The representative of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, fed up with attempt by the city to cut officers health benefits amid wasteful spending on vanity projects like the proposed downtown streetcar, is urging President Obama to withdraw his nomination of Mayor Julian Castro to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Newsradio 1200 WOAI has learned.
In a letter to the President, Sgt. Todd Harrison of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas says Castro has been a 'complete disappointment to those of us who are stuck in Texas trying to clean up his mess.'
While there has been money for outlandish expenditures to push his social agenda and even more money wasted on the most frivolous things, it is clear that Julian Castro has truly forgotten where he came from," Harrison writes. "And he has surely forgotten who helped him get there."
The SAPOA and the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association are embroiled in an increasingly contentious battle over the future of uniformed employees' health benefits. City Manager Sheryl Sculley says the rich benefits awarded to police and firefighters during previous contract negotiations are 'unsustainable' and refer to them as a 'crowd out,' meaning they will eventually 'crowd out' all of the other items the city pays for, from street maintenance to libraries and street lights.
But the police and firefighters counter that there is plenty of money available for an unpopular and expensive downtown streetcar, as well as for a myriad of social initiatives being pushed by Castro.
"While he flashes his winning smile and answers with glib phrases, the bond rating for the city is about to go bust," Harrison says. "He has spent so much money on his pet projects and committed so much of the taxpayers money to projects that will help his political image that now the only place to cut the budget without raising taxes is to balance the entire budget on the backs of San Antonio's Finest."
Harrison points out that Dallas has far more police officers than San Antonio despite having a smaller population.
"We don't mind doing more with less, but we do mind becoming the scapegoat for the mayor's budget woes back home," Harrison says.
He points out that when Castro asked the SAPOA for support when he ran for mayor supporting him with PAC money. He says when the Mayor first suggested givebacks, the officers agreed to go along, accepting lower pay in exchange for maintaining health benefits.
"Suddenly he has hired outside anti-union attorneys to come in and play hard ball with our association," Harrison said. "Time has gone by and we have offered concessions, but the mayor's attack dogs have continued to demand more and more and more. It is clear to us that the mayor has moved on to greener pastures. He stopped picking up the phone months ago."
The SAPOA criticism is now expected to affect Castro's confirmation as HUD Secretary. His nomination has been approved by a Senate committee and is expected to come before the full Senate next week, with Castro being confirmed by mid July.