Monday, October 29, 2018

Five San Antonio Mayors Line Up to Blow Holes in the Fire Union's Charter Amendments

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2018 at 3:38 PM

click to enlarge Henry Cisneros, flanked by four other San Antonio mayors, discusses his objections to the fire union's proposed amendments to the city charter. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Henry Cisneros, flanked by four other San Antonio mayors, discusses his objections to the fire union's proposed amendments to the city charter.
At an afternoon press conference, five San Antonio mayors lobbed salvos at a trio of charter amendments the city's fire union placed on the November ballot.

Current Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined former mayors Julian Castro, Phil Hardberger, Henry Cisneros and Ed Garza in describing the ballot measures as a ploy to get voters to hold back their own city. The Go Vote No campaign also began airing anti-amendment ad spots today featuring the mayors.

"We don't want to get off of this track of expanded opportunity and economic growth," said Castro, backed by a group of political and business leaders. "These propositions threaten that economic growth and our future. I can understand sometimes why folks may have frustrations about certain things that happen at city hall, but these propositions are not the way to improve anything."

The fire union, in stalled contract negotiations with the city, has sold its amendments as a way to put democracy back in citizens' hands. But groups as disparate as the city's chambers of commerce and the Texas Organizing Project warn they could endanger the city's ability to govern.

One amendment would lower the bar for putting proposed ordinances – such as utility rate increases or the city's non-discrimination ordinance – to a public referendum. Another would cap future city managers’ compensation and force them into term limits. The final would require the city to take union contract disputes to binding arbitration.



Fire union chief Chris Steele was unavailable for comment at press time. The union official went into radio silence during a combative early October news conference, saying he would no longer address questions about the public campaign.

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