The vision for the crime victims’ memorial in Orange County is getting a major downsize.
Originally proposed by Todd Spitzer as a robust memorial at a county regional park in Irvine, the then-supervisor, who was preparing to run for DA at the time, said it would provide a comforting space to honor victims.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful statement,” Spitzer said of the winning design in 2014.
“It’s embracing. It’s like a blanket around someone’s shoulders,” added Spitzer, who’s known as a prolific fundraiser who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his successful election as DA in 2018.
Yet after winning election as DA, Spitzer is proposing to dramatically scale back the crime victims’ memorial. And he’s proposing to move its planned location from the regional park to a small plaza behind a fence that’s between the DA and sheriff offices in downtown Santa Ana.
The memorial itself would now be “a minor landscape upgrade” with “a boulder or piece of art” as a centerpiece, Spitzer’s staff explained in a report.
It comes after Spitzer raised only a small portion of the $1 million cost he set out to fundraise to make the memorial a reality.
Spitzer told Voice of OC in recent weeks that $58,000 had been raised for the memorial, half of which he gave from his campaign money.
The change of plans is up for approval by county supervisors at their meeting today.
Spitzer didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment for this article.
Critics say Spitzer takes advantage of victims, by campaigning with promises to fight for them and then turning his back on them.
“It was all pomp and circumstance to get him elected,” said Paul Wilson, whose wife Christy was killed in the 2011 Seal Beach mass shooting.
Wilson appeared in campaign ads for Spitzer’s 2018 run for DA when Spitzer was vowing to clean up an informants scandal that led to the DA’s office being kicked off the case.
Now, Wilson stands as one of Spitzer’s most vocal critics.
“This is what Todd ran on. This is exactly the number one thing that got Todd Spitzer elected was his preaching of being an advocate for the victims of Orange County, or just victims in general…and of course, here’s the perfect example,” Wilson said of the victims’ memorial.
“He goes out and preaches this grandiose memorial that’s gonna be for the victims and how he’s supporting it. But he does nothing to raise any money whatsoever to build that. He lies about donating his own personal money, which was not true,” he added.
Wilson was referring to Spitzer telling Voice of OC in February that he donated to the victims’ memorial.
“I gave $25,000 myself,” Spitzer told Voice of OC. Records show the money was from Spitzer’s campaign donors, which he transferred to the memorial efforts.
The DA then questioned why Wilson – whose wife was killed in OC’s deadliest mass shooting – didn’t himself donate to the victims’ memorial.
“He constantly attacks and yet never offers to help,” Spitzer said of Wilson.
“I led the design contest, found a site, got the board support, had the project engineered, pulled the team of experts together. So can’t Paul who has lifted not one of his little middle fingers write a check,” the DA added.
“It’s always the guy who does nothing to contribute that makes the allegations we are all lazy.”
The DA added: “You better print my answer.”
That has left Wilson even further incensed.
“Everything Todd Spitzer said prior to election day in his advocacy for victims has all been false. They’ve been lies, and Todd Spitzer did not tell the truth. And as a victim, I’m horribly offended,” Wilson said this week.
“He puts his finger up. Wherever the wind points him in that direction, he just jumps on the bandwagon…Todd Spitzer is not an honest guy. He has no integrity,” he added.
“To me, Todd Spitzer is a coward. And I hope you put that in [the article].”
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.