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Best of SA 2005 - People & PoliticsReaders' Picks - People & Politics

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Marianna Ornelas at Palo Alto College

Marianna Ornelas, humanities instructor at Palo Alto College, is the readers' pick for Best Professor. (Photo by Laura McKenzie)

San Antonio typically isn't thought of as a college town. But with eight colleges and universities and thousands of students, competition was stiff for the title of best professor in San Antonio. Winner Marianna Ornelas, who has taught at Palo Alto college for eight years, has a secret weapon. Ornelas likes to experiment in the classroom and is very passionate about the classes she teaches, which include an introduction to Humanities and an Interdisciplinary Studies class dealing with social issues of Mexican-American women. But sometimes Ornelas takes a break from teaching to entertain her students by playing the Paraguayan harp with a skilled percussionist as accompaniment.

Two of the top three vote-getters teach in the Alamo Community College District, the third-place finisher being Steve Badrich, assistant professor of English at San Antonio College. However, the second most popular professor, doesn't teach at a college. Like Ornelas, Louis Lubbering of the Lubbering Art Dynasty (see Best Arts) also relies on art in the classroom to reach his students as a professor of Fine Arts at Incarnate Word High School. EB

Love bites in District 3

An apple, not an orange, is blamed for the ultimate downfall of Adam and Eve. The big love bite got them tossed out of Eden, and that snake in the grass that tempted the world's first lady slithered off into the annals of humankind.

The regulars at the H&R Lounge on Goliad Road on the South East side occasionally bore witness to the amor delicioso between District 3 Councilman Ron Segovia and his paramour, KSAT-TV police reporter Gina Galaviz.

A thrill for the happy-hour crowd, naught but a conflict of interest for Galaviz, who apparently got a little too close to her source. She ultimately proved to be the apple of Segovia's ire when, on a sultry summer night, he allegedly tossed a Biblical fruit in a game of tit for tat in the councilman's bedroom. Gina turned her back; the apple bruised more than its own skin. Nothing left to do but fill out the police report. MC

Readers' Picks

1. UTSA basketball
2. Trinity football
3. St. Mary's basketball

1. Marianna Ornelas
2. Louis Lubbering
3. Steve Badrich

1. Julián Castro
2. Phil Hardberger
3. Kinky Friedman

1. George W. Bush
2. Ed Garza
3. Julián Castro

1. Richard Alles
2. Patti Radle

1. Animal rights/protection
2. Publicly financed local elections
3. Aquifer/water protection

1. Alamodome
2. PGA
3. Road construction

1. Ron Segovia apple incident MC
2. ACCD scandal
3. Ed Garza/Terry Brechtel scandal

1. Gordon Hartman
2. KB Homes
3. Pulte

1. Maria Williams
2. Dan Hill, Sherry Youngblood, Jeffrey Lord (tie)

1. Heather Nelson
2. Tedi Elliott
3. Massage by Stephen

Heather Nelson

Massage therapy is a great option for relaxation, and wellness. If massage isn't already a permanent fixture in your monthly schedule, how about a massage therapist who comes to you? Heather Nelson, a local therapist who specializes in massage, spa treatments, sea salt, and clay masques, has a portable massage table that allows her to travel to clients. There is no extra charge for travel within San Antonio, and a minimal charge for outlying areas. Prices are $50 hour and $25 a half-hour for a full body massage. She can be reached by email at

Our readers also mentioned Stephanie Sepaugh, a registered massage therapist since 1998 and a massage therapy instructor since 2003. She believes deep relaxation is a vital part of optimal health, and that it should be enjoyable as well as therapeutic. Sepaugh's massage is a combination of Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, and energy work. A one-hour, full body session is $50, and chair massage is $1 per minute. Sepaugh can be reached at 732-8230. NC

The Alamodome

Would you make a 'coonskin cap out of Ranger Rick? Best Unchampioned Cause goes to animal rights and protection. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Just why did we build it? The answer was "a professional football team will come." And they finally did. The Dallas Cowboys used the Alamodome for a training camp in summer 2003. (San Antonio had a professional football team in the mid-1980s, But the Gunslingers played at Alamo Stadium).

San Antonio paid $186 million to build the Alamodome in 1993, and it costs a million-a-year in taxpayer funds to keep it open.

The Alamodome. It stands empty on the city's s East Side, a familiar landmark for people driving from Dallas to the coast. "Hey Marge, there's the Alamodome; we're more than halfway to Rockport."

It's the biggest high school graduation auditorium in the country. It's great for the circus, but not for a Carlos Santana concert. It's a monument to government folly; especially since County Judge Nelson Wolff built the SBC Center in the Freeman Coliseum's parking lot so the Spurs wouldn't pack up and move to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

It's the biggest, best venue for squandering public tax money, and it belongs to San Antonio. It's no wonder some people still call it the Bubbadome. MC

Richard Alles

He speaks for the trees: Richard Alles is most effective activist for the second year in a row. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

For the second consecutive year, Current readers have voted Richard Alles as the most effective activist in San Antonio. We hope nobody sues him.

Patti Radle, District 5 Council-woman who is leading the pack in her bid for re-election, was selected in second place. She recently donned a Cesar Chavez T-shirt and endorsed the upcoming march in his honor, and a few minutes later demonstrated why she has earned that title as Council considered a rezoning over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone in District 9. "Of course I will speak in opposition to it and will vote against it because I'm not willing to promote development over the aquifer."

With all due respect to the readers, the critic's choice for Most Effective Activist goes to Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. She has long worked on environmental issues in San Antonio, and recently organized a regional summit on the aquifer that was attended by enviros from Austin, San Antonio and points west, in an effort to bring the varied interests together to jointly plan ways to conserve the region's sole source of drinking water. Peace says her goal is to work hands-on with the different groups. "We try to get them the help they need, and develop a synergy throughout the region; a united voice to protect the Edwards."

It's good work, and a great name. MC

UTSA Roadrunners, men's basketball

Roadrunners at rest: The UTSA Men's basketball team, Best University Sports Team. Meep meep! (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Making a selection for best university sports team of the year in San Antonio is difficult, because teams compete in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III. This year, the reader's choice went to the UTSA men's basketball team.

For the 2004-2005 season, the Roadrunners finished 15-13 overall and 10-6 in the Southland Conference. This year, the season ended in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament with a loss to Lamar. This was the final appearance of a talented senior class, all five being key members in UTSA's run to the 2004 SLC tournament championship appearance and NCAA tournament appearance last year. Head Coach Tim Carter completed his 10th season at UTSA, compiling a career record of 149-135 with the Roadrunners. He is the winningest men's basketball coach in UTSA history and has the longest tenure. The Roadrunners remain tough to beat at home, retaining an all-time record of 219-90 (.719) in the Bird Cage.

Also of note to readers this year was the St. Mary's men's basketball team. The Rattler basketball squad earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament by winning the Heartland Conference Championship. The Rattlers were seeded sixth in the South Central Regional, losing to Pittsburgh State in game one of the tournament. NC

Maria Williams

Phyllis Gustafason brings her English Spaniel Luke to Maria Williams (Best Veterinarian) for regular acupuncture treatments. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

About 15 years ago, Maria Williams took a trip to San Antonio and, impressed by the climate and the city's beauty, decided it would be a nice place to set up shop. Her new home, Compassionate Care on Wurzbach, gives her an opportunity to enjoy that same beauty, set back as it is in a quiet, wooded area that Williams describes as "a little oasis." The calm, residential atmosphere and 30-minute to one-hour sessions are designed to put both owner and pet at ease and eliminate the stigma of the antiseptic clinic. And though Dr. Williams' methods diverge from the typical veterinary practice as well, using "99 percent holistic care" that focuses on acupuncture and Chinese herbs, her doggie-bed-side manner stems from the same compassion and love of animals inherent in veterinarians. That compassion and love isn't, however, limited to the clinic: Wildlife Rescue, the Animal Protection Institute, and the Delta Society among others, have benefited from Dr. Williams' community efforts. If companionship and concern weren't good enough reasons, the privilege of taking the new member of the family to Dr. Williams for treatment should have everyone looking to adopt a new pet. AB


AB: Aaron Block
MC: Michael Cary
NC: Nicole Chavez

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