North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to Issue Scorecard for City Council

Print Share on LinkedIn Comments More
North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Cristina Aldrete.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Cristina Aldrete is president and CEO of the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

A group of local business leaders will release a scorecard that ranks City Council members and the mayor on how they treat business interests, North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Cristina Aldrete said Monday.

The chamber will release its scorecard – based on votes by the sitting mayor and City Council members on key business and economic policies – before the May 4 city elections, Aldrete told the Rivard Report.

“We’re scoring based on their votes, which may include social policy issues only if it impacts business profitability, and a business’ ability to expand, provide jobs and wages to employees,” she said via email.

Chamber leadership and staff are sifting through which votes should be included in the ranking, how much each is weighed towards the final score, and “evaluating the best way” to deliver scores, such as a percentage or with letter grades A through F.

The scorecard, the first of its kind in San Antonio from a chamber of commerce, was born out of “general frustration over Council-driven proposed initiatives and decisions over the last year or two that have threatened local business growth and economic development,” Aldrete said.

The business community and City Council have had a string of recent policy differences, including union-friendly airport concession contracts (which were ultimately changed), most Council members’ stances against pursuing the 2020 Republican National Convention, and an ordinance mandating paid sick leave (which could be overruled by State legislation or court ruling).

Other state and national organizations across the U.S. advocate for business-friendly policies and politicians with report cards – typically for partisan state or federal elected officials.

The North San Antonio Chamber and other local chambers aren’t expected to endorse specific candidates, but such organizations sometimes weigh in on issues put before voters. They remain quiet when it comes to endorsing candidates because picking a candidate who loses could be seen as bad for business.

“We advocate for issues, that may affect businesses, but not any particular candidate,” Aldrete said. “No matter the candidate, chambers continue to work collaboratively with city, state, and federal office holders on issues in the best interest of the business community.”

The other candidates in the municipal election – there are more than 50 for all 10 districts and the mayor’s seat – will not be given a scorecard, she said.

Asked what role she thinks chambers should play in politics, Aldrete said: “A chamber’s main role is to advocate on behalf of the business community.”

Aldrete was hired as CEO of the North San Antonio Chamber, one of the three largest local business leader organizations, last summer.

“The North Chamber is committed to working with our elected representatives to ensure that we, the job creators, the wage providers of San Antonio are at the table to influence and guide public policy as it relates to our business interests,” Aldrete stated in a press release Monday.

4 thoughts on “North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to Issue Scorecard for City Council

  1. I’m sure the mayor gets a low grade for some of decisions mentioned here, especially for his vote on the sick leave ordinance, which I believe was a strategic move on his part to prevent it from getting on the ballot with the charter amendments. Now I agree that he should have voted to bring the RNC here.

    I wonder if the chamber will remember that Greg Brockhouse cost business lots of money and uncertainty with his push for the union propositions, which were very likely his idea in the first place. Very likely part of his plan to use the very anti-business amendments as a platform for him to become mayor. My guess is that Brockhouse isn’t done with pushing more charter amendments to his liking, like possibly a charter amendment which mandates that every San Antonio city council/business contract shall first require approval by vote of the citizens. I believe Brockhouse has ignited the beginnings of more charter amendments to come.

    Brockhouse has also labeled council negotiations with developers as “backroom deals.” Deals which in some cases are proprietary in nature, (like the UTSA development deal with Red McCombs, which Brockhouse criticized). Publicizing them in advance would possibly create hesitancy and loss of interest from developers. Businesses are not sure if they are going to be dragged through the mud for their attempts to make normal business deals with the city. If Brockhouse were elected, he’d have no problem forcing business to do things his way, as crossing him wouldn’t be wise, because anyone could be next on his “hit list” seeing how far he went on his personal campaign to get rid of the city manager, at all costs to the city and business community. Now he wants to be mayor and has stated that he will float another charter amendment to strengthen the mayor’s office and possibly give himself, as the next mayor, sole veto powers over all decisions, even business deals voted on by majority council which benefit the business community. This consequences would be uncertain, given his temperament.

    I think Nirenberg deserves a C minus grade. He knew (and so did the chamber) that Amazon wasn’t coming and Nirenberg wasn’t willing to offer them the few billion in tax breaks, free land, plus a several billion for a quick term emergency airport upgrade, several billions for a quick transportation upgrade. I believe he has created a positive business environment, minus the sick leave ordinance vote. But the mayor would be wise to push his initiatives through incentive and and not by mandate. This is something Brockhose has called for. Problem is, who can can come up with no cost or low cost solutions to transportation problems, as candidate Brockhouse seems to be calling for, which don’t really exist. He’s in the enviable position of opposing 90 % of what Nireberg proposes due to the high costs without having to explain how he’d propose to pay for them.

    Brockhouse deserves an F plus because of his willingness to tear everything down, including business practices, so he can build them up again to his liking/benefit. Like submitting city/business negotiations to popular vote. In this case, business gets their hopes up only to have all of their investments and funded plans pulled from under them. Part of the grade I give to Brockhouse is that he’s created a populist tone on the council, where council decisions are put through the “Brockhouse filter” to first see if decisions are subject to his very public criticism, which has made council hesitant. This I believe led to the end of the momentum/policy of providing tax incentives to the developers for downtown construction/investment. I’m sure more deals were in the works, only now are forced wait for a more favorable incentive program that Brockhouse won’t criticize. He also gets low grades for choosing to skip out on important votes so he doesn’t have to go on record. Of course this doesn’t prevent him from criticizing those who do have the courage to vote.

    • I can tell you have given this a lot of thought and effort. Hopefully people will read all 5 paragraphs. In our short attention span society, I have my doubts.

      • Well Bob, it looks like at least one person read Djh’s comment since it got an equally long response from Councilman Brockhouse himself, presuming that the “Greg” below is in fact the city council member.

    • I don’t normally comment, but this article sure does give a lot of thought to my “perceived” influence at City Hall. Sorry, but you give me way too much credit. Few quick thoughts: I’ll give you the Charter argument, I was in favor. However, Prop B fear mongering was a scare tactic that was proven unfounded when we hired the best candidate for City Manager. And Prop C, well, the downgrade by a 3rd place rating agency, has no effect on current debt load. Fitch cited the downgrade because of the lack of a Fire contract. Getting the Fire contract done is the answer. So, saying I cost the business community “lots of money” is dead wrong…it cost the business community zero, and “uncertainty”…well sure, given that the citizens had the final vote.

      Your additional fear mongering over more charter amendments is inaccurate as well. You said it was “your guess” that I would create a charter amendment to “mandate every San Antonio city council/business contract shall first require approval by vote of the citizens”…is comical and wrong. No that won’t be happening. And as for backroom deals, you need to check the record. I have been clear that certain business ventures require priviliged discussion to prevent the release of information that may cost us bargaining position. I stood against the backroom deals and votes on the RNC, labor peace agreement, and Sculley’s bonus. All of which occurred in executive session, when in my opinion, executive session was not warranted or allowable. I still stand in opposition of any decision making in executive session.

      I keep reading your comments and frankly, I don’t have the time to rebut every one of your outright falsehoods. But from a business perspective here are my policies and decisions that support business: I stood for the RNC and vocally said it should not have been done in executive session. I stood for an Amazon bid…we should have at least tried and made the effort. I pushed for incentive package changes, not to limit downtown, but to expand the programs and incentives to small and medium sized businesses across ALL of San Antonio. As a result, we have a much better incentive program with greater opportunities for all sizes of business ventures, across a great portion of our city. I have consistently called for a reduction in property taxes, to include commercial property taxes. I lost votes on those issues. Since the beginning of the term I have called for a reduction in the regulatory environment on developers to remove the cost burden we are passing on to homeowners. If we can streamline the development process, lower fees and regulations, we can spur growth and business profitability. I have consistently been in favor of transparency at City Hall. The business community is ticked off because the Council doesn’t include them in the decision making process and/or the decisions happen behind closed doors.

      And finally, please let me know important votes (plural) you reference that I “skipped out” on?

      All in all…I wanted to take the time to answer because this piece is about as slanted as I have ever seen. Rate me however you want, I am totally fine with that, but at least put the facts out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *