Moving past the impasse: Nirenberg changes tune about charter amendments

Voters approve 2 of 3 propositions, including city manager term limits, salary

SAN ANTONIO – One day after San Antonio voters approved two fire union-sponsored controversial charter amendments that he vehemently opposed, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Wednesday he has no choice but to accept the election results and move forward.

"What I heard from voters is they want the conflict between the fire union and the city to be over. And for us to get back to working as a city, and that's what I want," Nirenberg said. 

Proposition A, which would have made it easier for special interest groups to try to overturn city ordinances, failed.

"Proposition A would have been disastrous for our city. (It) would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars unnecessarily and would have impacted the fiscal health of our city, and the economic progress we have had over the course of the generation," Nirenberg said. 

But voters approved Proposition B, which will cap the city managers salary and establish a term limit of up to eight years. 

"(City Manager) Sheryl Sculley's contract as it stands today expires at the end of the year, and that is a discussion that I have to have with my colleagues and with the city manager," Nirenberg said. "
I will say Proposition B, again, we heard loud and clear, there are concerns of salaries of public executives. We hear that. We will consider that front and center when we move forward,"  

District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who was among the minority on the City Council in favor of the propositions, said the voters are sending a clear message to City Hall. 

"The council needs to listen. This was a clear mandate that there's problems with the role of the city manager," Brockhouse said. 

Voters also approved Proposition C, which will allow the San Antonio Profession Firefighters Association to force the city into arbitration during future contract talks. 

"Try to get the firefighters and the city talking again. At the end of the day, we need a contract for our first responders. And we have to make that happen," Brockhouse said. 

Nirenberg thanked business leaders, community organizers and neighbors who worked hard to fight the passage of the propositions.

"We didn't get the results we wanted on propositions B and C, but we will again analyze the implications of those and move forward," he said. 

Nirenberg said there's a process that will take place and then there is another procedure that the council has to adopt in order for the amendments to go into effect.

In a statement, the union thanked the voters who approved the amendments.

"We are thankful that in this nation people have the right to vote and have their voices heard. We are grateful that the courts in Texas have upheld the peoples' right to vote on these propositions.
All that the San Antonio First Campaign wanted, from the start, was to put the voters back in control of their city.

"Tonight, the people did just that by going to the polls and exercising their right to vote. The San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association wholeheartedly thanks the citizens of San Antonio for their support."

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