We Challenged Councilman David Penaloza to Defend his Vote for the $25M Police Contract

It’s been a month since police union backed Councilmembers David Penaloza, Jose Solorio, and Miguel Pulido, along with Vince Sarmiento approved an unfunded $25,000,000 contract for the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA), with little public debate or transparency.


In fact, members of the council have been mum on all things POA Contract, refusing to justify their vote to their constituents and explain just how the city will be on safe financial footing when they don’t have the money to pay the bill without taking from other parts of the city budget. For more on the financials see Boomer’s detailed breakdown.


Naturally we still expect answers, as should you. That’s why we challenged Councilmember David Penaloza to justify his vote for the contract to his constituents in what we’re calling The $25M Dollar Debate.


Below is the email invitation we sent him to his city email in which we explain why his participation is not only needed, but expected.

Councilman Penaloza,


As you know,  there is deep concern and opposition among large sections of the community, including residents and community organizations like ours, about the POA contract you and other members of the Council approved, despite the lack of allocated funding.


Our position is that the approval of this contract, with very little debate or transparency of process, is putting our city in financial danger, and further taking our city down the narrow minded and outdated idea that public safety can only be addressed through enforcement as opposed to investments in opportunity for our young people and residents.


We are especially disappointed by your vote and the inadequate justification you provided for approving this contract because as the youngest member on our Council you are uniquely positioned to uplift the voices of young people, who have advocated for years for greater investments in youth programs through initiatives like “Invest in Youth.”


This is why we, as Chispa, call on you to participate in a debate to truly, thoroughly, and substantially justify your vote for this contract to residents of Ward 2 and Santa Ana. For this debate, we have chosen Ward 2 Resident Paul Gonzales to represent the voice of opposition to this contract.


The debate is tentatively scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 7, from 6 to 8 PM at Latino Health Access in Ward 2 (450 W 4th Street Santa Ana, CA 92701), but we are amenable to another date, provided you confirm your intent and willingness to participate.


We understand any and all hesitation you may have to participate. But leadership comes attached with responsibility. For us, this means standing by our values and doing all we can to hold decision makers accountable for actions we feel jeopardize the future of our city and our residents. For you, this means being accountable to your constituents and justifying your votes, even when it is difficult.


Hairo Cortes

Executive Director, Chispa

RSVP to the $25 Million Dollar Debate

Hairo Cortes

Hairo Cortes

is the Founder and Executive Director of Chispa. He is a voracious news reader and historian at heart. His past work saw him lead campaigns for justice at the local and national levels. He hopes to build a thriving movement infrustructure for young Latinxs to win meaningful change for their communities.