The San Antonio Police Officers and Professional Firefighters Association are blasting what they call the ‘questionable fairness of impartiality’ of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, as the debate over health care costs continues to heat up, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  The public safety employees are blasting Chamber President Richard Perez for calling the need to reduce police and fire health care benefits a ‘looming crisis,’ and claiming that ‘there needs to be action as soon as possible to address these costs.


  “If there is a looming crisis and all should be treated equally with an eye toward responsible taxpayer spending, then perhaps the Chamber should be treated as equals to all other Chambers and forgo this corporate welfare by contributing the cost savings back to the city,” the Associations said.


  The Police and Fire groups say the San Antonio Chamber is receiving a boost from the city by receiving ‘free rent in excess of $450,000 per year from City taxpayers, which prompted Chamber spokeswoman Becky Bridges Dinning to blast what she called ‘another distraction fabricated from the union bosses to change the subject.’


  “The Chamber doesn’t pay rent because it owns the building, their facts are wrong,” Dinnin said.  “The Chamber built and paid for every penny of it in 1967, as part of a capital campaign led by Red McCombs to get ready for Hemisfair.”


  She says the city owns the riverfront land where the building is located.


  The Police and Firefighters Associations also blasted businessman Sam Dawson, who was a member of the task force that recommended changes in police and fire health benefits.


  “Mr. Dawson is a go-to City spokesperson for City talking points during negotiations,” the groups said.  “Mr. Dawson’s firm has received tens of millions of dollars in City contracts and is currently bidding on multi million dollar Cit contracts before City Council.”


  Last week, the Firefighters Association came out agaisnt the downtown streetcar plan, and is actively gathering signatures for a charter amendment calling for a vote on the streetcar.  At the same time, the Firefighters are talking to voters about the health care benefits issue, and urging voters to ‘protect police and firefighter health benefits.’


  “The City of San Antonio private sector spokespersons only inflame the discussion further with policy statements and policy recommendations that are based on City talking points only,” The SAPFFA said.  “We believe it is best to leave the negotiations to the designated city staff and association representatives.”


  On Tuesday, the city formally submitted its proposal to the Police Officers Association to provide officers with the same health benefits currently received by civilian city employees.


  The Firefighters Association has not agreed to negotiations on the issue.