San Antonio City Council Warned Not to Talk Politics of GOP Convention Bid in Closed Session

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(From left) Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Governor Greg Abbott walk into the Wittee Museum for the announcement.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Gov. Greg Abbott enter the Witte Museum on Wednesday.

San Antonio City Council members were cautioned Wednesday against discussing the politics of hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention when they meet in closed session Thursday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott, in town for a Tricentennial event, said during his visit that he would “love to see” his party's national gathering here in two years.

After the governor delivered a proclamation in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding, he spoke to the Rivard Report about whether the city should pursue hosting the convention. “I think it would be great for San Antonio and great for Texas and great for the United States,” Abbott said.

Local business and industry leaders recently have stoked debate about a possible City bid to host the Republican National Convention. During the executive session scheduled for Thursday afternoon, the City Council will weigh in on whether to offer economic incentives should it proceed with a convention hosting bid.

But their closed-door discussions are strictly limited. City Attorney Andrew Segovia said in a letter to the full Council that members could not discuss the political pros and cons of a possible convention bid when it meets in executive session Thursday. Topics legally allowed for discussion during closed sessions include personnel matters, litigation, and economic development issues such as competitive bids.

The City Attorney's letter was sealed under attorney-client privilege, said Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), who requested the opinion and relayed the information to the Rivard Report.

“There will be no political discussion regarding Donald Trump, and that’s exactly what I wanted to ensure,” said Brockhouse. “There will be no political discussion or discussions on the political ramifications of Donald Trump being here. It’s off limits.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City leadership have faced mounting pressure from local business community members to bid for the quadrennial GOP nominating convention.

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager – and part-time San Antonian – Brad Parscale has criticized Nirenberg in a series of tweets for not taking steps to bid on hosting the convention.

City leaders who oppose pursuing the bid say hosting the event could have economic repercussions for San Antonio. They fear hosting the convention will spur political backlash from Mexico and drive away shopping and tourism from Mexican nationals.

The specter of violent street protests also has been raised in arguments against pursuing the bid.

Should San Antonio host the convention, Abbott said he would deploy the Texas Rangers to safeguard against violence.

“We believe in law and order and safety and security,” Abbott said. “We’ll make sure it’s the safest place in America.”

Four local business leaders – billionaire philanthropist Red McCombs, former State Sen. John Montford, International Bank of Commerce CEO and Board Chairman Dennis Nixon, and IBC Senior Vice President Eddie Aldrete — vowed on Tuesday to raise $60 million to $65 million to launch a bipartisan bid to host the convention. Historically, the host city and county have each contributed between $2 million and $3 million to the overall cost of the convention, according to the letter. The rest of the funds, they said, would come from the private sector.

(From left) International Bank of Commerce corporate CEO and Board Chairman Dennis Nixon, Red McCombs, and Eddie Aldrete, IBC’s senior vice president, along with John Montford (pictured below) asked Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council to bid on the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

(From left) Dennis Nixon, International Bank of Commerce CEO and board chairman; billionaire philanthropist Red McCombs; and Eddie Aldrete, IBC senior vice president, along with former State Sen. John Montford, are asking Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council to bid on the 2020 Republican National Convention.

In a separate letter of support for a local convention bid, a coalition of 14 leaders in the business community urged City Council to make a good-faith effort to host the GOP gathering.

"Any convention of this magnitude would bring sales, economic growth, and massive exposure to San Antonio," reads the letter, signed by – among others – SWBC President Gary Dudley, AT&T Chairman Emeritus Ed Whitacre, and businesswoman and former Texas Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade. "There is no crystal globe to know what the political landscape will be in 2020, but we are confident if protests arise, our law enforcement is well trained and will coordinate with state and federal law enforcement. This is a good and fiscally sound decision."

Nirenberg said he would not support a national convention bid that would cost taxpayers.

“I’ve said all along I do not believe a public subsidy is prudent for a political convention whether it’s Democrat or Republican,” Nirenberg said. “My feelings on that have not changed.”

Preferring to wait until Thursday’s briefing, Nirenberg declined to comment on whether he would support a mostly privately funded bid.

Although the convention would benefit the city economically – bringing in thousands of visitors who would spend hundreds of millions of dollars – opponents argue that hosting the event, where Trump may be re-nominated as the Republican Party's presidential candidate, would be insulting to the city's majority Hispanic population and bring with it unwanted attention.

County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3)

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3)

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3), the lone Republican on the five-member commissioners court, said Wednesday that the convention would bring positive economic impacts in more ways than hotel reservations. He said the convention would bring 12,000 to 15,000 members of the media.

"You're getting broadcast all over the world," Wolff said. "We're always out there trying to put ourselves higher on the radar screen. We're going to be part of the center stage; you can't buy that kind of media."

He added that the city could expect to rake in over $180 million in economic activity from the convention, which would also bring in CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who would see firsthand what San Antonio offers.

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct.4)

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct.4).

Fellow Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) argued that hosting the convention would negatively affect the city. He organized a coalition of 30 residents and activists Wednesday who reject the idea of the President having his "re-coronation" in San Antonio.

"I would actually be for a Republican convention in San Antonio, but not with this President at the top of the ticket, and his disrespectful rhetoric," Calvert said.

Calvert said that hosting the convention would threaten the $644 million he says Mexican nationals spend on travel and leisure in the city. In 2012, residents of Mexico spent $398 million in the metropolitan area on, among other things, lodging, dining, and clothing, according to a SABÉR Research Institute report.

He also warned that San Antonio would be the "epicenter of the American political civil war" drawing "outside leftist militant forces, violent ones" into the city.

The event, held inside the Bexar County Courthouse, caught Parscale's attention when Calvert told the crowd that Trump's campaign manager believed the convention would be "one of the biggest food and catering events in the history of the city."

"But who do you think is cooking the food? Who do you think is going to be serving the food?" Calvert said during the press conference. That triggered a social media response from Parscale.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the Rivard Report that it's the City's sole decision on whether to submit a bid to host the convention. The County may provide security with Bexar County Sheriff's Deputies if requested, Wolff said.

32 thoughts on “San Antonio City Council Warned Not to Talk Politics of GOP Convention Bid in Closed Session

  1. Either party’s debate would be prosperous for this city. The only reason for not putting a bid into either one of them is purely political. Btw, who exactly are the “they”‘s that will riot? I keep hearing about this cryptic “they”… “they” will riot if we don’t take down the statue. “They” will riot if we don’t change the name. “They” will riot if we have the RNC debates here… who exactly is this “they”?

    • with hugs? What exactly do you think your message sounds like?

      ‘run (x) out of town’ is only something you do if you yourself have hatred in your heart.

  2. Maybe you could ask the citizens to vote on whether to bring the Republican or Democratic conventions, each on a separate vote, just as the firefighter’s union wants us to do.

    In my opinion, we should host the convention for either party, but council needs to discuss specific security issues.

    I do feel that the council should also insist that all private funds raised be available to a convention bid for either party.

    Council should also insist that each political party be required to secure a signed pledge from ALL political candidates that he/she will refrain from using social media to fan racial tension (see Charlottesville), as it places Police officers, the National Guard, the Secret Service, and families with their children, in harms way. Council could consider this “without mentioning Trump’s name.” Discussing a person who is known to flame tensions along with other security issues wouldn’t be political, it would be honest and practical, and it would honor those who would protect us from riots and terrorism, they owe it to the citizens to discuss this matter. Which council members are going to stand on the side of the police force?

    • Council should also insist that each political party be required to secure a signed pledge from ALL political candidates that he/she will refrain from using social media to fan racial tension (see Charlottesville), as it places Police officers, the National Guard, the Secret Service, and families with their children, in harms way. Council could consider this “without mentioning Trump’s name.” That would be illegal, a contract between the government and an individual cannot violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, making that provision both null and void. Read up on the Bill of Rights and the laws of torts.

  3. Not surprising that Gov. Abbott is now interjecting his desire for a Republican convention in San Antonio. His anti-Hispanic and. racist policies and legislation involving SB 4 (show me your papers), voter suppression laws and discriminatory redistricting maps are all about oppresing and keeping people of color in check. This is exactly what the Trump administration represents with its inhumane border wall, anti-Muslim travel ban and unjust treatment of DACA children.

    When manufactured consent fails the state is more than willing to use its coercive and authoritarian power. Interesting that Abbot mentioned the Texas Rangers as a solution to security. The Texas Rangers have a particularly violent history of brutalizing Mexicans of south Texas. Abbot’s threat of bringing in the Texas Rangers evokes past memories of violent and oppressive measures to keep the Mexicans under control. This reference is no accident.

    As William Faulkner once said,
    “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.”

    • When Texicans (including Rangers) and Mexicans met it was without quarter. Brutality was the order of the day. Consider the Mexican slaughters at the Battle of Medina, Goliad, Dawson, and the Alamo. The Mexican kidnapping of every person at the courthouse in 1842. And you wonder why there was brutality?

      • Yeah I’d say especially at Goliad.

        On Palm Sunday of all days, the Mexican army led 425+ previously surrendered, Texian POWs out into 3 columns. These Texian prisoners were summarily executed by shooting them point blank, with survivors beaten and stabbed to death, bodies piled, burned, and any remains left for the vultures and coyotes.

        Care to evoke those memories NIMBY or can we all just take a deep breath and try to take a single step forward yet?

        • Sounds like you are justifying the deaths of innocent Mexican civilians, who through no fault of their own became citizens of an occupied land, had it coming.

          Santa Anna was inhumane for the treatment of prisoners of war but this in no justified the actions of the Texas Rangers.

          Please don’t tell me about the ideals of freedom and liberty of the Texian revolt versus the real motivations of greed for land and slaves. History is far more complicated.

  4. This liberal thinks it would be educational for Trump supporters if San Antonio hosts the convention. And if so, the city should engage in a major PR effort encouraging Mexican nationals to come visit then.

    Since the majority of Trumpsters are irrationally afraid of our Hispanic and Mexican brothers and sisters, seeing this many together at one time in a successful city that takes pride in its culture and South-of-the-Border flavor would either be an important reality check or send them fleeing in terror.

    • Really? In the building in which I live, many of the units are owned by Mexican nationals. I haven’t noticed any problem or fear. Have you been to Sonterra? Do you know they call it Sonterrey for all the Mexican nationals from Monterrey who have fled there as refugees in the last few years. For some reason, the border refugees tend to end up on 09. You are quite clueless.

      • I was not referring to San Antonians being afraid but to the Trump supporters who shout “build the wall” at his rallies and now feel free to make their racism public, encouraged by his own racist comments. Since the convention would draw attendees from all over the United States, for some, if not many, this would be their first time in a majority Hispanic city.

        • Hispanic is not a race, it is an ethnicity. Thought you should know that before replying with remarks that are not true. Second, at least 2 of Hispanic descent are in support of the RNC convention one who is on the board at International Bank of Commerce if you were reading the article first. The other one was the former Texas Secretary of State who serves on VIA as it’s Chairperson.

  5. Hosting the RNC will only allow San Antonio to pretend it is something it is not: a modern city. Supported by the majority of the populace in their thrall, it is the fiefdom of radicals like Nirenberg, Hardberger, members of the city council (excluding Brockhouse — how’d he end up there), and the ever-bombastic and foolish Calvert. The city should not attempt to rise above itself. We should not allow businesses to move here unless they toe the party line. Under Spanish rule, the city was an outpost of the Inquisition. Let us not waver from that fine heritage and tradition.

  6. Let’s compare a ONE time economic impact of the convention and the loss of revenue ONGOING from Mexican nationals that spends thousands every weekend at La Cantera, The Rim etc. Some people talk about the future as ONE week and that thinking is very narrow minded. San Antonio has always been a place that accepts all nationalities and races and is multi-cultural. This party, especially with #45 as their “leader” spews hatred to those that don’t look or act like them. The negative impact could be to use an overused term, “HUGE”. I support the Mayor and the City Council for looking forward beyond ONE WEEK in time.

  7. The argument that politics play a role on Mexican travel here for shopping is bogus. Mexican shoppers are Mexicans and come here as visitors in a legal way. They would have no reason to be concerned about immigration policy as long as they have been granted their Visa to be here to shop and return to their homeland once they are finished. This straw man argument that these shoppers will somehow care about our politics, one way or the other, as long as they believe they are getting an economic advantage by shopping here, doesn’t work. It would be revealing to see how much spending from these Mexican visitors has changed in recent years to see if there is any influence played by our national politics. I suspect not.

    • I agree, having lived as an expat in Mexico, I know full well that the Mexicans who visit the US have more money than most of us.
      They are NOT the Mexicans the government wants to disenfranchise.
      Not even Trump will keep them away. In fact, I suspect many of them agree with his policies.
      I do believe they should be treated equally and have the same rights I did while living and working in Mexico. YOU need to know what those rights were and are. NO one asked me to dial #2 to speak English, nor did I qualify for any govenment support. My social security benefits I paid in were not allowed out of the country. Unlike in the US where millions of Social Security dollars are paid to spouses who have never been to this side of the Rio Grande.
      Andy, can’t wait to hear what name you will call me.

  8. Either Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi will be President by 2020 so it makes no difference if the Republicans meet here or not.

    • First of all your statement is nonsense. If you are assuming that both Donald Trump and Mike Pence are impeached AND removed from office, then you are out of touch with reality. Even if Donald Trump were impeached AND removed from office, something that has never happened to a sitting President in US history, this presupposes that Mr. Pence would be removed at the same time. If not at the same time, then Mr. Pence, as President, would appoint a new Vice President, subject to Congressional approval, who would then take his place should Mr. Pence be removed (which is fantasy, in any event). Were Congress to resist approving a new VP in an attempt get one of there own, i.e., the Speaker to assume the Presidency, then we would be witnessing a full blown constitutional crisis.

      Second, Paul Ryan already announced that he is stepping down at the end of his term at the end this year, so no President Ryan, unless Mr. Pence and Trump were impeached AND removed, simultaneously, by the end of the year. As for a President Pelosi? Well that is exactly what the 25th amendment was meant for.

  9. The way of Trumpism brings out the worst in us, even here in San Antonio.

    We are a big small town where people from many backgrounds live and work for quality of life. We don’t live here to be in the fast lane or cutting edge of anything.
    What’s precious about San Antonio is our ability to accept and respect others. Let’s not lose that whatever direction we go.

      • Bob San Antonio is truly a unique ethnic, and cultural bubble that most Americans unfortunately do not get the privilege of being raised or even exposed to. The answer to your question is also an unfortunate no.

  10. The only city that submitted a bid for the 2020 RNC by the 2/28 deadline is Charlotte, NC. Dallas declined. Why is there so much pressure for San Antonio to hold the convention (besides Brad Parscale having a bully pulpit)? Why aren’t red cities in other parts of the country competing for this event if it will be so prestigious and profitable? What do they know that we don’t? Makes me think that hosting this convention could be a huge mistake.

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/04/30/report-only-one-city-seems-really-interested-in-hosting-2020-gop-convention-others-decline/23423459/

  11. Where is the hospitality and restaurant organizations input? You actually have Tommy Colvert saying that someone in the restaurant business would be poisoning people?

    • I don’t think Calvert said anything about poisoning people. I think that Parscale jumped to his own conclusions about what Calvert was saying.

    • We have some city council members making racist statements but given a pass in the press because of political correctness.

  12. Doesn’t anyone remember Chicago 68? The RNC will attract Trump opponents from around the country (and maybe the world), as well as Trump supporters (probably funded by the NRA). Add to that mix the Texas Rangers “to keep order” and what kind of publicity will San Antonio get???

    BTW, if local business leaders can raise $60-65M to fund the RNC, why can’t they raise that kind of money to support all the worthy causes in town, including Hemisfair and Alameda. Build something positive with your money instead of supporting a president who bullies and belittles people.

    Stand firm, City Council. If the power brokers bully you into allowing the RNC to overrun our town, I’ll be on the front lines of the protests – look for a 66-year-old lady wearing a T-shirt saying NOT MY PRESIDENT.

    • If he is not your President you are more than welcome to leave and move to another country. It’s too bad North Korea won’t fit for you.

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