By a vote of 10-6, Houston City Council on Wednesday approved Mayor Sylvester Turner's plan to layoff hundreds of firefighters and other municipal workers so the city can afford voter-approved pay raises under Proposition B.
After the vote, the mayor insisted court-ordered mediation talks with the firefighters' union will continue.
"This administration is committed to doing everything we can to work this matter out to avoid any layoffs of cadets, municipal employees or firefighters," he told council.
The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association quickly issued the following statement:
“In one of the most reckless political stunts in Houston history, the Houston City Council has gutlessly voted, 10-6, with Mayor Sylvester Turner to lay off hundreds of firefighters. We are grateful to Council Members Boykins, Laster, Knox, Kubosh, Le, and Stardig for their courageous resistance against the political pressure of the mayor. The other City Council members that voted with the mayor are more focused on protecting their pet projects and political cronies than on protecting citizens. Having manufactured a city fiscal crisis in a tantrum of Proposition B, the mayor has become an out-of-control, unaccountable political fraud. His failed leadership and relentless political and legal attacks on firefighter families will now put the communities we serve at risk. From his Prop B lies to the phony fiscal crisis and city hiring ‘freeze,’ during which he hired hundreds of police and municipal employees, Sylvester Turner’s legacy will be spending secretly hundreds of millions of dollars on his pay-to-play political cronies, friends and family while ignoring his most basic responsibilities as mayor. Contrary to what the mayor and fire chief say, reduced fire and EMS coverage will endanger Houstonians. Now, we also will lose hundreds of taxpayer-funded, HFD-trained firefighters. Third-rate politicians are destroying our world-class fire department. Our association is now focused on helping firefighter families that will be affected by the mayor’s vindictive layoffs and on raising awareness of the public safety risks imposed upon Houston by the mayor’s complicit city council members. We will help community leaders hold them accountable for their failed leadership.”