Hotelier Quits San Antonio Chamber’s Board Amid RNC Bid Fallout

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Courtesy / Henry Feldman

Hotelier Henry Feldman has resigned from the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce board.

Citing what he called the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s “bad decision” not to lobby for the city to bid to host the Republican National Convention, a prominent hotelier has resigned from the chamber’s board.

Henry Feldman, who owns a La Quinta Inn & Suites Medical Center and is a past chairman of several tourism- and industry-focused organizations in San Antonio, sent an email Saturday to San Antonio Chamber CEO and President Richard Perez in which he cited the chamber’s absence from the debate over whether the city should pursue a bid to host the 2020 GOP convention.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced Thursday that the city would not bid to host the convention after he and the Council discussed the economic pros and cons of seeking the bid during a closed-to-the-public executive session.

“It was clearly a bad decision,” Feldman said, “to walk away from this huge economic benefit for the city of San Antonio.”

Feldman said that he did not know of any other board members or Chamber members who are taking a similar stand, but there were “so many who felt as strongly as I did,” he said.

“This was a personal decision I made,” he said. “I just believe the chamber’s responsibility is to support the philosophies of the business community and economic development – not to be involved in a political way, but solely for the economic benefit of the community.”

Feldman has chaired such organizations as the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, the San Antonio Area Tourism Council, and Visit San Antonio – formerly the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In an email exchange with Perez, a copy of which was obtained by the Rivard Report, Feldman underscored his wish that the chamber include the hospitality industry in its advocacy for the business community.

“We have fought many battles together and knowing you were with us gave us comfort and resolve,” Perez replied. “We accept your reasoning and will miss your counsel.”

Perez said Monday he was disappointed but that he understood Feldman’s reasoning for resigning from the board.

Before deciding not to lobby City Council to bid for the GOP convention hosting rights, Perez consulted with the chamber’s so-called tri-chairs, chairman Shaun Kennedy, immediate past chairman Rad Weaver, and the chair-elect Paula Gold-Williams. Perez didn’t, however, seek the counsel of his 100-plus-member board. He said he hasn’t heard any other board members bemoan the chamber’s neutrality on the issue.

While the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was also among the chambers who declined to take a position on the issue, the South San Antonio and North San Antonio chambers of commerce both urged the City Council to bid for the hosting rights.

Perez said he understands the disappointment felt in the local tourism and hospitality industry, but that the chamber must focus on the needs of all of its 2,100 members.

“We’ll move on,” Perez said. “There’s a ton of things coming down the way. The sour taste will eventually go away, and we will move on as a community.”

Richard Perez, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, arrives for the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing "Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement" Monday in San Antonio.

Robin Jerstad for the Rivard Report

San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez

But others say the bitter taste will remain unless the City Council becomes more responsive to the will of the business community.

Eddie Aldrete, one of 14 business community leaders to sign a letter urging the Council to pursue a convention bid, said this is the third Council decision that has exasperated many in the business community. Aldrete cited a proposed labor peace agreement that would have allowed unionizing efforts among concessionaires at the San Antonio International Airport, a proposal that was dropped, and the Tobacco 21 ordinance that will raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes in the city and criticized for disproportionately affecting small business owners.

“There continues to be growing frustration with the direction of this Council,” Aldrete said. “There have been several issues that have not been in the best interest of the business community. It is the business community and private sector that creates jobs. Every time you throw a roadblock in front of a company or you prevent a company from economic prosperity, you have a negative impact on job creation.”

Feldman said he retains his San Antonio Chamber membership and will continue to be an active voice in the local hospitality and tourism sector.

“I will continue to support the business community,” he said. “I’ve not given up on San Antonio by any means.”

36 thoughts on “Hotelier Quits San Antonio Chamber’s Board Amid RNC Bid Fallout

  1. Mr Perez, how does your decision to remain silent on such issues help your 2100 members? What are the other matters to which you vaguely refer? Your statement that you have not heard from other members rings disingenuous.

  2. Man I do not know where to start. This people are suppose to help our city. Mr Feldman’s actions spoke louder then the Mayor what ever his name is. I can understand the differences between democrats and republicans policies, but the color of money is green. Maybe the Mayor and all his chamber of commerce make to much money. They forgot the value of money since they have their pockets full. I almost feel like they said the hell with our city and the hell to the people who struggle ever day to provide for their families. A bid for the RNC does not mean you are going to win, but it might look like the Mayor and his group were to lazy to come up with one. I hear our officials say that there will be other great opportunities. It makes me wonder, if they were stupid enough and blind enough not to see the RNC as an opportunity what makes me think that they will be able to see the other so call GREAT opportunities coming their way. Mr. Feldman if you ever decide to run for Mayor you can win. I do not have money but I will walk the streets of San Antonio every day to insure that people know more about the type of leader you are.I will present you as the working man that you are FIRST CLASS. My grandmother was an immigrant with no schooling but that did not mean she was not educated to life. When she would see something stupid happen like not making a bid, she would have said, ” what a shame all that schooling for nothing a waste of money.” She was not smart but she had a lot more sense then some officials in San Antonio.

    • It All comes down to politics!! If this was a bid for the DNC…, Don’t think for a Nano-second that there wld Even Bad a Need for a debate!!! It’s All Bout the hate & fear for Trump Draining the Swamp!! There are a Whole Swampful of Creatures swirling beneath the murky surface right here in the Alamo City, itself!! All with their hands in each other’s democratic pockets!!! Remember how hateful they were when Trump came here for a campaign stop & the escorting cops were all given red MAGA caps for keepsakes?? The whole slew of them got into trouble & were forced to give them up!! Little did City Manager Sculley, Mayor Whoever it Was, & the Chief of Police EVER thought that Trump wld become Our 45th President & how REALLY Valuable those caps wld become!!! Not as if they cld care less!!! But they Really shld – cuz Someday – they WILL be exposed & Drained – TOO!!!

      • Please learn the rules of capitalization. Just because your president is a moron who doesn’t understand them doesn’t mean you need to look like someone with an IQ in the 70s.

    • I don’t agree. All these studies over-inflate how much conventions and major sporting events bring to a city to begin with. Then, they forget to mention most of the businesses making the money brought in will send all their profits to a corporate office not located in San Antonio. Very similar to not bidding to have the new Amazon headquarters. Most San Antonians would have not been qualified for the high paying positions which means they would have been given to people who migrated to SA specifically for the job.

      Many community leaders will admit to this but will counter that the exposure is priceless. Most people can’t name the cities that the DNC and RNC took place in last. Those percentages get exponentially worse if we talk about the host cities for 2012. If this was truly about what the convention could do for our city, politics not in play, then everyone speaking out would be equally in favor of trying to bid for the DNC. And we should be attempting bids every 4 years.

    • How can you be so passionate about this when you don’t take the time to educate yourself about who the mayor is? You might want to look in to it, and while your at it look at the numbers. Fiscally, the convention bid was a stretch for making money. I believe most cities passed on the bidding process as well.

  3. All of this posturing and Twittering is fine to stir things up but the reality of logistics and public safety is what was at stake here.
    Just take a moment and really think about it.

    • Seconding what Mike said, Celia, Thaler a look at Dallas over the weekend. 80,000 visitors st the NRA Convention. Trump and Pence appeared. There were threats of riots etc all whipped up by the media. In the event, it was a big nothing burger except Dallas showed it was big-time. Here we have The Berger Boys and Calvert demonstrating to the world just how small time this place is. If that’s what you want, if you want to broadcast that SA is not open for business, fine, but don’t try to rationalize it because the truth is there for all to see.

      • Neither Dallas nor Houston want the Republican/or the Democratic convention. They did not bid on them either. There are reasons why, the security is crazy, protests will make downtown a mess. The investment required is not worth the cost. I hate the NRA but I would not have a problem if San Antonio bid on it. This is different, there are different rules for a political convention. Best we stay out of it. Besides we all know San Antonio or just about any other city does not have a chance since we do not have a trump branded property here in town. I am guessing the ‘winning’ city will have a trump property that will he can force people to rent out to continue his graft.

  4. Celia
    What you wrote made no sense. All conventions have logistical problems and safety issues.
    If it had been the Democratic convention the Mayor would have fallen over himself to bid for it. This was politics at it’s lowest. He sold out our city!

  5. Henry Feldman, I applaud your leadership and standing up on this.
    Why is the city even getting involved in this much less in a closed door session? Why did they not just let VSA do their job and due diligence for the GOP 2020 dates like they have for the 100’s of other successful events hosted each year in San Antonio. If it does not make sense at that point, then fine.

  6. I support the city’s decision not to bid for the Republican Convention. All things are political. I’m glad the city’s politics are on the right side of history.

  7. Politics aside, perhaps ClosedDoorRon and his small-minded minions don’t want the world to see their planned destruction of the Heart of Alamo City…When exactly will the Reimagine The Alamo Master Plan to remove the Heroes’ Cenotaph and Alamo Plaza begin and end? Seems the new Lame SA/Bully Bexar motto is “Forget The Alamo, Beware the mole!”

  8. I moved to San Antonio in ’83 following a job promotion. It was true then and it is still true. More business growth happens in Houston and Dallas by accident than by the “best planning” in San Antonio. That is why this town is stagnant and Austin will be bigger than S.A. in about a week..

  9. It is really a shame. The economic impact that the tourist dollar has on San Antonio is in the billions . An entity -such as the Greater Chamber of Commerce- is there to promote business, relationships, and community. How can one not see the economic impact the RNC would have on this city regardless of one’s political view? Everyone benefits from dollars infused into the city from such a large group. I commend Henry Feldman for his actions. A leader in the Hospitality industry for years providing counsel to this industry . One should take note, work to make things happen, and ask him back to serve.

  10. We will live through this. I believe neither convention would be that big a blessing to us. We do not have to be a Dallas or a Houston. We can continue to be a San Antonio that people love to visit and where many people enjoy living. Hopefully, we’ll concentrate on the real problem of San Antonio, the disproportionate differences in education, literacy and salary. I would imagine English is not a required language with many employees at LaQuinta’s hotels and their children’s future will continue to be a part of the problem that truly hinders San Antonio’s future.

  11. Mayor Nirenberg and the City Council’s decision is purely political. This City’s Democrat leaders are discouraging businesses from moving here (except call centers).

  12. I’m still waiting for someone to address the alleged six-week (at least) shut-down period for the Convention Center needed in advance of a RNC or DNC. What about the economic impact of that? Oh…..losing all that business is worth it to have RNC presence in Texas — gotta do everything possible to keep it red, eh? A little worried about how well Beto is doing, are we?
    More sarcasm: Gee, how nice it would be if SA became a Dallas or a Houston.
    Not being sarcastic: Now why on Earth would SA want to become a Dallas or a Houston?
    And, yes, let’s put our resources into improving the lives off ALL SA citizens, not just big business folks. We are still trying to teach the citizenry that disposable diapers do not go in the recycling bin. But never mind that, go ahead and pave the way for RNC.

  13. there is a reason Charlotte is the only city willing to bid. If someone is just interested in the profits for their two bit hotel, then just as well they aren’t on any host committee. Thank you for your service, Good luck and good bye.

  14. San Antonio has spent Millions on infrastructure and marketing in order to attract the larger conventions. When an opportunity presents itself like hosting the 2020 Republican Convention,San Antonio politicizes the opportunity by deciding not to make a bid.Sad. One thing becomes clear from San Antonio’s deciding not to bid. Mayor Nerenberg is no leader.

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