Councilman Ulises Cabrera was censured Tuesday after an investigation into a report of alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation by the former city clerk.

The Moreno Valley City Council Tuesday voted 3-2 to censure Councilman Ulises Cabrera after an independent investigation found he made comments that could have been perceived as threatening or intimidating and that he belittled former City Clerk Pat Jacquez-Nares by ignoring her.

Councilman Ulises Cabrera
(Source: City of Moreno Valley)

“We paid $24,000 of your money to have an independent firm come in and find out the facts,” Mayor Pro Tem Ed Delgado said. “While this firm, determined that there [were] some violations, albeit minor, but nonetheless, violations of behavior, from our policies, our procedures, our way of doing things in our city.”

Mayor Yxstian A. Gutierrez and councilwoman Elena Baca-Santa Cruz joined Degaldo in voting in favor of the censure.

“This is the strongest action we take, and I asked that the council support the strongest, swiftest, most responsive action to issue a censure and say that we do not agree,” Baca-Santa Cruz said. “We are not part of that and we will not stand it. We won’t stand for it.”

Cabrera, in responding to the censure, questioned the validity of the agenda item calling for his censure, the validity of the findings of the independent investigation and the motivations of the council members who would ultimately vote in favor of the censure.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said. “This was planned out, this was strategized behind closed doors in the darkness, and it’s all politically and personally motivated. So, again, I think that this is all unjustified.”

Councilman David Marquez, who joined Cabrera in voting against the censure, called the investigation a “witch hunt” spearheaded by Baca-Santa Cruz because “her group doesn’t like Cabrera and they don’t want him to become mayor.”

“Not one of you people out there that spoke tonight knows the true facts, but you like to come up here and just criticize, but you don’t know what happened,” he said. “All you people do is come up here and criticize, because you don’t know the facts. The fact is this: it never happened.”

The investigation that led to the censure was initially launched last November after Jacquez-Nares filed a complaint against Cabrera and Marquez alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Ultimately, the investigation found no unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation by either council member. It did, however, find that Cabrera belittled Jacquez-Nares and made statements that could be construed as threatening or intimidating.

While a few people spoke out in support of Cabrera, public comment during the meeting was mostly in favor of the censure with some referencing last year’s Brown Act violation by Cabrera and Marquez—a connection Gutierrez made as well.

“I think sometimes we forget, this was all related to what happened last year, with the illegal appointment,” he said. “If you look at the circumstances of what happened in that investigation, obviously, that’s what actually happened. So it was all related to it.”

That violation occurred during the Oct. 19, 2021, council meeting when Cabrera and Marquez appointed LaDonna Jempson to the District 1 council seat over the objections of the city attorney who advised that the appointment would be a violation of the Brown Act. The seat was vacant due to the Oct. 5, 2021 death of Mayor Pro Tem/District 1 Council Member Victoria Baca. The city council will consider a motion to censure both Cabrera and Marquez at a future council meeting in relation to the Brown Act violation.

As part of Cabrera’s Tuesday night censure, the council strongly encouraged and recommended that Cabrera take two hours of harassment and sensitivity training prior to Jan. 1, 2023, in addition to the required two hours of sexual harassment training.
A recording of the meeting can be watched here.

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