Pressure is mounting on Claudia Alvarez to resign her Santa Ana City Council seat, the latest fallout in an ongoing controversy over comments Alvarez made comparing downtown property owner Irving Chase, who is Jewish, to Adolf Hitler.
Jose Gonzalez, a police officer recently appointed by City Council members to act as a press liason for the city, confirmed Monday that approximately 68 emails and 60 phone calls had been received at City Hall calling for her to resign.
By late Tuesday, those calls were joined by the Orange County chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization that fights anti-Semitism.
"We asked Ms. Alvarez to make a much more sincere and personal apology to the Chase family, the Jewish community and to the Santa Ana community," read a statement from the league.
The statement added that Alvarez's "dearth of sensitivity and judgment illustrates that Ms. Alvarez is ill-equipped to carry out her duties as a Santa Ana council member."
Alvarez made her comments during a highly charged discussion of the special property tax that funds Downtown Inc. — the organization that promotes, secures and cleans up the downtown core.
She criticized Downtown Inc. for renting an office from Chase, saying that it was like renting from Hitler.
She also made statements regarding a perceived plot by the Chases and Downtown Inc. to bankrupt Latino merchants, insinuations that Jewish leaders say reinforce centuries-old anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Alvarez told the Orange County Register's Andrew Galvin Friday that she would not apologize to the Chase family directly.
Gonzalez said that Alvarez declined to comment.
Downtown Inc. supporters say that the organization's services are vital to transforming the downtown into a vibrant commercial district. Others say the organization, which is chaired by Irving Chase's son Ryan Chase, is most interested in changing the demographics of downtown.
— ADAM ELMAHREK