Back in November I wrote about a story Adam Elmahrek from Voice of OC broke (here) regarding a quest for an outside legal opinion to put to rest speculation about whether Santa Ana’s Ward 5 Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez is eligible for another term on the City Council.
In February 2008 the City Council forced a special election to expand term limits for Council members so that Claudia could get another term on the Council. The transparent political favor was even run out of her home. The measure (D) extended the city’s existing term limits for the Council from two four-year terms to three.
Alvarez now wants to know if she can run again based on the theory that the extension of the limit was a new law rather than an extension of a current law. If it is new, then her term clock would have started over and she would be eligible three more four-year terms on the City Council.
While the City Attorney has issued an opinion that Measure D did not allow for any more than one term, he sought an outside legal opinion to confirm or reject his findings. We have learned that the report has been received by the City Attorney. Naively, we though the city would release the report as it would be of interest to the public what the results of that inquiry are.
The City Attorney’s office doesn’t think we should have a right to see it.
The City does possess a legal analysis of the effect of the 2008 Term Limit Charter Amendment (Measure D). However, it has been determined that this record is exempt from disclosure pursuant to California Government Code section 6254(k), which precludes the production of records that are protected by the attorney client privilege. – Assistant City Attorney Ryan Hodge
Well, we have learned from our city hall sources that the legal opinion does indeed conclude that Councilwoman Alvarez is ineligible to run for an additional term on the City Council in 2012. From our perspective that settles that question, while raising another.
What is the big secret? The report is of significant interest to the general public, not just Councilwoman Alvarez and her colleagues. The public has paid for the analysis, and they should have the right to know the results in light of the significant public interest.
It would be real easy for the City to clear up the record here by releasing the report. Not doing so, simply adds to the already strong impression that the Santa Ana is the least transparent city in Orange County. But such is life in the Banana Peel Republic of Santa Ana.