Jill Arthur, one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes figures at Santa Ana City Hall in recent years, is leaving the city’s employ in the wake of an investigation into her actions after a traffic accident, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.
About eight months ago, Arthur was involved in a car accident with Marcel Alvarez, a 22-year-old Buena Park resident, according to City Hall sources speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The sources said that rather than exchange insurance information, Arthur offered to get Alvarez a job by using her influence at the Santa Ana Work Center, a city office that assists residents in finding employment.
In March, Arthur was promoted to the deputy city manager position in charge of the city’s Community Development Agency, which operates the Work Center.
Alvarez has previously confirmed the overall circumstances of the allegation but declined to comment in detail, citing the confidentiality of the investigation. Arthur has not made any public comment since the investigation was revealed.
Councilwoman Michele Martinez said that she was told Arthur retired. “I wish her well in her future endeavors,” she said.
City spokesman Jose Gonzalez declined to comment on Arthur’s status, and Martinez acknowledged that she has yet to see documentation of Arthur’s retirement. Council members have been kept in the dark because the issue is a personnel matter, Martinez and other council members have said.
While the details regarding Arthur’s status have been scant, the City Hall rumor mill has churned furiously. Arthur has been a controversial figure at City Hall, often clashing with council members and other staffers and widely known as an ally of Miguel Pulido, the city’s 10-term mayor.
There have been ongoing questions about the timing of the investigation into the car accident. Sources say city officials first received a complaint about Arthur’s actions soon after the alleged incident took place when Paul Walters was city manager.
It is unclear whether Walters, who also served a long tenure as the city’s police chief, investigated the incident at that time. Kevin O’Rourke is currently serving as city manager on an interim basis.
Meanwhile, there has been speculation that Arthur’s departure is part of a larger effort by the current council majority to sap Pulido of his influence inside City Hall. Many also saw the ouster of Walters, another Pulido ally, in that light.
The distinctions regarding Arthur’s employment status are significant given the recent payouts handed recently to departing high-level employees.
In 2010, Pulido said that then City Attorney Joe Fletcher was going to retire.
Then it was revealed that Fletcher received a $142,000 severance payment. Such payouts are usually reserved for employees who are fired.