Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez of the Southern California city of Santa Ana apologized via the Los Angeles Times, Thursday night, for a reference to Hitler during a Wednesday evening city council meeting. Some people have an impression that the efforts of a surtax-supported downtown improvement district to attract new merchants and shoppers will be at the expense of a local ethnic community. Irving Chase - a child of Holocaust survivors - and his son Ryan own buildings in the district and sit on the board of its marketing and security arm, Downtown Inc., according to the Orange County Register.
During her remarks, Councilwoman Alvarez - whose father owns a downtown business - said, "Ryan and Irv Chase … are very much interested in continuing the ethnic cleansing that is going on downtown." Later, she had asked about why Downtown Inc. had its offices in one of the Chases' buildings and was told it was because the organization got "a great deal" on the rent. She followed up, "So if Hitler rents you a place, gives you a great deal, you take it?," prompting the Chases and a fellow council member to leave the meeting. Another council member was critical of Alvarez's remarks.
Alvarez told the Times, "What I said was inappropriate, and I let my emotions get the best of me.” Irving Chase had no comment. Director Kevi O'Grady of the Orange County/Long Beach chapter of the Anti-Defamation League told the newspaper, “I don’t think anybody deserves to be compared to Hitler unless they have actually led a genocidal campaign against people.”