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:
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.
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… 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:
Mayor Morales interrupted to ask how bringing up the meeting was following up.
Councilmember Marquez then continued:
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.
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 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 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.
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:
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):
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.