I've heard some people in the blogosphere complain that the city council spent 4 hours discussing immigration in order to show opposition to the controversial Arizona immigration law instead of doing things that need to be done like fixing roads, etc. Well, actually they don't do the nuts and bolts stuff, that's not their job.
The day to day, nuts and bolts business of the city of SA is run by the city manager Sheryl Sculley and her huge staff. All of the articles that I have been writing about where property taxes go has links to the hundreds of people employed by the city to run it. The city council has only a limited role in how the city runs.
San Antonio has a Council-Manager form of government. The council, along with a weak mayor is only responsible for the legislative function of the city. It can pass ordinances, set policy, vote on appropriations and develop an overall vision for the city.
The vote to oppose the Arizona immigration law may seem frivolous, but I can understand its purpose. Mayor Castro wanted the second largest city in Texas to weigh in on this issue before it gets raised as a bill in the next legislative session.
The day to day decisions are actually made by the city manager, who is equivalent to a CEO of a major corporation, the council is like the board of directors. They make the major decisions and are the representitives of the citizenry. If you want to know what the council is actually doing, you know the stuff that doesn't make the news, check out the council agendas.
If you have a problem that needs to be addressed, by all means, contact your city council member and they will help you. But remember, the city is run by a bureaucracy with a limited amount of money and things take time to happen.