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Cypress Council Member Frances Marquez again amazes and astounds

After two moves to censure her that did not rise to actual censure, after a third move that resulted in her censure — the first censure ever of a Cypress Council Member — Cypress Council Member Frances Marquez will be the subject of a censure discussion yet again at the September 26 regular Council meeting.

This time, the discussion will be about her visit to Cypress High School, accompanied by two candidates for Council in November’s election.

According to former Cypress Mayor Rob Johnson, who spoke during the second segment for public comment, parents complained that Council Member Marquez and the two candidates campaigned on school grounds. According to current Mayor Paulo Morales, the High School’s principal complained that Council Member Marquez was given explicit guidelines for what she could do, and not do, according to Anaheim Union High School District policy — and utterly ignored the guidelines, going so far as to hand out campaign materials and to urge the students to pass along the materials to their parents.

Council Member Marquez insisted that she was merely educating the students on what is “really” going on in the City of Cypress. She told no one at the City what she was doing. City officials and staff found out when they received phone calls and emails from angry parents and the School principal.

According to Mayor Morales and City Attorney Fred Galante, the actions of Council Member Marquez as an elected representative of the City of Cypress opens the City up to legal liability.

Mayor Morales has requested that a discussion that could lead to a second censure be placed on the agenda of the next regular City Council meeting, on Monday, September 26.

No doubt more details will emerge during that discussion.

Video of the September 12 Cypress City Council meeting

Readers of Orange County Breeze are urged to view the video of the September 12 Cypress City Council meeting, posted on the City’s website.

Both the second oral communications segment and Council Member remarks should be viewed.

Remarks by former Cypress Mayor Rob Johnson

Mr. Johnson first spoke about his own experiences running for City Council, once unsuccessfully (in 2006) and twice successfully (in 2010 and 2014). Then he began to speak about the incident at Cypress High School:

It has recently come to my attention that a Council member along with two candidates seeking an election position here in Cypress overstepped their boundaries at Cypress High School during class time. They brought their own one-sided personal agenda to the students, leaving the students with non-accurate information. Speaking to Frances Marquez, this is a black eye for all City Council members…

City Attorney Galante interrupted to repeat the distinction that those commenting may name individual Council members but must speak to the Council as a whole.

Mr. Johnson then resumed speaking:

What was done is a black eye for everyone that’s up here and tries to do a great job, but it also reflects upon the City itself.

You exploded [sic] your position and exploited the High School students, asking for favors while passing out literature for personal gain and for the gain of two candidates seeking office in Cypress.

I’m here to ask that all candidates run a clean and honest program. Remember that City Council are non-partisan. May the three best candidates win.

He then gave information about the upcoming candidate forum to be hosted by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce at Cypress College on Wednesday, September 28.

Response by Mayor Morales

After a clarification from City Attorney Galante, Mayor Morales responded to the remarks made by Mr. Johnson by passing out a document concerning the use of school grounds for campaign and election activity:

…I am trying to understand how and why this would have taken place.

I have spoken to the principal. I have spoken to a member of the Anaheim Unified [sic] High School District Board of Trustees.

And it is beyond me, Council Member Marquez, you would have thought that was okay.

We’ve heard many things over the last several months about yes and no and everybody is trying to silence you.

Well, let me read just a couple of the comments from the particular letters that were sent in.

Mayor Morales then selected a letter from a parent who is also part of the Parent Teacher Association for Cypress High School and read:

I’m also disappointed that two candidates running for office ‐ that would be Troy Tanaka and Helen Le — were able to promote and campaign to seniors. They were handed campaign material and directed to give it to their parents. I was under the assumption that candidates were invited to a debate or forum such as this that all candidates running for that office would be invited. The Council Member basically used my daughter to promote the two candidates of her choosing in the public school where my daughter couldn’t leave if she wanted to. I’m not sure the policies and procedures regarding campaign and promoting, but I am sure that it is nobody’s best interest for this to be done this way.

Mayor Morales then repeated his request that Council Member Marquez let the City know what she is doing as a Council Member representing the City of Cypress. He noted that her actions were a potential violation of the California education code. By her past repeated insistence on her own qualifications, he stated, she should have known better.

Response by Council Member Marquez

Council Member Marquez responded:

I have worked with high school students since the age of twenty and many different campaigns and I’ve asked permission from the school to talk to the students. …It’s educating people about what’s happening in their community. They are able to learn. It’s fostering future leadership. It’s getting kids to learn what’s happening in their community, get them engaged, and get them to work with candidates, knock on doors, and volunteer.

Everybody’s welcome.

In 2018 when I ran, I was by myself and I asked permission and they allowed me into the school.

Everybody’s invited. Nobody was excluded.

That’s something that I’ve been doing for the last thirty years. There have never been any major complaints. It’s educating kids, engaging them, letting them learn about the political process. I’m a college professor. You have to explain things to kids and educate them. If you’re not telling them what’s going on in their community, allowing them to know what’s happening, then that’s a shame. Because you’re not engaging them and letting them know. Politics impacts everything you do every day of your life from the minute you get up in the morning. That’s what I teach my students.

So there was nothing go out of the line.

I talked about being the daughter of parents who were segregated. I talked about my experiences in Cypress schools. I talked about graduate school.

I invited them to participate. I talked to them about policy issues here — and that was it.

If somebody disagrees with that, everybody is invited. It’s an open forum. The kids have a right to know what’s happening in their community.

Response by Mayor Morales to the remarks by Council Member Marquez

Mayor Morales replied that he was familiar with two of the seven candidates that were unaware of the event at Cypress High School. He emphasized that she presented her own position rather than the City’s position on topics such as the California Voting Rights Act (district-based elections) lawsuit, the trash issue, the City Yard issue, and alleged poor treatment from Council colleagues. Mayor Morales judged her conduct in presenting her personal position as “unacceptable” for an elected representative of the City,

He concluded by asking that a discussion of her behavior with a goal of a second censure be placed on the agenda for the next Council meeting, then moved on to the next section of the Council meeting.

Again, readers are urged to watch the video posted on the City website.

2 Comments

  1. I have no skin in this game. But from where I stand, two things were true. Marquez should not have gone off script to discussocal politics. Why? Not because what she’s saying is necessarily inaccurate, it’s because th PARENTS will politicize the issue and pressure the schools to take an aggressive course of action which is what happened.

    AND the council politicized the issue. It’s now the smoking gone that gives them the ability to censure and all of the other nonsense they’ve tried to do all year. But we see through it. Of all the divisive and tragic (see the Waste Transfer Site) THIS is the issue he’s so distraught over? Come on.

    At the end of the day, a politician is a politician is a politician. The dramatic theatrical show and the faux outrage from the council was as transparently absurd as the other meetings I’ve seen.

    I like Troy Tanaka a lot. He seems so authentic and sincere. None of this should follow him.

  2. As an educator and as an elected representative, it should have been clear that one-sided presentation of issues (aka propaganda) would not be mistaken for education.
    A candidate forum would be great, involving all of the candidates, but this blatant partisanship on school grounds is unacceptable behavior.

Comments are closed.