Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Baseball, Bonds and Bargaining: 7 Takeaways from Mayor Ivy Taylor's State of the City Address

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 5:26 PM

SARA LUNA ELLIS
  • Sara Luna Ellis
If you missed our live coverage of Mayor Ivy Taylor's 2016 State of the City address, don't fret: that's all right here. You can also read the full transcript of her address on that page.

All caught up? Great. Now, here are seven takeaways from the speech:

Ending Veteran Homelessness is on track: The City of San Antonio set a goal to effectively end veteran homelessness in the city by March 31. Taylor said the city’s “on pace” to hit the mark. Whether that goal is met or not will be decided by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which judges every city’s ability to house homeless vets on a specific set of criteria.

A Downtown baseball stadium — and a AAA club — is a priority: Major League Soccer and AAA baseball, one rung up from the Missions’ AA status, have long been viewed as the most viable additions to the San Antonio sports landscape. The city has recently taken steps toward soccer, and baseball could be forthcoming. Taylor said that officials were “laying the groundwork” for a new stadium near Downtown. The viability of such a development was the subject of a study by Centro San Antonio. A request for comment to the agency about the status of that study has not yet been answered, and it’s unclear what a new development would mean for Wolff Stadium and the club that plays in it.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: Taylor announced that the SA Works program would lead the city's workforce development efforts, and would be under the Economic Development Foundation's umbrella (a new undertaking for whoever takes the helm of the CEO-less agency). She coupled that change with an emphasis on bridging the achievement gap in local schools, and leveling the playing field for poor and minority students.

If you build it...: The “million people in 25 years” figure is thrown around regularly to characterize San Antonio’s current and future explosive growth. But even if that number ends up being an overestimation, the city is undeniably expanding. So too, Taylor stressed, must the strength of the city’s infrastructure. Residents should expect the biggest bond election in San Antonio history come 2017, as well as debate over whether annexation is a sound method to manage growth (in Taylor’s view, maybe not). And if you’re not already, get used to hearing about growing “smart,” and the Pearl-like development and urban infill (not suburban sprawl) must drive future expansion.

Plenty of seats at the bargaining table: Taylor called for the police and fire unions to come back (again) to the bargaining table to hammer out agreements between the public safety associations and the city. She went off-script during this section of her speech to address the fatal terror attacks in Brussels (“Today’s events underscore that,”) to reference the importance of stable public safety groups. Taylor called the unions’ stance “not acceptable,” but it’s unlikely to change if the city continues to hold a lawsuit of their heads.

What Wasn’t Said: It’s impossible to hit every issue in a single speech, especially for a city the size of San Antonio. But Taylor’s address skipped over issues such as increasing violence on the East Side, gentrification, and city government affairs like ethics reform and some council members’ concerns over having enough time to review certain issues before votes.

Goodbye, Abengoa: Perhaps the most newsworthy nugget Taylor dropped was that Abengoa, the cash-strapped Spanish company that was spearheading the multi-billion dollar Vista Ridge Pipeline, would sell its stake in the project to Garney Construction, from Kansas City. Taylor said the project was “less risky now than it has ever been.”

Watch a replay of the full speech below, courtesy of NowCastSA:


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