The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Phil Hardberger- Strong Mayor

photo courtesty of Mark Greenburg/San Antonio Current

Ken Rodriguez has a column detailing the disconnect between what everyone says and thinks about what a San Antonio mayor can do and what a SA mayor actually can do if he/she has the talent and drive to do so:

The mayor of San Antonio is supposed to be weak. Phil Hardberger wants to be strong.

The mayor is supposed to hold little power. Hardberger wants to wield great influence.

The mayor is supposed to smile and cut ribbons. Hardberger wants to lead and cut to the chase.

Less than four months into the new term at City Hall, the disconnect between expectation and ambition grows by the day.

The City Charter says the mayor has only one vote. But if he could, Hardberger might don his black robe and issue rulings from the council chamber.


Initially, Hardberger and his agenda met resistance from Perez and others. But after some give and take, the mayor began crossing off items on his to-do list.

Hardberger wanted shorter, more efficient council meetings. He got them. He wanted to hire Sheryl Sculley as city manager and Michael Bernard as city attorney. He got them, too.

It's not surprising then that many view Hardberger as something the City Charter says he cannot be: a strong mayor.

"If you have the support of City Council, and a good working relationship with the city manager, then you can be a strong mayor," Hardberger says.

Well, two positive columns in four days from San Antonio's print media, not a bad feat for Hardberger. But Rodriguez is right, there's some bigger storms Hardberger has to weather coming up- not the least of which is closing the projected $27 million 2007 budget deficit without alienating Schubert general, Hardberger run-off voters.

But for right now, the most pressing issues deal with an expected influx of 12,000 Rita evacuees and figuring out how to get the federal government to reimburse San Antonio's $4 million (and still counting) worth of expenditures as soon as possible.