resolution accordingly”

    TINAJERO AND MARTINEZ STATE “.”There was some confusion with regard to the agenda item as it included both a city parking fee and the turf fee reduction,”

    HOW COULD THERE BE A CONFUSSION ? THE MOTION BY SARMIENTO IS AS CLEAR AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE.

  14. junior
    September 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    TINAJERO AND MARTINEZ STATE “.”There was some confusion with regard to the agenda item as it included both a city parking fee and the turf fee reduction,”

    I think that the “confusion” was intentional – actually, it was more like obfuscation. They wanted to hide this give-away of taxpayer money.

  15. September 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I would like to see the recording of this Council meeting to see if there was discussion of the soccer fees – and to see what their justification of this was.

  16. art lomeli
    September 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Junior,

    I agree with you. It was obvious intentional confusion towards the resident. They knew exactly the game. They got caught.

    The objective here is for the recipient of this taxpayer’s money to encourage ELECTION support for the Mayor(Pulido) within the Hispanic soccer community.

    The Santa Ana residents are flipping the bill indirectly for the Mayor’s(Pulido) campaign.

    I believe staff recommended not doing this as the money from these fees was to cover the synthetic turf cost. Staff states this move would set back the payment of this debt.

    Using this money which should go to resident services, was used indirectly through the soccer fields manager to campaign in the Hispanic soccer community.

    SANTA ANA RESIDENTS SHOULD BE ANGRY ABOUT THIS AND TAKE ACTION.

    Can some one post the council meeting video of this agenda item?

  17. September 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    “We will direct our city staff to increase their vigilance in future matters like this one so as to avoid any possible conflicts of interest,” said Tinajero.

    Martinez said, “City staff did not apprise the Council that a conflict existed.”

    Maybe I missed something. Does city staff keep track of campaign donors? Shouldn’t the council members have some clue about whose checks they’re cashing?

    So as soon as the $#*) hits the fan, these two throw city staff under the bus.

    Must be a great place to work.

    • Claudio Gallegos
      September 14, 2010 at 8:02 am

      And yet the City Employees Union keeps endorsing these folks. Must be some sort of wierd sadist/masichist relationship.

      • junior
        September 14, 2010 at 9:29 am

        It is a mutual mucho dinero relationship.

  18. Al Simmons
    September 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

    So, you have to wonder;
    If the council members had not been found out and the information made public, would they ever have actually returned the money, or would they have kept it?
    I believe they would have kept it.
    Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero showed no scruples in accepting the money in the first place, knowing that they had an upcoming vote on this soccer decision.

    I saw the council meeting on TV last night, and what it looked like they did is reduce the soccer fees by half (from $28 down to $14 per game) add an additional reduction (from $14 a game down to $14 a day), and then through a substitute motion by Sarmiento impose a moratorium on collection these fees for a year (from $14 a day to $0 for one year). This is a potential revenue loss of double what was proposed in the agenda material.
    That’s a huge windfall for the leagues! Remember, these are adult leagues who only have a portion of the teams as Santa Ana residents.

    Council members Michelle Martinez and Sal Tinajero not only violated campaign finance law, but they just screwed the residents of the city out of money which would have gone to benefit the playing fields with synthetic turf and other field improvements.

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