San Antonio council moves to closed-door session to discuss fire union contract

Thursday's executive session was called despite the mayor last week saying the discussion should happen in public.

click to enlarge Last week, five members of city council expressed their concerns with City Attorney Andy Segovia. However, those disagreements appear to have blown over. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
Last week, five members of city council expressed their concerns with City Attorney Andy Segovia. However, those disagreements appear to have blown over.
Despite Mayor Ron Nirenberg's earlier insistence that talks about contract negotiations with the city's fire union be held in public, council quickly moved into a closed-door executive session Thursday to discuss the matter.

Last week, five council members including District 7 Councilwoman Marina Alderete Gavito demanded the discussion of the contract be held in an executive session. However, City Attorney Andy Segovia refused, saying he feared information leaks that could compromise the city's bargaining position.

However, in a text to KSAT last week, Nirenberg said that the matter should be discussed in public, maintaining that "we should hold all budget conversations in open session."

Despite Segovia's fears and Nirenberg's opposition, council ultimately discussed matter privately on Thursday — which is what the five council members, now branding themselves as the "Block of 5," wanted.

The only public discussion on the contract negotiations wasn't a discussion at all, but rather a 10 minute presentation showing that council and the fire union are still miles apart when it comes to a collective bargaining agreement.

The city's proposal, which includes an annual pay bump of 4% over the next five years for firefighters, would cost taxpayers $157.8 million, according to the presentation. Meanwhile, the union's proposal, which provides for increases to, well, just about everything, would cost taxpayers $520 million over that same period.

"A lot has transpired day-over-day, and what we saw yesterday is a willingness for all of us to move forward in a productive manner," Alderete Gavito told reporters as she was leaving City Hall on Thursday after the executive session. "Now we just need to have a conversation about the firefighters."

Alderete Gavito was tight-lipped about what was discussed during the lengthy session, only saying that she and her colleagues had some "good conversation."

What's more, it appeared the Block of Five's effort to discuss the potential ouster of City Attorney Andy Segovia has come to an end.

District 6 Councilwoman Cabello Havrda told the Current Monday that she was hellbent on removing Segovia from office, alleging that he gave inconsistent and questionable legal advice.

Following a separate executive session Wednesday, City Manager Erik Walsh told reporters he planned to talk with Segovia about his performance as city attorney, the Express-News reports. That appeared to be good enough for Cabello Havrda.

"I don't know yet what actions are going to be taken, if any," the councilwoman told the daily. "I feel like our concerns were heard, and that's an important first step."

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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