Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Mayor Ivy Taylor issued a statement via email on late Thursday reiterating her stance that the City of San Antonio will continue actively pursuing its lawsuit and subsequent appeals against the controversial evergreen clause in the police union’s contract unless union officials agree to return to the negotiating table.
State District Judge Martha Tanner ruled on Monday against the City’s request for a summary judgment concerning its lawsuit against the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) and the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.
Taylor earlier this week expressed disappointment with Judge Tanner’s decision, but said the City is obliged to arrive at new contracts that serve in the best interests of taxpayers. In a press release her office issued while she is on a business trip to Washington, D.C., Taylor said the City would pause filing an appeal if SAPOA is ready to resume negotiations. Otherwise, the City would go on with its appeal.
“City Council has given staff clear direction to challenge the constitutionality of the ‘evergreen clause’ in the expired fire and police contracts, which the unions have relied on to delay negotiations,” Taylor said.
“My commitment to protect the City’s legal rights and the taxpayers’ interest remains firm: reaching a long-overdue agreement will put an end to the lawsuit. However, if the unions will return to the negotiating table, the City will not finalize our appeal. If the unions won’t take advantage of this opportunity to conclude contract negotiations, the City will continue to take every action necessary.”
In a press release, SAPOA President Mike Helle said he feels the mayor is pressured by the City’s legal team and the city manager to continue the lawsuit. But, he added, Taylor has a responsibility to taxpayers to “stop this wasteful lawsuit that’s bleeding tax dollars all over the Bexar County Courthouse.” Helle has previously said the lawsuit would have to be dropped before SAPOA can come back to negotiations.
“SAPOA wants a fair deal. We will work with the mayor and City Council to find one, and as the mayor has repeatedly said, it can only happen at the negotiating table, not in the courtroom,” Helle stated. “Do not appeal your defeat. Accept the ruling of a fair and impartial third party. Make those commitments and we can get back to working on this deal.”
The spirit of the mayor’s comments Thursday contradicts that of press statements that City Councilmembers Shirley Gonzales (D5), Alan Warrick (D2), Cris Medina (D7) and Ray Lopez (D6) have issued since Tanner’s ruling was announced, those Councilmembers have said they want the City to openly discuss the merits of going forward with its lawsuit.
Gonzales on Wednesday said she hopes that Warrick, Lopez, Medina and Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3) rejoin in her in reviving a Council Consideration Request (CCR) for the entire Council to discuss possibly revoking the lawsuit. The original request, filed with the City in January 2015, was tabled by the mayor in a Council Governance Committee meeting.
Viagran’s office has yet to issue a statement about anything pertaining to the evergreen clause lawsuit. Only Councilmember Joe Krier (D9) thus far has publicly expressed support for the City proceeding with litigation.
*Top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks during a recent City Council meeting. Photo by Scott Ball.
Read all the stories on the City and police union negotiations in the Rivard report archive.