Minjarez targets Sakai for ruling on paid sick leave

Peter Sakai wants Democratic second-round voters to think about his 26-year court career as they walk into the voting booth and vote for Bexar County Judge.

State Rep. Ina Minjarez, Sakai’s opponent, also wants Democratic voters to think about Sakai’s court career.

Not necessarily the fact that Sakai was the county’s first-ever juvenile court judge. Not necessarily the work he’s done to improve the county’s foster care system or address domestic violence.

Minjarez identifies a decision Sakai made in November 2019, near the end of his 15 years as a district court judge.

Nine days before San Antonio’s paid sick leave ordinance took effect, Sakai issued a temporary injunction preventing it from taking effect.

This decision is the focus of a new direct mail piece from Minjarez.

“Peter Sakai has betrayed working families,” the mailer says.

The other side of the ad features an image of an elderly woman sitting in a chair. The photo is accompanied by the following message: “We have paid Peter Sakai’s paid sick leave benefits. He stole ours! »

The Mail asks Democratic voters to consider this question: “If he can’t do the right thing on the bench, how can we trust him to be our Bexar County judge?”

We probably should have seen it coming. As with most primary races, there isn’t much daylight between Sakai and Minjarez on political matters. Any difference, real or perceived, tends to be magnified.

But the issue of paid sick leave slipped back into our collective backsight a few years ago and hasn’t featured much in policy debates since then.

In early 2018, Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, an alliance led by the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), collected more than 140,000 signatures for a paid sick leave initiative during the November ballot in San Antonio.

The decision caused considerable heartburn at City Hall, as the sick leave crusade coincided with a push by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association to secure three charter amendments on the ballot. vote that would weaken the power of the city government.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg was concerned that the expected surge in participation in paid sick leave would boost the prospects for firefighter initiatives. He and the council got around that pickle by passing its own paid sick leave ordinance.

The order – requiring companies to give employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked – was passed under duress by council members who believed it would never be implemented. (The speculation at the time was that the Texas Legislature would pass a bill in 2019 to override all municipal paid sick leave orders in the state. That did not happen.)

A coalition of local businesses eventually challenged San Antonio’s order, and it landed in court in Sakai.

There are some key points to consider when evaluating his decision.

For one thing, even some of the ordinance’s public supporters privately believed that it violated Texas minimum wage law by reducing workers’ hours, not reducing their pay.

Also, Sakai’s injunction put the order on hold, but did not kill her. This happened later, when the Democratic-dominated 4th Court of Appeals struck him down.

Paid sick leave orders in Austin and Dallas also ended up being blocked by the courts.

In an interview Thursday, Sakai described the Minjarez shipper as a “false” and “misleading” interpretation of his actions.

He said his decision was not a political statement, but an action based on a strict reading of the law.

“What I did was hear a dispute between two parties and then make a decision based on the legal arguments made by both parties,” Sakai said.

“That was the essence of my decision. And it allowed the case to proceed to appellate review, to determine the validity and constitutionality of that order.

Sakai said he personally supports paid sick leave for workers, but added: “My role back then was that of a judge. My opponent is a lawyer and she should have understood that.

Minjarez’s campaign hit back with a statement saying, “Judge Sakai is touting his 26-year record. His decision on paid sick leave is a key element of this case. He had the opportunity to do the right thing, to stand up for the courage of his convictions and he didn’t.

Sakai’s court ruling played a part in TOP’s decision to endorse Minjarez. But that didn’t deter the AFL-CIO from backing him.

The key question now is whether Minjarez’s mail will turn more Democratic voters against the target of the attack or the candidate who delivered it.

[email protected] | Twitter: @gilgamesh470

Comments are closed.