The QueQue was turned down cold today when we showed up at the offices and putative residence of declared District 2 council candidate Byron Miller. Miller, an insurance broker who also serves on the board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, is claiming 135 Paso Hondo as his legal residence for the race; City law requires candidates to live in the district they're running to represent for at least six months before filing for office.
Fellow District 2 hopeful Ron Wright issued a press release yesterday suggesting Miller withdraw from the race (or rather, never file, once the window opens February 7) because Miller really lives on Port Royal -- in an Eastside neighborhood that lies just outside the district's boundaries.
The Port Royal house is registered to Miller's ex-wife -- according to the County, they were divorced in 1997, although Miller still refers to her as his wife on occasion, and they appear in a family photograph in a recent church bulletin that nonetheless lists separate addresses for each. Whitepages.com turns up a listing for Byron Miller on Port Royal, but according to the Bexar County Appraisal District, the house belongs to Monica Miller, his (ex)wife. Wright claims to have photos showing Byron Miller's car at the Port Royal house with a recent newspaper (somebody's been watching CSI) to prove the date. But Miller says he simply visits his ex-wife regularly, and lives at Paso Hondo.
So, the QueQue swung by 135 Paso Hondo today to set the matter to rest with a quick home tour of the charming Victorian bungalow (which BCAD has listed as office, not residential). We even brought our camera. But rather than greet us with open arms, Miller quickly turned argumentative, accused the Current of invading his privacy, and told us to come back after we'd toured the homes of the other District 2 candidates. (You want to see my bedroom? he asked indignantly more than once. Well, yes, actually, since that seems like a key difference between "home" and "office," and the part of the house we did see was clearly an office.) As we drove off empty-handed, it was hard not to imagine Miller's assistant jumping into the truck parked out front for a quick trip to IKEA.
Miller's similar evasiveness on the phone yesterday (he's buying the Paso Hondo house, he said; later he amended that to "leasing to own") got us to wondering about that Edwards Aquifer Authority board seat. Miller was first appointed to fill the vacant District 2 seat in 2006 -- which required him to fill out an application averring that he was a resident of EAA's District 2, which covers roughly the same area as the council district. Miller listed 1149 E. Commerce as his residence -- you've seen the building: it's one of the charming renovated storefronts just across from Sunset Station, where SAGE and theFund keep offices. No apartments in sight, but I suppose there's nothing stopping someone from moving in -- there are bathrooms down the hall.
According to BCAD, Miller doesn't own other property in the district. But maybe he really does live at Paso Hondo and just wanted to straighten up before he showed a camera-wielding reporter around. He reminded the Current that many people live and work in the same space. You bet. We'd just like to have seen the homefront for ourselves.
The Secretary of State defines "residence" as "domicile, that is, one's home and fixed place of habitation to which one intends to return after any temporary absence," but the Secretary's office notes that whether an address qualifies as a residence for the purpose of running for the EAA board is a question of fact for the courts.
Leticia Vacek with the City of San Antonio said that they verify council candidates' residences by comparing them with the County voter-registration records -- no word on whether a coffee maker and pajamas are required.
In the meantime, please consider that Miller told us he wasn't saying "no, you can't see my home," he just wasn't saying yes. We need to return to his home as an invited guest, he said, not a reporter. We're waiting for our invitation ...