Reform group turns in 20,000 signatures to let San Antonio vote to curb police union power

click to enlarge Jaime MonzonActivists demand police accountability during a protest earlier this year. Police accountability group Fix SAPD on Friday submitted more than 20,000 signed petitions to city officials in a bid to let voters decide whether San Antonio cops should be able to engage in collective bargaining.If the city clerk verifies the signatures, voters would decide in May whether to repeal Chapter 174 of the Texas Local Government Code, which gives cops and firefighters the ability to collectively bargain for new labor contracts.Fix SAPD collected the signatures with the aid of Texas Organizing Project and other groups as San Antonio's police union gears up to negotiate for a new employment pact.“Fix SAPD is about getting rid of the barriers that shield bad police officers and protect them from the consequences of their misconduct,” Fix SAPD founder Ojiyoma Martin said in a statement supplied to KSAT . “This is about accountability for the police, not getting rid of them.”In a statement released Friday, the San Antonio Police Officers Association alleged that it received "credible reports" some of the signatures were collected fraudulently.The city clerk's office will spend the next 20 days certifying the signatures. If they pass a required threshold just shy of 20,000, the proposal can be added to the May ballot.The San Antonio Police Department has faced increased public scrutiny after a series of high-profile cases in which officers accused of gross misconduct were returned to the force by an arbitration process guaranteed under its labor contract. Around two-thirds of San Antonio Police Department officers fired during the past decade were reinstated after arbitration hearings.

DreamWeek’s virtual discussions aim to build civic engagement

click to enlarge Sarah Brooke LyonsDreamWeek, San Antonio’s annual celebration of the multicultural legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., is in its ninth year, and its calendar is as full as ever. The only 2021 caveat is that many of its events have moved into the virtual sphere.Local organizations will use virtual discussions to build civic engagement around issues of tolerance, equality and diversity, all fitting into DreamWeek’s 2021 theme of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”Here’s a selection of events happening during the ten-day summit. For details on other DreamWeek-affiliated events, visit Hosted by the Center for Health Care Services, this panel discussion will center around ways for organizations to incorporate mental health initiatives and better support employee wellbeing.Board members of police accountability group Fix SAPD will discuss police oversight in San Antonio and ways citizens can take action. Topics include a petition drive by the group, SAPD collective bargaining and Texas’ proposed George Floyd Act.The Migrant Center for Human Rights is hosting a five-part podcast series discussing the incoming Biden Administration’s likely approach to immigration policy and how citizens can advocate for positive change.San Antonio’s chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace will facilitate a panel discussion on the pursuit of happiness during the fight for civil rights. Community leaders from diverse backgrounds will discuss how marginalized groups are disproportionally affected by gun violence.