Brockhouse, Nirenberg Sound Off on Amazon, Chick-fil-A, and Cyclist Safety

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg (left) and Councilman Greg Brockhouse shake hands during the debate hosted by the Rivard Report at The Spire at Saint Paul's Square.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg (left) and Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) shake hands during the debate hosted by the Rivard Report at The Spire at St. Paul Square on April 17.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) went head-to-head at a debate Wednesday evening, arguing over economic development decisions and property tax relief but finding common ground on the issue of making streets safer for cyclists.

More than 100 people attended the debate at the Spire at St. Paul Square, hosted by the Rivard Report and moderated by Rivard Report Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick and Texas Public Radio Local Government Reporter Joey Palacios.

Both Brockhouse and Nirenberg pushed for greater bicyclist safety in the wake of two cyclist deaths in 2019. Brockhouse said he would immediately implement a revamped Bicycle Master Plan with full funding. Nirenberg said the City should put more resources into building separated bike lanes with physical barriers as painted lines are not enough to protect cyclists.

“What we have to do right now is make sure Tito [Bradshaw] and [Naji Tanios Kayruz] did not die in vain and use this opportunity to make sure the rest of the community who may or may not use the bicycle lane agrees with that priority,” Nirenberg said.

Shortly before the event started, Brockhouse threatened to leave the debate if moderators asked him about domestic violence allegations first reported by the San Antonio Express-News. The candidates did speak about general public safety concerns; Nirenberg referenced the anti-gang violence coalition formed by the San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI. Brockhouse said he favored adding more police officers to SAPD’s ranks.

“I’m an advocate of increasing police patrols,” Brockhouse said. “We are short on police officers in our city. We need more of them and a greater policing focus.”

Brockhouse said he would continue to push for property tax relief, and pointed to a local homestead exemption as an example of what City Council can do to lessen the burden of taxes on homeowners.

“I have a track record of success that has called for property tax relief,” Brockhouse said. “Now we have five council members and we’re working hard to get a sixth, and seventh, and possibly eighth [needed] to implement a citywide homestead exemption but more importantly fix the valuation system and fight for proper valuations at the Bexar County Appraisal District and hold them accountable to be fair and reasonable to the taxpayer.”

Greg Brockhouse responds to questions fielded by Rivard Report Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick and Texas Public Radio Reporter Joey Palacios.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Greg Brockhouse responds to questions fielded by Rivard Report Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick and Texas Public Radio Local Government Reporter Joey Palacios.

Nirenberg responded that City Council needs to pass a balanced budget and proposals need to have revenue to fund them. Local government is reviewing the current appraisal process, looking at a local homestead exemption, and pushing the Texas Legislature to fully fund public schools, he said.

“Everyone knows at the Lege that we will not see actual tax relief at the homeowner level until we get school finance reform, and that’s what we’re working on with the Legislature to accomplish,” he said.

The exclusion of Chick-fil-A from an airport concessionaire contract continued to be a hot-button issue as Brockhouse piggy-backed off a question about City Council’s decisions to not mount an effort to lure Amazon jobs and bid on the Republican National Convention.

“If Ron Nirenberg doesn’t believe in San Antonio, that we can’t obtain these big goals, he doesn’t need to be mayor,”  Brockhouse said. “It’s an embarrassment straight down to where we’re talking about turning away a Chick-fil-A [at the airport]. … We’ve made grievous mistakes, terrible mistakes in not believing in who we are as a city and our ability to do big things.”

Nirenberg quipped that it was “absurd” to hear Brockhouse talk about big things as well as Chick-fil-A at the San Antonio airport. He also clarified that City Council did not reject an Amazon bid, and said San Antonio would be the best-long term investment in the U.S. because the city is addressing housing problems, transportation systems, and educating its future workforce.

“That’s why Amazon should invest in us – not because we’ll give away all your tax dollars but because they should recognize the investments we’re making in ourselves,” he said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg addresses the audience during the debate.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg addresses the audience during the debate.

Nirenberg also noted that he probably would have voted to include Chick-fil-A in the airport concessions contract if the restaurant was open Sundays to give all airport customers the option to eat there, but he would have preferred a local company.

“We have to make decisions in the best interest of the customers, best interest of the airport, and the best interest of you, the taxpayers, and that’s the way I voted the way I did,” he said.

Although early voting starts April 22, Brockhouse and Nirenberg have one additional debate scheduled: on May 3 for a broadcast on KLRN television. Election Day is May 4.

12 thoughts on “Brockhouse, Nirenberg Sound Off on Amazon, Chick-fil-A, and Cyclist Safety

  1. It’s so patently obvious all the hubbub over Chik-fil-A – Brockhouse is following the Trump playbook to the T – hurl raw meat to the forever unhappy 1/3 who are going to snarl over ANYTHING their sacred Fox News deems as anti-right wing.

  2. It is interesting that people are up in arms about a single restaurant at the airport. So Chick-fil-a didn’t get the spot, another restaurant will fill that spot. That cannot be said with regards to not even competing for Amazon or either of the political national conventions. To stay out of the running is to automatically lose. Putting together a proposal to bring Amazon here – even if not selected – would have showed what we have to offer lots of other companies. Amazon might not have come, but other companies just might. The national conventions should have at least had some major (open) debate before the city and county leaders decided on their own not to compete. Again, we may not have won, but it would show to the world that we are in a position to host large conventions. Those tourism dollars greatly help our local economy. To not compete means we automatically lost.

  3. If we brought Amazon in to San Antonio, what exactly do you think would happen?

    We don’t have a high volume of IT grads in the city. The 25k jobs that they pledged to bring in would have been at least 18k new families arriving in San Antonio. You may have missed the news, but we have a shortage of housing, and an affordable housing crisis. Then you have to factor in their commute to work – 18k new cars on the road every day. Then you have to factor in the tax breaks they were demanding/expecting from cities.

    It was a smart move not to chase them.

    • Have you been missing the news, San Antonio is growing and will continue to grow. Lots of houses and apartments are being built. People will fill them. I work in the IT industry and am not a Texan even though I live here. I decided to move here because the relative low cost of living and the great jobs offered here. We have a major Cyber presence in the city with the Air Force and NSA, lots of IT professionals leaving the military look to move here. UTSA is increasing their presence in training the Cyber community. People are increasingly mobile in where they wish to live and work compared to 20 or 30 years ago.

      As for tax breaks, Toyota got some nice ones, Microsoft got some to put their data centers here. USAA is getting a break for moving people downtown. The question that is important is whether the impact to the region by adding 25K employees will outweigh the level of the tax breaks. Then don’t forget the trickle down jobs created by adding that many employees who need child care, grocery shopping, restaurants, entertainment, car buying……

      I never said we should throw stupid money to the corporation, I said we should have at least submitted a reasonable bid. This exposes our city to other companies who may be interested in moving here. The Mayor and County Judge failed to take advantage in the opportunity to show not just Amazon, but the business community as a whole, just what we have to offer them.

  4. I have no idea what Niremberg’s values or priorities are. He’s the mayoral equivalent of wallpaper paste.

    Brockhouse doesn’t seem any better but at least I know what he believes in and stands for.

    • Is your head firmly planted into the ground? What Nirenberg’s values and priorities are have been clear since his city council days.

      But it seems you either don’t care for them or are just using that as an excuse.

      But if you’re fine with how corrupt and attention seeking Brockhouse is, then go for it. You’re speaking like someone who voted for Trump. A clear con man with a bigger ego than most reality tv show stars. But because he flamed the fires of discontent, his based was blind to the obvious.

      Brockhouse is mini Trump to a T.

  5. Why is Brockhouse saying we should have made a bid on Amazon when he’s also said we need to worry about our current citizens and not future citizens who haven’t moved here yet? We don’t have a strong IT workforce. Who do you think would have filled the job openings if we had bid on Amazon and won? It would be all those future citizens who haven’t moved here yet…getting her to take those high paying Amazon job openings leaving a some spots for local IT workers. Most of the locals here would have been the very few admin jobs or the low paying, non-tech positions that are also needed.

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