The City of Santa Ana spent $8,444.73 to get an outside legal opinion on whether Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez could run for an additional Council term due to a term limit extension approved by voters in 2007 with Meadure D. While the City is unwilling to release the full results of their inquiry, Santa Ana resident Thomas Gordon was able to get a copy of the “Redacted” invoice from the law firm consulted, Richards ¦ Watson ¦ Gershon. But even with the invoice it seems that City Attorney Joe Straka has something he wants to hide, in addition to the conclusions of the report.
In the email response to Mr. Gordon’s request for information Assistant City Attorney Ryan Hodge writes; “Please note that the parts of the document have been redacted to remove unresponsive and privileged information.” The last page of the invoice redacts the information that appears to describe one hour of conversation between the the consulting attorney and an unnamed party fine-tuning the opinion.
“$8,444 of our tax dollars wasted on this;” said Gordon. “And just what are they hiding with the redaction?”
Good question Mr. Gordon. With a $30 million budget shortfall the city still has money to get a secret second opinion on the effect of a voter approved amendment to the City Charter. Then to top it off they have to hide who, other than Straka, spoke to the consulting attorney.
What are they hiding indeed?
City Council members have claimed publicly that their goal is to ensure transparency in the operations of the second largest city in Orange County. But when combined with their refusal to release records related to the cost of the city sponsored “private” community forum designed to repair the damage caused by anti-Semitic remarks by Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, and consistent failure to adhere to open meeting requirements, it seems their actions speak far louder than their words.