Cypress Councilmember Frances Marquez was elected to her seat in 2020 on the strength of her opposition to allowing Amazon to open a last-mile distribution center in the City’s business park.
For the first few months after being elected, Councilmember Marquez’s behavior was unremarkable.
However, since agendizing a proposal in mid 2021 to fly the Gay Pride flag at all City-managed flag poles, Councilmember Marquez has taken a number of controversial actions that have garnered much more attention to the Cypress City Council than is usual. A group of highly vocal supporters comment both in person and online, stating their heartfelt support of her and, often, personal condemnation of other Councilmembers.
The February 14, 2022 Council meeting continued this pattern. From the first public comment segment through Council member remarks, the actions of Council Member Marquez and her supporters made the meeting all about her. Video of the Council meeting is available through the service, Swagit Productions, contracted by the City.
Readers are urged to view the video for themselves. The meeting’s agenda is displayed in parallel to the video. A printed version of the agenda is available from Destiny Software, which also makes available Staff reports associated with agenda items.
To do justice to the meeting, an overlong single article about the February 14 meeting has instead been broken into shorter parts. This article is part 3. Parts 1 and 2 were published earlier. Part 1 covered the first public comment segment of the February 14 meeting. Part 2 covered a public hearing to set the fee schedule for rental of City-owned facilities at Lexington Park. Further individual articles will be published, and will refer back to the first article.
Items included in the consent calendar are considered by Staff to be routine. It is common for the consent calendar to be approved as a whole, although Council Members may pull individual items for discussion.
Council Member Marquez requested that items 5 (Receive and File the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Report and Approve Budget Adjustments) and 6 (Adopt the FY 2022-23 Budget Calendar). She immediately requested a public workshop on items 5 and 6, and began to explain her reasons for the request.
Mayor Paulo Morales was forced to interrupt her because her comments on the items were out of order. The question was which items to pull for discussion. Mayor Morales asked if she were asking to pull items 5 and 6. She said yes, and also item 7 (Adopt the 2022 State and Federal Legislative Platform).
Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari also requested item 5, plus item 11 (Receive an Update on the Neighborhood Preservation Pilot Program). Subsequently, she made a motion to approve the remaining items on the consent calendar. The motion was seconded, then approved with a 4-1 vote. Councilmember Marquez was the single no vote.
Item 5: Receive and File the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Report and Approve Budget Adjustments
When given the floor on item 5, Councilmember Marquez stated that she wanted a public workshop because the item represented a lot of money transfers. A public workshop would provide transparency, and allow questions to be asked by Councilmembers and the public so that residents would know exactly what’s going on with the City’s budget.
Councilmember Hertz-Mallari complimented Cypress Finance Director Matt Burton and his staff for a thorough although complicated budget report. She pulled the item to highlight recognition by outside agencies of the excellent work done by the Cypress Finance Department. She also wanted to bring attention to a “significant success” in the repayment of a loan, and asked Mr. Burton to explain that to the public.
For his part, Mr. Burton explained that loans were made from the City of Cypress to the Cypress Recreation and Park District to cover costs of constructing Lexington Park, with the understanding that the loans would be repaid when park development fees became available. About $13.6 million was loaned, and recently about 40% was repaid (approximately $5.2 million).
Mayor Pro Tem Hertz-Mallari made a motion to approve item 5 (Receive and File the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Report and Approve Budget Adjustments). The motion was seconded and approved on a 4-1 vote. Councilmember Marquez was the single no vote.
Item 6: Adopt the FY 2022-23 Budget Calendar
The City Council is required to adopt a budget prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1. The process of developing a budget spans the six months from January 1 through final approval in June.
This item requests that the City Council approve a schedule that will serves all parties as a guidepost in the development of the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year Budget. The single-page guidance (pdf) is a touchstone to allow staff members, the City Council, and residents to quickly see what should be currently worked on and when particular pieces of the work should be finished. It includes such events as a budget workshop on March 28 to review City reserves, pension liabilities and pension trust investments. Another workshop will be held on the entire FY 2022-23 proposed budget, including the updated seven-year Capital Improvement Program.
Following the proposed budget calendar, all portions of the budget are brought to the Council for approval in time to meet the deadline of the start of the new fiscal year.
Councilmember Marquez asked for a workshop on the calendar that governs the process of producing a City budget in a timely manner. In calling for transparency in the budget process, she seemed to confuse approval of the calendar with approval of a new budget.
Mayor Pro Tem Hertz-Mallari requested confirmation that the item being considered was only the calendar. City Manager Pete Grant confirmed. She then suggested that unless there were calendar conflicts, she saw no reason not to approve the item.
Councilmember Scott Minikus asked for confirmation that the budget was available for public review on the City website.
Mr. Grant stated that the current year’s budget was on the City website. The budget calendar (once approved) would be posted on the City website. Once a proposed budget for the new fiscal year was developed, the proposed budget would be posted on the City website.
A motion was made and seconded to approval the budget calendar. The motion was approved on a 4-1 vote. Councilmember Marquez was the single no vote.
Item 7: Adopt the 2022 State and Federal Legislative Platform
From the staff report for item 7:
This item requests that the Council adopt the legislative platform. The four-page document (pdf) lists the City’s policy guidelines as:
- preserving local control,
- promoting fiscal stability; and
- supporting funding opportunities.
The document lists the City’s legislative priorities as:
- community services;
- environment quality;
- governance, transparency, and labor relations;
- housing, community, and economic development;
- public safety;
- revenue and taxation;and
- transportation, communications, and public works.
Councilmember Marquez objected to two items under governance, transparency, and labor relations:
- Support legislation that modernizes requirements for publication of legal notices to allow for electronic posting.
- Support measures to achieve and maintain fair and proportionate representation on countywide and regional boards.
Her worry about electronic posting of legal notices concerned those without access to electronic posting. However, the item does not call for using only electronic posting, merely to allow for electronic posting.
She felt that it was ironic for the City to support “fair and proportionate representation on countywide and regional boards” when she herself was no longer serving on such boards as a City representative.
Mayor Pro Tem Hertz-Mallari suggested a workshop to discuss the contents of the legislative agenda but worried at possible consequences if approval were delayed.
City Manager Grant pointed out that one of the reasons for the item was to allow the City Council to change or add to the document.
Mayor Morales asked for suggestions for changes or amendments to the legislative platform.
Councilmember Marquez requested that the item be tabled so that she could have more time to consider it.
Mayor Morales asked for a motion to table the item until the February 28 meeting. Councilmember Marquez made the motion, which was seconded. The motion to table the item was approved unanimously.
Again, to do justice to the meeting, an overlong single article about the February 14 meeting has instead been broken into shorter parts. This article is part 3. Part 1 covered the first public comment segment of the February 14 meeting. Part 2 covered a public hearing to set the fee schedule for rental of City-owned facilities at Lexington Park. Further individual articles will be published, and will refer back to the first article.