On Monday I wrote about the improper votes by Santa Ana council members Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez related to their votes to reduce soccer fees levied on for-profit soccer leagues to fund the expansion of artificial turf soccer fields at the Dan Young Sports Complex. Apparently after learning that people were looking into their vote on the matter, on Friday evening both Tinajero and Martinez issued virtually identical press releases stating that they had made a mistake, didn’t know they were voting on something they had a conflict with, and that they had returned the contributions they had received (both their releases are posted below).
What I had not realized until I reviewed the video of the September 7th meeting is that not only did the Council reduce the fees, they suspended them for one year. While the revised motion was driven by Councilman Sarmiento, he stated in the beginning of his commments on the matter that he was aware that other Councilmembers had been contacted about the fees. It is clear from the video that staff had made clear, and the Council was fully aware, of what they were voting on and what leagues were impacted. Below is the video, watch it yourself and see what you think.
Councilman Sal Tinajero
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.
Â Councilwoman Michele Martinez
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.
You’ve gotta love their coordinated spin.