Claudia’s 4th Term Questions Cost Santa Ana $8,444.73

Claudia Alvarez

Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez - Photo: Chris Prevatt/LiberalOC

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?

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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.

  5 comments for “Claudia’s 4th Term Questions Cost Santa Ana $8,444.73

  1. ELECTEDCRIMINALS
    January 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Simply incredible. If the unnamed party is her Majesty pro-tem that’s a pretty big issue. She is part of a policy setting body (City Council) she should not be interacting directly with the outside counsel. TRANSPARENCY FAIL. IF MY TAX DOLLARS PAID FOR THAT PHONE CALL I WANT TO SEE WHO WAS ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE DAMN IT.

  2. cook
    January 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    for “Case no. SC-09-03 (filed Feb 4, 2010)”

    It is all there, but is it in the report the city bought?

  3. Thomas Anthony Gordon
    January 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Just another example of the waste, fraud and corruption that occurs in Santa Ana on a daily basis.

    Who authorized spending $8500 tax payer dollars (+ likely thousands more in staff time) to find out what we already knew?

    And these thousands are on top of the thousands of dollars spent for IPads for the Council & City Management, thousands spent on new carpet, paint and furniture for City Hall offices, $2000 spent on cases of bottles water ( in a city with the 3 best tasting water?) while City Council talks of getting rid of the Fire Department and Libraries and Zoo to save money.

  4. Jeff Dickman
    January 5, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Great work Tom, and Chris for pursuing this matter!

    Chris did the LiberalOC request a copy of the report under the open records act? I recall it did. Perhaps more folks can do the same to press for its release.

    It seems to be a tool of some advantage as we approach the campaign season, to withhold the report. By doing so may unfairly affect those who may run for the seat while possibly providing an advantage to the person the city may want to replace Ms. Alvarez.

    There seems to always be an effort by the city to cloak its work from the community.

  5. cook
    January 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    How does a report paid with city dollars that deals with a city ordinance become privileged information?
    Strange

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