Yesterday Max Madrid, one of Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez’s appointed commissioners, filed a lawsuit against the City of Santa Ana seeking to allow Alvarez to run for a fourth term. Four years ago the voters of Santa Ana were asked by the Council to approve measure D, an amendment to the city charter, that extended the number of consecutive terms a member of the Council could serve from two to three. The initiative was specifically developed to give Alvarez the opportunity to seek a third term on the council. The objective was so transparent that the campaign was run out of her home. Coincidentally, Mad Madrid was the treasurer of the campaign.
Madrid’s suit, on behalf of Alvarez, claims the rather than extending terms for existing members of the council in 2008, the charter amendment actually reset the clock on all existing terms. Based upon that assumption, when Alvarez was reelected in 2008 she was actually starting the first of three four year terms on the council.
Last year the Interim City Attorney Joe Straka determined that the amendment passed in 2008 only extended existing terms rather than starting them over. Alvarez was unmoved by Straka’s opinion and in an effort to settle the matter he went out and got the second opinion. The opinion, which cost the taxpayers of Santa Ana $8,000, has not been released because of claims of attorney/client privilege. However in April City Clerk Maria Huizar announced that the independent determination was that Alvarez could not run for a fourth consecutive term on the council.
From the VOC story:
However, Huizar cautioned, the opinion could be overturned by a Superior Court order. But at this point city officials have no reason to believe that anyone will challenge the issue in court, Huizar said.
“As of right now,” Alvarez can’t run, “but that could change between now and the nomination period,” Huizar said. The nomination period begins July 16 and ends Aug. 10, she said.
Meanwhile, Alvarez remains coy about her intentions. When asked whether she would attempt another run, Alvarez would only say it’s the “$64 million question.”
Despite Huizar’s claims to the contrary it was almost immediately rumored that Alvarez was likely to challenge the ruling. Those rumors now appear to be true.
When contacted about Madrid’s lawsuit Councilman David Benavides told Adam Elmahrek of Voice of OC, “I’m hopeful that she’s not behind it.”
It is doubtful that Alvarez will ever admit complicity in the lawsuit, but that does not dismiss the obvious relationship between Alvarez, Madrid, and Measure D.
A cynical person might conclude that the Wicked Witch of the West (Ward 5) has sent one of her flying monkeys out in search of her fourth term.
I wonder if her colleagues, specifically Councilman Sarmiento and Mayor Pulido, will reconsider their underhanded maneuver last year which blocked a vote to remove Alvarez from her position of Mayor Pro Tem. Given the costs that the city will incur fighting this lawsuit, should Alvarez really enjoy the privilege and standing of holding the Mayor Pro Tem title? It would be fun to see the look on her face when splashed with the cold bucket of water (consequences).