Mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee offers to mediate Prop B dispute

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City council members discuss items on the agenda during a meeting Wed., November 28, 2018.

Mayoral candidate and Houston attorney Tony Buzbee says he wants to settle the fight between the city and firefighters over the "pay parity" initiative best known as "prop b."

Buzbee called a news conference for Monday to announce the Houston Professional Fire Fighter's Union has accepted his offer to allow him to mediate with the city. City council recently approved $500,000 for an outside law firm to handle legal challenges.

The Houston Police Officer's Union filed suit Friday saying the measure was unconstitutional and takes away their negotiating rights. A judge granted a temporary restraining order that stops the implementation of the voter-approved charter amendment for 14 days. A hearing for a temporary injunction is set for later in December that would stop the implementation indefinitely until the legal matter is settled.

"Litigation is a waste of taxpayer dollars and if you think this dispute will only cost our city $500,000, I've got a bridge to sell you," Buzbee wrote in a statement. "It's time we equally value our police and fire first responders in Houston. I urge the mayor to make the most of this cost-free opportunity to mediate a solution that works for the city and for firefighter families."

The path forward is through the courts, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Nov. 28 in a city council session. There is a legal question about whether state law about collective bargaining trumps a local charter amendment, Turner said. The only way to settle that is in court, he added.

In response to Buzbee's claims, a spokesperson for Turner said the mayor has made his stance on the path forward clear through public statements.

"For more than a year, we have asked the mayor to meet to resolve our differences," HPFFA President Marty Lancton said. "While he has refused, our offer to meet any place, any time, remains open. For that reason, Houston firefighters accept Tony Buzbee's offer to help resolve our differences with the city."

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