SAN ANTONIO – Mayor Ivy Taylor texted her predecessor, former mayor and current Housing Secretary Julian Castro, after hearing rumors of his concerns over the tentative police contract due for a City Council vote Sept. 1.
“He had made some calls to folks and quite forcefully expressed how council members should vote,” Taylor said.
Unable to comment Wednesday as he toured flood-ravaged parts of Louisiana, Castro earlier had told the San Antonio Express-News, “I appreciated the opportunity to convey my personal opinion about the need to enhance accountability within the contract.”
Taylor said when Castro called her Tuesday night, “I asked him why was it so important now, when it wasn’t as important when he was mayor?"
She said the 2009 contract had the same two controversial provisions that remain in the new mediated agreement.
Rey Saldana, who represents District 4 on City Council, said he shares Castro’s concerns with “sealing records from use in an officer’s disciplinary history and altering the disciplinary records after two years automatically.”
They’re detailed in Section 19 of the mediated agreement.
Saldana said after he was quoted in an article about his concerns, the housing secretary called him a few weeks ago.
“I explained to him this is language that unfortunately, you all didn’t dig far enough to understand what was at risk,” Saldana said.
He also said he had no problem with the Housing and Urban Development secretary asking about local issues in his hometown.
“He’ll call any one of his old colleagues and ask what is really going on,” Saldana said.
Saldana said as far as he knows, no one on City Council has been contacted by Castro. He said wants the San Antonio Police Officers Association to consider returning to the bargaining table so both sides can fix Section 19 ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
However, Mike Helle, SAPOA president, said Saldana never mentioned changes in police accountability and discipline until recently.
“The SAPOA contract was mediated lawfully,” Helle said. “We respectfully ask the City Council to ratify the contract.”
Taylor said, “Just because we’re not revisiting those specific contract stipulations does not mean that we aren’t committed to police accountability and transparency.”
She said it’s likely they will be a top priority when the contract is renegotiated in five years.
Until then, Taylor said the city is taking a proactive approach through a task force on 21st century policing and a community-based effort on issues such as collaboration, communication, recruitment and training.
As for her predecessor, Taylor said, “In this round, we are addressing wages and health care and I anticipate, in the next round, we’ll be able to address discipline. When he was mayor, he addressed neither.”