More improper votes and campaign bucks for Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero

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.

AGENDA 

5:00 P.M.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010
City Hall, 8
20 Civic Center Plaza,
Santa Ana, California 92702
 

8th Floor, Room 831 

CLOSED SESSION CALENDAR 

Joint Items 

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. 

Mr Fletcher, 

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.” 

Councilwoman Michele Martinez

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

Martinez Report

Tinajero Contribution Report

Councilman Sal Tinajero (Santa Ana)

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 Councilmembers since June 7, 2010: 

  • Sal Tinajero — 4 Votes
  • Michele Martinez — 3 Votes
  • Claudia Alvarez — 1 Vote

What next? 

  5 comments for “More improper votes and campaign bucks for Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero

  1. junior
    September 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

    PUBLIC COMMENTS
    Members of the public may address the City Council on items on the Closed Session Agenda.

    Chris – Perhaps some of your readers would like to address the council on this agenda item. It is a closed session, but the public may comment prior to the meeting. I believe that such comments will be made part of the public record.

    I am CERTAIN that the SA Council would like to receive input from the public concerning their illegal votes.

  2. cook
    September 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    What else is the city being sued on?

  3. Al Simmons
    September 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Item 1C on that agenda is a huge thing, too.
    Despite the cloud hanging over the station district and the councilmembers who took contributions compromising that vote, the city appears to be going forward with negotiations on 50 properties they intend to sell for pennies on the dollar to those developers.
    Instead of clearing up any issues regarding the past station district votes, it appears the council is prepared to sweep their indiscretions under the rug and try to move forward, even if the votes may be later deemed improper or illegal.
    In an ethical world, the city should put a halt on any further actions regarding all the questionable votes until all of these ethical and legal issues are resolved. Instead they call a closed meeting to negotiate the sale or transfer of 50 properties for which they paid millions and will give away for a few dollars.

    Will someone be there to ensure that the city council members on the Community Redevelopment Agency that have already recused themselves due to conflicts of interest AND the councilmembers whose votes are now questionable due to conflicts they did not disclose will not be allowed to be a part of the negotiating process?
    According to the city charter, only those councilmembers with no conflicts whould be allowed to stay and participate in the discussion and voting process.

    I guess that item may be the basis for the 1B item, anticipated litigation.

  4. junior
    September 28, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Chris,

    Did you attend the special called council meeting? How many other members of the public showed up and addresed the council on the illegal votes?

    Was there any reaction from the council to the public showing up at a closed session for public comments?

    What did the public have to say to the council?

    • September 28, 2010 at 8:33 am

      The meeting was a waste of time in that they eliminated 2/3 of the Agenda before we were allowed into the room. I have a post scheduled for later this morning.

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