Go Vote No Campaign Reports 10,000+ Participated in Tele-Town Hall

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held Wednesday Oct. 17, 2018 at the Tripoint YMCA.

Edward A. Ornelas for the Rivard Report

(from left) Trish DeBerry, president and CEO of the DeBerry Group; Mayor Ron Nirenberg; Henry Cisneros, former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor; Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation president and CEO; Brian Dillard, former Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association president; and Gordon Hartman, philanthropist and founder of Morgan's Wonderland, participate in the Go Vote No "tele-town hall" on Props A, B, and C.

More than 10,000 San Antonians listened via telephone to the citywide "tele-town hall" on three proposed City charter amendments Wednesday evening, according to organizers with the Go Vote No campaign.

A panel of six advocates opposed to the amendments, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, answered about a dozen questions from callers and additional questions posted on a Facebook Live feed on Nirenberg's profile regarding the three propositions San Antonio voters will see at the bottom of their midterm election ballots.


Nirenberg and former Mayor Henry Cisneros, philanthropist Gordon Hartman, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, former Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association President Brian Dillard, and public relations expert Trish DeBerry took turns condemning the propositions backed by the firefighters union.

Christian Archer, the campaign manager for Go Vote No, said automated calls were made in batches of 35,000 at a time to collect listeners, who dialed in to ask questions throughout the hour-long event. At its peak, 10,000 listeners were listening at the same time.

The goal of the town hall was to "separate fact from fiction" in what has become a passionate debate, DeBerry said, and discuss the possible impacts the propositions would have if they are approved by voters on Nov. 6. Early voting starts on Monday, Oct. 22.

The propositions aim to A) expand the scope of what City Council decisions can be challenged with a public vote and make it easier to get referenda on ballots , B) limit the term and compensation of future city managers, and C) allow the the firefighters union sole authority to call an impasse in labor negotiations that would allow binding arbitration for their contract with the City.

Union leaders have said Prop A is about giving voters a stronger voice at City Hall, Prop B is to reign in public spending and the power of the city manager, and Prop C is aimed at resolving its four-year contract stalemate.

A better labor deal that disregards the City's financial capabilities is what the union really wants, Nirenberg said, and the other propositions will simply be used as leverage to weaken the City and further the union's power.

"We live in a representative democracy," Cisneros said, so voters elect their Council members and when they don't like what they're doing, they can vote them out.

Lowering the threshold for referenda will lead to a "constant flurry" of petition drives and ballot items proposed by special interests, he said. "[Prop A is] an opportunity for chaos. ... It takes away the democracy that we’ve got."

That instability, Saucedo-Herrera said, will drive companies and talent away from San Antonio while causing tax increases and reductions in City services because such amendments would threaten the City's AAA bond rating. Fitch and Standard & Poor's, two of the three major credit rating agencies, sent letters to the City earlier this summer saying just that, Nirenberg said.

"It's in black and white," he said. "We will be downgraded," and it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in increased interest payments.

Advocates for the proposed charter amendments have said those threats are exaggerated and it will be up to the City Council to better sell its funding requests and projects to the public before approving them.

"This is another part of the convoluted argument City Manager Sheryl Sculley and the Mayor are trying to make, that the propositions will cause your taxes to go up," the campaign's website states. "They don’t want you to have a greater say in how the city should be run, so they’re using scare tactics to try to confuse you."

Click here to watch the tele-town hall and here to read an overview of the propositions.

4 thoughts on “Go Vote No Campaign Reports 10,000+ Participated in Tele-Town Hall

  1. I read Dr. Nivin’s analysis, again, to evaluate the costs. I strongly recommend others do so – carefully.

    Nivin writes: “In fact, ‘a 1 standard deviation increase in uncertainty is associated with a decline in output growth of between 0.4 and 1.25 percentage points depending on the measure of macroeconomic uncertainty’ (Kose and Terrones, 2012, p. 51).” Kose and Terrones is an article in a World Economic Outlook journal. The four “measures of macroeconomic uncertainty” that negatively impact growth up to his cited 1.25% are, specifically: Country-Specific Uncertainty, Uncertainty in the United States, Economic Policy Uncertainty, and Global Uncertainty.

    It appears that report implies that passing a Proposition in San Antonio can increase “Uncertainty in the United States” and “Global Uncertainty.”

    Look it up: http://www.marcoterrones.com/uploads/1/7/6/9/17698985/box_1.3_weo_october_2012.pdf

    I also read the Fitch credit report and the letter, in the context of Dr. Nivin’s analysis. The “hundreds of millions of dollars” cited by the mayor in increased interest payments is, according to Nivin’s summary in Table 14, $132.5 million. It is not “hundreds”. And that is based on a 3-level rating drop, based on a $2.5 billion bond issue, over 20 years. The mayor should read the entire report, not just the summary. Table 10, for example.

    I totaled up all the current CoSA bond debt listed in the Fitch report posted on the GoVoteNo page. It’s $2.53 billion. So IF the City doubled it’s debt, and IF the bond rating dropped by 3 tiers, and IF the high end costs were realized, THEN the city might pay up to $132.5 million in increased costs. Not “hundreds”.

    The lowest value listed Table 10 in the analysis of higher interest costs is for a $1 billion bond with only $7 million in increased interest payments over 20 years. For context, the largest bond issue in San Antonio history was the 2017-2022 five year plan, at only $850 million according to City documents. Dr. Nivin alludes to this $850 million bond issue on page 5; but then applies increased interest costs ($17.5M) from a hypothetical $2.5 billion issue.

    Wouldn’t a sensible comparison use the real numbers, the actual $850M bond, and not interest costs from something three times larger? Of course the borrowing costs will be higher if you borrow a lot more money.

    The analysis is so flawed, I simply cannot take it seriously.

    Get the facts. Read the reports. Add context. Apply critical thinking.

    • There’s still no reason to vote for this, given that you can ALREADY get a referendum on the ballot with 10% of the registered voter population. Can someone tell me why that number is too high? Is there some generally agreed-upon consensus that super critical referenda aren’t getting on the ballot because the threshold is too high? If City Counsel is really just throwing the entire city under the bus, meeting the 10% threshold shouldn’t be that hard. But if you’re a special interest group or a random tiny neighborhood that wants to overturn votes made by duly elected representatives, I could see why Prop A might appeal to you.

      Again -we’re talking about the City Charter here, not some HOA rule.

  2. Some of us cross partisan voters were looking forward to reading coverage of the League of Women Voters sponsored forum which had representation from both the Yes and No camps on Monday evening Oct. 15 regarding Propositions A, B, and C. Since there doesn’t seem to be anything yet from the Rivard Report on this, here is a link to NowcastSA coverage:
    http://bit.ly/SACharter.

  3. I know there’s a rat of some kind in this when I see All-For and All-Against. I read three very distinct propositions here. Now, surely they come from the same source, but each stands alone, as well. I think I like A and B, but not C. Why is all the focus on All or Nothing? Because it’s partisan, like everything else! Everybody wants their money. Referendums are not a source of chaos. The are a reminder of to whom the Public Servants serve. The City Manager concept continues to morph beyond what it was intended to do… In this city, as in others. Unions, in general, have long since perverted their original honorable origins.

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