The San Antonio City Council dissected the city’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance during a marathon B session Wednesday before turning the microphone over to nearly 500 people who signed up to speak during the citizens to be heard portion of the meeting.
City Attorney Michael Bernard defined the ordinance for the council during a brief presentation. Mayor Julián Castro then went back over many of the definitions and used examples to spell out for the audience what the proposal would do if passed.
San Antonio city staffers say letters are rolling into city hall by the dozens from people who are angry about the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance.
The ordinance being considered by the San Antonio City Council would prohibit discrimination within the city’s hiring practices and anyone who contracts a job with the city.
Although the ordinance maintains anti-discrimination policies for race, color, religion, age and disability, the proposal would add veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list. The latter two are why most people are angered.
Ahead of the start of classes on Aug. 26, San Antonio City Council members are hosting community-wide back-to-school fairs in each of their districts.
At the same time, the city's budget is closing in on adoption and deep cuts will have to be made. Mayor Julián Castro is recommending a cut to member discretionary funds, which are known as City Council Project Funds and are used for community events like the back-to-school fairs.
In a memo to the San Antonio City Council and city staff, Mayor Julián Castro announced the appointments of the council to the various council sub-committees. Each committee hears issues before they reach the full city council.
The memo included the announcement of a new committee called the High Profile Contracts Accountability, which will check over high-profile contracts and monitor vendor performance on those contracts.
The addition of an ethics-based committee is a reinforcement by Castro in light of recent ethics lapses inside City Hall.
The San Antonio City Council took the oath of office in a swearing in ceremony inside the chambers of City Hall, preparing for what is ahead for the body over the next two years.
Mayor Julián Castro said the mission of the council is a double-edged sword because each member is looking out for the interests of their own district, but he told his colleagues they also have to do what’s best for the city as a whole.
"The challenge that all of us face is to balance the everyday needs of our constituents with a long-term grand vision for our city's future," he said on the dais.
The San Antonio City Council could soon take up an anti-discrimination ordinance to include additional groups.
District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal proposed a policy that would also be consolidated with other anti-discrimination regulations that he said are scattered about in a constellation of codes and ordinances.
City staffers are researching how to go about consolidating the policies. The council’s governance committee will meet Tuesday and decide whether to advance the issue to the full city council.