On November 3, Cypress voters have the chance to modernize our city government by voting YES ON MEASURE P.
The charter is the City’s constitution and establishes some of the rules under which the City Council represents the city. Like our national or state constitution, the charter is a living document and needs to evolve with the times and technology. Excluding zoning changes, voters have updated the charter four times since 1956 – most recently in 2004. That’s why beginning in early 2019, the City Council launched a comprehensive review of Cypress’ nearly 70-year-old city charter that resulted in a unanimous vote to recommend Measure P to our neighbors.
Measure P does three things to improve Cypress’ city government:
- Measure P provides the City 30 extra days to fill a City Council vacancy, potentially saving residents from paying for an expensive special election.
- Measure P protects our community by aligning Cypress’ election procedures with State law.
- Measure P updates an antiquated requirement to publish legal notices and hearings in newspapers, freeing up resources the City use to improve transparency and communication with residents.
When Cypress became a city in 1956, I suspect every home in town subscribed to at least one newspaper to stay up-to-date on local news. But in 2020, the reality is most residents don’t have a newspaper delivered to their home every morning, and in these challenging economic times a $200 newspaper subscription is one of the first cuts to a family budget.
More importantly, I have never met anyone who reads the dense legal notices the city publishes in the newspaper. Last year the City spent $60,000 on these notices, I encourage voters to find and read a legal notice in the Event News-Enterprise or OC Register and then ask themselves if the publication was a good use of their tax dollars.
Measure P allows the City to reallocate this spending on more effective and less expensive forms of communication including the City’s website, social media, e-mail subscription service and Cypress Central, our mobile app. The City of Buena Park made a similar change to its charter a few years ago and reports positive results.
The most important parts of Measure P address City election procedures that have become inconsistent with State law. The extra 30 days Measure P gives the City to fill a vacancy before having to call a special election could save taxpayers $250,000. Those extra 30 days give the City more time to advertise the vacancy, accept applications from interested residents, schedule interviews, and then select a new Council Member. State law recognizes City Councils need more time to make such an important decision and provides 60 days to fill a vacancy before having to call an election. I don’t say this often, but the State law is good one and Cypress should mirror it.
Measure P will also protect the City from paying massive plaintiff’s legal fees if we are sued over our election procedures. Many cities around Cypress have recently moved from at-large City Council elections to district elections because of abusive special interest lawsuits. I hope that doesn’t happen to Cypress but if it does, Measure P will avoid a costly legal settlement and ensure Cypress residents, rather than the courts, decide how we elect our representatives to the City Council.
I also want to make certain voters know that Measure P does not make any changes to term limits in Cypress. Like Measure P, term limits serve our community well and the City Council supports them.
I know many of you have read the articles in our local newspapers urging you to vote “No” on Measure P, claiming the City is not being transparent and are, somehow trying to mislead you. Please be aware that local newspapers have motives to stop this measure from passing – they survive on income derived from their ads, and they do not want to lose that income. Although I understand their concerns, they should not mislead the public without mentioning their own motives.
For the last eight years, I have had the great honor to serve Cypress as a Council Member and Mayor. I am at the end of my term and have no personal motive for writing this letter, except that I would like my fellow citizens to understand the merits and reasons why I am voting yes on Measure P. I urge you to vote “YES” on Measure P.
Mayor Pro Tem
City of Cypress