Santa Ana Council Still Locking Doors To The Public

Santa Ana Ciy Hall

Santa Ana City Hall, Photo: Chris Prevatt

SANTA ANA — I have written numerous times about the failures of the Santa Ana City Council to follow state law and open their meetings to the public. It’s beginning to look like they are more interested in looking stupid, than granting the basic transparency supposedly guaranteed by law. At their meeting this past Monday, they fell back into their familiar pattern of locking themselves away from public view.

The Voice of OC‘s Adam Elmahrek has launched a new feature story called Santa Ana Closed-Session Watch. His inaugural story on the topic demonstrates the complete and total disdain for the rights of the public, and media, to basic levels of government transparency required by law. Adam writes:

Closed-door meetings are allowed under a narrow set of exceptions to the Brown Act. The law requires, however, that members of the public be allowed to comment on all matters on the closed-door meeting’s agenda before council members discuss them.

To comply with the law, council members must convene publicly and ask for comments from the public before heading behind closed doors. Yet before and during Monday’s closed-door meeting, the doors to the council chambers were locked. Staffers told a Voice of OC reporter attempting to enter the chambers that council members always meet privately first.

My initial reaction to reading this was an overwhelming sense of Déjà vu. Less than five months ago I wrote about my experience with closed session meeting access in What’s it going to take to get Santa Ana to follow the open meeting laws? In my case, the City Clerk happened to be walking off of the elevator as I was being escorted out of the Police Department headquarters after being told I could not attend the required “public” convening of the closed session meeting. Given this context, imagine my amazement at the Clerk’s reaction to Elmahrek’s experience.

City Clerk Maria Huizar said she had thought staff had unlocked the council chambers doors before the meeting. She said Mayor Miguel Pulido had called for public comments, thinking that the public had access.

“I’ll take the fall on that one,” Huizar said.

Mayor Miguel Pulido - Photo: Chris Prevatt/LiberalOC

Forgive me if I find it difficult to believe that Mayor Miguel Pulido called for Public Comment or that the Council even gathered in the Council Chambers to convene in open session before their private meeting.

But Wait! There’s More!

The closed-door meeting was scheduled to be held in its usual place — behind double doors marked “employees only” — but was moved to a private conference room adjacent to the council chambers. There was no public notice of the change.

You’re kidding me, right? I’m left with the same question I had back in February…

What’s it going to take to get Santa Ana to follow the open meeting laws?

  5 comments for “Santa Ana Council Still Locking Doors To The Public

  1. Get a clue
    July 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I attended the Santa Ana SOS meeting this evening.SOS is the grassroots citizens group recently formed to fight against the loss of Eddie West Stadium to Chivas professioal soccer team. This is the result of yet another Pulido and council harebrained, self serving scheme. It was heartening to see about 50, one time supporters of Pulido, the majority of them from his actual neighborhood, finally seeing the light. The anger, disbelief, and outrage over this Chivas cover up had them askeing about lawsuits and recalls…………sweet

  2. We love rally's
    July 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

    The Santa Ana SOS movement isn’t about race or sports, it’s about protecting our neighborhoods, our property values and our quality of life. Santa Ana SOS is spreading it’s message block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s a shame that the Santa Ana City Council would rather play games than protect it’s residents.

  3. junior
    July 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    If any of the council members had any integrity they would refuse to meet behind closed doors.

  4. Juan Bernal
    July 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I recall that Pulido and some of the current members of the city council came to our neighborhood asking for support and promising to work for the interests of residents (all SA residents). But once they get in office and see where the greater campaign funds come from, they quickly forget the citizens who put them in office. All this secrecy is deplorable and an indicator of how corrupt and incompetent these petty politicians can be.

  5. Marcus
    July 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Does anyone get the connection (and see the danger) in having a police chief run the city? Paul Walters “Reams” the town while Pulido sets the hours and public rules. These guys need a serious investigation (and I don’t mean from the SAPD Internal Affairs).

Comments are closed.