When Villa Park Council member Deborah Pauly used venomous words and threats against Muslims at a Yorba Linda rally in February, the Democratic Party of Orange County issued a statement condemning the comments and even suggested that the comments went beyond rhetoric and were designed to “inflame and incite.” The DPOC also suggested that Pauly might have violated state and federal law with what amounted to hate speech.
When GOP Central Committee member Marilyn Daveport sent a email depicting President Obama as a chimp with a tagline “now you know why there is no birth certificate,” even the OC GOP leadership moved quickly to condemn her actions.
Racism and bigotry have no place in society today.
The actions of a number of Republicans over the past several years have given this blog great fodder to condemn their actions and call for tolerance. From racial statements, to the Prop 8 battle for equal rights, to anti-Muslim rhetoric, we stand on the side of tolerance time and again. So it’s painful when a prominent member of our party falls into the same trappings of using bigoted and divisive speech that does more to drive us apart than unite us.
We’ve left a couple of messages for the DPOC to get back to us regarding anti-Semitic comments made by Santa Ana mayor pro tem Claudia Alvarez at Wednesday night’s city council meeting regarding PBID. In that meeting, she went on a tirade and referred to Santa Ana developer Irv Chase as “Hitler” and accused Chase and his son Ryan of “ethnic cleansing,” in a town – that claims to celebrate diversity – that has a population is more than 85 percent Latino and almost everyone, working class families. When given an opportunity by reporters to clarify her statements, Alvarez instead stuck by them saying “if the shoe fits.” Only after condemnation from the ADL and the community at large, did she issue an apology through the Los Angeles Times, which then informed the Chases that she had apologized. I don’t think Emily Post would suggest apologizing in quite the same manner.
The DPOC hasn’t gotten back to us and we’re told that County Party chair Frank Barbaro is involved in a trial in Riverside County. In fairness to the DPOC, it took them several days to issue statements regarding both Pauly and Davenport, so a lack of a fast response doesn’t surprise us. But make no mistake, Alvarez’s comments demand a Party response. This is our Deborah Pauly moment. How do we respond? It can’t be with silence or a nod that Alvarez’s soft apology is sufficient. Neither are acceptable.
What does surprise us is the silence from the progressive Latino majority on the Santa Ana city council. Sources tell us that Republican Carlos Bustamante may actually call on Alvarez to apologize publicly at the next council meeting and there’s a suggestion he will ask the council to rebuke or censure her for her comments. Will he have the votes for it?
Council member David Benavides also distanced himself from Alvarez’s comments and while we believe Benavides should take a stronger position, we’ll note that he was the target of a council walk out in July 2010 when Benavides honored residents who put on a July 4th event. A YouTube video of someone who didn’t organize the event and who made a racial comment about Latinos calling them “wetbacks” was recorded. The video went viral and opponents of Benavides dubbed the scandal “Hatergate.”
We’ll note that Mayor Miguel Pulido and Council member Vince Sarmiento were not on the council dais when Alvarez launched into her anti-Semitic tirade, but Council members Michele Martinez – an unannounced candidate for state assembly — and Sal Tinajero, both sat without comment as Alvarez launched into an anti-Semitic rage. I guess it’s only hate/racism/bigotry when someone makes an anti-Latino slur? We’ll also note that both Martinez and Tinajero have accepted campaign donations from Irv and Ryan Chase. If they have any conscience at all, they should return those checks. Neither of them commented on Alvarez’s hateful statements.
What does it say about the progressivism, the liberalism, or the morality of a city council where the Republican – Carlos Bustamante – appears to be the only one willing to do the right thing and call out Alvarez in a more formal rebuke or censure? And while Pulido and Sarmiento where not in the room, surely they are aware of the Alavrez statements now and should also publicly rebuke Alvarez. The city looks to the mayor for leadership and perhaps other members of the city council are looking to Pulido as well. Alavrez’s comments are a clear violation of the city’s code of ethics. If the council fails to rebuke Alvarez for violating the code of ethics, then the words aren’t worth the paper it’s written on.
The Villa Park council nearly censured Pauly twice — once for a statement about healthcare reform being equated to sodomy and again for her comments at the Yorba Linda rally. Both times, the movement was withdrawn to build greater council harmony. But even with the threat of rebuke, the Villa Park city council has shown more cojones than Santa Ana’s. If the four members of the city council fail to rebuke Alvarez for anti-Semitism, then their walk out on Benavides last year reveals rank hypocrisy.
If Scott Baugh and the OC GOP seek to issue a statement critical of Alvarez and the other members of the city council for their “Silence of the Lambs” stance, they have every right to do so.
We’ll note with irony that Alvarez, along with Pulido, Sarmiento, Martinez and Tinajero all appeared in last fall’s “I am Santa Ana and Santa Ana is Great” video. Santa Ana is a great city with lots of potential. But the message isn’t “I am Santa Ana and Santa Ana is bigoted against anyone who isn’t Latino.” We’re asking the city council to own up to their rhetoric on diversity and tolerance.
And if Alvarez is worried about gentrification efforts, we’ll ask what she’s doing to encourage Latino entrepreneurs to open new businesses in the empty storefronts that dot the downtown landscape. If you’re against the hipsters moving in and drinking and eating at trendy new bars and restaurants, don’t patronize those establishments. Criticize Irv and Ryan Chase for investing in the community? Money is colorblind and without it, downtown will dry up and disappear and become blight that is more of a burden on taxpayers than a benefit. So criticize Chase for his business plan if you must, but leave Hitler and ethnic cleansing out of it.
We said before, the DPOC is slow when it comes to issuing statements that condemned Davenport and Pauly. But a DPOC failure to rebuke one of our own would be equally offensive. I left a second message this morning. We’ll see how long it takes.
A comment was left on the YouTube video that featured Pauly. It applies to the Alvarez remarks too. It’s good advice.
Please do no leave hateful comments. The bigotry shown in this video only represents the persons engaging in it. This is not a reflection on Christians, Jews, or fellow Americans. We can’t fight bigotry and ignorance with the same. We can’t stoop to the same level of hatemongers. We have to increase our efforts to promote dialogue and mutual respect.