Despite its passage nearly six weeks ago, San Antonio’s new nondiscrimination ordinance that would protect gays, lesbians and transsexuals from discrimination is still generating controversy, even among people who do not live in San Antonio.
Three meetings were held starting in August allowing residents to share their comments on the ordinance.
They were loud, passionate hearings attended by huge crowds.
The ordinance passed but it's still a hot topic -- even among people who do not live here.
One such person is Mike Steele, the mayor pro tem of the city of Watauga, Texas.
"It doesn't increase the quality of life,” Steele said of the ordinance. “It doesn't pick up trash any faster."
Watauga is a suburb of Fort Worth and 278 miles from San Antonio.
Steele said he found out San Antonio spent $13,031.68 on police and fire overtime for those meetings, $3,490.88 on extra security, $1,531.91 on staff overtime, $1,967.00 on copying and $2,694.62 on food, totaling $22,716.09.
"(The city spent) $2,694 on food alone over the three days," Steele said, questioning the expense. "I think that's a waste of taxpayers’ money."
He said as a Watauga resident, he is interested because other cities might take note of what San Antonio did.
As for the costs, Police Chief Bill McManus said safety costs money.
"We're going to do what we have to do and we can't not do it because it's going to incur some costs,” McManus said. “Our job is to protect the public."
The other costs were described as simply the costs of putting on big meetings.
Mayor Julian Castro was not surprised about these harsh words from Steele in Watauga.
He acknowledged that the city received criticism from around the country and around the world over the nondiscrimination ordinance. But Castro said the measure was needed.
"We need to move forward,” Castro said. “We're a big city now. We're a city where everyone is treated the same."
He said fringe elements will always be against whatever is done.