Brockhouse Fails to Reopen Chick-fil-A Discussion After 6-5 Council Vote

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Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) reacts following the rejection vote for his amendment on the Chick-fil-A contract at the San Antonio International Airport.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) reacts following the rejection vote for his amendment on the Chick-fil-A contract at the San Antonio International Airport.

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Greg Brockhouse’s (D6) attempt to reconsider a divisive City Council decision to remove Chick-fil-A from an airport contract failed Thursday with another divisive vote.

Council voted 6-5 to reject Brockhouse’s rare procedural move that would have led to further discussion and a vote on the amendment just ahead of the May 4 election. It is unclear if Brockhouse has other procedural avenues to get another vote.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Council members Roberto Treviño (D1), Art Hall (D2), Rey Saldaña (D4), Shirley Gonzales (D5), and Ana Sandoval (D7) voted against Brockhouse’s motion.

Brockhouse said in a press release that Thursday’s vote “sent a message to our City, the State and the Nation that we do not respect religious freedom.”

Roughly 50 people, most of whom religious representatives, gathered in Council chambers Thursday morning, but procedural rules prevented public comment on Brockhouse’s motion. The discussion was limited only to the issue of placing the removal of Chick-fil-A on a future agenda – not the underlying reasons for doing so in the first place.

“This is an opportunity to have public conversation and debate and to bring in every [stakeholder],” Brockhouse said, and to provide “full transparency.”

Brockhouse and Council members Rebecca Viagran (D3), Manny Pelaez (D8), John Courage (D9) and Clayton Perry (D10) generally said they wanted to open the vote up to public input and more information.

Pelaez, who originally supported the move to take the fast food restaurant out of the contract, said soon after the March vote that he regretted not delaying the final decision until after a more robust discussion could take place. The desire for more discussion led Pelaez to side with Brockhouse on Thursday.

However, Pelaez noted the timing and fervor of Brockhouse’s attempt to revote “smacks of politics.”

“We would be naive to believe that this has nothing to do with mayoral politics and the convenience of [the potential re-vote] being two days before an election.”

Brockhouse’s motion was to have a discussion next on May 1 and then a discussion and vote on May 2.

Brockhouse directed City Attorney Andy Segovia to clarify that the timing was dictated by the agenda-setting process, not by the councilman.

Nirenberg called on City staff to set up a future meeting to discuss how such high-profile contracts are handled.

“I’ve called for an open B Session [meeting] so that the council and citizens can further discuss contracting issues to ensure that our processes are operating under the full compliance of local, state and federal regulations,” Nirenberg said.

The Chick-fil-A controversy has been a centerpiece of Brockhouse’s criticisms of Nirenberg and his campaign to take over the mayor’s seat. It also has permeated most City Council District races.

“We’ve spent far too much time letting Councilman Brockhouse try to exploit a fast food subcontract for his own political gain,” Nirenberg said. “I’ve said from the beginning that I voted in the best interests of passengers and taxpayers, and it’s important to have something open seven days a week and preferably local.”

Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) abstained from voting in the original March vote after suggesting that the vote be delayed until a more full discussion could take place. Her motion then received only two other votes by Councilman Art Hall (D2) and Brockhouse.

“I’m very disappointed that we didn’t have a thoughtful conversation on this,” Viagran said.

There was plenty of disappointment in Council chambers during the discussion Thursday.

“I for one don’t appreciate my colleagues putting me or the City in a position like this,” Gonzales said, noting that while the City followed the established process, the decision to remove Chick-fil-A from the contract came as a last-minute amendment to a years-long process. It was Treviño who motioned for approval of the contract with the amended language to take out the restaurant.

“I especially don’t appreciate my colleagues making amendments on the dais without giving us any information,” Gonzales said, adding that she has more important work – crime, housing, health – than a fast food chain at the airport.

“I find it very offensive that we put the City in this position and that the mayor hasn’t taken control of the situation early on,” Gonzales said. “I for one am offended and tired of it and believe we need to get on to the important work of this city.”

31 thoughts on “Brockhouse Fails to Reopen Chick-fil-A Discussion After 6-5 Council Vote

    • This is an issue that is very important and very much matters. If you don’t see the writing on the wall then I’m sorry. You have much to learn.

  1. I applaud the council’s decision on Chick-fil -A. Their activities that revolve around using their business to further their religious convictions should not be supported with public dollars.

  2. “Breaking News?” – Really? Why aren’t you covering SB 17/HB 2827, House Bill 1035, Senate Bill 85, SB 15/SB 2485/SB2487, SB 1009, SB 1107, and SB2369; all legislation that has an actual effect on equality and discrimination. Come on, Rivard Report. Please start reporting what is happening with the Texas legislature. This manufactured “controversy” is below you and below your readers.

  3. Let it go, dude. Our airport should represent our city, and we have PLENTY of fantastic non-chain restaurants that might be included in this plan.

  4. Pelaez already knew how the vote would play out. So of course he does a 180 as to demonstrate his thoughtful approach …. He was played like a guitar by the future mayor.

  5. I doubt this was a surprise to greg. Surely he knew it wouldn’t pass, and even if it did, appears that it wouldn’t have changed the result. Seems he just wants to make noise without actually doing anything. Of course, that’s what makes him great for city government.

  6. -smh- It’s about more than a chicken sandwich. They, being Nirenberg and his lackeys, demonstrated that it was about religious preference which was clearly articulated prior to the vote. Had they come out initially and demonstrated in the original vote and especially the original contract requirements that all the restaurants going into the airport must be open 7-days a week, then so be it; however, this wasn’t so. The only requirement was that they had to pay a certain amount monthly, which CFA could easily do. Not to mention that they were the healthiest choice among all the named restaurants slated to go into the airport.

    I think the take away from this is that if there is any sort of fine or lawsuit about this, the tax payers will get saddled with it, not Nirenberg or his lackies. The other take away is that this time, it was this company’s religious viewpoint on marriage. They have never mistreated or denied service or employment to anyone. Have they donated to the Salvation Army? Yes. Have you ever donated clothing? Or put any money in the little red bucket during the holidays? Then you have, as well. The point is that this time it is a violation of the religious freedom of these people. Would it have been different if it had been a violation against something that was important to you?

  7. Shirley Gonzalez said there was not a Chick-Fil-A in her district, so it wasn’t important to her. BUT, as a council member, shouldn’t she be concerned with what is at the Airport? and religious liberties? What has she done for streets and sidewalks in our district. New information is available for reconsideration – the specific amount of money that Chick-Fil-A does bring into our city, outperforming other fast food restaurants. THey could expect to be a money maker at the airport. So they get a slap in the face by some members of our council.

  8. The headline is incorrect.
    Councilman Brockhouse did not fail us. Mayor Nirenberg and five City Council members failed us. Now our tax dollars will be used to defend this previous vote in court with the US Civil Rights Division and the Office of the Texas Attorney General.

  9. I have boycotted CFA since the “early days” of its very public anti-gay stance, I do not shop at Hobby Lobby (for their anti-reproductive health and anti-LGBT stance), I do not donate to cash or goods to Salvation Army (ditto) (but I do readily and often to other such organizations), and I think Greg Brockhouse would be a terrible mayor. I think that airport visitors can make up their own mind whether to spend $ at CFA. I agree that City Council should have made the 7 days/week requirement clear and firm and applied that — and only that — to any rejection of CFA in the airport.

    • Well said. I too have a personal boycott in place for the companies you listed for exactly the same reasons. I also agree that the arguments against CFA in the airport should have been when they are open. I also think the argument against it should have been we need to have more local restaurants in the airport, restaurants that aren’t chains and that represent our city.

  10. ROFLMAO at San Antonio politics. Better than The Real Housewives Of ___________ (fill in the blank). Scully has got to be glad to be away from this circus.

  11. Well played Brockhouse! You are running for office for no other reason than your own ego, you create issues that can be used as wedge issues. ” if elected mayor, I will have a Chick-fil-a on every corner, because that’s what the people want.” Why should we be surprised, this has been your MO.

    • agreed. would be nice if they spent this much energy on building a sufficient airport for our metro area. SA “International” Airport is an embarrassment.

  12. The airport is a public facility owned by the city of San Antonio for the benefit of all taxpayers. As such, the government is constrained from showing religious favoritism. If the city had failed to give a zoning permit to Chik Filet for building on private land on the basis of religious animus, the city would have been guilty of discrimination. I support the city council’s vote. It’s appropriate as well as being constitutional. I’m glad that the city protects me FROM religion.

  13. Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about chicken sandwiches. As for the “right” to discriminate, that is not a religious freedom. Christ himself would speak forcefully against it. I vote for giving the contract to a local taqueria. Ps I’m a pastor with years of seminary study.

    • I’m just curious as to where CFA has discriminated? Is there any San Antonian who has not been served properly or denied employment because they happen to have a different life philosophy?

      • CFA’s company entity and its directors openly and heartily $upport religious far-right organizations. Those organizations advocate against marriage equality and fair access to reproductive health for women. Sort of how HobbyLobby does not allow its employees’ health insurance to cover birth control (as in IUDs, birth control pills, etc.) for they contend PREVENTING pregnancy is a sin or murder or something.

  14. I’m sorry, but this exclusion of a company based on legal, genuinely held religious opinions of the ownership is blatantly unconstitutional. It also blatantly violates San Antonio’s own non-discrimination ordinance.

    We should stand up against this kind of targeting, whether it be against a Muslim, Jewish, Christian or any other value system. There is no discrimination by Chick Fil A. Shame on those who are so short sighted to not see the precedent that this sets for future decisions. This is such an easy problem, what is this Council going to do when real tough issues come up?

    That’s why I’m running for District 7.

    • I wonder if CFA would grant spousal health insurance to a male employee who marries another man (or a female employee who marries another woman). If CFA has indeed provided the same benefits to a same-gender spouse as it does to different-gender spouses of employees, then I will treat every RR subscriber to lunch at the airport’s new CFA.
      The CFA corporate website proudly boasts that all the directors are “still married to their first wives.” What does that prove? Do they fire a director who gets divorced? Isn’t that akin to saying “all our directors are married to opposite-gender persons of the same race”? They are saying that their directors are all (allegedly monogamous) heterosexuals. Not too far off base by bragging that all their directors support genetic cleansing and white supremacy.

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