Newsmonger: Chief McManus Is Back, the Cops Union Goes to Court, and SAWS' Math Is a Little Off

click to enlarge Chief William McManus with Councilman Ron Nirenberg during last October’s National Night Out. - Courtesy
Chief William McManus with Councilman Ron Nirenberg during last October’s National Night Out.

McManus Returns

City Council unanimously confirmed the appointment of William McManus as chief of the San Antonio Police Department on October 1, restoring him to the gig he left in December 2014.

McManus earned universal praise for his law-enforcement prowess during the confirmation period, but how he was appointed is questionable: There were five other finalists being considered to replace him, and each was interviewed by community panels and City Manager Sheryl Sculley. McManus, who was managing security for CPS Energy, simply reached out to Sculley and asked about getting his old job back.

Citizens at the meeting and some City Council members, particularly Cris Medina and Shirley Gonzales, questioned the propriety of the process and how it could impact attracting future talent to San Antonio. Tommy Adkisson, a former Bexar County Commissioner and mayoral candidate, said it appeared that the council was "acquiescent" to Sculley's whims.

"I watched the council bow and scrape to their top highly paid city manager," Adkisson said. "It's your lawn, mow it. I don't think they did a very good job of mowing their lawn."

McManus committed to serve at least two years as chief, and will make $212,000 per year. He starts this week.

Police Union Halts Contract Negotiations

From the "seriously, this story will never end" file: The San Antonio Police Officers Association announced this week that it will "take a recess" from contract negotiations with the city, even though it appeared that the two sides were inching closer to a deal.

The impasse stems from the length of the evergreen clause, the provision in the contract that preserves the terms of the deal while the two sides negotiate. The union wants to keep the clause in place for 10 years. City negotiators have offered five years.

In November 2014, COSA sued the police and fire unions over the legality of the evergreen clause, but put the suit on hold while negotiations occurred. Now that the police union wants to step away from the table, the city will resume legal actions.

A court battle seems to suit both sides.

"We delivered a proposal that offered exactly what the city requested," Michael Helle, president of the police union, said in a news release. "At the last minute they said the evergreen clause was a deal breaker. We look forward to finding the answer in court."

City officials have said they would drop the lawsuit if the two sides reach a contract agreement. The police union may file a countersuit.

Be Sure to Check Your Water Bill

Customers who've complained about the San Antonio Water System overcharging them now have an explanation for high bills: the utility was estimating how much to bill roughly 10 percent of its customers.

SAWS guesses bills (called "blanket estimations" in utility jargon) for some customers each month, because it doesn't have enough staff to read every water meter in the city. But the number of blanket estimates the utility made in August – approximately 50,000, mostly on the NORTH SIDE – was unprecedented.

Some have expressed concern that SAWS can't seem to provide accurate billing for its customers – especially since the utility is considering raising water rates to pay for infrastructure projects, such as the Vista Ridge Pipeline.

"At the end of the month, we will be asked to talk about a rate increase and when we have difficulty determining what actual revenue generation is, it's hard to do that," said District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher.

SAWS has set up a website ( and hotline (210-233-2050) to help overcharged ratepayers analyze their bills. The utility could pay out more than $1 million in credits because of the billing errors.

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