As expected, the Santa Ana City Council voted Tuesday to censure Claudia Alvarez rather than strip her of her mayor pro tem title.

Eyebrows were raised, however, when Alvarez herself cast the deciding vote in the 4-3 decision in favor of censure, the less harsh measure.

At the Aug. 24 City Council meeting, Alvarez had compared downtown property owner Irving Chase to Adolf Hitler. Chase is the Jewish son of Holocaust survivors. Alvarez’s remarks ignited a public outcry, calls for resignation and condemnations from a host of community organizations.

Voice of OC’s open government expert, Terry Francke, says there was nothing illegal or unethical about Alvarez’s vote.

“In terms of legal significance,” Francke said, “a conflict of interest refers strictly to a financial gain that a member may achieve by casting a vote. It does not refer to political interests.

“I don’t see anything particularly unethical about it. Otherwise people who are running for public office wouldn’t be allowed to enter the voting booth and cast a vote for themselves.”

Alvarez apologized numerous times and apologized again Tuesday night. She insisted, however, that her comments were not anti-Semitic.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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