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Cypress Council Member Marquez puts City on notice for change after November general election

For a year now, Cypress City Council Member Frances Marquez has made a practice of disrupting the management of the City of Cypress.

She has brought up and disputed settled matters.

She has requested that long-standing City procedures be changed to accommodate her.

She has put forward controversial topics for discussion without following proper procedure, then claimed harassment and bias and discrimination when other members of the City Council disagreed with her stance on the controversy.

She has put forward non-controversial topics for discussion without following proper procedure, then claimed harassment and bias and discrimination when reminded to use proper procedure.

She has accused City Staff of inappropriate handling of her mail.

She failed in her responsibilities to attend outside meetings, then failed to report her non-attendance, then accused the Mayor of trying to “silence” her when he removed her committee assignments and gave them to other Council members.

She pulls items from the Council Meeting Consent Calendar — as is her right as a Council Member — then talks not about the pulled item but about whatever she wants to talk about.

She abuses the Council Comments section at the end of the meeting — which is supposed to allow Members to report on outside activities such as committee meetings or community events — to advance the notion that she is under continual attack by “colleagues on the dais” who want to silence her.

For the discussion below concerning the regular June 13 meeting of the Cypress City Council, anyone may watch the video to verify what happened.

Item #6 on the agenda of the June 13 Cypress City Council meeting

Item #6 appeared on the Consent Calendar. Items on the Consent Calendar are grouped to allow a single vote to approve all the items. They are considered routine.

However, Council Members may pull one or more items to ask Staff questions, or to themselves comment on the particular item. For instance, Mayor Paulo Morales regularly notes that he should not be considered as voting on warrants representing payments that he receives as a retired Cypress Police officer.

Council Member Marquez pulled Item #6. Once discussion closed, the Council voted 4 to 1 to approve the item, with Council Member Marquez voting no.

According to the staff report for Item #6:

The City Council approved a Resolution permitting the City to apply for California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) grants as they become available for recycling and solid waste programs… CalRecycle recently awarded the City a one-time $69,424 grant to assist with organic recycling.

Grant proceeds may be expended on personnel and consulting services related to organic recycling implementation between May 2022 and May 2024. The one-time grant proceeds will pay for a portion of the cost of the additional public education and outreach, exemption waiver program, reporting and compliance monitoring required by CalRecycle over the next two fiscal years and there are no matching requirements.

Council Member Marquez raised a question from her review of the City’s franchise agreement with Valley Vista Services. She wanted to know whether Valley Vista had ever hired a “community outreach and education person” as described in the original proposal. She stated that she wanted to ensure that residents were receiving all contracted services and that there would not be overlapping services.

City Manager Peter Grant replied that Item #6 was not to procure services but to receive a grant.

She repeated that she wanted to know whether Valley Vista had hired someone to do community outreach.

Mr. Grant replied that her question was “fairly far off topic” and that City Staff would be happy to respond in writing. He added that she had sent him the question earlier in the day without indicating that it was connected to Agenda Item #6.

Council Member Marquez pressed the issue, asking, “So you’re not sure whether anyone ever did outreach on this contract?”

Mr. Grant repeated that City Staff would follow up in writing.

As a matter of proper procedure, this Consent Calendar item should not have been used to again question the Valley Vista waste franchise agreement.

As a matter of proper procedure, Council Member Marquez should have indicated that the question sent to Mr. Grant was related to Item #6 on the Consent Calendar, so that Staff could respond in a timely fashion.

Council Member Reports and Remarks at the June 13 Cypress City Council meeting

Video for this segment of the Council meeting is available online. You are encouraged to watch it yourself to form your own judgement.

Mayor Pro Tem Anne Hertz-Mallari was calling in from the East Coast, where the local time was past midnight.

Both Councilmember Scott Minikus and Councilmember Jon Peat had no remarks.

Councilmember Marquez was then asked for remarks.

I just wanted to follow up about the park meeting. I never received any information regarding that meeting whatsoever from the City Manager, so I had no idea what was going on. I just wanted to let the community know that.

This refers to a meeting between residents near Maple Grove Park and two Council Members, Scott Minikus and Jon Peat, regarding a proposal to place a restroom at the Park as part of the upcoming fiscal year’s Capital Improvements program. Council Member Peat had suggested the project. After meeting with residents, Council Member Peat recommended that the project be cancelled, and the Council agreed.

The neighborhood meeting with residents was arranged after a group of residents attended a City Council meeting to oppose the project. An estimated 200 people attended the neighborhood meeting.

After remarks about a recent City-sponsored catalytic converter etching event, the availability of a paid internship in Washington, and her volunteering at the Senior Center, Councilmember Marquez continued:

I just wanted to follow up about my incredible disappointment about last Friday’s meeting.

I… I just want to tell the community… for those of you who came in tonight to say that I was not complying… you know… this… it’s been a six-month process for me to go through, a process of being discredited in front of the community and it started with… I was being bullied by colleagues and went to HR at the end of January… because I went to HR thinking that was the right place to go when you’re being bullied and harassed…

At this point, Mayor Morales interrupted to bring up a point of order, reminding her that the Council should be focused on the night’s agenda, not on issues that have already been discussed.

Concilmember Marquez then continued:

I just want to follow up, please. I’m asking for that. I deserve that. I’ve been serving since November 2020…

Mayor Morales interrupted to ask how bringing up the meeting was following up.

Councilmember Marquez then continued:

I just want to say… last Friday… well, there’s been between being censured, a civility policy that has been instituted to weaponize and go after a Council Member… it’s all a strategic plan to discredit me and the public records requests are part of that. And so I just want to tell the community that I… the first public records request, the City wanted to keep records that were confidential between me and my attorney, and were just going to turn them over. So that took a little bit more time because I had to have, bring in the lawyer to say you can’t do that but the City still put them forward anyway.

Please note the bolded statement that asserts an organized plan to discredit Council Member Marquez that embraces items originating with other Council Members, with City Staff, with the City Attorney, and with an outside interest group that made the public records request.

So when I got the second request, from Fortis, which was a voluminous request… you know, it’s kind of interesting because I’m the one who’s asking for transparency and I’m being surveiled. It’s been six months of being surveiled.

The unusually expansive nature of the request from the Fortis law firm was remarked on by City Attorney Fred Galante. The Council recently approved the hiring of an outside law firm to assist the office of the City Clerk in responding to public records requests.

However, the City has no control over whether outside groups submit public records requests. If the increase in public records requests related to Council Member Marquez is a major basis for her assertion that she is being “surveiled” as part of an organized plan to discredit her, she has not provided sufficient proof.

So I hired a major law firm to help me with this request because it’s important to me to be ethical and to comply and to set a standard. I was working with the City Attorney on timelines and everything was fine. No one said anything, that there was any major issue. The Attorney did not tell me there were any major issues.

So I get an email from the City Manager on Tuesday saying the Mayor wants to have a special meeting. I said I’m available Friday, no problem. And I said what’s the point of the meeting.

I don’t hear anything. Tuesday goes by. Wednesday goes by.

Thursday at 12:40 I get a call from the City Attorney to tell me a meeting is going up at two o’clock regarding putting forth a resolution of non-compliance and possibly censure.

Where is this coming from? Are you kidding me? I’m the one asking for transparency. It’s so disappointing

I’ve received disparate treatment. I’ve not treated the same as my colleagues. They do not treat me with respect or inform me of what’s going on and they act like why didn’t you tell me or why didn’t you talk to me?

Mr. Mayor, you could’ve called me and let me know… what you were planning with this special meeting. You never called me… You only called me after the fact, after you put all the information out into the community so people can show up tonight to think that I’m not compliant

Compliance is critical to me.

I ran for office to represent my community, to be transparent, and not to be… I don’t have to be best friends with my colleagues. We can disagree. That’s fine. I respect their, our, differences. I don’t have a problem with that.

But I just want to be treated with respect.

It was just unbelievably disappointing and very stressful to have twenty-four hours, twelve hours, whatever it was, to show up the next day… I walked in the building and nobody looked at me. I never had any eye contact with any of my colleagues. It was crazy. So disrespectful.

According to this statement, the City Attorney informed her of the meeting agenda 25 hours prior to the meeting, but Mayor Morales never called her.

In her continuing remarks below, Councilmember Marquez asserts that City Manager Grant never emailed her with the agenda for the Friday meeting.

I will tell you that it’s a process to discredit me because what… in the Fall, if there’s a majority, you know, the way I’ve been treated, things will change around here and that’s what people fear.

I am grateful to the City staff for all their hard work but, I mean, I asked Mr. Grant what is going to happen on Friday. He never emailed me.

Six months ago, when I went to HR, he created a whole list of complaints that I broke the City Charter. You can’t be the judge and jury and put me on trial when those were not major things that you put in there. Some of those things you said were okay.

I just want the community to know that I am fighting for transparency and that’s why I came to do this job. I am so honored and grateful. Like I said, my father, a farmer, and my mother, a bookkeeper, worked seven days a week to buy a house in Cypress, California in 1974, raise six kids, who earned six bachelors, five masters, and two doctorates. I came from parents who treated me with respect and loved me. I want to be treated with the same kind of respect as an elected official in my hometown. I came back to serve after working for three members of the House of Representatives because I want to give back. I was giving back when I worked for Mr. Lowenthal in Washington, D.C., to bring funding for school programs such as Joint Forces Training Base, so that’s all I have to say tonight.

(Emphasis added.)

Mayor Pro Tem Hertz-Mallari had no remarks.

Mayor Morales responded to Councilmember Marquez’s assertion that he did not call her by stating that he did call on June 9, and the reason the City Manager did not is because the agenda had not yet been released. Mayor Morales stated that he did not receive a text, phone call, or email in response to his call.

This is another example of Councilmember Marquez abusing the segment of the Council meeting meant for Reports and Remarks. Councilmembers are supposed to report on outside activities — for instance, ribbon cuttings or indeed the catalytic converter event that Councilmember Marquez mentioned. Remarks can include a request for later discussion of a particular topic.

Council members are not supposed to speak extensively about a topic that does not appear on the meeting agenda — not just because that violates protocol and policy but also because whatever is said cannot be responded to comprehensively, although Mayor Morales did respond to the assertion that he did not call Coumcilmember Marquez prior to the Friday meeting.

The most stunning of her statements was a threat to City Staff should the Fall election provide a majority on the Council sympathetic to Councilmember Marquez. (That statement is in bold in the transcription above.)

How are Staff members likely to react to such a threat? Should they search for resume templates, dust off an old resume to update, and begin a job search in anticipation of being fired? What kind of a hit to employee retention might this cause? How can morale be maintained under such a circumstance?

Background on the 2022 Cypress municipal election

According to the Charter of the City of Cypress, Section 902:

Unless otherwise provided by ordinance hereafter enacted, all elections shall be held in accordance with the provisions of the Elections Code of the State of California for the holding of municipal elections, so far as the same are not in conflict with this Charter.

According to Section 10220 of the California Elections Code, Part 2 (Municipal Elections), Chapter 2 (Regulations Governing Elections in Cities), Article 2 (Nominations of Candidates):

Not earlier than the 113th day nor later than the 88th day before a municipal election during normal office hours, as posted, the voters may nominate candidates for election by signing a nomination paper.

According to the official website of the California Secretary of State, the general election date for 2022 has been set at November 8.

That means that anyone running for Cypress City Council must turn in nomination papers between Monday, July 18, and Friday, August 12.

It is our understanding that at least three people have already requested paperwork from the Cypress City Clerk.

Three seats are open. Scott Minikus, appointed to fill the vacancy left by Stacy Berry, must run again if he wishes to serve in his own right. Paulo Morales and Jon Peat are termed out due to a provision in the City Charter that limits Council Members to serving only eight years.

Anne Hertz-Mallari and Frances Marquez were elected in 2020. They will come up for re-election in 2024.

13 Comments

  1. Thank you Shelly! Finally an honest accurate reporting of what’s been going on at the Cypress City Council Meetings. Political Theatrics, pity parties, disingenuous behavior. We’ve also often wondered who’s financing these whining charades. Marquez wants to bring Newsom’s ban on single housing development to Cypress and replace City Council support staff and anyone that disagrees with her (Socialist/Marxist?) agenda. She has indeed created her own “hostile” working environment and uses the “race”/”women of color” as a “shield”!
    Thank you again, Shelly, for a brilliant article, we can verify everything you mentioned from having been at the meetings.

  2. The accusations and descriptions of uncivil behavior by a Cypress Councilmember and supporters to me appears no different than the behavior of the anti-anything (except recall) supporters at a series of local school board meetings. I don’t remember seeing much criticism of those activities in The OC Breeze. The Cypress City council has made this situation possible with their actions on the Valley Vista issue and the at-large vs by-district councilmember elections. Both of these issues are going to cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and the voters are already paying the higher price for trash collections. It’s time for both sides to put-up or shut-up. The filing period for City Council positions is from Monday, July 18, and Friday, August 12. Hopefully the voters of Cypress will review their new higher 2022 trash collection fees prior to marking their ballots this fall.

    1. Author

      Robert,

      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      Regarding the lack of coverage of local school board meetings, I must admit guilt. We have been unable to adequately cover the Board meetings of either the Cypress School District or the Los Alamitos Unified School District for the last couple of years, to our regret.

      Regarding the Valley Vista contract, I would urge residents of Cypress to read the white paper written by Council Member Jon Peat before making a final judgement.

      Regarding the CVRA demand to move to district-based elections, the Cypress City Council has not categorically refused. It has asked the law firm issuing the demand to identify what the City has done or failed to do that justifies the application of the CVRA. Sadly, the law is written assuming that the entity receiving a demand letter is guilty. For that reason, it is likely that the City would lose a law suit brought based on the CVRA. Analysis of the voting history of the City is at worst ambiguous in the area of polarization against protected classes.

      I expect that should the upcoming election hand Council Member Marquez a sympathetic majority, that majority will swiftly vote to move to district-based elections.

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

  3. Here are my views – Councilwoman Marquez acts like rules do not apply to her & her supporters act the same way. At the last Cypress City Council meeting, one of Councilwoman Marquez’s supporters started yelling out her comments from her seat. She was told to wait to be called up.
    When she got up to speak, she was hysterical with her arms waving all over the place as she spoke. She was hysterical & used her time to read a form. My takeaway watching this was that Councilwoman Marquez ignores decorum and rules and her supporters do the same.

  4. This is obviously an OPINION piece by a biased and uninformed woman posing as a “reporter”.
    What an embarrassment for this publication. Dr. Marquez is a BREATH of FRESH AIR and the repeated, targeted attacks by those who want to “Keep things the way they used to be” is painfully obvious.
    Anytime you get someone willing to stand up and look out for good of the entire community and QUESTION things that deserve scrutiny, they will be targets. I’m SO proud of Dr. Marquez and her tireless efforts on behalf of citizens of this city. TRUTH matters. FACTS matter.

    1. Ms. Reames, you are absolutely correct that truth and facts matter. That is why we must share that
      Councilwoman Marquez is looking out for those folks who prefer Marxist government policies. It’s working so well in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago, etc. that we would want to bring that form of government to Cypress.

    2. Author

      Ms. Reames,

      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      As a biased and uninformed woman wishing to improve herself, I would ask you to please be more particular in your criticism so that I can improve my reporting skills.

      For instance, can you explain how repeatedly requesting that Council Member Marquez stick to the rules — that is, follow parliamentary procedure — is bad? I will concede that following parliamentary procedure would “keep things the way they used to be” in so far as conducting orderly Council meetings. But I cannot see how that is bad.

      I most heartily agree that truth and facts matter, whether in all caps or not. However, I also firmly believe that Council Member Marquez can be a breath of fresh air and question things while following parliamentary procedure.

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

  5. This, alas, is a hit propaganda piece. This isn’t impartial journalism. This is an opinion piece void of sources, facts and lacks a three dimensional understanding of government transparency and the rule of law.

    Do better.

    1. Author

      Ms. Shapiro,

      Thank you for continuing to read Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to read this article.

      I do not understand the basis for your assertion that the article is unsourced and lacks facts. For example, links are included to the video of the June 13 regular meeting so that readers of Orange County Breeze may view the video and judge for themselves whether the transcript accurately reports what Council Member Marquez said.

      I had thought that my grasp of government transparency was solid, but apparently not. Please describe how I might gain a better understanding, a “three-dimensional understanding,” of government transparency, to improve my future reporting.

      I also thought that my understanding of the rule of law was sound, based on reading in the history of politics and law. Apparently my understanding of the rule of law is not adequate. Please provide me with a path forward to improve my understanding of the rule of law.

      Again, thank you for continuing to read Orange County Breeze.

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

  6. Is she a Soros disciple?

  7. Thank you Shelley for this outstanding comprehensive report about what is happening at the Cypress City Council.

  8. Thank you for this very detailed article about Council Member Marquez. She radiates all the things that progressives stand for and why they should not be in charge of anything. Council Member Marquez rarely follows rules and procedures. She likes to go on and on and on and on about everything that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I am waiting for Council Member Marquez to demand a “safe space” at city council meetings. If you lean toward Marxism, then Council Member Marquez is your candidate.

  9. Frances is a loose cannon who obviously doesn’t think rules apply to her. In the 30+ years I have lived in Cypress I don’t believe we’ve ever had a worse council member. She has a socialist political agenda and is threatening staff, which is outrageous. She is a whiner and nothing but trouble. We all need to be careful of the candidates she endorses for the fall election. She is trying to take over the city & remake it to suit her agenda.

Comments are closed.