• ice director fox interview

    Acting ICE director speaks on human smuggling incident handled by San Antonio police

    by Yami Virgin, Fox San Antonio Wednesday, February 14th 2018

    The acronym ICE, which stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, brings fear to some and a sense of protection for others in this country.

    It was the summer of 2003 when Thomas Homan had been reassigned to Washington D.C. after four years in San Antonio. Then, a trailer with 70 people inside was found on a desolate patch of highway near Victoria. Nineteen of those inside had died, including a 5-year-old boy. Homan’s superiors at Homeland Security sent him back to Texas as the lead investigator.

    “I still get emotional when I talk about it. I had a 5-year-old little boy during that time. I walked amongst those bodies and it’s a terrible thing to see. That’s when people question me why I’m so passionate and emotional about this issue. About sanctuary cities and border crime and so forth. I’ve seen what I’ve seen,” Homan said.

    Now he’s the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and says he uses that memory to discuss the price of human smuggling – if not investigated and prosecuted. That’s why he was concerned when he heard about 12 undocumented immigrants, including a minor, found in a trailer in San Antonio on December 23, 2017.

    CLICK HERE to read the full story.

  • City’s PR battle has achieved little in collective bargaining

    By Gilbert Garcia | January 29, 2015


    January 29, 2015 Updated: January 29, 2015 9:00pm

    Five months ago, Sheryl Sculley made a PowerPoint presentation about public-safety costs at the 2014 International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Her presentation focused on how cities can build public support for their efforts to control police and fire benefits, and she used San Antonio as an example of how to successfully sell your argument to the community.

    Sculley outlined three facets to her winning strategy: establishing credibility (in part by creating a 13-member task force to study public-safety costs), providing context (by comparing S.A. to other cities), and telling the story (via the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations).

    Sculley’s presentation articulated what has been obvious over the past year and a half: She is preoccupied with winning a PR battle against police and fire unions for the hearts and minds of San Antonians.

    The city, of course, disputes my characterization.

    “What we told ICMA and what the PowerPoint shows is that we gather the facts, we provide them to the public and engage the community. It’s not sophisticated, it’s obvious. There is no advertising, no spin, it is straight up. This is a community issue,” said Di Galvan, communications and public affairs director.

    It was easy to see Wednesday’s lengthy City Council B Session — with its multiple presentations from city-hired consultants, its dizzying parade of numbers and its frequent notes of praise for city management — as part of the plan Sculley described in Charlotte.

    A pint of “Establish Credibility” mixed with a cup of “Tell the Story.”

    In Charlotte, Sculley touted the success of her PR campaign, citing a 2014 City of San Antonio Community Survey, which found that “70 percent of respondents said they support having public safety personnel contribute to the cost of healthcare, such as paying monthly premiums, as other city employees do.”

    It’s a valid point, but there’s one problem with it. Collective-bargaining deals are not reached in the court of public opinion. If they were, the 1994 World Series wouldn’t have been canceled.

    Sculley would have achieved more by quietly teaming up with the unions in 2013 to bring in an independent, third-party actuary, agreed to (and paid equally) by both sides. It’s something that the unions still want, despite recent claims to the contrary by city leaders.

    Public posturing is the enemy of negotiation. That’s why Jimmy Carter took Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to Camp David in 1977, to get them away from the media and the kind of daily pronouncements that would have shattered a fragile Middle East peace accord.

    In August 2013, Sculley launched a public-relations offensive with a warning that public-safety costs could consume the city’s entire general-fund budget by 2031.

    As a tool for affecting public opinion, it was a masterstroke. As a tool for understanding the city’s fiscal future, its value was less clear.

    Keep in mind, after all, that when the city does its five-year budget projections, the results can be way off. For example, an April 2009 general-fund forecast projected the city would face a $70 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011 and a $68.6 million shortfall the next year. In both cases, the city balanced its budget without any tax increases.

    Union reps continue to argue that the city has skewed its projections by low-balling its revenue estimates and overselling the fact that public safety makes up 66 percent of the general-fund budget, when important services — such as solid-waste management — are outside the general fund, and parts of the public-safety budget (such as park police and 911 dispatchers) are outside the realm of the police and fire contracts.

    There are also countless fiscal variables, such as one that came up Wednesday. The San Antonio Fire & Police Pension Fund has approved a recommended reduction (requiring passage in the Lege) in the city’s pension fund contribution (from 24.6 percent to 23.2 percent of payroll) that would initially save the city $4.3 million a year. Pension-fund reps believe it could mean $225 million in savings for the city over the next 30 years.

    Financial consultants hired by the city backed the projections of city staffers Wednesday on future police and fire costs.

    In fairness to Sculley, she surely saw a PR campaign as the only way for the city to achieve bargaining leverage, given the evergreen clause that maintains the existing contract terms for up to 10 years after they expire, if no new deal is reached. It’s a clause whose constitutionality the city is now challenging in court.

    And, of course, the union has upped the ante by running its own aggressive media campaign with radio, TV and print ads.

    But little has been achieved at the bargaining table and plenty of time has been wasted. That might be the most instructive lesson for city managers at the Charlotte conference.

    Link to the Article here.

  • KTSA – Law Enforcement Appreciation Day


  • Off Duty Hero

    It was an icy January day in Raleigh, NC, when Trooper Christopher. J. Matos, an off-duty state trooper, was driving down a rural road and just happened to see a car skid into an icy creek and overturn. Matos stopped his car and jumped in the water in an effort to pull two children and their mother out of the car. He pulled a 14 year old child out of one of the car’s windows and then unbuckled an infant from their baby seat and handed it off to another onlooker who had stopped to help.

    The officer then assisted the mother from the car. All victims were treated for hypothermia but will make a full recovery thanks to the quick thinking of Officer Matos. A big thank you to ALL of our First Responders who lend a hand even when they are not on the clock. (source:

  • Paranoia is powerful political tool

    Paranoia is powerful political tool

    January 14, 2015 Updated: January 14, 2015 11:00pm

    Today, I awoke with the same unwavering thought as every morning: How best can I afflict Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and help City Manager Sheryl Sculley?

    That’s a joke. Also, it isn’t true.

    I’m sorry I have to point that out. If I didn’t, certain parties might cite it as proof of a media conspiracy, maybe cut and paste it into an advertisement in the San Antonio Express-News.

    Why do I say that?

    Let’s start with what other people say.

    “People say things,” LaHood said.

    He said that last month at a meeting with the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board shortly before he was sworn in as district attorney.

    “Can I ask you guys a question? I want to bring something up,” he told a table full of journalists. “I want to bring something up that was brought to my attention — and you know how people are, people say things — it has been brought to my attention that there is an agenda against me or the administration.”

    Cue the journalists insisting there is no agenda against LaHood or his administration.

    “I just want to bring it up because I’m big on transparency,” LaHood continued, “and a relationship will either flourish or not flourish on consistency, transparency and truth. And I’m a truth seeker.”

    Chris Steele says things, too, often in the Grapevine, the newsletter of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association. In the December edition, the fire union president declared “war” on Sculley, who wants police and firefighters to pay more for their health care.

    “When I talk to members at the stations, I always try to remind them that in this ‘game’ of politics, it is chess (and war), not checkers,” Steele wrote. “You read an article from Sculley’s ‘squeeze’ Chasnoff and you think we took a hit. The City files a lawsuit against us and you gasp.

    “While you are pulling your hair out about this, understand that we are inflicting our ‘damage’ on the enemy as well,” he continued. “Her ‘squeeze’ rights (sic) an editorial, we speak on the Trey Ware radio show.”

    Greg Brockhouse says things. He says them on behalf of his client, the San Antonio Police Officers Association, sometimes on Facebook, where he recently called the Express-News “the City Manager’s newspaper.”

    On Wednesday, I called Brockhouse and asked if he really believed that.

    “Yes,” he said. “The newspaper is a mouthpiece for the city administration. And that’s just the bottom line. … (Reporters) don’t report news. They tend to make it up. … The paper certainly has a knack for never pointing the finger at the city administration.”

    LaHood, Steele, Brockhouse — all seem to fear a newspaper conspiring against them to propagate lies.

    Or do they?

    Paranoia of the media is a powerful political tool. It allows one to herd professional truth seekers into the “enemy” camp, to use Steele’s term. By discrediting journalists, one may discount the facts.

    Here’s the truth: Journalists like things that smell funny.

    I liked it when former Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni helped steer a high-dollar contract toward Zachry Corp. while negotiating a new job with the company’s president in 2012. I liked the smell of that not because of the possible abuse of taxpayer dollars but because it gave me an opportunity to do my job. An Ethics Review Board inquiry resulted in a written rebuke for DiGiovanni. (So much for “never pointing the finger at the city administration.”)

    That job is to serve as an independent voice — something that tends to rankle those with agendas.

    In the same meeting that LaHood declared himself a “truth seeker,” he failed to answer honestly if he had sought to reduce a charge against a client from a felony to a misdemeanor. (“I asked for a dismissal,” he said.) Later, he acknowledged seeking the plea deal. I asked the question not because I had an agenda but because something smelled funny.

    On that topic, my “squeeze,” who supervised DiGiovanni, has something to say.

    “In my experience, journalists are interested in reporting facts rather than taking sides,” Sculley said in a statement. “The facts happen to be on the City’s side. Given that, the real question should be how much money have the unions spent buying media advertisements to obscure the facts? The City has not spent a dime buying media.”

    Link to the story.

  • Sculley Admits she Knew about the Poll


  • Did City Manager, Sheryl Sculley Lie About Push Poll?

    Push Poll Article


    SAN ANTONIO – In a YouTube video posted Tuesday, San Antonio Police Officers Association President Michael Helle blasted City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her negotiating team over the bitter collective bargaining negotiations.

    “The city manager and her team have done everything she possibly could to make us look like we’re a bunch of greedy bastards trying to break the city of San Antonio,” Helle says in the nearly five-minute video. “That’s absolutely 100 percent false and a lie.”

    The two sides are locked in heated negotiations to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expires Sept. 31. They’ve reached an impasse over how best to bring down the cost of health care benefits for active duty officers.

    The city currently pays $12,000 per officer and $7,000 per civilian employees. Negotiators want officers to move on to the city’s civilian health care plans, which would lower the annual cost of health care by $5,000 per officer.

    The union has presented two proposals to the city that would allow them to structure its members’ health care plan, similar to what the union does for its pension fund. The city rejected both proposals.

    “It’s been a total slap in the face when it comes to our membership because our proposals were legitimate and sound,” Helle said. “We will not negotiate with a gun to our head and give up pay and benefits we have fought for 38 years to earn.”

    With the two sides very far apart, Helle said the union will change its strategy. Members voted to raise dues in order to fund a war chest to pay the cost of taking their message directly to the public through block walking, TV, radio and social media.

    Sculley responded Thursday by releasing the following statement:

    “We have presented the union an alternative that meets them halfway and continues to provide San Antonio police officers a higher level of healthcare than police officers in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. If the union is unwilling to negotiate, I will recommend that the City Council exercise the provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows the City Council to make changes to healthcare benefits as part of the annual budget process.  By law, the city budget must be balanced. We want the union to be a part of a constructive solution.”

    The video was posted the same day Ivy Taylor became San Antonio’s new mayor. Shortly after being sworn in, Taylor said it was pivotal that both sides come back to the negotiating table.

    Taylor repeated those sentiments in a statement to KSAT 12 Thursday, saying, “We respect and admire our police officers and recognize the need to provide appropriate compensation and benefits.  We will balance that with the other needs of our citizens by maintaining public safety as a fixed percentage of our General Fund budget.  Yesterday’s meeting between the SAPOA and City health insurance experts was encouraging.  I believe it can create a pathway for us to return to productive negotiating at the table.  I encourage the SAPOA to return to the negotiating table.”

    Sculley will present her budget to the City Council on Aug. 7.

    Helle concludes the video asking union members to stay together and prepare for what could be a very long process.

    “This is the last stand at the Alamo,” he said. “We will persevere. We will not compromise our principals and we will never surrender.”


    Story by Cory Smith – KSAT VJ reporter – Watch the news coverage.

  • Trust matters. Start negotiating the facts about Public Safety in San Antonio.

    SAPOA President Helle on KTSA Jack Riccardi

    Click on the link below to access the podcast of San Antonio Police Officers Association President Mike Helle discussing First Responder Healthcare Benefits with KTSA host Jack Riccardi.

    All we ask is that you listen and share your thoughts.  As the discussion around the health benefits progresses and the collective bargaining process begins, truth and transparency will matter more than ever.  It starts with each of us to continue the conversation in the community, with our family, our friends, and our neighbors.

    KTSA Podcast

  • City strong arms pension fund PR team

    City Strong Arms Pension Fund PR Team

    In Sunday’s Express News, Gilbert Garcia broke a story about City leadership putting the heat on KGBTexas to stop representing the Police and Fire Pension Fund on public relations matters.  Garcia points out the following disturbing actions by the City:

    “Shawn Ury, chairman of the pension-fund board, said representatives for KGB — which also has done substantial contract work for the city over the past several years — told him Friday that their business was being threatened by Sculley’s disapproval of the firm’s connection with the pension fund.”

    The City staff, including Sheryl Sculley, report directly to the Mayor and City Council.  The Mayor and City Council answer directly to the voters.  When is it acceptable for City leadership to strong arm private companies by threatening to put them out of business with any potential future City related contracts?  Furthermore, threatening to disparage the reputation of KGBTexas with the business community as retaliation is well beyond any respectable leadership practices.

    Mike Helle, President of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, had the following comments regarding the City’s win at all costs game plan:

    “The uniformed officer is in the community day in, day out.  24/7, 365 days a year.  Always on duty, always on call.  We interact with every aspect of San Antonio.  Is the City leadership going to strong arm every business, person, or family we associate with?  When does it end?  This is like something out of the movie Roadhouse where one person runs all over a town until someone finally comes in, stands up, and says enough.”

    Since the beginning, the Police and Fire Associations have asked for nothing more than transparency and facts. Unfortunately, the language out of the City leadership has inflated and inflamed the discussion to unacceptable levels. This type of tough rhetoric can be traced back at least one year to when the City Manager wrongly asserted Police and Fire legacy benefits would consume 100% of the City budget by 2031.  That statement has now been disproved, but the language continues.

    KGBTexas isn’t the problem.  Neither is the Police and Fire Pension Fund which has been identified as a model of fiscal responsibility in the State.  To pressure any business and threaten the livelihood of its team is unacceptable.  In this case, the City isn’t happy with the direction of the negotiations.  Specifically, they aren’t happy the first responders have made it a priority to respond with facts directly to the community.

    The City is attempting to lock down and control the message on their terms. This website is an example of straight talk, but it also has been a target.  We need to get the word out that it isn’t acceptable to threaten people who care or companies who are associated with the Police and Fire teams.

    Share this website.  Share the truth.  Let’s keep working hard and being humble and at the end of the day, we will be successful.