I think I’ve figured out the problem that the Santa Ana City Council has with following simple rules of transparent and ethical government. They don’t really give a crap what the rules are. They have figured out that they can ignore those rules, as well as city laws regarding ethics, campaign contributions and voting, and get away with it. I have written extensively about this problem over the past year and coverage of Monday’s Santa Ana City Council meeting by Adam Elmahrek of the Voice of OC made this truth even more apparent. Adam writes:
While Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez was busy giving a series of public honors, Mayor Miguel Pulido and Councilmen Sal Tinajero and Carlos Bustamante were huddled around Tinajero’s seat, exchanging whispers for a couple of minutes.
Bustamante then ventured out into the audience for a moment, returned to his seat and again spoke with Pulido, who had moved to the empty seat of Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who was absent. Pulido then turned and exchanged whispers with Councilman Vincent Sarmiento.
Adam goes on to describe more conversations between these small groupings of Council Members which amount to blatant violations of the Brown Act which prohibit such side conversations because they constitute private serial meetings between the majority of the Council members, in this case, every single one present.
In an even more telling example of the disregard the Council has for the law Adam reports later in his story about Councilman Carlos Bustamante’s response to questions about the side conversations.
When I confronted Bustamante about the huddling and whispering at the dais, he said it is nothing to worry about because the council members weren’t talking about anything on the meeting agenda.
Bustamante then questioned whether I had any experience attending council meetings, because, he said, such behavior is common on all councils.
Note to Carlos: Nope, this type of crap seems to happen most often in Santa Ana, Westminster, and during Board officer elections at the Garden Grove Unified School District meetings. Most other government bodies at least give the appearance that they are trying to follow the simple rule of not engaging in private serial conversations that could relate to, or be perceive to relate to, official business.
Here is the link to Adam’s complete story: Santa Ana, Where Public Meetings Include Private Chats
I have long ago given up hope that the District Attorney or Attorney General will do anything about these violations. I’m left wondering, what will they think of next.