Santa Ana Council Member’s ‘Pay to Play’ votes referred to DA for review

TheLiberalOC.com learned on Wednesday afternoon that Santa Ana City Attorney Joseph Fletcher has referred the matter of improper votes by Council members Sal Tinajero, Michele Martinez, and Claudia Alvarez to the Orange County District Attorney for review. The votes in question appear to violate Santa Ana Municipal Code section 2-107. The law prohibits members of the city council from participating in discussions and voting on matters benefitting campaign contributors who have contributed more than $250 during the year preceding the vote. The crime may be prosecuted at the discretion of the City Attorney who can choose between filing an administrative citation for an infraction or a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and 6 months in county jail.

NOTE: (Saturday, October 2, 2010) The City Attorney for Santa Ana has broken his silence on this matter and indicated that the votes related to the One Broadway Plaza project have not been referred to the DA for review. Because of that, he asked that I correct the post by correcting the reference to Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, which I have done with strike-through of her name above. Seems he feels his review of possible Council member misconduct is not a conflict of interest for him, at least on the matter of One Broadway Plaza. It should also be noted that his performance review is on the Agenda for the October 4th council meeting. His email to me is posted in the comments section for this story.

Orange County District Attorney spokesperson Farrah Emami told me that the City Attorney had declared a conflict approximately a week ago and referred the matter to the DA for review to determine if any charges are appropriate. “A review is the first step in the process,” Emami said. When a concern or complaint is raised with the District Attorney they review the matter first to determine whether an investigation is necessary. It is possible that the matter of Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez’ vote on One Broadway Plaza may be referred to the California Attorney General’s office for review since Alvarez is an Orange County Deputy District Attorney.

I commend Fletcher for recognizing the conflict and referring the violations to the DA without public prompting. That of course didn’t deter me from making sure that the DA had all the information we have found during our investigation, including the most recent discovery I wrote about on Monday.

I am a bit amused however that Mr. Fletcher found himself unable to respond to my questions from Tuesday September 21st asking:

  • Is your office 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).
  • Given that you report directly to the City Council, why would your review of this matter not be a conflict of interest for you?

When I asked him on Friday when he might have an answer he responded; “I cannot predict at this time.”

UPDATE: Sean H. Mill, the political attack dog whose leash is held by Tinajero, Alvarez, Martinez, and Pulido is trying to turn my coverage of this issue into a matter of race baiting. Nope, that’s not the case. Sal Tinajero is the one who at a recent council meeting said that the comparisons of Santa Ana to the city of Bell were attacks based on race. Mill also tries to equate the actions of Tinajero, Martinez, and Alvarez, who all received contributions in advance of voting on matters related to donors, to Councilman Benavides receiving a contribution after a vote (Martinez took money both before and after her votes on the Station District). Benavides has returned the contribution of $500 he received the last day of the semi-annual filing period (June 30, 2010) and has not voted on any project related to that donor since receiving and returning the contribution.

We’ll let you know when we hear more from the DA’s office.

  10 comments for “Santa Ana Council Member’s ‘Pay to Play’ votes referred to DA for review

  1. Cook
    September 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Need to keep the local council members clean. The small stuff matters.

  2. Tinajero goes to jail
    September 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas should immediately turn the ENTIRE investigation over to Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley due to the conflict created when Tony Rackauckas endorsed Claudia Alvarez for re-election.

    From Claudia Alvarez re-election website:http://alvarez8.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/claudia-alvarez/
    “By supporting me with your vote, you’ll join Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas along with”

  3. art lomeli
    September 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Chris,

    The Bell violations were /are being investigated by Jerry Brown’s office. Is this situation different?

    I understand that Brown’s if it finds a conflict of interest that offending public servant can be removed. Do you know anything about this procedure?

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    September 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Seriously Sean, racism? How is it racist to investigate the acceptance of campaign funds from people who you’re voting on? Please explain that one to me.

    • junior
      September 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Dan – At least SM is an “equal opportunity race baiter.” I used to think that only us reeps got blasted with that FL.

  5. art lomeli
    October 1, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Bell is predominantly Hispanic with an all Hispanic council. Bell citizens supported and demanded the actions on the public servants. WHERE IS THE RACISM HERE.

    The same outrage from the predominantly Hispanic population is seen in Santa Ana. Talk with the residents they are sick about it.

    THERE IS NO RACISM HERE ETHIER. THERE ARE ONLY RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUUT HOW THERE TAX DOLLARS ARE MISSPENT AND WANT JUSTICE.

  6. October 2, 2010 at 10:11 am

    I received the following email from Santa Ana City Attorney Joseph Fletcher this morning regarding this post.

    Mr. Prevatt:

    It has been brought to my attention that you posted a story on Thursday Sept 30 reporting that I had referred review of votes by Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez to the OC District Attorney’s Office.

    Your report erroneous. I have not referred review of her vote on One Broadway Plaza, or any other vote by her to the DA. I have not referred any other votes on One Broadway Plaza for that matter. My Office reviewed campaign contributions in relation to the July 19 and August 2 votes amending the One Broadway Plaza development agreement and found that there were no contributors over $250 who were impacted by the vote.

    I would great appreciate a prompt correction for the benefit of Ms. Alvarez.

    Joseph W. Fletcher
    City Attorney
    City of Santa Ana

  7. October 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Here is my response to Fletcher.

    Mr. Fletcher:

    “I have not referred any other votes on One Broadway Plaza for that matter. My Office reviewed campaign contributions in relation to the July 19 and August 2 votes amending the One Broadway Plaza development agreement and found that there were no contributors over $250 who were impacted by the vote.”

    Really?

    I think the contributions received by Mr. Tinajero from agents of Voit kind of fall into the category of more than $250. But if you say so.

    And as far as what I wrote related to Ms. Alvarez, no apology is necessary. I wrote:

    “It is possible that the matter of Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez’ vote on One Broadway Plaza may be referred to the California Attorney General’s office for review since Alvarez is an Orange County Deputy District Attorney.”

    That is a factual statement. I said the matter may be referred to the Attorney General for review. I did not say who might refer the matter.

    Perhaps, had you actually responded to my inquiry regarding the matter of the One Broadway Plaza votes when I asked, I would have been able to be more clear.

  8. jose s.
    October 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    what joseph fletcher should do is apoligize to the residents of santa ana for being such a failure as a city attorney. he’s nothing more than a coward and a bully. good job prevatt.

  9. October 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Mr. Prevat.What about the article related to the city of santa ana refered to the corrupt negotiations whit their redevelopment projets?.
    Second: candidate for mayor Collins ask to mr. pulido in the last com-link mayor’s speech about the 400 millions “missing” from general fund. Please give us more information about it.
    Thanks for your work.

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