The Mayor and Councilman Do Not Meet After 5:30

Miguel Pulido - Photo: Chris Prevatt/LiberalOC

That was the response Tom Lutz received from Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido’s Secretary while trying to schedule a meeting between Lutz, Councilman Carlos Bustamante, and the Mayor to discuss concerns raised by the community group Save Our Stadium regarding the possible move of the Chivas Soccer team to Santa Ana. Pulido’s secretary was trying to schedule a meeting for 11:30 0r 12:30 and Lutz had suggested the 6:30 meeting time of the S.O.S. group. Lutz quoted the secretary as stating that the councilman and mayor “do not meet after 5:30 pm.”

So, we’ve got Carlos Bustamante, an Executive Manager job with the County Public Works Department, only available to meet with constituents before 5:30 pm. That’s weird, that’s about the time Carlos leaves his County job for the day.

We’ve been covering this story for the past month and it keeps getting more and more complicated with each passing day. What we know for certain is that the City of Santa Ana has had, what they term “preliminary” and informal, discussions with the Chivas Soccer Club to move the franchise to Santa Ana. You can read the back story here from Voice of OC.

What is starting to become clear is that the City’s definition of “preliminary” is extraordinarily liberal. Council members have claimed that they cannot speak on the matter because of confidentiality agreements which prohibit the city from publicly disclosing the level and content of the ongoing discussions. Several schools utilizing the Eddie West Field for Soccer and Football have been told, informally of course, that they need to make plans to play elsewhere in 2012. We know that at least 5 Council members have spoken to the media on this topic, expressing the same party line, and the same glowing perspective of the proposal. This is particularly troubling since it is difficult to find a legal way that a majority of Council Members could be informed to their apparent level of both understanding and consensus without somehow violating the Brown Act which prohibits them from doing so in secret.

The City Council has never placed this topic on the Council agenda for closed or open session discussion. The City has claimed deliberative process and confidentiality of these “preliminary” discussions as the reason for denial of the groups request for records. Granted the request by the S.O.S. group was a bit broad in scope, the city has made no effort to help them narrow their request so that any releasable records can be identified.

The 50 people who showed up on Thursday for the Save Our Stadium meeting on Thursday night were not buying the city position that there have been only preliminary discussions. They believe there is a “close to formal” deal in the works and that the Council is planning to keep the matter quiet till the last possible minute and then ram it through quickly avoiding as much public input and debate as possible. “We know there’s a secret deal, because they won’t talk about it,” said Tom Lutz.

Their concerns range from quality of life issues such as noise and traffic, to property values. Since the plan floating around proposes that eventually a soccer sports complex will be built adjacent to residential locations.

Tim Rush Speaks to Santa Ana S.O.S. Meeting (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Tim Rush told the group “this is just one more deal that doesn’t pass the smell test.” He pointed out an interesting tidbit of information which helps call into question the preliminary nature of the Chivas discussions. “Goodwill Industries recently announced that they would be closing their computer store;” Rush said, “to open up a Chivas store. I’m sure that decision happened in a vacuum,” added Rush.

The Save Our Stadium is clearly a grass roots group of concerned residents. They are not opposed to the idea of a professional sports team coming to Santa Ana. “In a more industrial location where the impacts on residents and quality of life are limited, and with open public debate it might be a good idea,” said Rush.

Rush suggested that it was likely that the city was simply being played and that nothing would come of the project. He also made it clear that the residents couldn’t just wait around to see what happens and then be caught off guard if the project does come to fruition. They are serious about doing what they can to force the city to open up about the true status, and detail of the Chivas discussions. They passed the hat and raised in excess of $1,000 in pledges and checks at the meeting, “This is about transparency, Tom Lutz said. They’re conducting public business outside of public view.”

For more information on the Save Our Stadium group visit their website at www.SantaAnaSOS.org.

The odds of a Chivas actually deciding to abandon Los Angeles County for Santa Ana are slim. So the real issue here is the secrecy of the process that has fueled the discussions. The level of detail that the Council members and staff have about the potential Chivas move is extraordinary given the fact that no public or closed sessions of the Council have occurred on the topic.

  13 comments for “The Mayor and Councilman Do Not Meet After 5:30

  1. Get a clue
    July 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Lord Acton, a British historian

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
    Lord Acton

    “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”

    William Pitt

  2. Juan Bernal
    July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I know I’m being naive, but aren’t the mayor and city council supposed to represent the people of the city; and doesn’t this representation require that they inform the people of the city, especially those likely to be directly affected by their decisions, of their deliberations and plans?

  3. July 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Most of the people who want to meet with the mayor work during the day, which is why we asked for a 6:30 p.m. meeting. I don’t know what Mayor Pulido does for a day job, but Mr. Bustamante is in a government position I believe during normal business hours. So how does he get the time off to conduct City business during those hours.
    For those among us who work, we would need to lie about illness to take sick time, take vacation time or doing it on our own time, suffer a reduced paycheck to meet before 5:30 p.m.

    In terms of any professional sports team coming to Santa Ana, fine. Just don’t put it in a neighborhood or in a place where people will drive through neighborhoods to get to the event. Put it close to freeway access.
    The proposal to put it in Eddie West Field is in my neighborhood and I don’t want to lose the school and civic event venue to a professional team. I also don’t want droves of people with no interest in my community comining into the neighborhood for 8 months/year.

    In terms of Willowick there are the same problems of being in the midst of residential neighborhoods. Additionally, we would lose the oldest and most beautiful green space in the City. We would have to buy it back from the City of Garden Grove. There is marginal street access at best, so a lot of infrastructure would be needed.

    Who is going to pay for all this? The taxpayers of Santa Ana would be most unwise to take on this burden. History shows that, with the possible exception of Lambeaux Field where the Green Bay Packers play, no city has come out ahead when they went into their own pockets to build and maintain any sports venue for professional teams. Just ask the folks in San Diego how is has been, is and will be as a result of their legal obligations to Petco Park.

    This is a BAD idea, through and through and should be put to rest, finally and immediately.

    I have written to the Mayor and Council members and received zero replies.
    I have written to my local Council person, Mayor Pro-Tem Claudia Alvarez twice and phoned once. No reply at all.

    So much for representative government in Santa Ana. People tell me I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Very Unhappily Yours,

    bobi keenan
    Washington Square Homeowner
    Santa Ana

  4. Jeff dickman
    July 26, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Its certainly the Mayor’s right not to met with SOS representatives. However the Mayor should extend the courtesy to SOS to hear some of his constituents concerns. The Mayor has stated that Willowick will close if he has his way. That’s a big statement and I believe he will attempt to do such. However the Mayor’s assertion comes in advance of a defined project, environmental impact report or outreach to the community. It is precisely this course of action that upsets people. What the Mayor is telling the community is that he no longer cares what they think about a project. Instead he prefers to make deals in secret and promise to those he is courting that no one will care. If its a good deal get out there and push it. But do so in the light of day where we can see and understand what you are doing and where, Mr Mayor, you can hear our thoughts no matter how distasteful they are to you.

    • Mike Tardif
      July 26, 2011 at 5:55 am

      Well stated Jeff – I agree.

    • July 26, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I also agree Jeff.
      I would add that I think there is something definitely wrong with a city government that forces the public to dig into their own pockets to fight city hall. But it looks like that is what we are going to have to do, once again, to bring this issue out into the light of day. Disgusting!

      bobi keenan

  5. junior
    July 26, 2011 at 5:52 am

    So many good lines in this post Chris:

    “.. the Council is planning to keep the matter quiet till the last possible minute and then ram it through quickly avoiding as much public input and debate as possible.”

    That is SOP in dealing with the City of SA.

    “We know there’s a secret deal, because they won’t talk about it ..”

    That is kind of like saying; “We know they are lying because their lips are moving.” – which fits the City quite well.

  6. Mike Tardif
    July 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Some of the comments are a bit unfair to Councilman Bustamante. He will meet with constiuents after hours or on a Saturday morning – as will Councilman Benavides.

    • July 26, 2011 at 7:16 am

      Mike, that may be the case. But when they have instructed City staff to only schedule appointments until 5:30, it creates a very different impression.

      • Mike Tardif
        July 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

        I think that staff takes direction from El Jefe – he is hopeless. Leave a message for the specific councilperson that you want to talk to – if he or she does not return your call, call them out for it at Public Comments during a City Council meeting. That will get their attention.

        I am real close to doing that in regard to my complaint against the violations of the Code of Ethics by Sean Mill.

    • Santa Ana SOS
      July 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

      Mr. Tardif,

      Santa Ana SOS have formally requested meetings with both Carlos Bustamante and Miguel Pulido and have been denied on several instances. Miguel Pulido has told the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce and a crowd at the Santa Ana State of the City address that Chivas is coming to Santa Ana. Now he seeks to deny that is the case. Either he lied to them or he’s lying to us.

  7. Marcus Wilson
    July 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Does anyone get the connection (and see the danger) in having a police chief run the city? Walter’s “reams” the town while Pulido sets the hours.

  8. Mike Tardif
    July 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    “Miguel Pulido has told the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce … that Chivas is coming to Santa Ana.”

    I was at the Chamber meeting with Pulido & the Chivas rep – Pulido did not say that “Chivas is coming to Santa Ana” – however, it was quite apparent he wants that to happen.

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