Santa Ana’s city government is ending the year in turmoil after a reduced council voted Wednesday to put City Manager David Cavazos on paid administrative leave.
The vote happened at a special meeting, called just two days before and that took place at noon. Three members of the Santa Ana City Council — all of whom have expressed support for Cavazos in the past — were unable to attend.
Ana Urzua, a community activist and former city council candidate, was among around a dozen people who criticized the council for what they said was a lack of transparency and fairness in the process.
“It was shameless,” Urzua said afterwards of the special meeting and resulting vote. "It was, you know, quick and behind closed doors, literally. So we feel shut out.”
Cavazos has come under fire since last year, principally because of a secret romantic relationship he had with a city employee. The city commissioned an investigation earlier this year into whether his initial failure to disclose the relationship violated city rules, along with other alleged improprieties.
Mayor Pulido rebuked Cavazos after the investigation’s conclusions were released, but the council took no further action against the city manager until a new council was seated earlier this month.
Cavazos' supporters say the real reason his head is on the chopping block is because the Santa Ana Police Officers Association wants him out.
The police union spent over $250,000 to influence city elections in the recent campaign season. Some of the ads they helped purchase criticized Cavazos' high salary.
Councilman Sal Tinajero, who supports Cavazos, called out the police union at the Dec. 20 city council meeting, saying the move by some council members to get rid of Cavazos was payment for the police union’s support in getting them elected.
A request for comment from the president of the police officers association wasn’t returned by Wednesday evening.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Cavazos. The city won’t comment on personnel issues.