Dana Parsons ponders the fraud that is Measure D

L.A. Times columnist Dana Parsons mused in a column today just what would happen if officials in a city other than Santa Ana tried to foist a ballot measure as fraudulent as Measure D. He ponders this and then ultimately realizes that “there would be blood.” Alas, we lack citywide outrage in Santa Ana about most issues, but Measure D has in fact united many divergent community leaders in opposition. But will that be enough?

Here are a few excerpts from Dana’s column:

…so I wonder what those folks might do with the powers in Santa Ana, who sometimes give the impression they’re wearing pretty big britches too.

In recent months, for example, they’ve eliminated TV coverage of some council meetings and dissuaded city commissioners who have criticized City Hall on a website.

Now, Measure D is on the Tuesday ballot and would increase the years a council member could serve from eight to 12. Increasing the maximum tenure from two terms to three might not seem like a big deal, but the measure’s supporters are touting it as an idea that will, in part, “reduce the power and influence of City Hall bureaucrats and developers.”

That, apparently, came as big news to one of the city’s leading developers, who, according to a Times story last week on the heels of a blog posting by OC Weekly writer and Times editorial page contributor Gustavo Arellano, has been the biggest financial contributor to Measure D.

In other words, a measure designed to curb developer interests has been largely funded by a developer. Two other significant contributors came from interests that do business with the city.

You could argue that the measure’s backers put their language in, not knowing who would donate to the cause. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with a developer or a business supporting a three-term maximum and putting their 2 cents’ worth into the fray.

What’s troubling is that the Measure D supporters, without blushing, are hailing it as a curb on special interests.

The supporters could argue that another provision of Measure D — requiring a “tough, new Code of Ethics and Conduct” — will address the influence of special interests. Yeah, I suppose, except that that code hasn’t been written yet and no one knows what it will say. Or how “tough” it will be.

I’d just feel better if backers hadn’t made such a deal of linking term extensions to lessened influence from special interests. If that is a driving force behind the measure, couldn’t they have politely refused the sizable contribution from the developer, who just happens to have a large project pending at City Hall?

Just asking.

Perhaps the bulk of Santa Ana residents are more trusting. Maybe they’re happy that the same committee that drew up the term-limit extension for council members also nixed term limits for the mayor. And then had the moxie to call it a move to make City Hall more accountable to voters.

But there’s even a shroud of mystery surrounding that. The committee comprised three council members, and one of them, David Benavides, says he doesn’t to this day know how or why the mayoral term limit element was scrapped. By the time the final version of the measure got to the council, Benavides joined Michele Martinez as the only members to oppose lengthening the term limits.

If Santa Ana were Orange County’s most “open” city, I’d have no gripe with this stuff.

My gripe is that Santa Ana City Hall tilts toward less openness rather than more. Combining that with longer terms for everybody doesn’t strike me as a great idea.

And that’s why I wonder what those fire-breathing folks down in South County would do if they happened to live in Santa Ana.

Perhaps one day folks in Santa Ana will wake up…and perhaps that is already happening now. We’ll see on Election Day. Don’t forget to Vote No on Measure D!

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.