by Greg Harman
“Hey hey! Ho ho! We want clean energy and we want it today!”
It was made-for-TV outside and in CPS Energy's downtown offices as dozens of protestors from Austin to Kingsville pumped up and down the street chanting, waving signs. They drew many honks of support from passing motorists and guarded stares from commuters at the opposing bus stop. The television cameras divided the turf and devoured the spectacle. But what worked for cameras in the street didn't do so well indoors after TV crews abandoned the color shot to stake out positions inside the meeting room.
Upon entering the building, the protestors were stopped at the front desk. Though many had already signed up to address the board about their concern over CPS plans to invest in two new nuclear-power plants, the group found themselves instead being directed to a corner of the front hall where they were expected to observe piped-in proceedings on television. The meeting room, they were told, was full. They erupted.
About 30 minutes of bullhorn-enhanced chanting created a buzz in the boardroom, but only after the group rushed the double doors beyond the security stile did it get serious.
The suits had just finished praising years of faithful service and were preparing to talk pollution control devices when a security guard rushed into the chambers and slipped the deadbolt behind. Then came the muffled sound of pounding.
On the other side, CPS security officer Dan Akeroyd braced his leg against the first set of double doors. He joked about his new job description (official doorstop) before signaling to a colleague to phone the San Antonio PD.
“Are those the crazies from Austin?” asks a CPS employee. Another, clutching a minutes-old board award, asks after alternative exits, visibly shaken. “I'm not sure I'd get through there alive,” he says, as he's escorted down a side hallway.
While a few “Austin crazies” peppered the bunch, the majority of these excluded are from San Anto. Others had driven up from Goliad and Kingsville, where uranium mining has already claimed the drinkability of several water wells.
“Let the CPS employees out, so the people can come in!” comes the repeated request from the other side.
As SAPD and Parks Police arrive, the utility's deputy general manager appears with an offer: space in the media room adjoining the chambers with a complete view of the meeting, “But y'all have got to promise to behave,” says Steve Bartley.
Then as the nukes are taken up there is a long chain of objections to the utility's plans (and a couple proud endorsements thrown in by the likes of the local manufacturer's association) before the board disappears upstairs to, presumably, grant the masses the appearance of deliberations. Two hours and countingâ?¦
“Hey hey. Ho ho.”
Update, 7 pm: Board reports unanimous vote in favor of first of what will be many b/millions for the doubling of San Anto's nuke plant.
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