Alvarez Breaks The Tie To Get Slap On Wrist

Claudia Alvarez takes bitter pill of rebuke from Santa Ana residents (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

SANTA ANA — On Tuesday night, hundreds of Santa Ana residents showed up to the City Council meeting to express their feelings on the conduct of Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez. There were those who supported Alvarez, showering her with baskets of fruit to express their appreciation for her efforts to change the Downtown PBID tax assessment on property owners. There were also those who came to demand that Alvarez be held accountable for her anti-Semitic and hurtful comments made at the August 24th meeting of the Council where she compared the business practices of Downtown property owner Irving Chase, and his son Ryan to ethnic cleansing. Alvarez also used an analogy that compared renting from Irv Chase to renting from Hitler.

David Benavides

Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

There were five possible outcomes outlined in Agenda Item 85A submitted by members David Benavides and Carlos Bustamante. They included the removal of Alvarez from her positions on the Public Safety Committee, the Orange County Water District Board, her removal as Mayor Pro Tem, a formal rebuke of her comments, and request that she resign from the City Council. The motion, introduced by Benavides, and seconded by Bustamante, would have rebuked Alvarez for her comments and removed her from the position of Mayor Pro Tem. That motion, never got the chance to be considered.

Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Vince Sarmiento

Santa Ana City Councilman Vince Sarmiento (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

After Benavides and Bustamante had their opportunity to speak, Councilman Vince Sarmiento made a substitute motion to simply rebuke Alvarez for her comments. Parliamentary procedure enthusiasts could argue that the procedure wasn’t conducted entirely by the procedures outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order but the bottom line was that Sarmiento and Mayor Miguel Pulido didn’t want to record a vote on removing Alvarez as Mayor Pro Tem, so they manipulated the process so they wouldn’t have to.

Results of vote to rebuke Claudia Alvarez for Anti-Semitic comments

The real injustice to the City Code of Ethics and Conduct was the way the vote on their substitute motion went down. For an action of the City Council to pass, four votes are needed. Sarmiento and Pulido were joined by Sal Tinajero in supporting a rebuke of Alvarez’s comments, Benavides, Bustamante, and Michele Martinez sought stronger action. Alvarez broke the tie on her own punishment and voted in favor of the action proposed by Sarmiento and Pulido.

Say you have a teenager who does something wrong and their needs to be a punishment issued. Would you let the teenager decide whether they get a strong scolding and grounding for a week, or just the scolding? In the case of the Banana Peel Republic of Santa Ana, you let the teenager decide.

Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez (Photo Chris Prevatt)

What is most disturbing about what happened is that this was the opportunity for the City Council to demonstrate whether the Code of Ethics was worth the paper it is written on. Ethics, as dictated by Roberts Rules of Order make it clear that while Alvarez could not be prevented from voting on her own discipline, she should not have, and certainly should not have been the deciding vote.

This rule is hidden in Robert’s Rules, which is the set of rules under which local government bodies, including Santa Ana, operate. Here is what it says in §45 (Voting Procedure), in the first subsection on Rights and Obligations in Voting (I’m quoting from the Perseus Publishing tenth edition, pp.394-395):

No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization.  For example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is an officer and from which contract he would derive personal pecuniary profit, the members should abstain from voting on the motion.  However, no member can be compelled to refrain from voting in such circumstances.

The rule of abstaining from voting on a question of direct personal interest does not mean that a member should not vote for himself for an office or other position to which members generally are eligible, or should not vote when other members are included with him in a motion.  If a member never voted on a question affecting himself, it would be impossible for a society to vote to hold a banquet, or for the majority to prevent a small minority from preferring charges against them and suspending or expelling them..

Claudia Alvarez was allowed to choose her own punishment for breaking the Code of Ethics and Conduct by breaking ethical standards to do so.

Sal Tinajero

Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

The quote of the night however goes to Councilman Sal Tinajero who explained his failure to respond at the time to the comments Alvarez made on August 24th. Tinajero said that he had expected Alvarez to be harsh in her comments that evening and after making his own comments he went to his happy place, and did not realize what she had said until he had viewed the recording of the meeting.

While I believe that a disgusting display of ethical failure was perpetuated last night due to the lack of leadership on the part of Miguel Pulido and with the able assistance of Council members Sarmiento and Tinajero Councilman Benavides put it best; “the vote has been cast and the decision has been made.”

  16 comments for “Alvarez Breaks The Tie To Get Slap On Wrist

  1. junior
    September 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

    “Tinajero said that .. he went to his happy place, and did not realize what she had said ..”

    And this clown is on the City Council ??

    Chris – I would like to see a Photoshop of Sal boy in clown face.

    I think that tinnie boy should go to a “happy place” far, far from Santa Ana.

  2. Marcus Wilson
    September 7, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The mud will still cling.

  3. Nguyen
    September 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    So where exactly can we see the result this censure? Is it posted somewhere for all to see?
    Does it appear on her “permanent record”?
    What exactly is it that the council did last night that will have a lasting effect, because it certainly appears that all they did was acknowledge that a fellow elected official had behaved badly, and then just ignored that and rendered no consequences for that bad act.
    It’s pretty clear that the city council in Santa Ana has no respect for the ethics ordinance approved by the voters, and no intention of enforcing the rule that they practice ethical behavior from the dais.

  4. September 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Well, we all pretty much knew what would happen at the council meeting. I would have been shocked if I had read, “Alvarez Sanctioned, No Longer Pro Tem”. But, that didn’t happen and the headline I expected appeared. We need to move on.

    The issues that caused Alvarez to say utterly stupid, offensive things to begin with remain. Rather than implement more local law and taxes, perhaps they should eliminate the business district tax altogether, leave the Chases alone to to their damage and let the other businesses that benefit from the downtown district form their own coalition to provide the needed services. If the Chases think they can bring in more money by “gentrifying” the Fiesta Marketplace, good luck.

    • Steve
      September 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      That all sounds great, but one of the challenges with the Fourth Street corridor is that there already ARE several, competing coalitions among Latino business owners. And they tend to not like each other. At times, they’ve been their own worse enemy.

      • September 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

        Continuing to hammer Alvarez or dwell on her remarks does not help the situation. Maybe we can get Claudia to mediate (he says in derision)

  5. Steve
    September 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    That comment by Sal Tinajero is simply the oddest thing I’ve heard an elected official say in quite some time. Gee Sal, thanks for paying attention during a Council session!

  6. Angry Bird
    September 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    When you consider Claudia Alvarez did not talk with the Mayor for her first six years on the Council, and all of the other tirades she has had excoriating citizens, staff and her collegues….what happened last evening is nothing short of astonishing. Guess it is true, that Claudia has collectively everyone’s spine (for lack of a more profane term)in a lock box. We should advocate for the elimination of the Code of Ethics, as it obviously means nothing. The will not be the end of the bullying that Claudia is infamous for. She has been emboldened, given a fresh pitcher of bile to consume and spew on her enemies. A sad day for Santa Ana. And Sal wonders why people make jokes about our former “golden city”. Guess I need to go to that “happy place” and I just won’t have to think about it anymore. So, there!

  7. Al Simmons
    September 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Well, I hope that when Claudia is acting as an assistant District Attorney, the defendants are allowed to sit with the jury and vote on their punishment. Apparently, Claudia feels that it is appropriate to do so, since in this instance she jumped right in and voted on her own punishment.
    I got a chance to see the whole circus today, and what a joke that was. If the council members thought that what people say in the OC Register was bad before, imagine how much worse it can be expected to be now.
    It’s just like Bell where the council, mayor, and city attorney conspired to protect their activities. It’s like a 3rd world country where horrible leaders are untouchable for their actions. It’s like a lot of things, but certainly nothing like a progressive, positive city where the leadership can be respected and counted on to be ethical and accountable for their actions.
    Shame on the Santa Ana mayor and city council for proving once again that Santa Ana is best viewed as an example of the worst this county has to offer.

    • Repulsed
      September 8, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Al you are spot on!

      The ONLY way to stop this madness is at the ballot box. I see two problems, Pulido has made this city a haven for the very people who will continue to vote him and the rest of the slime back in office, and even though we knew better many people threw away their vote last election on candidates who would be elected. The time for protest votes has past. While we still have the numbers to prevail we must unite and vote the bums out.

  8. September 8, 2011 at 8:49 am

    From CNN this morning:

    Flamboyant fashion designer John Galliano was found guilty Thursday in a French court on charges of making anti-Semitic comments against at least three people in a Paris cafe. He has been fined 6,000 euros but has not been sentenced to prison time. One symbolic euro has been awarded to each plaintiff.

    Galliano, who was fired by fashion giant Christian Dior in March after a video surfaced showing him praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, testified when the trial opened in June that drugs were to blame.

    Hmm, the French seem to understand the concept of consequences for hate speech; even speech that is made under the influence of drugs.

  9. September 8, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    The French have trouble understanding anything beyond the word “entitlement”, Chris.

  10. Destiny'sbike
    September 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Wow the boys at NewSantaAna are defending anti-Semitic speech. Imagine if Chase called her a pendeja. Oh the outrage. Wonder if Disney knows they hired an anti-Semite NAMBLA promoter who is bankrupt. Isn’t Bob Iger Jewish?

  11. Yes she is
    September 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    She is an anti-Semite. Doesn’t matter what the vote was.

Comments are closed.