A broad based coalition ranging from the Tea Party to COPS/Metro Alliance today joined with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association and began circulating petitions calling for a change in the City Charter to limit the salary of the San Antonio City Manager, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Our City Manager has too much power and makes too much money," said SAPFFA President Chris Steele. "She makes as much as the President of the United States and the Governor, combined."
The SAPFFA has been sparring with City Manager Sheryl Sculley for years over her demand had firefighters begin paying more of their health care benefits. The SAPFFA is currently working under the terms of a controversial 'Evergreen Clause' a long expired contract which the city has unsuccessfully tried to have thrown out by the courts.
Steele says Sculley's pay is way out of line for the work that she does.
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff doesn't make half of what the San Antonio City Manager makes, but has tens of thousands more people, and many many millions more in the budget.
The proposal also calls for a term limit on the City Manager of eight years, just like is currently in place for Council members. It also would demand that a supermajority of eight votes of the ten Council members and the Mayor be required to approve a new contract for the City Manager.
Other proposals that would be part of the SAPFFA's charter amendment would allow the Charter to be changed with signatures of 20,000 voters within 180 days. That is the number required by state law, but in San Antonio, 75,000 signatures all gathered within forty days are needed.
"The deck is stacked against citizens who want to change city ordinances," former San Antonio Tea Party President George Rodriguez said. "Why should voters be forced to gather nearly four times as many signatures in a fourth of the time, when what state law requires to change the charter? City ordinance of Charter, the rules should be the same."
It would also contain a provision which would require that any disagreements between the public safety unions be required to be settled through binding arbitration, not through lawsuits. Steele says the fact that the City Manager is suing the SAPFFA over contract language has badly damaged the morale of the firefighters, and he indirectly blamed Sculley for last year's death of a firefighters in a northwest side fire.
UPDATE: Sculley this afternoon blasted the petition effort as another way for the union to express its grievances at the City over the contract impasse.
“This is more gamesmanship from a fire union that refuses to renegotiate a contract that expired more than three years ago. The only way to give firefighters the compensation they deserve is for the union to come to the table and bargain in good faith," Sculley said.