City goes to Supreme Court to help keep union proposal at bay

Legal News Line Apr. 17, 2007, 10:00am

Judge Aida Salinas Flores

AUSTIN -- The Texas Supreme Court could soon decide the outcome of a controversial effort to force the city of McAllen and its police union to arbitrate disputes. City officials of McAllen, a border town near Brownsville, yesterday appealed a ruling last month by state District Judge Aida Salinas Flores. Flores had ordered McAllen to change "unfair language" in two propositions letting voters decide on arbitration. The police union collected 3,300 signatures to get two propositions on the ballot asking voters whether or not to allow binding arbitration in disputes between the city and union. The union strongly opposed the city's final wording of the propositions. On Friday the city lost an appeal against Flores's ruling with the 13th Circuit Court of Appeals, which claimed she was under a time constraint because of the looming election. McAllen City Attorney Kevin Pagan told the Monitor of south Texas that the city appealed Flores's ruling to the Supreme Court even though absentee ballots have already been mailed. "We'd like a ruling saying it was wrong," Pagan said. But the town's police aren't taking any chances, according to president Mike Zellers. The McAllen Police Officers Union yesterday filed with the Supreme Court to rule on the case by the end of this week. "They're bound and determined to stall this election past the May 12 election date but we're going to do everything we can to make sure voters get the chance to vote," Zellers said. City officials said earlier this month they would withdraw the propositions from the ballot if there was insufficient time for a court challenge. Zellers said the two propositions should make the ballot if the Supreme Court denies McAllen's appeal. The two sides have been deadlocked over police-officer retirement benefits since last October.

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