Santa Ana Council member David Benavides has questioned the rationale behind the lawsuit filed by City Commissioner Max Madrid intended to provide an avenue for Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez to be a candidate for Ward 5 on the Santa Ana City Council. A primary concern, the legal fees of “tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars” to defend the will of the voters.
Under a tagline of a shared article in the OC Register, Benavides writes: “Really???? She’s got to be kidding.” And Benavides expands on this in response to multiple postings saying:
As the City struggles to get back on its feet financially, it’s no secret that we recently averted a bankruptcy, this lawsuit is going to cause the City to spend tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-payer money to defend the will of the voters. How does it make sense to put the City in such a position?!
Benavides then encourages residents to come to the city council meeting next week to speak out on this lawsuit.
“….showing support for City Clerk would be a good thing, people should also consider speaking at Council meeting this Monday (7/16) 5:45p at the Police Community Room, speaking to an outside attorney about the citizens’ options to defend the voter intent of no more than 3 four year terms (12 yrs) is another option.”
For Madrid, a long time Alvarez ally and an employee of Senator Lou Correa, the lawsuit carries a risk. This city council has a history of removing city commissioners who file legal actions against the city over policy issues. Commission Jeff Dickman was removed for his actions involving the city’s Station District project. Madrid has a personal interest in insuring an Alvarez candidacy – a continued position with the Parks & Recreation District he sits on and the modest stipend that comes with it.
Benavides, along with disgraced Council member Carlos Bustamante, agendized a motion to strip Alvarez of her Mayor Pro Tem status and committee appointments after Alvarez made anti-semitic comments against developer Irv Chase, comparing the Jewish business leader to Hitler. Alvarez compounded the gaffe over a series of days until a number of political leaders had to spell out for her why referring to a Jewish man as Hitler was offensive. Benevides softed his position on the dias withdrawing his calls to remove her committee appointments, but the original motion was usurped by Councilmember Vince Sarmiento’s alternative motion to punish Alvarez with a slap on the wrist and proposed county-wide community forum on tolerance.
Sarmiento’s county-wide Kumbayah was then hijacked by Alvarez who turned it into a “private by invitation-only” event of which the city taxpayers contributed for all expenses except for lunch (paid for my the Mayor Pro Tem) and table and linen rental. The cost of parking, the facility, staffing and Internet streaming was all paid for by taxpayers with selected Alavrez-friendly members of the local media invited. Sarmiento admitted that the event was “not what he had envisioned.”
When the Santa Ana city clerk’s office determined through a second opinion from outside legal counsel that Alvarez could not run, many politicos in Santa Ana opined that it was a ruse to lull community groups planning legal challeneges to an Alvarez candidacy into a false sense of security. While the city has a primary obligation to defend the suit, there is no law that says they have to. So citizen groups should be dusting off their own lawsuit challenges today in light of the Madrid lawsuit to be ready to file in case the city won’t defend against the Madrid lawsuit.
So now that it appears Alvarez’s cronies will use the courts to thwart the will of the taxpayers, will the City Council move to have Alvarez’s Mayor Pro Tem status stripped and he committee appointments revoked should she fail to distance herself from the lawsuit and await the decision of the courts before annoucning a run?
Of course, Alvarez can legally run for city council next year if she decides to challenge Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido.