by Mark Reagan
Interim Mayor Taylor began serving on July 22 after the city council elected her to replace Julian Castro, who is now the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Courtesy Photo
With all the talk of the streetcar and police and fire union negotiations, Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor has a lot on her hands.
But during the open comment period of the July 22 special council session where her colleagues voted her into office, a host of San Antonio LGBT activists voiced their hope that whoever took office would continue to support and also bolster the Non-Discrimination Ordinance updates that passed last year.
One week to the day she was elected as interim, Taylor said she will ask the city attorney and manager to direct their staff to start working on how to better implement the NDO. While representing District 2, Taylor voted against the NDO.
“There’s a lot of confusion as to how people file complaints and there are concerns. And we want to ensure there is clarity in the process,” Taylor said.
As it stands, Justin P. Nichols, who represents two clients that have filed NDO complaints, said the ordinance is on the books but more work needs to be done.
When asked whether San Antonio had written procedures for processing NDO complaints, Nichols said last Wednesday that, “The answer today, is no.”
“They say they are developing procedures. There’s not even a form for complaints. We just do it by sending a letter,” Nichols said. “So there is no process in place. I know and I believe that the city is working on that.”
Nichols represents Maricela Fonseca and Gina Ramirez, who filed a discrimination complaint against Sanchez Ice House. He also represents Matthew Hileman, who filed a NDO complaint against AT&T. We’ll have more on those cases and the NDO at a later date.
But at the top of Taylor’s agenda, is passing a budget and negotiating a contract with the police and fire unions.
“Those are the hot things on the table right now that demand immediate attention,” Taylor said. “And now also, trying to guide us while rethinking and working with the other stakeholders that are involved in rethinking streetcar and the Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan.”
Taylor and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced Monday that the city and the county were withdrawing support from the plan, essentially derailing it.
“I am a supporter of multimodal transportation, and I can even say streetcar. However, we heard overwhelmingly from the public and they are not supportive of the plan,” she said.
In relation to that, Taylor also said she is working with city staff to update San Antonio’s Comprehensive Master Plan.
“I’m very keen on ensuring that we have public engagement in that, in a meaningful way, and ensuring that the product we end up with is something that will be referred to and utilized for years to come and not sit on the shelf,” Taylor said.
And then there’s the budget.
Specifically, Taylor said she wants to increase dollars that go toward infrastructure maintenance, particularly streets and drainage.
“That’s the most consistent thing council members hear from constituents and there’s consensus on that. Some of the areas where there may not be consensus are programs not deemed as core services. We have to be mindful of human infrastructure, in addition to physical infrastructure,” Taylor said.
Programs falling under the human infrastructure umbrella would include art and after school programs, workforce development, homeless campuses and other nonprofit work.
But there’s never enough time to do anything, especially since Taylor’s term is only 10 months.
“I heard from many of my constituents who said they want more summer youth employment plans to provide people opportunities to be exposed to jobs early and get on a path to be part of the economy,” Taylor said. “Dollars have dried up at the state level and the city hasn’t stepped in consistently
that’s the kind of thing that would be deserving of funding and could be integrated into other educational and youth initiatives, but I can’t confidently say we’ll be able to do that this year.”
So will she reconsider a 2015 mayoral run in order to get that extra stuff done?
“Well, you know, I’m sure a lot of people are speculating. At this point, I have so much on my plate that there is no way I can give that any thought,” Taylor said. “I don’t feel a burning desire, my plate is full and I want to stay focused on the business at hand.”