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Councilmember Marquez again squares off against remainder of Cypress City Council — and City Staff (part 6)

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 6. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 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. Part 3 covered the consent calendar. Part 4 covered City purchasing policies and included a startling statement by City Manager Pete Grant defending City staff. Part 5 covered Councilmember Jon Peat’s statement on his request for censure of Councilmember Marquez, and Councilmember Marquez’s response to his statement. One further article will be published, and will refer back to prior articles in the series.

Second oral communications segment

As is usual for the Cypress City Council, a second oral communications segment was opened following the conclusion of the items for Council consideration. In this second segment, speakers are allotted five minutes.

According to the published agenda:

The public may address the City Council on matters appearing on the Closed Session agenda. Although Council Members may provide brief responses, the City Council may not discuss or take action on items that are not on its agenda.

The first speaker, Caroline Baladot, a life-long Cypress resident, characterized the criticism of Councilmember Marquez as based on her being alone in dissenting from the rest of the Council. She expressed full support of Councilmember Marquez. She characterized earlier speakers, who supported the neutral flag policy, as homophobic and bigoted. She contended that scheduling of agenda items and extended “man-splaining” were meant to discourage residents from remaining to the end of the meeting. She ended with a promise to stay to the end of every Council meeting moving forward, in order to have a chance to voice her opinion.

The second speaker, Britney Cook, complained about lack of response to emails sent to the City. She received a phone call response from Councilmember Marquez and an email response from Councilmember Hertz. No other Council members responded. In comparison, she received a prompt response from “her school board” to an email that she had sent the same day. City staff is also quick to respond to her emails. She would like a response from the three City Council members who did not respond earlier.

Mayor Morales searched for her email in his records. He stated that the email was addressed to Admin, rather than to his name, so he had disregarded it as not directed to him.

The third speaker, Val Mallari, is the husband of Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari. He spoke about the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and the impending forced move to district voting in Cypress. He stated his impatience at unelected people voicing opinions on Asians. “I’m Filipino. Asians are this huge bloc of diverse people. We don’t all think alike… I want to keep my five votes.”

Online speaker Tamara Michike, a 47-year resident of Cypress and a business owner, praised the historical practices of the City of Cypress that have kept it fiscally strong and institutionally well managed while avoiding divisive identity politics. However, “Since the election of Frances Marquez, this no longer seems to be the case.”

Online speaker Glen Morikawa, Cypress resident, insisted that argument and debate are beneficial but that when it becomes personal, it detracts from City business that needs to be discussed. He also stated that he wanted more information about the reason for the extension of the Valley Vista franchise agreement.

Council member reports and remarks

During her remarks, Councilmember Marquez requested that City staff look into the possibility of ensuring that the Event News-Enterprise newspaper “is thrown city-wide.” She also wanted to move City Council meetings to Tuesdays. She further asked for a vote at the next Council meeting on whether the City will move to district-based elections.

In his remarks, Councilmember Peat described communication from the State’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding a formal complaint filed by George Pardon alleging a conflict of interest between the City of Cypress, Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari, Councilmember Jon Peat, and Valley Vista Services regarding the in-kind donation of trash-hauling services for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Anaheim-Cypress. Ms. Hertz-Mallari serves as the chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club. Mr. Peat serves as the Club Board Chairman. He stated that he and the Mayor Pro Tem sought outside counsel to respond to the complaint. Their outside counsel collaborated with the Cypress City Attorney to present a response to the FPPC, which dismissed the complaint in less than a day.

Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari began her remarks with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). She represents the City of Cypress on the OCFA Board. A current issue is delayed response of ambulances. The OCFA and the Orange County Health Care Agency are working together to improve ambulance response time. One thing that they are looking into is real-time tracking of ambulance location. She also sits on the County library board, and wants to remind Cypress residents that our local branch of the Orange County Library is open.

She also addressed the FPPC complaint by George Pardon. She stated that the five Boys & Girls Club locations in Cypress serve about 200 children daily. The Clubs operating funds come from fees from those who can afford to pay for their services (about 45% of the budget), with the remainder of the operating costs covered by donations. The annual budget is over $2 million. “No one individual, no one company has a significant impact. The impact occurs when people come together to make a difference for the community in which they live.” She asserted that if Valley Vista’s in-kind donations were given a cash value of $500 per month, that works out to $6000 per year or three-tenths of one percent of the Club’s annual budget. She went on to say, “I’ve been here since 1994. My entire life has been about service to this community… Do you really think that I would compromise my life’s work over anything?

After the Mayor Pro Tem concluded her remarks, City Manager Pete Grant requested clarification from Councilmember Marquez on her request regarding a vote on going to district-based voting: was she requesting that the item be placed on the Council agenda for the February 28 meeting? Mr. Grant reminded the Council that by Council protocol the item would be placed on the agenda unless a Councilmember objects. If a Councilmember objects, then instead a discussion on agendizing the item will appear.

This is indeed the protocol followed when — at the January 24 meeting — Councilmember Peat requested a resolution of censure against Councilmember Marquez, who objected. The result was that a discussion of possibly placing a resolution of censure on a future Council agenda was included in the agenda (item #18) for this meeting.

Councilmember Peat objected to placing the vote on the agenda for the February 28 meeting.

Mr. Grant then asked Councilmember Marquez whether she would like to agendize a discusssion of voting on district based voting at the February 28 meeting.

Councilmember Marquez repeated her request to agendize a vote on moving to district-based voting, not a discussion about when to take the vote.

Mr. Grant said that placing a vote on moving to district-based voting on the agenda of the February 28 meeting could not be done because another Councilmember objected.

Councilmember Marquez responded that there was no written rule formalizing the protocol. “Any member should be able to put an item on the agenda.”

City Attorney Fred Galante stated that the Council has a policy, adopted several months ago, that any Council member can request an item be placed on the agenda — unless there is an objection. If there is an objection, then a discussion takes place on whether to bring the item back on a future agenda.

“Doesn’t that violate my civil rights?” Councilmember Marquez then asked.

City Manager Grant noted that it is “more common than not” that City Councils have policies that regulate how items are placed on the agenda. The current policy for Cypress was developed and adopted last year.

After further back-and-forth, Councilmember Marquez agreed to placing the discussion on the agenda.

City Attorney remarks

City Attorney Galante wanted to clarify that he responded to the FPPC complaint as the legal representative of the City of Cypress. His “collaboration” with the private counsel for Mayor Pro Tem Hertz-Mallari and Councilmember Peat consisted in providing a statement of the City’s position on the FPPC complaint to their outside consel.

Reminder

This is the sixth in a series of articles about the February 14 Cypress City Council meeting. A final article will pull everything together and analyze the events of the meeting.

1 Comment

  1. Of course Ms. Marquez wants the very liberal Event News-Enterprise newspaper thrown to every home in Cypress. This newspaper’s biased support of Marquez is evident in every article they write about her — leaving out the sheer nuttiness she has brought to the Cypress City Council. What does she expect Cypress do? Pay for the delivery? What a joke! We do not need a socialist agenda here in Cypress.
    We do not need to separate into voting districts because there is racial diversity in every single neighborhood. Forcing this is forcing racism upon the City of Cypress.

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