Ethics concern arises over social media post
The City of San Marcos Ethics Review Commission will meet to discuss a complaint filed against one of its council members following what many in the business community consider inflammatory, bias remarks.
On Monday, the commission will review a complaint filed by Phil Hutchinson on Dec. 12. The complaint refers to remarks made by Dr. Joca Marquez on her personal Twitter account on Nov. 19.
Her remarks pertained to proposed housing developments taking place in the city.
“All the developers seeking to make big profits in SM for ‘affordable housing’ all have the same look: White, male, tall, wear blue blazers, money hungry, and emotionless…AND It feels damn good to vote against their proposed development,” Marquez’s post read.
Hutchinson said by posting the attached message on Twitter the councilperson has expressed bias against applicants that fit a certain profile.
“Shortly after publicly posting this message the councilperson voted against a project where the applicant fit this description and did not give significant reasons for her vote, thereby introducing the prospect that the vote was based on her stated bias,” Hutchinson wrote in the complaint. “Although the councilperson has removed the message, she has not disclaimed the content.”
Hutchinson said content such as the tweet opens the city to a lawsuit, especially from an applicant fitting the description in the tweet, but also in the event another applicant appears to have received favorable treatment based on their ethnicity to the detriment of others.
Screenshot provided in the City of San Marcos Ethics Review Commission complaint packet
Councilmember Marquez said she was aware of the complaint but was unable to comment.
“There is a process currently in place in our city for review of such complaints in executive session,” she said. “I respect that process and will wait to receive the Ethics Review Commission’s determination following Monday’s meeting before offering any additional public statements regarding the complaint.”
The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the City Hall Conference Room — 630 E. Hopkins St. — and move into executive session under the authority of Section 2.444 of the San Marcos City Code to review complaint No. 2019-2.
The complaint references Sec. 2.421 (a). - Policy and purposes of the Code of Ethics which states: “It is the policy of the city that all city officials and employees shall conduct themselves both inside and outside the city’s service to give no occasion for distrust of their integrity, impartiality or devotion to the best interest of the city and the public trust which the city holds.”