RESPONSE FROM SAN ANTONIO FIRST
RE: City Claim of Voter Involvement Hurting Credit Rating
The “Circling of the Wagons” has now begun. When we launched our San Antonio First campaign to promote Accountability, Consistency and Fairness at City Hall, we knew we were going to start a discussion that would make "City Hall" and the Power Structure uncomfortable.
First, City leaders tried to defend the City Manager’s $550,000 a year contract, which is more than what we pay the President and Governor, combined. They argued how paying one city employee more than 10 times the lowest paid full-time city employee, or $300,000 a year is not enough.
We think the voters should weigh in on this issue of accountability at City Hall.
Then City Leaders attacked your First Responders for saying we are tired of being sued in court, over a contract the City signed. They lose in court, twice, and now want to continue the lawsuit to the Texas Supreme Court. We think that wasting over one million dollars of tax payer money losing legal challenges is not being responsible. Instead of asking the voters to pay your failed legal challenges, we think that if an agreement cannot be reached during negotiations, let an arbitrator or neutral third party decide. Stop filing frivolous lawsuits and expect the taxpayers to pay the bill.
We think the voters should weigh in on this issue of fairness at City Hall.
Finally, they are now claiming that voters having more say in City issues could hurt CPS bond ratings. JUST ANOTHER SCARE TACTIC. Cities and States all over the country who allow their citizens more voice at the ballot box share our credit ratings. The fact is that City leaders were tone deaf to the voters last year and raised utility rates. Voters didn’t have a voice and were not allowed to weigh in on the issue.
Your Firefighters are simply saying if it takes 20,000 signatures on a petition to allow voters to voice their opinion at the ballot box and change the City Charter, why not be consistent and make the same rules apply to changing a City Ordinance. Giving voters a voice should never be used as a threat like claiming it will hurt credit ratings.
We think the voters should weigh in on this issue of consistency, especially giving them a voice at City Hall.
San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association Launches “San Antonio First” Campaign
--Asks Voters to Support Three Petition Issues to Amend the Charter
San Antonio—Chris Steele, President of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, announced a campaign to provide transparency and accountability at City Hall, more voter involvement in City issues, and a plan to require a neutral 3rd party to resolve issues rather than lawsuits. The group is circulating three petitions calling for changes to the City Charter. State law requires the group to gather at least 20,000 signatures of San Antonio registered voters on each petition to have the issues on the November general election ballot.
“San Antonions have expressed our city managers pay is out of touch with our working population. When you have a City Manager that makes the same money per year as the President of the United States and the Governor of Texas—combined, we think that is out of touch,” noted Steele. “We think voters should have the choice to continue the status quo or set realistic limits.”
City Manager Charter Changes
If approved by voters, the Charter Amendment would place new limits on the salary level, length of employment and increase the number of votes by Council to approve the contract. Specific changes include:
- City Manager Salary and Bonus Cap: Salary and bonuses would be capped to no more than 10 times the lowest paid full-time city employee
- City Manager Service Term Limit: May not serve more than 8 years (same term limit as City Council members and the Mayor)
- City Manager Contract Approval: Increases the number of votes to approve the City Manager contract to a supermajority, or 8 votes of the City Council and Mayor.
Firefighters “Good Faith” Contract Arbitration
The law in the State of Texas says “denying firefighters and police officers the right to organize and bargain collectively would lead to strife and unrest, consequently injuring the health, safety, and welfare of the public.” The City has spent millions of dollars in litigation against its own first responders.
That is a waste of taxpayer money and the city’s fight against its first responders has injured the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens.
To maintain the high morale of the firefighters and police officers and the efficient operation of the departments in which they serve, adopting this ordinance would require the city to negotiate in “good faith” and if both sides cannot reach an agreement, the issues are decided by a neutral 3rd party.
“The taxpayers should not have to fund a lawsuit because City leaders refuse to act in good faith. By changing this law, everyone stays out of the courthouse and we let an independent third party decide the issue,” noted Steele. "This will save the taxpayers millions of dollars".
The third petition would allow voters easier access to the ballot box. Currently to change a city charter, citizens must submit a petition containing 20,000 signatures of City voters in 180 days. However, to change a city ordinance, voters must secure more than 75,000 signatures in 40 days. The number of signatures required for Charter Amendments is set by state law, whereas the signatures to change an ordinance is set by the Charter.
If voters approve the new language, the number of signatures to change an ordinance will now be the same as changing the Charter—a maximum of 20,000 signatures in 180 days.
“The deck is stacked against citizens who want to change city ordinances,” stated George Rodriguez former President of the San Antonio Tea Party. “Why should voters be forced to gather nearly 4 times as many signatures in a fourth of the time, then what state law requires to change the Charter? City ordinance or Charter, the rules should be the same.”
Petition officials will be located at early voting stations and at the polls for the March 6th Texas primaries.
CLAUDE BLACK CENTER 2805 East Commerce
MISSION LIBRARY 3134 Roosevelt Ave.
LAS PALMAS LIBRARY 515 Castroville Rd.
BROOKHOLLOW LIBRARY 530 Heimer Rd.
JULIA YATES SEMMES LIBRARY 15060 Judson Rd.
JOHN IGO LIBRARY 13330 Kyle Seale Parkway
FIREFIGHTERS BANQUET HALL 8925 IH10W
And other voting locations around the San Antonio area. Your Support is greatly Appreciated.