June 13, 2018

City Hall Is on Fire and San Antonio Firefighters Can Not Help

An email blast, to all of those who subscribe to the Mayor's campaign email list, was sent to thousands of inboxes last week, with a special message from Ron Nirenberg.  'Do What I Say' was the tone of the email... 


What's The Problem?


The Mayor came out punching towards the fire union after they obtained thousands of signatures required to put three different petitions on the November 2018 ballot that enable San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Steele to get new Charter Amendments that will change the future of San Antonio.  The three charter amendments included limiting the almost 'half-a-mill' salary that the current City Manager Sheryl Sculley receives in excess of that amount, down to 10x what the lowest salaried full-time employee of the city currently receives.  The second charter amendment enables the union to demand binding arbitration, if needed, during such things as contract negotiations.  The last charter amendment that the fire union proposed was to reduce the amount of signatures needed for petitions from 75k down to 20k and the time period to collect them from 40 days to 180 days.  The third charter also seeks to press 'delete' on all prohibitions currently in acted which is when the correct of amount of signatures are collected you may NOT and are PROHIBITED from even second guessing or questioning council appropriations, tax levies, utility fees/rates etc.  


To put it simply, the Fire Union is basically saying (in our opinion)-


1.  Scully gets paid a ridiculous sum of money (half a mill a year+) and it needs to change for any future city manager to avoid any future city run by the manager and not by the mayor;

2.  If the City tries to put crazy demands in a contract then the fire union can call for someone to mediate the situation for both sides to find common ground and achieve an agreement;

3.  Don't make us get more signatures for a petition then this whole city can even get to the polls to vote on a new mayor!  Let's bring the requirement down to an achievable level, if an individual or organization decides to ignite change through grass roots efforts by obtaining signatures for the public to vote on. 


Below you will see the email sent out from the Mayor to all subscribers of his election campaign email updates subscription:


From: Mayor Ron Nirenberg <>
Date: May 29, 2018 at 7:46:04 AM CDT
To: <>
Subject: A real threat to San Antonio's future
Reply-To: Mayor Ron Nirenberg <>


Make sure you, your friends, family and colleagues are registered to vote and encourage your fellow citizens to preserve their right and their future by voting NO on the union's charter proposals November 6th.  


The Mayor signed off the email with his 'the city you deserve' logo above to end the email.  


A few days later we received community phone calls from all parts of the city trying to understand exactly why there was such a strong direct opposition.  Now, is everything perfect?  Nothing ever is but there is one thing VERY important that could be LOST if voters decide it's time.  And that is to take the City Manager's salary down a 'notch'.  We are sure the Mayor would still put out a message if he strongly opposed the Fire Unions Charter Amendments for the November Ballot but if you take Sculley's position out of the Charter Amendments then his approach would have definitely been more careful.  See our concerned citizen's open letter to the Mayor below received by the Observer last week who brings up significant valid concerns- 





I fail to see the threat as you do. It almost sounds  like you are playing the role of "Chicken Little" in the story that we all read in elementary school called "The Sky Is Falling".   In the story, Chicken Little ran around the barnyard telling all of the animals that "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" when in fact an ACORN had fallen from a tree and hit him on the head. While I agree with your seemingly "people oriented" policies generally, particularly the idea of focusing on equity rather than equality as the "people's money" is spent, I'm having  trouble with the idea that the fire union's proposals are detrimental to this city (the people).  


I guess I have more confidence and respect for the people's ability to do what is in our best interest. I agree that an uninformed people could drop the ball (politically speaking) but didn't we select current members of the council?  Including yourself?  Now suddenly we can't be trusted?  I beg to differ.  


You claim that to pass this package , as presented by the firemen, would "limit the city's ability to attract top talent" to city government.  Well, perhaps you should look in a different direction. It seems to me that the same people keep being considered for the KEY positions in this town over and over again. We have plenty of talent locally as well as around this state.  Texas is blessed to have the likes of Prairie View A &M University, Paul Quinn, Huston-Tillotson and Texas Southern Universities, to name a few, where you will find plenty of talented individuals ready/able to help make this city be all that it can be.  So implement your "equity philosophy" by recruiting from those and like sources.  


You mentioned that the SAPD came to the table and negotiated a "very good contract", Really?  I would ask the question: good for themselves or good for the people? As a taxpaying observer, I see a huge flaw in the contract. There is a LACK of Transparency and Accountability for the actions of policemen. Read it yourself with an open mind and see that made the contract unacceptable to literate/law abiding people.  


Understand that I am only the mouthpiece for many who feel helpless/left-out by the status quo and who desire to have a voice in the scheme of things. The ability to vote on these propositions provides an opportunity.   As a progressive, I consider an opportunity for The People to speak to be consistent with what I believe and any attempt to stifle the voice of The People to be conservative (maintenance of the status quo). 


Thank You, 

William B. Johnson

-D2 Resident (original was mailed to the Mayor)


We will be continuously speaking on these items each week to inform you of all the impacts of the three amendments entails.  For instance the business community has jumped on the Mayor's bandwagon because the amendments may impact how the city contracts with the business community changing what we know of "how we do business".   


SA Observer's Editorial Board Chair and Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce, Christopher Herring says, "Mr. Steele and I will meet soon to discuss the proposed amendments and any impacts to the business community.  To his credit, he has made himself available to the Fair Contracting Coalition to address some of the perceptions which is a good thing.  I wasn't able to participate in this conversation but we have agreed to meet to discuss this in more detail so I can fully understand if and how this impacts small business and minority businesses." 


When you have all the information then emails such as the Mayor's don't slam you in a corner because you just think whatever he says to do, is the way to go.  It is not time for someone to push their personal agenda on you, The People  can make our own choice.  Your choice is made through your vote.  Vote responsibly.



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