Approximately half an hour before the closed session of the city council meeting, Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante was arrested. He was charged with twelve felony counts related to alleged sexual misconduct while he was a manager for the County of Orange Public Works department. Bustamante’s arrest caused multiple camera crews from southern California television stations to converge on Santa Ana City Hall.
Councilman Bustamante wasn’t at the council meeting so the broadcasters had to settle for his official portrait displayed in the entryway of the council chambers. The last time there was such a media frenzy in the council chambers was at the meeting after Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez had equated downtown property owner, Irv Chase, to Hitler. Chase is Jewish. Alvarez was at the time of her comment chairing a discussion regarding the Property and Business Improvement District (PBID) and went on an apparent Anti-Semitic rant targeting Chase and calling his business practices ethnic cleansing.
Residents and business owners who showed up for last night’s discussion of the PBID learned from Alvarez, at the beginning of the meeting, that while discussion of the PBID item could happen no decisions could be made because only three members could participate, thus not constituting a quorum of the council.
Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez was clearly annoyed that she would not be able to get a vote, from the non-conflicted members of the council, on disestablishment of the PBID for downtown Santa Ana. As members Sarmiento, Martinez, and Pulido were leaving the council chambers after declaring their conflicts, she called upon the City Attorney to research whether or not their declared conflicts were real “legal” conflicts covered by the California Fair Political Practices Act. Alvarez pointed out that there is a remedy for such conflicts when they prevent the city from conducting its business. City Attorney Sonia Carvalho indicated, when questioned by Councilmember Benavides, that the process to determine the answer to Alvarez’s questions would take about a month and include requesting an advisory opinion from the FPPC.
Even though Councilman Bustamante was missing, he still managed to stir things up last night.
The District Attorney will be conducting a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning to provide more details on the charges filed against Bustamante. We hope to bring you coverage of the press conference as soon as possible.