The City Council of Santa Ana (Baby Bell) has called a special meeting for this evening to discuss the problems that have developed from the revelation of improper campaign contributions and improper votes taken by Council members Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero related to the Station District project. Well the swamp is getting deeper for these two as more improper votes due to large contributions are revealed.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010
City Hall, 8
20 Civic Center Plaza,
Santa Ana, California 92702
8th Floor, Room 831
CLOSED SESSION CALENDAR
1A CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a)
Friends of the Historic Lacy Neighborhood vs. City of Santa Ana and Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Ana et al. OCSC Case No. 30-2010-00388033
1B CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(b)(3)(A) and (c).
On Tuesday afternoon I asked the City Attorney Joseph Fletcher some follow-up questions about the revelations of the improper votes and contributions that have been raised over the past couple weeks.
1) Is the your office, City Attorney, looking into the improper votes of Santa Ana Council members Sal Tinajero and Claudia Alvarez who voted on the revisions to the One Broadway Plaza project at the mid July meeting of the City Council? Both members participated in this 4-0 vote after having received campaign contributions from Agents of Voit in apparent violation of municipal code. This vote was in addition to the votes regarding the Station District (6/07/10) and the reduction/moratorium of soccer fees (9/7/10).
2) What is the status of the One Broadway Plaza and Station District projects given the failure to achieve the needed number of votes due to conflicts?
3) What is the status of the moratorium on soccer fees given the fact that the member who seconded the motion was conflicted and could not participate in the action?
4) Will all of these matters need to return to the council for reconsideration?
5) Given that you report directly to the City Council, why would your review of this matter not be a conflict of interest for you?
Having not heard anything back by Friday morning I followed up with another email and asked when should I expect a response? He responded less than an hour later with a rather short response.
“Mr. Prevatt: I cannot predict at this time.”
Given the late Friday afternoon announcement of the Special Meeting, I think I know why he cannot predict when he will be able to respond. He probably needs to meet with the council in closed session so that he can get their stories straight. My guess is that there’s probably more litigation on the way other than the existing litigation regarding the Station District. Well, I’ve got something else for Fletcher to think about. It seems that Mr. Tinajero and Ms. Martinez have some more dirt on their hands.
At the July 6th meeting of the City Council there were only five members present to vote because members Benavides and Bustamante were absent. One of the items on the agenda was item # 25A, an amendment to an existing agreement with Townsend Public Affairs in the amount of $50,000.
The item was on the consent calendar, Ms. Martinez made the motion for approval of the consent calendar and the motion was approved 5-0. Four votes were required to pass the items. Just one problem, Martinez and Tinajero could not vote on item 25A because they had just received $1,249 in campaign contributions from Townsend and his wife in June.
For the record it’s illegal for members of the council to vote on matters that affect donors who have contributed $250 or more within one year prior to their vote. So what we have here is just one more example of how business seems to get done in the City of Santa Ana. While Martinez and Tinajero made a grand show of announcing that they had returned the $500 contributions that they had received before improperly voting to eliminate fees that donor has to pay for the next year, we’ve heard nothing about the thousands more in contributions that need to be returned because of the same type of violation. By my count, Tinajero must return $3,749 in additional contributions. Tinajero only had $14,211 in the bank at the end of June, of which $9,500 was a personal loan to his campaign. While I am sure he has gathered more contributions and expenses since the last filing period, once you deduct his personal loan and the money he should return, Tinajero closed the reporting period with about $462. Fortunately for Martinez, she loaned less money to her campaign and has no challengers for her race, therefore she is in better finncial shape.
Just in case you haven’t been following the number of times Tinajero and Martinez have improperly voted after receiving campaign contributions, here’s the score card for illegal votes cast by Santa Ana City CouncilmembersÂ since June 7, 2010:
- Sal Tinajero — 4 Votes
- Michele Martinez — 3 Votes
- Claudia Alvarez — 1 Vote