Reaction to the Agent of Change Meeting

Claudia Alvarez ForumThe OC Register and LA Times have weighed in on yesterday’s Agent of Change event in Santa Ana, the By-Invitation-Only event and the city sent out a press release proclaiming the closed Town Hall was a success.  From the content presented, it was an excellent forum but the workshops certainly were not helpful to those watching on Streaming Video (lots of mummering and people making sounds at tables do little to help those watching online understand what’s going on).

From the Register’s story: ”

In her closing remarks, Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez suggested that such forums should be held four times a year.

“Is this the only forum we’re having?” she asked. “This forum was long overdue. … I”m going to call this chapter one, … maybe set up a quarterly forum.”

The LA Times story carried more detail and background.  From the Times story:

On Thursday, it was Alvarez who was helping lead a forum on cultural diversity to examine issues of hate that have cropped up not just in Santa Ana but throughout Orange County.

The invitation-only event quickly underscored the anger and frustration still being felt.

“How is this going to help anything?” one woman asked.

Said another: “Our civil rights are being violated, and it is kind of a secret thing to get rid of the Mexican community in downtown Santa Ana.”

This all comes at a difficult time for the city, which could see a $30-million deficit in the next fiscal year. As of Sept. 30, there was only $313,000 on hand in the General Fund, said Francisco Gutierrez, the city’s finance director. However, Santa Ana is still expecting revenue from sales and property taxes before the end of the year.

The battle by Latino business owners against a special property tax, which is what led to Alvarez’s Hitler comment, looms large in Santa Ana, where 78% of the 324,000 residents are Latino. Some contend that the tax money benefits businesses that don’t cater to families or the Latino clientele.

Alvarez’s remark, however, is not an aberration in the county of 3 million, according to Kevin O’Grady, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County and Greater Long Beach.

The Times also reported that a Facebook page that targeted Irv and Ryan Chase called “Ethic Cleansing in Santa Ana” was taken down by Facebook which citing the page as an example of hate speech. When we checked the links on that page yesterday, it featured a link back to the New Santa Ana blog under “website” but in fairness to NSA, anyone who created the page could have placed that link there.  The photo used was featured in a post on New Santa Ana.

From the Times story:  “Irving Chase, the downtown business developer whom Alvarez likened to Hitler, was invited to the forum but declined.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to attend because I believe it’s political in nature,” he said.

Chase and his son, Ryan, were even the target of a Facebook page that talked of ethnic cleansing and pictured the two men.

A Facebook spokesman would not comment specifically on the page, but did note that it had been taken down, saying in an email that the company is sensitive to content that includes “direct statements of hate against protected groups of people, and actionable threats of violence.”

Chase, for one, thinks talking is a good step.

“Any time you can create a dialogue between groups that somehow need a dialogue, I think it’s a good idea,” he said.

Here’s the city’s press release:

Community Leaders Embrace “Agent of Change” Community Forum on Cultural Diversity

SANTA ANA, Calif. (October 28, 2011) – Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, in conjunction with the City of Santa Ana, hosted a Community Forum on Cultural Diversity and Conflict Resolution on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at the Santa Ana Police Community Room. A cross section of over 60 community leaders attended the four-hour Forum to learn how diverse communities can resolve conflict in a respectful and constructive manner.

Michele Ruiz moderated the Community Forum, and presentations were led by the American Jewish Committee, the Latino-Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League, the Orange County Human Relations Commission, and the National Conflict Resolution Center.

Forum participants represented a variety of community organizations that included Santa Ana neighborhood association members, Santa Ana business merchants, Mayor Miguel Pulido, Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, Councilmember David Benavides, the Office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, State Senator Lou Correa, the Islamic Center of Santa Ana, Father Al Baca from the Catholic Diocese of Orange, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Bar Association, and the Consulate of Mexico in Santa Ana. Also in attendance were Jewish congregational leaders that included Rabbis Heidi Cohen, Marc Dworkin, Steve Einstein, and Frank Stern.

Community Forum participants actively engaged in the discussions and exercises and expressed their enthusiasm to continue the dialog on cultural sensitivity.

Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez stated, “The forum was a huge success thanks to the participants’ willingness to attend and engage in constructive dialogue. It not only served to reinforce the long-standing working relationship between the Jewish and Latino communities, but also further educated participants on cultural sensitivity and conflict resolution. I thank all that participated and look forward to continuing to work with you on improving our community as ‘agents of change’.”

Community members may view the Community Forum on the City’s website at: . In addition, the Community Forum will replay on Santa Ana cable channel 3 Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m., Thursdays at 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m.

 Here’s a copy of the invitation list for the event followed by a copy of those who RSVP’d:

Community Forum on Cultural Diversity & Conflict Resolution

Invitation List

The Individuals listed below were invited to attend the City of Santa Ana’s Community Forum on Cultural Diversity & Conflict Resolution.  Additionally, we have included a separate listing of individuals who participated in the Forum.  These individuals represent a cross-section of community leaders identified as “Agents of Change” because of their demonstrated commitment to their respective communities.  A variety of community organizations were represented including: American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Latino-Jewish Coalition, National Conflict Resolution Center, Santa Ana Neighborhood Association members, Santa Ana Business Community, Islamic Center of Santa Ana, Catholic Diocese of Orange County, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Bar Association, and the Orange County Human Relations Commission.


Honorable Larry Agran
Eric Altman
Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez
Francisco Anza
Fred Armendariz
Sarah Austin
Arianna P. Barrios
Randy Barth
Vicky Baxter
Councilmember  David Benavides
Carl Benninger
David/Sharon Brandt
Martin Brower
Carlos Bustamante
Albert B. Castillo
Gilberto Cerda
R. David Chapel
Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Rabbi Heidi Cohen
George & Janett Collins
Carlos X. Colorado
Brian E. Conley
Senator Lou Correa
John Cruz
Amin David
Francisco De Anza
Armando De la Libertad
Lee De Leon
Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana
Lucy Dunn
Rabbi Mark Dworkin
Rabbi Steve Einstein
Shalom Elcott
Dave Elliott
Marv Fogleman
Rueben Franco
Norma Garcia
Consul Alejandra Garcia-Williams
Ray & Evangline Gawronski
Julia Gelfand
Susan Glass
Norma Garcia-Guillen
Rene Guzman
Connie Hamilton
John R. Hanna
Andrew Hanson
Jose Alfredo Hernandez
Zeke Hernandez
Ben Hubbard
Beverly Jacobs
Lew Janowsky
Marshall Kaplan 
Nirinjan Khalsa
K.S. Khurana
Benjamin B. Kim
Honorable Beth Krom
Scott Kutner
Lawrence R. “Larry” Labrado
Honorable David Lang
Mark Lawrence
Bill Lewis
David Lewis
Adolfo Lopez
Matan Lurey 
Irma Macias
Eddie Marquez
Ruben Martinez
Erlinda Martinez
Councilwoman Michele Martinez
Ann Mason
Bobbie McDonald
Mark McLoughlin
Pastor Donnell O. Miles
Sean Mill
Father John Moneypenny
Janet Nguyen
Fernando Niebla
Kevin O’Grady
John Palacio
Art & Camile Pedroza*
Daphne Perkins
Debbie Phares
Rev. Ed Poettgen
Ray and Jean Poppa
Steve Price
Mayor Miguel Pulido Pulido
Sundaram Rama
Roman A. Reyna
Bob Rich
Rob Richardson
Rabbi  Arnie Rochlis
Jose Romo
Teresa Saldivar
Loretta Sanchez
Carolina Sarmiento
Councilmember Vincent F. Sarmiento
Miki Sholkoff
 Imam Siddiqi
Bicky Singh
Ruben Smith
Jose Solorio
Rabbi Rick Steinberg
Rabbi Frank Stern
Bob Stewart
Genoveva Meza Talbott
Councilmember Sal Tinajero
Phil Waldman
Mitch Wexler 
Audrey Yamagata-Noji
Phillip Yarbrough


Community Forum on Cultural Diversity & Conflict Resolution


First Last


Father Al-Baca  
Ralph Allen  
Claudia Alvarez  
Francisco Anza  
Claudia Arellanes  
James Armendaris  
Arturo Arrellanes  
Carmen Avila  
Vicki Baxter  
Kevin Cabrera  
Melissa Carr  
Albert Castillo  
Jose Ceballos  
Fernando Ceballos  
Won Cha  
FIna Chaves  
Frank Chaves  
Walter Choo  
George Collins  
Janett Collins  
Amin David  
Harvey De la Torre  
Barbara Des Rochers  
Michelle Deutchman  
Rabbi Marc Dworkin  
Alison Edwards  
Rabbi Einstein  
Sara Escalante  
Robert Escalante  
Alejandra Garcia-Williams  
Jose Gonzalez  
Lois Goren  
Don Han  
Zeke Hernandez  
Tom Jackson  
Beverly Jacobs  
First Last


Nina Jun  
Rusty Kennedy  
Maria Khani  
Scott Kutner  
First Last  
Mark Lawrence  
Bryan Leighton  
Adolfo Lopez  
Irma Macias  
Max Madrid  
Shaun Makani  
Minzah Malik  
Eddie Marquez  
Genoveva Meza Talbott  
Sean Mill  
Greta Nagel  
Kevin O’Grady  
Sam Romero  
Barbara Rooker  
Herb Rose  
Michele Ruiz  
Miki Sholkoff  
Ruben Smith  
Rabbi Stern  
Paul Walters  
Raul Yanez  
Kaza Soobzokov  
Rafida Shukairy  
Carlos Urguiza  
Rabbi Heidi Cohen  
Tammy Tran  
Lou Correa  
David Benavides  
Mayor Pulido  

 Now, the event’s content was good, but it appears Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez has another thing to worry about.  She made the cut from OC Weekly as one of the Scariest People in Orange County from the paper’s annual Halloween issue.

From the story:

The Santa Ana councilwoman had been a vendida for most of her 12 years on the Banana Republic‘s ruling junta, taking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from gentrifying developers while vilifying activists fighting the same developers as malcontents. Then sometime this year, the Orange County prosecutor got all MEChista and began railing against those same developers for their supposed ethnic cleansing of the city’s downtown—the same ethnic cleansing she had applauded for a decade. No one believed her act, and it didn’t help when Alvarez publicly compared property owner Irving Chase to Hitler, a stance that effectively squashed any criticism of Santa Ana’s city-led gentrification efforts for good. Mitigating Factor: She’s termed out next year.

It’s our opinion that the person who got the biggest lesson from yesterday’s event is Councilman Vince Sarmiento who had an idea for an “Open Town Hall.”  He turned the idea over to City Staff and was pleased to learned the Mayor Pro Tem was taking an active role in the forum.  But then, it wasn’t an open event.  None of the announcements mention any business or corporate sponsors which makes little sense for a program needed in Orange County.  Sarmiento, in an interview with us last month, noted that Alavrez faces the burden on putting things right.  She made a step forward in one respect, but by failing to open the forum to the public took a step backwards.  Perhaps Sarmiento will see this through himself next time.

The Chase’s have already stated they have moved on and will not engage Alvarez further.  But Alvarez, who called the flack against her “a distraction,” will likely face off against the Chase’s again as they work towards reforming Santa Ana’s PBID.

  1 comment for “Reaction to the Agent of Change Meeting

  1. Sean ate all the candy
    October 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Dont bother stopping at the Mill house tonight kids. Sean ate all the candy

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