May 9, 2024 - News

San Antonio councilmembers question city attorney

Photo illustration of the San Antonio city hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of the City of San Antonio

Nearly half of San Antonio's City Council say they are unsatisfied with city attorney Andy Segovia and are calling for a meeting to discuss his potential removal.

Why it matters: The councilmembers say Segovia's legal advice is inconsistent, leading to delayed or scrapped policy plans, and that he isn't transparent on key city issues.

  • Their public display of internal City Hall conflict is unusual, and took Mayor Ron Nirenberg and city manager Erik Walsh by surprise.

What they're saying: Nirenberg and Walsh defended Segovia.

  • "Andy Segovia has exhibited nothing but professionalism, candor and judiciousness in his time as our city attorney," Nirenberg said in a statement shared with Axios. "He has my support."
  • "I have complete confidence in Andy Segovia and the entire city attorney's office," Walsh said in a statement shared with Axios. "I was surprised by the councilmembers' letter today and will be meeting with these councilmembers to hear and address their concerns."

Zoom in: Five councilmembers announced their concerns Thursday: District 2's Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, District 5's Teri Castillo, District 6's Melissa Cabello Havrda, District 7's Marina Alderete Gavito and District 10's Marc Whyte.

  • The public push stems from a request from the councilmembers for a closed session meeting with Segovia about the city's ongoing negotiations for a new contract with the union representing Fire Department employees.
  • Segovia denied their request, the councilmembers said.
  • To them, it was the last straw in a long list of issues.

Segovia responded to the decision not to hold a closed, or executive, meeting with the council, but did not immediately comment on other allegations.

  • "I have an ethical duty to maintain the confidentiality of our executive sessions," Segovia said in a statement shared with Axios. "I have no confidence that what is said there with respect to the collective bargaining agreement — the city's second largest contract — will remain confidential."

Cabello Havrda, who is widely viewed as a potential mayoral contender in next year's open election, said she wants to see Segovia replaced.

  • "I've been on council five years — it's time," she said. "We're airing a little bit of dirty laundry here, but it's gotten to that point. We have tried to work internally several times."
  • Others stopped short of explicitly calling for a replacement if issues could be worked out.

How it works: The City Council can't directly fire Segovia — that decision rests solely with Walsh.

What we're watching: Whether the council will have either of the requested meetings, in public or behind closed doors.

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