In mid-May 2010 Council members Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero and each received $500 campaign contributions (Tinajero, Martinez) from United Latin Soccer League, Inc. a for-profit Soccer League based in Santa Ana.

At the first June meeting of the City Council, on June 7, 2010, staff was directed to review soccer fees and look into modifying them.

At the Santa Ana City Council meeting of September 7, 2010, Item 55 B came before the Council listed as “resolution amending the residential parking permit and soccer surcharge fee for fiscal year 2010-2011.”

This item reduced the fees that for-profit soccer leagues pay to use sports fields in Santa Ana from $14 a game to $14 a day. Currently these for-profit leagues pay the City of Santa Ana $ 1148 a week for a grand total of $59,696 a year. The reduced rate has them paying $392 a week for a grand total of $20,384. This equates to an additional profit of $ 39,312 to these for-profit sports leagues.

The purpose of the soccer surcharge fee is to generate revenue to convert a natural turf fields to synthetic at the Dan Young Sports Complex. According to the staff report ”the reduction of these fees will affect the time frame for the development of the new field.”

According to the laws currently in effect, it’s a criminal violation to ”participate in or influence a decision will have a material financial effect, apart from its effect on the public generally or a significant portion thereof, on a recent major campaign contributor. As used herein, “recent major campaign contributor” means a person who has made campaign contributions totaling two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) or more to the councilmember.’  Violation of this City Code is a misdemeanor (Ord. No. NS-2170, § 1, 7-20-92, approved at election 11-3-92).

This is probably one of the most egregious examples of “pay to play” revealed since former Councilmember Ted Moreno was convicted ten years ago on September 5, 2000 for accepting $31,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Yep, Martinez and Tinajero took their illegal votes almost ten years to the day after Moreno’s conviction which was also on the day after Labor Day. While the reduction in fees passed on a 7-0 vote, these two council members should have recused themselves from voting on this matter. Who knows what influence these two members exercised over the review of the fees and the recommendation for their reduction. But I’ve got to hand it to the United Latin Soccer League, they sure got a great return on their $1,000 investment.