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Other items from the January 24 Cypress City Council meeting

Approval of the solid waste franchise rate increase was already extensively described in a separate article. This article will be about other items of business during the Cypress City Council meeting on Monday, January 24.

At the beginning of the meeting — after the roll call, pledge of allegiance, and invocation (led by Pastor Autumn Igo of SeaCoast Grace Church) — City Attorney Fred Galante briefly reported on items considered during Council closed session:

  • City Manager Pete Grant and Director of Finance Matt Burton conferred with the Cypress Police Officers’ Association.
  • The Council discussed the claim brought by Southwest Voter Education Project against the City of a violation of the California Voting Rights Act.
  • The Council, without Council member Frances Marquez present, conferred with legal counsel regarding anticipated litigation threatened by Council member Marquez regarding civil rights violation and harassment.

In an unusual turn, City Attorney Galante, in a special order of business, reviewed City Council rules of debate and decorum. Mr. Galante first noted:

  • The rules are established by the Cypress Municipal code. (See sections 2-2.5, 2-2.11, 2-2.15, and 2-2.16.)
  • The rule ensure that public meetings are conducted in an orderly and efficient manner.
  • The Rules allow everyone to be heard and enable the City Council to make decisions without confusion.

The City Attorney then listed twelve rules of debate and decorum:

  1. Council Members should respect the rights of others to speak, so long as the discussion topic is relebant to the issue at hand.
  2. Council Members should avoid requesting to speak repeatedly or making redundant comments.
  3. The Mayor may prohibit repetitive or redundant comments.
  4. Council Members should be prepared to discuss all items listed on the agenda.
  5. Disrupting business items, without providing substantive feedback or questions, is inappropriate.
  6. Personal attacks by a Council Member aimed at another Council Member, his or her family, or a member of the public are inappropriate.
  7. A Council Member who repeatedly violates protocol or rules of debate or decorum may be addressed through a resolution of censure aimed at the offending Council Member.
  8. The Brown Act requires Council Members keep discussion germane to the issue at hand.
  9. Council Members should not persist in discussing an item or any other matter after the matter has beenc alled for vote.
  10. Council Members should not attempt to re-debate matters that have been decided at prior meetings.
  11. Once recognized, a Council Member should not be interrupted, unless to call the Council Member to order.
  12. When a Council Member, while speaking, is called to order, he or she shall cease speaking until question of order is decided.

(In the actual presentation, the items were numbered such that there were two items #6. Council member Jon Peat pointed out this small error. Mr. Galante requested that the two items #6 be numbered 6A and 6B in order to retain the numbering for items #7 to 11. The list above simply renumbers the items following the original item #6.)

After the special order of business, the Council continued with the regular order of business as laid out in the published agenda. Note that video of the meeting is also available.

For those who have not read the other article, a public hearing was held as the first item of business, to consider approval of a requested rate increase for the City’s solid waste franchisee. The vote was 3-1-1. Council member Frances Marquez voted no. Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallori abstained after recusing herself. Mayor Paulo Morales, Council member Scott Minikus, and Council member Jon Peat voted yes.

The Council then went on to consider other business, starting with the Consent Calendar.

Consent Calendar

The Consent Calendar contains items that are considered routine business. It is normal for the Council to approve the Consent Calendar as a whole, unless Council members request that a particular item or items be pulled for discussion.

Council member Frances Marquez voted against the Consent Calendar without comment and without pulling any items. All other Council members voted yes. As is his usual practice, Mayor Pro Tem Morales specifically called out that his vote would not include voting on a warrant that he had received as a former employee of the City.

The seven items in the consent calendar were:

  • Receive and File Public Comments Submitted for the January 24, 2022 City Council Meeting
  • Introduce and/or Adopt All Ordinances and Resolutions Presented for Consideration by Title Only and to Waive Further Reading
  • Approve Minutes – Meetings of December 27, 2021 and January 7, 2022
  • Authorize 2021 Federal Pavement Management Relief Funding (PMRF) Program
  • Authorize Letter in Support of Assembly Bill 1595 Regarding the Orange County Veterans Cemetery
  • Second Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance Updating Park Regulations to Include Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields
  • Receive and File the Investment Report for the Month Ended December 31, 2021

Policy to regulate flags at City facilities

At the request of Council member Marquez during a prior meeting, City Staff brought forward an item to discuss a policy to regulate flags at City facilities. Council member Marquez made the request after her request to fly the Pride Flag during Pride Month (June) in 2021 was not approved.

Council member Marquez immediately moved to delay consideration of this item to allow her to research the question. Her motion failed for lack of a second. Discussion then proceeded on the question of whether to institute a formal flag policy, and what the formal flag policy should be.

Up until this time, Cypess had operated without a formal flag policy. According to the Staff report:

Like Cypress, many cities operate without a formal flag policy. Those that have a flag policy either (1) permit only some combination of the US, State, POW/MIA, and municipal flags; or (2) allow access to the flag poles by third parties, which effectively limits the city’s ability to exercise any control over what additional flags may be flown. In accordance with the First Amendment to the US Constitution, once a public agency opens up a venue for First Amendment activities, it cannot decide which flags are appropriate and inappropriate, with very limited exceptions, such as to prohibit explicit content.

Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari said that she preferred to formalize the current practice because she did not want to have to decide who gets to fly a flag and who does not. She cited President Ronald Reagan’s interpretation of the colors of the American flag.

Council member Scott Minikus agreed with the Mayor Pro Tem, and emphasized the expansiveness of First Amendment rights, and warned that allowing anyone to fly a flag on a City flagpole could become divisive.

Council member Jon Peat recommended that a policy formalizing the current practice should be developed. He made a motion to that effect, which was seconded by the Mayor Pro Tem.

Council member Marquez voted no. All other Council members voted yes.

Council member reports and remarks

Two items of note came up during Council member remarks.

First, Council member Marquez requested that a discussion of the rules of debate and decorum be agendized.

Second, Council member Jon Peat requested that the Council consider a motion of censure against Council member Marquez for publicly disclosing content of discussion from a closed Council session. Council member Marquez objected to the request. Following established procedure, the item will be agendized for discussion at a later Council meeting.

The meeting was adjourned in memory of John Law of Warland Investments.