San Antonio police, researcher trade shots over ‘release time’

The cites CEI`a Trey Kovacs on the Texas union “release time” benefits:

A critic of union “release time” is sticking by his guns after the San Antonio Police Officers Association tried to shoot down his findings.

“The contract says the city shall deduct and credit for use by the association,” said Trey Kovacs, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Citing CEI research, reported this month that San Antonio’s police and firefighter unions received $408,030 in release time benefits in 2013.

SAPOA President Mike Helle called the report “100 percent inaccurate.”

“There’s not one tax dollar that’s being spent on union business,” he told KTSA Radio.

Kovacs countered that unions are receiving benefits in violation of the Texas constitution. By earmarking funds for “association leave,” the city contracts improperly transfer public monies to the unions, private organizations, Kovacs said.

“(The unions) didn’t say they were only going to take a 1.2 percent salary increase to get release time. They didn’t give up anything,” he noted.

As for Helle’s contention the contractual release time involved vacation time, Kovacs called that a distinction without a difference.

“It’s a common tactic to mislead people,” he said. “It’s all public money.”