City Leaders Begin Campaign to Defeat Firefighter Charter Proposals

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

Key city and business leaders gathered at La Villita on Saturday to kick off a city wide campaign designed to convince voters to defenat those three charter amendments being pushed by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association which will be on the November 6 ballot, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Officials are making it clear they are opposing the propositions as individuals.  State law does not allow the City as an entity to take a position.

"I say vote no, because voting no is really voting yes for the continuation of a responsible city government, that we've had for so long," north side Councilman John Courage said.

The proposals would cap the pay and limit the length of service of the City Manager, and would make it easier for voters to petition and vote to overturn all actions of City Council.There is also a proposal to require that all disputes between the City and its public safety unions be settled by arbitration, and bars legal action between the parties.

City and business leaders say the proposals would lead to chaos in City government, and that would lead to a lower bond rating, and higher costs for City bonds.  That would mean more tax money would go to interest payments rather than to basic services like streets, drainage, and police protection.

Many leaders, like State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) say the proposals would place big money special interests in charge of City government, because they would have the deep pockets to bankroll petition drives against City Council proposals they don't like.

"This is a game of chicken that went too far," Bernal said.  "We can't allow cross-city warfare to destroy our thriving community."

Several people at the rally indicated their concerns about fighting against firefighters, who are considered 'local heroes.' 

But they also pointed out that, in their opinion, this is a power play by the Firefighters Union, which has been without a contract with the City since 2014, because they are unwilling to accept the same cuts to their insurance plans that the San Antonio Police Officers Association accepted two years ago.

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