Santa Ana's Grand Choo Choo Conspiracy: The Carlos Bustamante Connection

Final post in our Carlos Bustamante conflict-of-influenza series–for now…

All this week we've focused on Carlos Bustamante, the SanTana councilmember who gladly takes money from people seeking something from the city, then votes favorably for his donors. Some readers have wondered about my focus, claiming he hasn't technically broken any conflict-of-interest laws, and that donations are part of the politics game. As I told OC Blog's skeptical Jubal, I think Bustamante is in blatant violation of SanTana's municipal code barring votes on projects when a donor “has made campaign contributions totaling two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) or more to the councilmember or to any (emphasis mine) campaign committee controlled by the councilmember in the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date of the decision”–but I'm not the state attorney general, or SanTana city attorney Joseph Fletcher. I report, others decide or deride.

The one thing I hope to do with this series is disturb people enough to scrutinize the hell out of Bustamante, especially in light of the Renaissance Specific Plan that seeks to redevelop SanTana and that probably will come to a council vote in the coming months. I've earlier talked about the gerrymandering carried out to aid councilman Vince Sarmiento and Mayor Miguel “What should be his nickname?” Pulido; now, let me share what I call SanTana's Grand Choo Choo Conspiracy.


The OC Weekly is on the top floor of a five-story building whose principal tenant is the Santa Ana Business Bank. One of its directors? Bustamante. On the board of directors also sits George Pla, who heads the Cordoba Corporation. People associated with Cordoba donated $4,500 to Bustamante's failed supervisorial campaign last year, but their biggest impact on SanTana was consulting with the Orange County Transportation Transportation Authority on the failed Centerline light rail project. That long-scrapped plan called for most of its route to serve SanTana–and the Renaissance Plan calls for the city to implement a light rail on some of the original Centerline route within the RSP boundaries, namely from the Santa Ana Depot through Civic Center Drive to Flower Street to Santa Ana Boulevard.

See where I'm going here? Cordoba would love to work on a light-rail project in SanTana–indeed, they sent a rep to the SanTana City Council's September transportation committee, where he suggested “removing the Maglev from the Concepts of the Go Local Program and advertise it as a future intermodal connection (vision) of the Go Local Program.” The Go Local program, is the OCTA's way of giving participating cities money to figure out how to connect to Metrolink. In other words, you have Cordoba reps advising SanTana to build a light rail.

Who would gain immensely from a contract? George Pla. Who would gain much as a result? Santa Ana Business Bank. And who's on bank's board of directors? Bustamante. Bustamante could abstain from a vote if SanTana decides to work with Cordoba, and he'd still win like gangbusters.

One of cinedom's best performances remains Edward G. Robinson's turn in the film noir classic Double Indemnity. In it, his character ends up cracking a case because of his gut feeling–his “little man,” as Robinson called it, the sensation people sometimes get when they know something is awry and are usually proved right. That's what I'm feeling with the RSP, people. Beware of Bustamante. Beware of the coming proposals for the Renaissance Plan. Beware of any rhetoric involving “revitalizing” SanTana. Beware of the Illuminati. BEWARE!!! People are going to get very rich off the Renaissance Plan if it happens–watch closely.

To be continued as idiocies arise…

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