What Do These Charter Propositions Really Say?

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Left: Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the Go Vote No campaign. Right: San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Steele and the San Antonio First campaign.

Composite / Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Left: Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the Go Vote No campaign. Right: San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Steele and the San Antonio First campaign.

San Antonio voters will see three propositions at the end of their midterm election ballots after various state leaders, local judges, and school district board members – depending on where you live. (Click here to download a sample ballot based on your address.)

Each of the propositions relates to a change to the City Charter, which is similar to a constitution. All would have different impacts to how the local government functions.

While the opposing campaigns ramp up aggressive television and online ads to sway voters to their side, here’s a simplified breakdown of what voters will be choosing in the ballot box:

Most City Council members have joined the Go Vote No campaign to defeat the firefighters union-backed propositions, which they say would have devastating effects on the City’s future. The Approved By Citizens campaign says the measures would strengthen the voters voice, reign in spending on compensation for future city managers and their power, and provide a path forward for the tumultuous contract negotiations between the City and San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.

Prop C, union officials say, is purely for the benefit of firefighters while props A and B were developed by other community groups that asked the union to help pass.

While props A and B are not directly related to the union on paper, Go Vote No officials say, they would contribute to a weaker City government in which special interests like the union could take advantage of. Meanwhile, the City and fire union have yet to formally begin negotiations for a labor contract. The most recent one expired in 2014 but a 10-year evergreen clause keeps its terms in place until a new one is established. The biggest sticking point in the negotiation stalemate has been health care.

Early voting starts Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2. Hours may vary by polling locations, so when early voting starts, check this site to see which sites are closest to you and when they’ll be open. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6.

20 thoughts on “What Do These Charter Propositions Really Say?

      • Long term, as health care rates rise, it is bad for the taxpayer and extremely generous for the families of the firefighters. Right now, the family pays nothing out of pocket for any and all healthcare — that’s not just the firefighter, that is the entire family. Contrast that with the new police contract where the police member pays nothing, but their family members must pay something.

  1. I would be more tempted to support Prop B if the fire department had also applied it to itself and term-limited its union president and capped his pay at the same per employee rate they are proposing for the city.

    What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander…otherwise, it’s just Chris Steele hypocrisy.

    • This doesn’t even make sense? So cap the union president’s pay at a percentage of other firefighters?

      I’m also unsure of the publics disdain for Chris Steele. The fire union is 1700 strong. THEY make the decisions what direction the union will go. Your city manager is the one on the power trip.

  2. It would be helpful and pointed if the article stated what the salary of the lowest paid full-time City employee actually is.
    Otherwise, the reference is fogged and anecdotal.

  3. Does anyone know if you live in an area within the city, but has its own city council, can you,vote for these amendments? I live in Terrell Hills and am curious if I can vote on these.

  4. Some of us cross partisan voters were looking forward to reading coverage of the League of Women Voters sponsored debate 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:

  5. Actually, Iris, the negotiation stalemate between the city and fire union is the city suing the firefighters. If we’re doing ‘factual,’ and not biased reporting, let’s not skew our article that way. The fire union has offered to take over their healthcare, only to be declined by the city. The firefighters have also negotiated giving up raises to maintain their healthcare. Has anyone actually considered asking a firefighter for any of these facts?

    • The Vote No machine has been very biased against union president Chris Steele. It has been less than truthful about the so-called contract negotiations.
      Our Firefighters deserve respect and a good labor agreement. Over paid City manager and dishonest City Council, we don’t need!

  6. Here’s the offer the city has had on the table for firefighters for a long time–does it seem fair to you? Does to me. Especially the free health care for firefighters. If I were a firefighter, I’d be after my union rep to get back to the table and get me a pay raise. Steele, of course, who is making almost $200K/yr, obviously doesn’t care that the firefighters he professes to care so much about haven’t had a pay raise in 4 years. Vote NO all down the line and get the union back to the table to get those firefighters their raise.

    The city of San Antonio negotiating team is offering a 12 percent pay increase for firefighters over 4 years, including a lump sum of 3 percent upon signing.
    Firefighters would also have no healthcare premiums for themselves, but would have to pay for their families a maximum of $346 dollars a month. The city would also eliminate the taxpayer funded legal fund that currently pays for firefighter’s divorces and child custody disputes. And last, it would change the current 10-year evergreen clause to a 6-month time period to finish negotiations. Right now there is a lawsuit in place between the city and the union regarding that evergreen clause.

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