Brockhouse Endorses Fire Union’s ‘Imperfect’ Charter Amendments

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Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) speaks to reporters at the San Antonio Professional Firefighter's Banquet Hall in response to leaked audio recordings that call his name out as a potential mayoral candidate.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) speaks to reporters at the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Banquet Hall in response to leaked audio recordings that name him as a potential mayor.

The trio of propositions on the November ballot that would change the way City Hall operates are imperfect but necessary for San Antonians to take control of their city, Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) said Wednesday.

“I don’t agree with every aspect of them, and I wish some things would be different in them," Brockhouse said at a press conference. "But they are imperfect propositions at the perfect time.”

The propositions – labeled A, B, and C on the ballot – would pave the way for more municipal decisions to potentially be made by the voters, limit to eight years the length of time a city manager could serve and would cap the city manager's pay at 10 times that of the lowest-paid City employee, and allow the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association to force the City into binding arbitration on a new labor contract, respectively.

Standing inside the San Antonio Firefighters Banquet Hall, Brockhouse announced his endorsement of the propositions for the first time Wednesday. Prior to winning his District 6 council seat last year, Brockhouse served as a political consultant for the fire and police unions.

He acknowledged he struggled with specific aspects of the propositions' language: He doesn't agree with capping the salary of the city manager at $300,000, according to the current pay structure at the City. He also believes it's not necessary to increase the length of time for petition signatures to be collected for a ballot referendum. But those items can be corrected in the future, he said.

“When I say imperfect it means – would I have done some things differently? Sure, but on the whole, I support the principle and premise of it," he said. "Once we see them in action, changes need to be made. I think good people can get together and make those changes.”

Elected in 2017, the conservative councilman has clashed with City leadership throughout his tenure and has said he plans eventually to run for mayor. In May, he accused the City Council of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act after it discussed a possible bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention behind closed doors. He said Wednesday he's also had conversations with the Texas Rangers about alleged ethics violations he's witnessed as a council member.

His support for the measures comes a week after the Go Vote No campaign, which opposes the city charter amendments, leaked recordings from a late 2017 union meeting to the media.

In the recordings, Chris Steele, president of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, said the fire union was using a "lobbying tactic" to secure a new labor contract within the next year and get Brockhouse elected mayor.

Brockhouse demanded an end to what he called personal attacks by Go Vote No and its campaign manager, Christian Archer, against Steele and called on the full release of the audio from the late 2017 fire union meeting.

“I think it’s time to release the full tapes," he said, adding that the leaks are being released without context for "maximum political gain" and not education. "I think the media at this point is becoming the campaign arm of the GoVote No folks. The media is literally following breadcrumbs leaked along by Christian Archer and [Mayor] Ron Nirenberg, and that’s unfortunate."

Archer responded to Brockhouse’s call for an open dialogue about the implications of the proposed amendments.

“I think it’s funny he would use the words open and honest,” Archer said. “The only time [Steele has] been honest with anyone is when the doors are shut and he doesn’t know he’s being recorded by one of his own.”

Archer said he disagreed that Steele’s comments in the leaked audio are being taken out of context. All the recordings in his possession have been released, and none have been altered, Archer said.

7 thoughts on “Brockhouse Endorses Fire Union’s ‘Imperfect’ Charter Amendments

  1. Since when is more citizen participation harmful to the city?
    Only when it threatens corporate control over the City of San Antonio City Council!
    Yes, the mayor and the local business interests oppose the proposed amendments.
    I urge all to vote YES!

    • I can tell you when “more citizen participation” is harmful to the city: When a group of 20,000 people riled up by special interests can override officials elected to represent 1.5 million people (or two or three million people as San Antonio grows). It’s not like the council members are kings. If you don’t like their choices, vote them out. Or if you really want a referendum on the ballot, find 10% of the voting population to agree with you under the current system. That’s just not too much to ask if you want to overturn decisions made by duly elected officials.

      I guarantee Prop A is going to play out something like this: San Antonio grants some sort of beneficial contract to Corporation A. Corporation B gets mad, wages misinformation campaign, gets a referendum on the ballot. All of a sudden, everything is a mess. THIS is why business leaders don’t like it – it injects uncertainty into the economic marketplace. The bond raters don’t like it for the same reason. And nothing in this scenario involves any bad faith or underhanded dealing by anyone.

      Prop B? I don’t think hamstringing City Council’s ability to entice the best qualified candidates for City Manager is the greatest idea, but this is probably the least offensive one.

      Prop C? Not sure why anyone would want to change the entire City Charter to give JUST the firefighters’ union special arbitration privileges that not even most private parties have. If the union wants to be able to arbitrate disputes, they can negotiate for it with the City, just like everyone else.

      These propositions ARE imperfect, Brockhouse. And given that we’re talking about the City Charter here, not some neighborhood HOA rule, that’s enough for me to vote NO.

        • Nope, voting YES on all 3. Encouraging all to read these propositions carefully and do not believe the hype that is being sent out, notice it is all from the NO big bucks campaign. No matter what you do, or how you vote, just VOTE. We get the government we deserve. Your vote can make the change you desire.

  2. It’s surprising that Brockhouse can even be heard when he’s so deep in the pocket of Chris Steele’s firefighters union.

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