On Wednesday night at 6 pm, in a conference room on the 8th floor of City Hall, Santa Ana Councilmen Sal Tinajero and Vince Sarmiento will meet with the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk to conduct the required Biennial Review of Santa Ana’s Code of Ethics and Conduct (COEC).
In August Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, while chairing a City Council discussion of the merits of the PBID for the Downtown Business District, compared business owner Irv Chase to Adolf Hitler, and compared his business practices to ethnic cleansing. Her outrageous comments and her unrepentant attitude that followed, led Councilmen David Benavides and Carlos Bustamante to introduced a motion to not only condemn her remarks but strip her of her position as Mayor Pro Tem.
Unfortunatly Alvarez was able to escape any real consequence for her behavior, other than a slap on the wrist, only because she violated ethical standards to cast the tie-breaking vote to select her punishment. Councilman Sarmiento introduced the substitute motion that gave her that opportunity, and Councilman Tinajero voted along with him to give her a pass.
The irony of the two members of the City Council who voted along with Mayor Pulido to ignore the seriousness of Alvarez’s violation of the COEC are conducting the review is not lost on me.
The fact that they are conducting the review with little fanfare and in virtual secrecy in a room that visitors must be admitted into by a staff member, after the City Hall doors are usually locked, is even more revealing of their real intent. And that’s before we get to the Agenda.
PUBLIC COMMENTS – Members of the public are allowed three minutes to speak on items on the Agenda.
1. Review notes from prior meeting held on November 30, 2009
2. Review of Code of Conduct and Ethics
3. Committee Member Comments
4. Items for Next Meeting
5. Next Meeting Date – Biennial Review, to be scheduled in Fall 2013
For those who are unaware of the requirements of the Brown Act, in order to take action on a matter the Agenda must disclose that they intend to do so. In this case, it looks like they only intend to look at the Code of Ethics and Conduct, and then say “Okay our job’s done here,” and adjourn the meeting.
In order to even consider a revision to the COEC, they would have to add the following to Agenda Item #2: … and consider any changes for recommendation to the City Council.
The Santa Ana Code of Ethics and Conduct is in need of some serious revision. The Alvarez incident demonstrates the need for there to be some method of enforcement of the ordinance and that some penalties need to be identified. In its current form, the COEC isn’t even worth the paper it’s written on and the commitments of members of the Council and its commissions to follow it are equally void of value.
At any rate, anyone interested in this issue should plan to show up and speak to it. Otherwise, it’s going to be a really short meeting, and nothing will change for another two years.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 pm at Santa Ana City Hall, 20 Civic Center Plaza, 8th Floor, Room 831 on Wednesday November 30, 2011.