HOUSTON — The Houston Professional Firefighters Association is holding a press conference Monday after a state district court judge issued a temporary restraining order against Mayor Sylvester Turner and Councilman Dave Martin.
The firefighters claim the leaders called an unprecedented city Budget and Fiscal Affairs meeting last week to illegally campaign against the voter-approved firefighter pay parity ballot initiative.
According to the court filing, “Texas law prohibits public resources to be used to further the personal electoral agenda of any public official. However, that is what is occurring daily, in direct contravention of the Texas Election Code. Defendants are more concerned with illegally campaigning than performing their ministerial duty to simply place the Pay Parity Charter Amendment on the ballot.”
Basically, the firefighters want their proposed pay raise to come to a public vote.
On Monday, a Harris County judge reportedly ruled local firefighters will be irreparably injured if city officials continue “to utilize taxpayer funded city of Houston resources to oppose Plaintiff’s Charter Amendment Measure.”
We reached out to Turner who responded with the following statement:
“I believe the judge erred in his ruling that the city cannot make available the hearing of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee because some council members said they were against or for the FFs referendum, which would cost the city at a minimum $300 million over three years. That is the equivalent of a 25% pay raise for firefighters, which the city cannot afford. The public has a right to listen to the public hearing, and we will vigorously challenge the Judge’s ruling. [I] offered the FFs a 9.5% pay raise and they refused it.”
The court filing stated the city’s treatment of the firefighter pay parity charter amendment is directly opposite of what has taken place with the multi-billion-dollar ReBuild Houston initiative, which will likely go on the November 2018 ballot without city council scrutiny of its true costs.
“Houston firefighters are grateful that the court ruled that even the City of Houston must follow the law and Texas Election Code. Firefighters and tens of thousands of Houston voters played by the rules. Now the city must do so too,” HPFFA President Patrick M. Lancton said.