A secret report from an outside attorney’s office that would put to rest whether Santa Ana City Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez can run for an unprecedented fourth term might be releasable via a majority vote of City Council, interim City Attorney Joe Straka said this week.

Straka cautioned, however, that his office must study the issue more closely before coming to such a conclusion. “The mechanism by which the city could waive the privilege would require more analysis,” Straka said.

Prior to the passage of Measure D in 2008, City Council members could serve only two consecutive four-year terms. The successful campaign for Measure D, which was run from Alvarez’s home, added a third four-year term to that limit.

At least, that is what was generally thought.

But a rumor has long circulated that Alvarez, the only sitting council member approaching the 12-year limit, is searching for a loophole that would allow her to run for at least one more term.

A Voice of OC article last month first revealed that the city brought in outside counsel to evaluate the term limits set forth in Measure D. A request for the report made under the California Public Records Act was denied, citing attorney-client privilege.

The Liberal OC’s Chris Prevatt wrote last week that, according to his City Hall sources, the report confirms that council members are barred from running for a fourth term.

But the question will likely remain unanswered until the report is released or a city official familiar with the report speaks on the record about it.

Whether council members would be willing to release the report via a council vote remains unclear. A request for comment from council members made through Public Information Officer Jose Gonzalez was not immediately answered.


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