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Ethics Review Board Considering Changes to Campaign Finance Code

Ethics Review Board Considering Changes to Campaign Finance Code

The City’s Ethics Review Board met on Tuesday, July 10, to consider several changes to the Campaign Finance Code. Among the considerations being discussed are revisions that expand the prohibition on those who are seeking a city contract to include affiliated subcontractors. Councilman John Courage also proposed that the city require candidates to file the title and employer’s name for every donor, a suggestion that was questioned by some other members of the board.
A series of proposed revisions to the city’s ethics code were also discussed including eliminating the need for ethics complaints to funnel to the City Clerk’s office and City Auditor’s office before being forwarded to the review board.
For our part, any effort to increase the transparency and efficacy of the review board would be a great move forward.

For the complete article, please click here.

Did TxDOT Pull a Fast One on Taxpayers?

Did TxDOT Pull a Fast One on Taxpayers?

San Antonio residents looking forward to the day when their commute on Highway US 281 could possibly be shortened are scratching their heads about the news that TxDOT has decreased the number of express lanes integrated into the new plan after all. Construction seemingly eliminates one free lane, leaving commuters with lots of questions about how traffic congestion will be averted in the future.

Texas TURF addresses the issue here.

San Antonio Continues to Rise on the List of “LGBT-friendly Cities”

San Antonio Continues to Rise on the List of “LGBT-friendly Cities”

The election of Mayor Nirenberg and several new members of the City Council has solidified our status as a “LGBT-friendly city”. Following the progressive standard of Julian Castro, Nirenberg appeared at the San Antonio Pride Parade on July 1 and the city’s “LGBT” scorecard currently lauds a number of arts and cultural factors that strike a chord with the “LGBT” community including active organizations like the Pride Center San Antonio and the San Antonio “LGBT” Chamber of Commerce.

Recent wins for the “LGBT” community including passage of the NDO in 2015 also point to “LGBT” activists’ hope that the city of St. Anthony will continue to be considered a top choice for same sex couples and families.

Prior to the Pride parade, activists and allies paid homage to their cause and chalked the crosswalks at the intersection of Evergreen and Main streets. The same intersection is the focus of an effort to make the rainbow display a permanent addition to the area, known as the “gay district” in Tobin Hill. Councilman Roberto Trevino filed the appropriate paperwork and numerous other city leaders have voiced support for the installation. When approved, San Antonio will become the second city, after Houston, to allow such as display in Texas. Of course, questions remain about the source of funds needed for the installation and maintenance of such a display. “LGBT” activists have stated they are willing to raise the funds needed for the project however, no specifics have been shared about how much the display will cost or who exactly will foot the bill.

Atlanta, Georgia recently approved the installation of rainbow crosswalks to the tune of $200,000.

Charter Review Commission (CRC)

Charter Review Commission (CRC)

Last month our team shared three amendments we submitted to the Charter Review Commission for consideration as changes to our city charter. Patrick (with the great help of two attorneys) revised and personally presented, on May 24th and June 14th, a hardcopy to the commission as well as recruited volunteers to testify during all three public input meetings.

Now that the public meetings have concluded, the CRC will submit a report to the City Council during a B Session on August 2. From there, discussion will take place by the City Council during an A Session on August 17.

If you missed the CRC meeting on July 10, you may watch proceedings at the video link below. Of special note, CRC Chair, Jeff Webster, believes the proposed changes to the city charter will not be submitted to the public for a vote until May 2018 rather than holding special election in November of this year.

Mass Transit Efforts Revamped

Mass Transit Efforts Revamped

In May 2016, The Streetcar Coalition successfully submitted 20,000 signatures to our city government and amended the city’s charter to require that:

Sec. 3a. Limitation on powers; streetcar or light rail.
No grant of permission to alter or damage any public way of the city for the laying of streetcar or light rail tracks shall ever be valid, and no funds shall be appropriated and no bonds or notes shall be issued or sold for the purpose of streetcar or light rail systems, unless first approved by a majority of the qualified electors of the city voting at an election containing a proposition specifically identified for and limited to such purpose. (Ord. No. 2015-05-20-0423, § 3 (Prop. 1), 5-20-15)

Unfortunately, efforts to repackage and revive the mass transit issue began immediately after the amendment took effect. The latest variation has resurfaced under the name of ViaVision 2040, which “was adopted after almost two years of community outreach and engagement to help shape the future of transit for our region.”

VIA Metropolitan Transit is currently soliciting input for Phase II of the Rapid Transit Corridor (RTC) Studies. An introductory videos of the plan can be viewed at the following link:

Online Workshop

Several members of the Streetcar Coalition responsible for the amendment change have attended the public meeting discussions. The following are observations made by attendees:
*VIA stated that their $20 million investment cannot be used to fund streetcars
*VIA is only considering two options for transportation, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT). There was no explanation for why these two modes are the only ones being considered
*There was no explanation given for the identification of traffic “corridors” in the city and, in particular, how they chose the four corridors that are the subject of the studies
*They acknowledged that, if congestion reduction were a goal, there would be east-west corridors across the north side. In fact, there are none and the only east-west corridor runs to Lackland and the other 3 are all north-south
*Without federal funding, the LRT option is not possible because, under the Trump budget, there are no monies available for new rail projects

Call for Applicants for City Boards and Commissions  

Call for Applicants for City Boards and Commissions  

Though the make-up of the city council is determined for the next two years, there continue to be numerous opportunities to play an active role in local government by serving on a local board or commission. Citizens who are interested in helping promote and defend family values, common sense and independence can submit an application through the City’s website to be considered for openings on over 60 boards and commissions.

Among the posts listed currently on the website are positions on the Community Action Advisory Board, the City/Council Joint Commission of Elderly Affairs, the Ethics Review Board, the SA 2020 Commission on Strengthening Family Wellbeing and the SA Tricentennial Celebration Commission.

To apply for a position on a local board or commission, click here.

Frequently asked questions regarding serving on a local board or commission can be found here.