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Former Mayors Gather To Oppose San Antonio City Charter Amendments

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
From left to right: Former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger, current Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and former mayors Henry Cisneros, Julian Castro and Ed Garza speak at the Go Vote No campaign headquarters on Monday

It’s one week until Election Day and six former San Antonio mayors are speaking out against the proposed San Antonio city charter amendments started by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined former mayors Ed Garza, Henry Cisneros, Phil Hardberger and Julian Castro at the Go Vote No campaign headquarters on Broadway Monday. The mayors decried the amendments on the November ballot, calling them bad for San Antonio.

“These are not the right propositions to improve anything at City Hall. In fact, they are a recipe for making things at city hall much worse,” Castro said.

Castro said if passed they would stunt San Antonio’s economic growth.

“We don’t want to get off of this track of expanded opportunity and economic growth and these propositions threaten that economic growth and our future,” he added.

Former Mayor Lila Cockrell also announced her opposition to the amendments but was not present at the headquarters.

Proposition A would lower signature thresholds to challenge city ordinances; Prop B would  reduce the compensation of the city manager and limit their tenure; and Prop C would force binding arbitration between the city and fire union in wage and contract negotiations.

The Go Vote No Campaign has raised more than a million dollars to fight the amendments.

Nirenberg addressed Prop C directly, saying fire union President Chris Steel did not have the union’s interests in mind.

“Chris Steele is no friend to the San Antonio fire fighters. For four years, we have attempted to ask Chris Steele to come to the table to negotiate a contract on behalf the members of this community — the fire fighters and their families who put their lives on the line every single day,” Nirenberg said. “For four years, we have been told ‘no’ and that’s not right.”

Nirenberg added to the fire fighters, “As mayor, I want to get a deal done for you and your families.”

District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse has endorsed the amendments. He said the mayors’ news conference was fantastic for the vote yes campaign.

“I think it's really comical to watch mayors — former mayors — try to make an argument that says citizens should have a smaller voice in government,” he said, “I mean, that’s essentially what they’re doing.”

The fire union issued a statement about the conference.

“This is a perfect illustration of the problem: City Hall only benefits a handful of people like these former mayors. These propositions are about the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are paying higher taxes and utility rates every year. It is hardly news that people in power want to remain in power. These propositions rein in City Hall and end insider backroom deals and they are afraid of that.”

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules