It's beginning to look like the grandstanding by City Council over barring Chick-fil-A from the new Airport concessions agreement will be costly to San Antonio, and it could be the taxpayers who end up footing the bill, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Just after the Texas Attorney General opened an investigation into whether the City Council vote violated state law, the Plano based First Liberty Institute, which represents Christian plaintiffs in religious freedom cases, fired off a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in which attorney Jeremy Dys claims the federal government is now legally obligated to discontinue all federal grant money to San Antonio airport improvement projects, because the federal government is prohibited by law from funding agencies or communities which discriminate on the basis of sex, race, national origin or religion.
"If the San Antonio City Council is going to engage in discrimination, then the federal taxpayer ought not to pay for that," Dys said. "And my understanding is, the Airport is the subject of at least one $2.5 million dollar grant from the Department of Transportation.
That would mean that local taxpayers would have to pick up the cost of the airport renovation project, and, if Attorney General Ken Paxton's investigation finds the City Council is bigoted against religious organizations, there could be hefty ordered.
“The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude a respected vendor based on the religious beliefs associated with that company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The city’s discriminatory decision is not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law," Paxton said.
The First Liberty Institute claim could also result in federal funding for highway expansion projects also being cancelled.
Dys says, while the City does have the right to decide which businesses can and cannot operate at the Airport, which is a city-owned facility, it was Councilman Roberto Trevino's 'virtue signaling' claim that he was opposing the company because of its alleged anti LGBTQ policies which pushed the vote into the category of discrimination.
"The only people here to have engaged in discrimination here is the City of San Antonio," Dys said. "It is the City of San Antonio that has not only failed to abide by federal and state laws, the Council has failed to abide by its own Non-Discrimination Ordinance here."
The City NDO, which was expanded in 2013 to include sexual orientation as a protected class, does in fact read as follows:
"It shall be the general policy of the City of San Antonio to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability, as set forth in the Divisions following, unless exempted by state or federal law or as otherwise indicated."
Dys says all federal transportation grants should be placed on hold while the Transportation Department conducts an investigation.
"We are asking the Secretary to suspect those grants, until an investigation can be conducted into these allegations that the City of San Antonio has engaged in religious discrimination, which it appears that they have from the statements they have made."
Councilman and mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse released a statement on the developments:
"The City Council must immediately reconvene on this item at the earliest opportunity to consider revoking this vote and moving forward with Chick-fil-A as part of the contract. It is imperative Mayor Nirenberg speak on behalf of this City and do his job. He has remained silent as the nation mocks San Antonio. Mistakes happen, but they can be fixed and we can show inclusiveness by honoring all points of view. Disagreement is not discrimination and Chick-fil-A deserves to be included," he said.
PHOTO: SAN ANTONIO AIRPORT