Sal Tinajero and his fear of White challengers or any other Latino challenger

Sal Tinajero

For months I’ve been hearing that Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero feared a tough challenge for reelection in his Ward 6 district. Prior to the close of filing it looked like Tinajero would face at least one challenger, Thomas Gordon. Thomas Gordon has been somewhat of a gadfly over the past few years having challenged the Mayor in 2006, and consistent in his vocal criticism of the current mayor and council, particularly Tinajero. At the close of the filing period, four candidates had submitted nominating papers for Tinajero’s Ward 6 seat. They were Thomas Gordon, Helen Martinez, Nam Pham, and Sal Tinajero. Gordon was ultimately disqualified due to having an insufficient number of valid nominating signatures.

Councilman Tinajero approached OC Weekly investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley with his story of a conspiracy to split the Latino vote in his race. Like any great investigative reporter, Moxley took up the challenge and reported Tuesday evening on what he had found. One key thing that I noticed from Moxley’s story is that he allowed Tinajero to present his case, and the witnesses and documentation to support his case. What was missing from the piece was a clear indication of how any laws were allegedly broken. Moxley was careful to not draw any conclusions on his own and let the reader decide.

Thomas Gordon

The documentation represented in the story show a relationship of some sort between Martinez and other members of her household, as they all signed Thomas Gordon’s nomination paperwork. Tinajero presented what he and a witness claim are emails that indicate, if indeed they are not phony email printouts, that Martinez and Gordon were in communication regarding her candidacy for city council.

None of the information presented in Moxley’s story, no matter how damning, what not from my take evidence of any illegal activities by any of the players Tinajero accuses. in an updated version of his story, Moxley identifies the code language that Tinajero believes was broken.

“Any person who files or submits for filing a nomination paper or declaration of candidacy knowing that it or any part of it has been made falsely is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years or by both the fine and imprisonment.”


“Any person who commits fraud or attempts to commit fraud, and any person who aids or abets fraud or attempts to aid or abet fraud, in connection with any vote case, to be cast, or attempted to be cast, is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years.”

Let’s break these down 1) Any person who files or submits for filing a nomination paper or declaration of candidacy knowing that it or any part of it has been made falsely is punishable… There is no indication in Tinajero’s allegations as to what part(s) of Helen Martinez’s nomination papers were false. Without that specificity, there is not even a reason to suspect a crime, much less allege one.

2) Any person who commits fraud or attempts to commit fraud, and any person who aids or abets fraud or attempts to aid or abet fraud, in connection with any vote case, to be cast, or attempted to be cast, is guilty of a felony… This section does not even apply to the nomination and candidacy of Helen Martinez. This section of the Elections Code pertains to actual voting fraud, including encourages fraud related to the casting of a ballot (vote) in and election. Since the election has not even occurred, this does not even seem to apply.

What I think the real motivation for Tinajero here is that he hopes to deflect attention away from his own votes on the City Council that appear to have violated city laws because of the proximity of those contributions to his official acts. Even if there was a conspiracy, as alleged by Tinajero, to get Helen Martinez to challenge Tinajero and split the Latino vote allowing for a Gordon win that conspiracy has failed to achieve its objective. Thomas Gordon is not on the ballot in this election. If Helen Martinez were actually a name placed on the ballot to split the vote, then why is she running an active campaign?

I’m glad that Moxley wrote his story because it shows that Sal Tinajero is chasing boogie men in a game of “Fantasy Politics.” He is chasing these imaginary enemies because he is afraid to face the fact that he is his own worst enemy. The only people than might be coming after him are the voters of Santa Ana. Voters who believe the decisions of their elected officials should not be for sale to the highest campaign contributor.

  20 comments for “Sal Tinajero and his fear of White challengers or any other Latino challenger

  1. Dan Chmielewski
    September 15, 2010 at 8:50 am

    ohhh look at the pony

  2. Northcountystorm
    September 15, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I doubt that T Rack will take this one to the Grand Jury. While I don’t see a criminal violation the story certainly casts doubt on the veracity of Helen Martinez. Perhaps there is more to this from Helen but from what we know now it doesn’t look good for her.

    I’ve never liked “phony” candidates; those put up for the benefit of another candidate. I didn’t like it when the Republicans put up Democrat Laurie Campbell to siphon off votes to Linda Moulton-Patterson. I don’t like Assemblyman Van Tran putting up and supporting Cecilia Iglesias to siphon off Latino votes for Congresswoman Sanchez. And this one doesn’t pass the smell test either.

  3. Victoriano Ramirez
    September 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

    How much is Miguelito paying you to say that NCS? Meanwhile you ignore Sal’s blatant breaking of the law with his pay to play scheme.

    • Northcountystorm
      September 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Victoriano Ramirez—Nothing, which is less than you might being paid to obsess about Sal. But in retrospect I should have noted as an aside that I thought what Sal did was wrong–I didn’t think after Mr. P’s post that I could add anything to that angle of the story. I’ve never bought into the value of “deflecting” stories if the deflection is weak. Here, there are no criminal violations. The only legs the story might have is Helen’s apparent failure to own up to the truth if Moxley’s story is to be believed. But that still doesn’t clear Sal.

      For the record(and I have already communicated this off line to Mr. Prevatt), Sal and Michelle and David all took contributions and voted when they should not have done so. it’s a violation of a city ordinance. Blaming city staff is stupid—its the candidates responsibility. Chris made those points just fine but I thought he gave Helen a hall pass, hence my comment. I still don’t like phony candidates (defined as candidates filing at the behest of another candidate to siphon off votes from a third candidate). Instead of womaning up on this it appears that she lied about it. Some may say its Mr. Pay to Play versus Ms.Pinocchio.

      What’s unfortunate is the situational ethics that envelops these races. People who like don’t like Sal and Michelle and Miguel jump on every mistake or questionable act and ignore those of their opponents or people not in their camp. hence a lot of flax towards Sal and Michelle and none at David. And vice versa–people who support Sal, Michelle and Miguel do the same thing—check out the OJ for example. It would be nice to have posts on both of the blogs that give the same analysis to all sides.

  4. art lomeli
    September 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

    The argument is that Helen is not a real candidate. The response from Helen is to mount a aggressive in your face all out campaign to quite this argument.

    What ever the intent of this story from Tinajero……take attention away from the conflict of interest votes cast in the soccer fees and Station District development, What will result is the opposite because Tinajero’s argument will only serve to stimulate the Helen Martinez campaign in order to counter Tinajero’s argument of her not being a real candidate.

    The intent to draw attention away from Tinajero’s conflict of interest votes will now be the focus point of Helen’s campaign.

    Not good strategy from The Tinajero camp!

  5. Steve
    September 15, 2010 at 11:16 am

    C’mon Sal, man up and stop being a crybaby. Run your campaign, stop voting on Council matters when you should recuse yourself, stop using the press to create diversions, and let the voters decide. Millian campaign tactics have never done anything for Mill, and they won’t do anything for you.

    • September 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

      “Millian” ?! Is this where you threaten to beat someone up because they are smaller than you?

      • Steve
        September 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm

        LOL…that’s certainly one of the tools in the Millian toolbox!

  6. Concerned Voter
    September 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Sal actually called his opponent a “fake Latino” in the Moxley story. What a racist comment from a race baiting phoney.

    • Steve
      September 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      And if Sean Mill heard anyone other than Sal Tinajero call someone a “fake Latino”, he’d be on his “guardian against racism” high-horse in a heartbeat. This lake of objectivity and bald favoritism means Mill has absolutely zero credibility on the issue.

      • September 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

        Helen’s last name is Martinez; does this mean Michelle is a “fake Latino” too?

        and what about the third candidate in the race; is this a conspiracy too?

  7. September 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Let the legality play itself out. Martinez got caught. Latino plant candidates are a political tactic in Latino heavy voting districts. Ceci Iglesias is there to for the same reason in regards to Loretta Sanchez. It’s obvious.

    It’s kind of amusing to watch both sides from an outside perspective though. The challengers to Pulido y los Dinos are so dysfunctional. Meanwhile, an all Latino city council that is still lovebirds with developers is what we’re supposed to consolidate and herald as progressive? F’dat!

    Have fun wasting energy! There’s no alternative vision. There is no alternative…for now! Let this election cycle be a lesson on cynicism and the change from below that must follow.

    • Claudio Gallegos
      September 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm


      So you think the alternatives to the babosos on the City Council also suck. Who in your mind should be on that Council? Who are your dream candidates you think would make the Council better and what kind of views would they need to have?

  8. junior
    September 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that it was proven beyond a shadow of doubt that an attempt to split the vote did occur.

    So f$$$ing what??? It does not constitute a criminal action of fraud under ANY law.

    Note: The dollar signs in “f$$$ing” are for Sal and Michele.

    This is a nothing story – time to move on to real issues – like taking campaign contributions in return for council members’ votes.

  9. SAUSD Insider
    September 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Pathetic reporting on RScott Moxleys part. If he’d have bothered to check around, he’d have found that Rosa Aldaz doesn’t even live in Santa Ana or even Orange County yet somehow managed to get herself appointed to the Measure G Bond Oversight Committee. If RScott Moxley would have bothered to check around, he’d also have found that Rosa Aldaz doesn’t even have any kids in SAUSD schools yet sits on the PTA board. If RScott Moxley would have bothered to check around, he’d have found that Rosa Aldaz has been a Sal Tinajero volunteer for the past few elections and has walked door to door for him.

    • September 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm

      The DA isn’t going to pursue this because they don’t pursue any sort of prosecution for “crimes” like this. Why is Sal so worried about a political newcomer with no experience and no money?

      • Steve
        September 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm

        When you have Sean Mill on your side, running around town creating enemies at every turn, I would think Sal Tinajero has every reason to feel threatened. If he wonders why he drew 2 opponents, and Benavides and Michele drew none, all he has to do is look straight at his friend Sean Mill.

        Ever heard of cause and effect, Sal?

      • junior
        September 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm

        Dan – It is not a crime in ANY sense of the word.

        A candidate could run on a platform of vote splitting. “I am running to split the Italian or Armenian vote” – it doesn’t matter.

  10. art lomeli
    September 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    He is not really worried about the challenger. Is using the challenger to distract and divert the conversation away from the conflict of interest votes on the soccer fees and the Station District Development.

    Helen if smart can ride this wave to her favor.Has to stay on course and not distracted though.

  11. junior
    September 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Of Sal at the SA council candidate forum Pedroza said:

    “Tinajero also talked about how so many kids in the city live in apartments where there is no area for recreation. Like the other candidates he talked about working with the school district to open up more green space for the kids to play in.”

    You can bet Tinajero did not talk about his illegal vote to reduce adult for-profit soccer league fees to the city – that will cause the youth of Santa Ana to be denied 1 1/2 soccer fields.

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