Television media trucks lined up in front of the Santa Ana police department headquarters last night in hopes of getting a live shot of Councilman Carlos Bustamante, who was arrested two weeks ago on sexual assault charges. But Bustamante had other plans. He failed to attend the City Council meeting not only disappointing the media, but the audience packed into the Police Community Room for the meeting as well.
Bustamante’s absence only slightly toned down the entertainment value of the meeting. The Public Comment portion of the meeting ran for more than an hour with speakers criticizing the actions of City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Max Madrid for his lawsuit against the city clerk in an effort to allow Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez to seek a fourth term on the council. Speakers also called upon the council to repeal the Downtown Community Assessment District (PBID), place a “Sunshine Ordinance” on the ballot. This was in addition to residents concerns over the damage to Santa Ana’s reputation caused by Carlos Bustamante’s alleged criminal misbehavior.
During the closed session that preceded the public portion of the meeting, the council approved the retention of an outside attorney to defend the City Clerk, Maria Huizar, in the lawsuit filed by Madrid. There was no indication from the City Attorney as to whether member Alvarez recused herself from the closed session portion related to the suit, but based upon her recusal two weeks ago, it’s likely she did not participate in discussions about Madrid’s suit on her behalf.
Because Bustamante was not in attendance at the meeting, the City Manager requested the continuance of item 19D, related to the Downtown Community Assessment District. Busamante’s attendance was required to meet a quorum necessary to take action on the matter.
The Council established and Ad Hoc Committee of members Michele Martinez, David Benavides, and Vincent Sarmiento to formulate possible charter initiatives for the November election ballot to address the establishment of term limits for the position of Mayor and a proposed “Sunshine Ordinance.”
During council member comments, Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez went on the attack against the City Clerk and in defense of her Parks and Recreation Commissioner Max Madrid. Regarding Madrid, Alvarez suggested that critics should lay off their attacks on Madrid because of his national service as a military veteran.
We’ll cover more from the meeting once the city posts the video of the meeting.