Censure, no-confidence vote on Mario Bravo after investigation of angry confrontation

Bravo accused of violating rules and expectations on equal employment opportunity/anti-harassment and violence in the workplace

San Antonio – The San Antonio City Council will decide on Nov. 10 whether to censure District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo and issue a vote of “no confidence” over his angry confrontation with District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval.

The city contracted New Braunfels attorney Natalie Rougeux to conduct an independent investigation into the incident, which happened ahead of the council’s budget vote on Sep. 15.

The investigation found Bravo’s “actions violated City Council’s rules and expectations that are reflected in City Administrative Directives 4.67 Equal Employment Opportunity/Anti-Harassment and 4.80 Violence in the Workplace,” according to an agenda memo posted online Thursday evening.

The memo states Bravo “aggressively approached and berated a fellow City Council member,” but did not delve into the specifics of the encounter or his exact rule violations.

A city hall source said the city council, with the exception of Bravo and Sandoval, was briefed on the findings of the investigation during a nearly two-hour executive session Thursday morning. A city spokeswoman said the city could not provide KSAT with the report on the incident, citing attorney-client privilege.

The vote would be a way for the rest of the city council to officially rebuke Bravo. They do not have the power to remove a fellow council member.

The city charter allows voters to petition for a recall election, but that seems unlikely with just seven months left on his current term.

The draft language of the resolution states “Councilmember Bravo’s behavior has negatively impacted his and the City Council’s ability to conduct its business leading to the City Council to lose confidence in his ability to act as an effective colleague on City Council.”

The embattled District 1 councilman already had his committee assignments indefinitely suspended by Mayor Ron Nirenberg, though it’s not clear yet if that will become permanent.

Bravo would still be able to vote on council matters, though, and University of Texas at San Antonio public administration professor Heywood Sanders says the vote would not necessarily handicap Bravo’s ability to represent his district.

“Much of the council member’s job is dealing with a whole variety of district and neighborhood service delivery issues and interacting and interfacing with the city staff. Those things are not necessarily affected by a censure vote,”Sanders said.

“There may well also be folks who, while they might disapprove of his behavior in this particular instance, see him as a forceful environmental advocate, which was the -- in many ways, the issue that created this circumstance in his disagreement with Councilmember Sandoval.”

As KSAT previously reported, Bravo and Sandoval had previously dated. Sources said Bravo got personal during the confrontation, which left Sandoval in tears.

Bravo later shouted at Sandoval’s top aide that “she put the knives in my back.”

Bravo later claimed Sandoval’s team had promised to support his plan for the unexpected windfall of CPS Energy money. He accused her of “breaking her promise at the last hour” to support his plan for spending $42.5 million.

A source familiar with the discussions ahead of the meeting, though, said Sandoval’s team had not made any commitment to support Bravo’s plan leading up to the vote.

Sandoval’s abstention from a vote during the meeting that followed meant Bravo’s plan for the money died and the city went forward with a mayor-supported city staff plan to use the money for CPS bill credits.

The District 7 Councilwoman had her own climate-related proposal passed as part of the final budget with $9.5 million of funding for FY 2023 and $9.15 million for FY 2024.

During the council discussion following the contentious vote, City Attorney Andy Segovia had to interrupt Bravo to tell him to refrain from directing his comments at Sandoval, whom Bravo was repeatedly referencing.

On Sept. 23, the same day Nirenberg suspended Bravo from his committee assignments, the city attorney’s office confirmed the city had commended an “independent investigation” into the matter.

Both Bravo and Sandoval’s offices declined to comment on this story.

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About the Author

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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