Prior to December 2009 Art Pedroza, writing for the Orange Juice Blog and the New Santa Ana blog, was a relentless critic of Santa Ana Mayor Pulido, and Council members Michele Martinez, Sal Tinajero and Claudia Alvarez. Inexplicably his coverage of Pulido, Alvarez, Tinajero, and Martinez turned 180 degrees from opposition to support virtually overnight.
In the months leading up to the election, virtually all postings that had been critical of these elected officials vanished from the Orange Juice and New Santa Ana blogs. At the same time the rhetoric in opposition to perceived opponents of Mayor Pulido and Council members Martinez, Tinajero, and Alvarez was ramped up to levels of hostility that had previously been targeted towards these same council members. In the mayoral contest, the attacks against Mayor Pulido’s primary opponent Alfredo Amezcua rose to a fever pitch. The attacks were personal and based primarily on false allegations meant to destroy the character of Amezcua and Pulido’s other opponents.
With the release of the year end campaign finance reports filed on January 31, 2011 we now have a clear picture of exactly what was going on behind the scenes at the Orange Juice and New Santa Ana blogs. The campaign finance filing for Mayor Pulido indicates that his campaign consultant Dennis DeSnoo paid Art Pedroza $5,150 for “web services.” Apparently Pulido had no problem paying Pedroza for positive blog coverage leading up to the election so long as that information was not disclosed until after Election Day. Art Pedroza, of course, appears to have had no problem failing to disclose that he was being paid by Pulido for his commentary.
The fact that Pedroza was paid for positive blog postings doesn’t surprise me. We already know that Council member Michele Martinez paid Pedroza $385 for “Consulting Services” which, since she will not say what consulting he provided, we can logically conclude was probably for similar propaganda services. It should be noted that Martinez reported paying for consulting services, not campaign advertising, which she did receive.
I have believed for some time that Art Pedroza is just nuts. Any reasonable person reading his commentaries would have to conclude that his rants are those of someone clearly unhinged and possibly bordering on psychotic break. The fact that the compensation amount Pulido paid for Pedroza’s “web services” matches the section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (5150) for an involuntary psychiatric hold of a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves and/or others is not lost on me.
Given the significant difference from the amount that Martinez paid, I suspect that Pulido’s payment to Pedroza may not really have be for “web services” at all. Mayor Pulido had made a point of not endorsing Art Pedroza‘s bid for Santa Ana Unified School District Trustee, butÂ was initally listed by Pedroza as having endorsed his candidacy. At the time Pedroza decided to run for school board his house was in foreclosure, he had several credit card lawsuits pending and he was facing a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, among other illegal actions and business practices related to his blogs.
Full disclosure here, Pedroza and Orange Juice have been sued by this blog, Dan Chmielewski, Claudio Gallegos, Ryan Trabuco, and me. Among the things Pedroza did which prompted the lawsuit was to link web domains similar to the Liberal OC and Chmielewski’s business name to the website of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) through the Orange Juice Blog. The judge in the case has already ruled against the Orange Juice Blog as a business entity to the tune of $17,000, the portion of the suit against Pedroza personally is scheduled for trial in May.
It’s a bit suspicious to me that even though Art Pedroza claimed in August 2010 that he had no money to pay his bills he was able to come up with the filing fees to run for school board, launch a campaign website, and purchase campaign signs. In the early days of the campaign season I learned from a source that Michele Martinez allegedly bragged that she encouraged Pedroza to run for the Santa Ana School Board at the behest of Mayor Pulido. At the time I wondered why Pulido would even care about the Santa Ana School Board election.
I’ve learned that the reason may be related to Mayor Pulido’s long-term dislike for SAUSD Trustee John Palacio who was up for reelection. Apparently years ago, Palacio was among a group of individuals who protested against Pulido in front of his family’s muffler shop carrying signs, in Spanish, accusing Pulido of being homosexual. He has apparently been butt-hurt over that ever since.
If this is the case then Mayor Pulido seems to have missed the irony of paying Art Pedroza to have his mayoral campaign promoted on a website that featured a post, authored by Pedroza, that directly linked its readers to NAMBLA, a website and organization that promotes men having sex with boys, and to gay porn. Another complication for Pulido may be that his payment can be perceived as funding for Pedroza’s candidacy against his old adversary.
A month after the election the public learned that Mayor Miguel Pulido was in line to receive a $500,000 finder’s fee for bringing together potential buyers for several state owned buildings. In an interview with the LA Times Mayor Pulido referred to the payment as a “Success Fee” for bringing these folks together, contingent on the sale successfully going through. Hours later Pulido reversed course and told the LA Times that he was no longer in line to receive the compensation.
If Pulido’s payment of $5,150 to Pedroza was for the purpose of secretly funding Pedroza’s campaign for school board and avoid the required reporting of that funding, that would be a serious violation of campaign finance laws. The problem of course is that proving a direct connection between the thousands of dollars Pulido paid to Pedroza for “web services” and Pedroza’s campaign is difficult if not impossible.
What can be proved is that Art Pedroza had no money, and then suddenly had enough money to run for school board against a Pulido rival. Pedroza was also paid a significant “Success Fee” by Mayor Pulido’s campaign. I think most readers here are smart enough to connect the dots.
I guess Pulido, DeSnoo, and Pedroza figured no one would notice.