Author of Blog: Daniel Day

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why Cyclist Should Vote NO.

When I started writing this blog post about Prop A, B and C, I thought that I would tie it into what Chuck Marohn (presentation starts at 17:24) and Joe Minicozzi talk about on why our cities across America are dying.  But the more I wrote, and read into these propositions, the more I began to realize that this is an attempt by outside forces that don't have biking in mind for the future of transportation let alone transit to gain a foot hold in shaping city policy. 

Unless you are big readers of Streetsblog USA, you probably haven't heard about the stories on how the Koch Brothers PAC, Americans For Prosperity, campaigned in several cities to stop transit initiatives especially those that required a sales tax hike.  In the New York Times story, "How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country" the author quotes from Tori Venable, the Tennessee state director of Americans for Prosperity saying: “If someone has the freedom to go where they want, do what they want, they’re not going to choose public transit.”  This is clearly not the case for if you compare the amount of return on investment to highways compared to transit, transit gets a better return so Venable's Statement "they're not going to choose public transit" is false.  Just look at Tony Dutzik (Assoc. Director and Sr. Policy Analyst at the Frontier Group) tweet on his comparison on the the amount of money spent on transit compared to highways.  Apparently highways got way more money and less return on investment compared to transit when taking into account for the increase in the number of users. 

Now the Koch Brothers don't need to have their Americans for Prosperity PAC to do their political campaigning because there's already a like minded organization here called Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Texans for Toll-Free Highways which are full of people who think just like Tori Venable.  Many of the articles listed on TURF are from the CATO Institute's Randal O'Toole, a famous anti transit advocate.  In one of the stories that TURF has posted, they have a quote in the story saying "San Antonio is using an “advanced transportation” tax to pave costly sidewalks and bike paths." Again, go back to Charles Marohn video and learn how investing in sidewalks and bicycle lanes actually leads to increase tax revenues.  
"The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute states that it favors policies "that are consistent with the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, and peace." Jan 26, 2018 Cato Institute - Source Watch: https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Cato_Institute.
As you read these propositions, take into account how voters here have never said no to such increases lately whether it was about finding money for the Howard W. Peak Greenways, getting PK4 SA funded or to buy land over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.  So lets go into the Propositions that are place on the ballot and see what they say. 

Proposition A states:
SHALL THE CITY CHARTER BE AMENDED TO EXPAND THE TYPES OF ORDINANCES THAT MAY BE SUBJECT TO REFERENDUM INCLUDING APPROPRIATION OF MONEY, LEVYING A TAX, GRANTING A FRANCHISE, FIXING PUBLIC UTILITY RATES, ZONING AND REZONING OF PROPERTY; INCREASE THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITHIN WHICH A PETITION MAY BE FILED SEEKING A REFERENDUM ON AN ORDINANCE PASSED BY COUNCIL FROM FORTY TO ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS AFTER PASSAGE OF THE ORDINANCE; AND TO PROVIDE THAT NO MORE THAN TWENTY THOUSAND SIGNATURES OF REGISTERED VOTERS ARE REQUIRED FOR A REFERENDUM PETITION IN STEAD OF TEN PERCENT OF THOSE ELECTORS QUALIFIED TO VOTE AT THE LAST REGULAR MUNICIPAL ELECTION?
It basically says, "if I don't like what you're doing and what ordinances been passed, then I'm going to get signatures to change it my way and I'm given 6 months to find the people who hate what you did instead of 40 days."  This will change the city charter to make it easier to reverse ordinances, sales tax hikes or what District Councilman Rey Saldana did to appropriate more money to VIA and that doesn't go into all the other things like the opposition to the LGBQ Nondiscrimination Ordinance.

Remember, for the last 10 years, we pretty much said yes to a sales tax increase to fund certain initiatives. Now take into account what's going on right now as I write this is that the city is working on changing it's zoning ordinances to allow more density and there's talk about mayor Nirenberg bringing a referendum to the voters to give VIA more funding and you begin to realize that Prop A is written to repeal everything the city is currently doing. 

Proposition B States:
SHALL THE CITY CHARTER BE AMENDED TO LIMIT THE TERM THE CITY MANAGER MAY SERVE TO NO LONGER THAN EIGHT YEARS AND TO LIMIT THE COMPENSATION OF THE CITY MANAGER TO NO MORE THAN TEN TIMES THE ANNUAL SALARY FURNISHED TO THE LOWEST PAID FULL-TIME CITY EMPLOYEE AND REQUIRE A SUPER MAJORITY VOTE OF CITY COUNCIL TO APPOINT THE CITY MANAGER? 
Now for the record, I don't like Sheryl Sculley and wishes that she be fired. But at the same time, I won't be saying that she doesn't deserve her pay for the triple AAA credit rating makes that argument moot. I agree with What Jarrett Walker, author of the blog Human Transit said in his blog post 'basics: should I vote for a transit tax?' In question "6.  But the managers have such big salaries!," his response is spot on, quote: 
"You’d better hope they do.  These are complex jobs with appalling responsibilities.   Many of the people in them could go to the private sector and make ten times as much.  The best of them are in this business because they believe in it." 
Prop B isn't written to reign in the current city manager position, but to make sure that there isn't a person to replace Sculley. Now I don't believe that Sculley is in the position for "pious" reasons, but I do know that after the job she has done, she does deserve her current pay.  If you ever took time to watch Chuck Marohn (presentation starts at 17:24) and Joe Minicozzi talk, you begin to see that her decisions are made from the standpoint of trying to make sure that everyone gets trash pick up.

Now this Prop B won't be reducing Sculley's pay or reducing the amount of time she has left to serve. This proposition, if passed will affect the next city manager that will replace Sculley and as much as I agree with the ideal of reducing the compensation of the city manager, I don't agree with term limiting the next person who takes over for Sculley for that person will need more than 8 years to clean up her mess and I consider term limits a lazy way to replace the political opposition. 

When you take into account the way Prop B is written, you begin to realize that it's written to make it impossible to elect a new city manager for it will require a super majority approval. The way it was written is to allow only someone at the top of the political power pyramid in San Antonio to decide who becomes the city manager and it's so happens that there's another proposition on the ballot called Prop C to create this exact position.   

Proposition C states:
SHALL THE CITY CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE FIGHTERS LOCAL 624 WITH UNILATERAL AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE THE CITY TO PARTICIPATE IN BINDING ARBITRATION OF ALL ISSUES IN DISPUTE WITH THE ASSOCIATION WITHIN FORTY-FIVE DAYS OF THE CITY'S RECEIPT OF THE ASSOCIATION'S WRITTEN ARBITRATION REQUEST?
If Prop C passes, it will give the fire union the sole right to declare when it has reached an impasse with the city on contract negotiations and unilaterally require that San Antonio go to binding arbitration. The people that I've seen align with the Firefighters Union on this Proposition are normally against unions especially with unions getting this much power.  So I have to ask the question, why are people who are normally against unions backing this measure to give Local 624  lot of power?

In a few more months, we'll eventually find the person who paid for the collection of the signatures and I'm betting that person will hold similar views of the Koch Brothers.  And why support a union when your anti union?  Well the answer to that is the Police, Fire, and EMT employees hold a certain amount of respect in our society and their unions can hold power over the the local government of the employees they represent.  In essence, the people who paid for the collection of the signatures wants  the Fire Union Boss to become the most powerful person behind the political scenes in San Antonio.  And it's not me coming to this conclusion for Rick Casey wrote an opinion piece in the Rivard Report titled: "Fire Union Boss Steele Seeks to Gain Power by Targeting It."  In his opinion piece he realizes that if all three propositions pass, they will make Chris Steele the most powerful man in the city limits of San Antonio.

When you look at all the propositions from C to A, and the amount of money that was paid for to collect the signatures to put these props on the ballot, you begin to realize what it is all about.  In Prop C, it ain't about the Fire Union getting the necessary compensation for doing their job, but to make the person in charge of the Fire Union to be the unelected leader in charge of San Antonio and to hold the city hostage. Prop B is written to make sure that the next city manager is chosen at the whim of the Firefighters Union President and if the person who gets appointed ain't his choice, well they just have to wait 8 years to get who they want to be in that position.  And finally, Prop A is designed to make it harder for real change to take hold in San Antonio and make the Firefighters Union the go to organization to collect the signatures necessary to to repeal not just ordinances, but sales taxes, zoning changes and setting utility rates. 

The insidious thing about all these propositions is that redundancy was written into each one. So if one or two of them don't pass, you have one left to pull the strings with. So if Prop A passes, then you can find TURF or anyone with money to throw around to overturn everything the Koch Brothers don't like in every election. If just Prop B passes, you cripple the city in the pocket book allowing the State of Texas to perhaps, appoint an emergency manager like the ones that took over bankrupt towns and cities in Michigan. If just Prop C Passes, you have a corrupt union leader to cripple the city by demanding everything under the sun including large, diesel guzzling vehicles in the name of safety and wide streets to race to the scene of the emergency that those wide streets created all the while lying from their teeth that bicycle lanes make things dangerous.

 So I hope that everyone who wants to see a bicycle friendlier city votes no on Prop A, B and C. The wording for each prop was copy and pasted from the official Bexar County Generic Sample Ballot by clicking here: https://www.bexar.org/DocumentCenter/View/4570/Generic-Sample-Ballot-PDF?bidId=.  
If you need the locations of early voting sites, please click here: https://www.bexar.org/DocumentCenter/View/4572/Early-Voting-Locations-and-Hours-of-Operation-PDF?bidId=.

Also, some of the people that I know won't be showing up to vote because their party didn't get on the ballot.  My advice to them, is go vote and just leave those who you think that aren't deserving of the position blank and vote NO for Prop A, B and C. 


JOINT GENERAL, SPECIAL, CHARTER AND BOND ELECTION
THE HOURS OF EARLY VOTING WILL BE:
Mon, Oct. 22 thru Fri, Oct. 26...............................................................8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
Sat, Oct. 27, 2018...................................................................................8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sun, Oct. 28, 2018................................................................................12:00pm to 6:00 p.m.
Mon, Oct. 29 thru Fri, Nov. 2..............................................................8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Main Early Voting Location: 
BEXAR COUNTY ELECTION DEPARTMENT...................................1103 S. Frio
****DEAFLINK available for the hearing impaired.

BEXAR COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER...................................................................300 Dolorosa
BROOKHOLLOW LIBRARY...............................................................530 Heimer Road
CASTLE HILLS CITY HALL...(COMMUNITY ROOM)................................209 Lemonwood Dr.
CLAUDE BLACK CENTER......................................................................2805 East Commerce
CODY LIBRARY......................................................................................11441 Vance Jackson
CONVERSE CITY HALL...................................................................... 405S. Seguin Rd
COPERNICUS COMMUNITY CENTER.....................................................5003 Lord Rd.
EAST CENTRAL ISD ADMIN BUILDING..............................6634 New Sulphur Springs Road
ENCINO   PARK LIBRARY...........................................................2515   East   Evans   Rd
FAIR OAKS RANCH CITY HALL... (COUNCIL CHAMBERS)..................7286 Dietz Elkhorn
GREAT NORTHWEST LIBRARY..............................................................9050 Wellwood
HENRY A. GUERRA, JR.LIBRARY.......................................................7978 W Military Drive
JOHN IGO LIBRARY..................................................................     13330 Kyle Seale Parkway
JOHNSTON LIBRARY............................................................................6307 Sun Valley Drive
JULIA YATES SEMMES LIBRARY @ Comanche Lookout Park.............15060 Judson Road
LAS PALMAS LIBRARY...........................................................................515 Castroville Road
LEON VALLEY CONFERENCE CENTER...................................................6421 Evers Rd
LION’S FIELD.....................................................................................................2809 Broadway
MAURY MAVERICK, JR. LIBRARY................................................................8700 Mystic Park
MCCRELESS LIBRARY...................................................................1023 Ada Street
MEMORIAL LIBRARY.............................................................................. 3222 Culebra
MISSION  LIBRARY......................................................................3134Roosevelt  Ave.
NORTHSIDE ACTIVITY CENTER.................................................................7001 Culebra
NORTHWEST VISTA COLLEGE........................................................ 3535 N. Ellison Dr.
OLMOS CITY HALL...............................................................................120 El Prado W 
PALO ALTO COLLEGE................................................................ 1400 W. Villaret Blvd.
PARMAN LIBRARY@Stone Oak.................................................. 20735 Wilderness Oak
PRECINCT 1 SATELLITE OFFICE................................................... 3505 Pleasanton Rd.
SAN ANTONIO COMMUNITY COLLEGE (ECO Centro Bldg)...................... 1802 N. Main
SCHAEFER LIBRARY.......................................................................6322 US Hwy 87 E
SHAVANO PARK CITY HALL... (COUNCIL CHAMB)..........................     900 Saddletree Ct
SOMERSET ISD ADMIN BLDG.................................................................7791E. 6th, Somerset
SOUTHSIDE ISD ADMIN BLDG... (BOARD ROOM)..........................1460 Martinez-Losoya
SOUTH PARK MALL.........................................................................2310 S.W. Military
SOUTH SAN ANTONIO ISD ADMIN BLDG............................................5622 Ray Ellison
SOUTHWEST ISD ADMIN BLDG...................................................11914 Dragon Lane
THOUSAND OAKS/EL SENDERO LIBRARY...................................4618 Thousand Oaks
TOBIN LIBRARY @OAKWELL.....................................................4134 Harry Wurzbach
UNIVERSAL CITY LIBRARY.....................................................................100 Northview Dr.
UTSA (Bexar Room)...........................................................................1 UTSA Circle 
WINDCREST TAKAS PARK CIVIC CENTER...........................................9310 Jim Seal Dr.
WONDERLAND MALL OF THE AMERICAS @ CROSSROADS............4522 Fredericksburg
Bexar County Justice Center closes at 6:00 p.m.  
Also Closed Saturday
and Sunday
subject to change

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