Nirenberg argues charter amendments threaten San Antonio economic prosperity

Mayor Ron Nirenberg addresses the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 10, 2018 (Photo: North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce/Facebook)

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg says a charter amendment push by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association will threaten the city’s economic boom.

The mayor made the comments in an address to the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Friday.  A transcript of the speech was provided by the mayor’s reelection campaign.

“By any measure, San Antonio’s economy is in the best position it has ever enjoyed, and our future is limited only by our collective will to take bold action,” Nirenberg said to the chamber.

The three amendments would lower the number of signatures required to get a referendum measure on a ballot, cap the city manager’s salary to 10 times that of the lowest-paid city employee and the third would force the city to enter into binding arbitration with the fire union over contract disputes.

There has been strong push back from city officials and groups against the proposal.  The mayor vows to keep fighting it.

“This is not a fight we have chosen, but we have chosen to fight,” Nirenberg said. “If passed, they would take our city backwards, bringing divisive politics and bad policy to our local government — the one level of government that still works.”

The mayor used the bulk of the speech to talk about the gains the city has made in recent years in attracting new business to San Antonio, while also highlighting issues down the road like housing affordability and mass transit.

Nirenberg called the actions of the fire union president vindictive, while taking other swipes at the ballot measures.

“The fire union president wants the sole power to upend the negotiating table and a have third party arbitrator decide how your tax dollars are spent,” the mayor told the audience.  “Is it fair for one side to be able to declare an impasse at any point?  Is it fair for one side to take all the leverage without regard for the well-being of everyone?”

The mayor even used the “C” word to describe the proposed amendments: California.

“Every tough decision, every public investment, every policy and every program would be subject to a California-style referendum and potentially held hostage by a small group of self-interested people. It’s a formula for failure and political gridlock at a time when we need to act boldly for the future,” Nirenberg said.

The amendments will be up for a vote in November.  The mayor is up for reelection in May.

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