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Councilwoman's comparison of property owner to Hitler condemned

September 7, 2011 | 10:13 am

Claudia Alvarez The Santa Ana City Council has condemned a councilwoman’s comments comparing a downtown property owner to Adolf Hitler but stopped short of calling on her to resign the title of mayor pro tem.

Claudia Alvarez made the comments referring to property owner Irving Chase late last month during a council discussion of a controversial tax on downtown property owners.

Chase’s parents are Holocaust survivors from Poland.

Alvarez apologized for the comments in a statement last week after the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, called on her to resign from the council.

“At the council meeting, in the midst of built up frustration in the chamber, I inadvertently drew an egregious analogy to Mr. Chase and his son,” she wrote. “I now understand how hurtful and egregious this must have felt to them whose family suffered in the Holocaust.”

Alvarez apologized for the comments again Tuesday during a meeting of the council.

A motion calling on Alvarez to resign her title, which allows her to run council meetings in the mayor’s absence, was tabled after Councilman Vincent F. Sarmiento offered a substitute motion.

That motion condemned the comments and asked the Orange County Human Relations Commission to host a town hall meeting on race relations, which he said was a “proportionate response” to the comments.

“The comments she made were clearly in violation of our code of ethics,” Sarmiento said. “This is just one of many incidents that we’ve had not only in the city but in the county that shows there needs to be some sensitivity training.”

The motion condemning Alvarez's comments passed on a 4-3 vote.


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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: Santa Ana City Council member Claudia Alvarez in 2004. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times