District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse held a news conference at the fire union’s banquet hall Wednesday to detail his concerns about the recordings and support San Antonio city charter amendments proposed by the fire union.
The secretly recorded audio is of San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Steele, and the two audio clips of about a minute each in length were released by the Go Vote No campaign, which opposes the charter amendments.
In the recordings, Steele named Brockhouse as the union's candidate for the mayor's office. Brockhouse said the tapes were leaked by the Go Vote No Campaign only for maximum political gain.
“We’re talking about a context of tapes that are no more than two minutes over what was a two-hour lengthy conversation. I say let’s release the tapes and whatever is in them, let’s have an honest conversation about it,” he said. “I’ll own whatever I said or did, and we can get to the bottom of this. Leaking tapes at a convenient political juncture leading up to an early vote is not right. It’s not fair to the public.”
The propositions on the November ballot are listed as propositions A, B, and C. Brockhouse said he plans to support the three city charter amendments.
“They are imperfect propositions — I don’t agree with every aspect of them — and I wish something would be different in them but they are imperfect propositions at the perfect time,” he said. “I think the positions — in today’s world with the way city hall operates — makes sense to me.”
Prop A would reduce the number of signatures needed to challenge city ordinances and decisions made by the City Council. Currently, the signature threshold is equal to 10 percent of registered voters that participated in the last municipal election, which is about 70,000 signatures. The proposal calls for lowering that number to 20,000, which is the number required by the state to trigger charter amendment elections. It also raises the number of days allowed to gather signatures.
Prop B would cap the city manager’s compensation to 10 times the lowest paid city employee and limit their time in office to eight years, and prop C would require binding arbitration for disagreements between the city and fire union in negotiations for future healthcare and wage contracts.
“If something is so egregious that the citizens rise up and say ‘I want to vote against it,’ I’m OK with that. Because, at the end of the day, if they tell me I didn’t do a job by the vote, there’s no better score, there’s no better poll than a final vote on an election day, so 20,000 signatures doesn’t scare me,” Brockhouse said.
On City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s $475,000 annual salary, Brockhouse said, “I probably wouldn’t have chosen 10 times. I do think you need to make more money running this city but what we’ve seen is the city manager so much power and strength.”
Earlier this year, Sculley received a $75,000 merit bonus.
If the amendments pass in November, they can't be amended for at least two years.
The Go Vote No campaign officials say there is more audio recorded but have not said when or if more would be released.
Joey Palacios can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @Joeycules