Bexar Democrats — Some of Them Anyway — Endorse Fire Union's Charter Amendments

click to enlarge Chris Steele speaks at the Bexar County Democratic Party headquarters. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
Chris Steele speaks at the Bexar County Democratic Party headquarters.
At a hastily announced press conference this afternoon, San Antonio's fire union touted the highest-profile endorsement for its three proposed charter amendments — that of the Bexar County Democratic Party.

"We thank you for this endorsement and for helping people have a voice to vote, which is the most important thing about being an American," union chief Chris Steele said, surrounded by supporters of Manuel Medina, the failed mayoral candidate and ousted chair of the Bexar Democrats.

Although party officials at the press conference said its County Executive Committee voted four-to-one in favor of the endorsement, that tally wasn't without controversy. Some party insiders maintain it was the result of an ambush vote in August packed with Medina loyalists, or “Manuelistas."

Also worth noting: Steele's fire union endorsed Medina in his 2017 run for mayor.

The union amendments, which will appear on the November ballot, are largely viewed as a scorched-earth payback to the city over stalled contract negotiations. Along with making it easier for citizens to force a public vote on proposed ordinances, they would push negotiations with the union into binding arbitration and limit future city managers’ salaries and tenure.

Despite the Bexar County Democratic Party endorsement, several high-profile Dems, including State Rep. Diego Bernal and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, have come out against the proposed amendments.

That apparent dichotomy raises questions about just how much benefit the measures are likely to have to Democratic voters, but alas, there wasn't much time set aside for such inquires at today's news conference.

It began ten minutes before the announced 1:30 p.m. start time, meaning several reporters arrived shortly before it wound down. And, after a blink-and-you-missed it Q&A session, Steele headed to the exit, ignoring multiple shouted questions.

The union boss continued to blow off reporters, even as they followed his entourage out the back door of the Bexar County Democratic Party headquarters. He climbed into the back of black SUV and coasted out of the parking lot.

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