April 18


Beneby bags $410,000 bonus

Doyle Beneby, CEO of city-owned utility CPS Energy, is getting a $410,000 bonus, doubling his salary over the next year to $820,000.

The CPS Energy board of trustees approved the maximum payout during a review of his contract because the public utility hit goals for safety, customer service and financial health. Beneby will get half now and the other half when his contract expires in 12 months.

“We just got a report that over 112 new jobs have been created in the last year based on the leadership of Mr. Beneby,” board President Derrick Howard said. “You can only advance if you're succeeding, and I think some of the things we've done over the past year, by the new energy economy, bringing in six new companies to San Antonio, they're not only making an investment in their companies but also in education. That's huge.”


You say tomatoes, FL says tariffs

When countries go to war over trade, there are very rarely winners. One domestic industry might get a temporary reprieve from foreign competition as the home country slaps tariffs on cheaper imports, but another domestic industry is sure to suffer as the other country hits back with tariffs of its own. In the end, consumers lose, since they’re faced with fewer choices and higher prices due to the dwindling competition.

There’s a trade fight brewing between the U.S. and Mexico. It’s unnecessary, it’s completely avoidable, and the San Antonio and South Texas trade community is likely to be caught in the middle when the punches start flying.

At issue are Florida-grown tomatoes, which are facing competition from fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico through such ports as Pharr, Texas, and Nogales, Arizona.


A payday push from the Chamber

The chair of the Greater Chamber's Economic Development Council will speak in favor of the City's proposed regulation of payday and title lenders when it comes to the full council – expected to be as soon as next month. The measure, initiated by District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal, would limit the amount of money that could be loaned based on income, or in the case of title loans, the value of the collateral vehicle. It also would restrict the number of times a loan could be rolled over, and require a minimum reduction in the loan principal for each renewal. The proposed ordinance also requires lenders to provide loan information and documents in a borrower's preferred language, and to read the information to borrowers who are unable to read it themselves.


Greater Chamber endorses Pre-K 4 SA

The board of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has unanimously endorsed Mayor Julian Castro's proposal to use the City's remaining 1/8-cent of the sales tax to fund an early childhood education program for under-served 4-year-olds. Council agreed August 9 to put the measure to voters in November. If they approve it, the City would create a municipal government corporation that would oversee the development of four pre-K centers, and an outreach component that would train teachers throughout the city and require parental involvement.

During the August 9 Council meeting, the North San Antonio and Hispanic Chambers endorsed the initiative, but Greater Chamber President Richard Perez, a former City Councilman, said his organization would continue to study the proposal and issue a recommendation later this month. (Not that there was much suspense: the chair of the Chamber's Education and Workforce Council is Toyota Manufacturing's David Crouch, and not long after Perez spoke, Chris Nielsen – president and CEO of Toyota Manufacturing, Texas, and a member of the Mayor's Brainpower Initiative Task Force that first pitched what would become Pre-K 4 SA – spoke in favor of it.)


DiGiovanni takes Centro stage

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschDeputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni is a man of faith. He must be because he's leaving the City at year's end to become the first-ever chief executive of Centro Partnership, a nonprofit that's got roughly $594,000 to its name and currently no source of income beyond private-sector contributions.

Centro Partnership is the public-private organization that's been talked about for several years now as a potential force for downtown revitalization. And talked about and talked about – to the point that some center-city devotees wondered whether it would ever get off the ground.

DiGiovanni's hiring means that it probably will.


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