The story you are about to read is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
On October 17, KLRN hosted a candidates' debate for several state, federal, and local races. Afterward, a fracas allegedly broke out between Republican challenger Jim Valdez and Democratic incumbent State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, and separately, between Roger Scott, who's running on the GOP ticket for Congress and his opponent, U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez. The Current obtained the police report that provided details of the arguments, which was then meshed with episodes from Dragnet.
This is the city, San Antonio, a land of small dreams and smaller minds. A land where politicians are cheap and the beer is cheaper. When it gets ugly, that's where I come in. I'm Joe Friday. I'm a cop. I carry a badge.
It was Sunday, warm and dry in the Alamo City. Soto, Seaton, and I were working the day shift out of downtown when we got an assault call from KLRN, a public TV station, home of Sesame Street and Martin Yan Quick and Easy. But this was different. A nasty debate pitted Democrats against Republicans. The Van de Putte and Gonzalez families were putting the heat on.
We responded for a 10-56, a threats report. Upon arrival, we contacted the complainant, Republican Jim Valdez, a 43-year-old Latino male running for state senate. He alleged today at about 1500 hours, after a debate with the suspect, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, she grabbed him by his lapels and said, "If my husband and son get a hold of you, you're in trouble."
Van de Putte has a reputation as a local tough. She and her fellow gang members, the Democrats, stormed out of the Texas statehouse to protest redistricting. She's a pharmacist, pushing pills. Her husband makes and sells flags, and not just American ones. Cuba, China, North Korea. Got six kids, probably headed for juvie hall.
Valdez told us Van de Putte walked away, then turned around and walked back to him, grabbing his tie and stating, "You crossed the line. If my husband and son get a hold of you, you will get beat up." Valdez said he was offended and so called the police.
"Just the facts, Mr. Valdez," I said, straightening his tie.
Two hours later, we were 10-7, headed for dinner at Estela's when we got a call for a 10-31, squeezing in progress, back at KLRN.
We responded immediately and, upon arrival, contacted Republican Roger Scott, a 29-year-old white male, who stated he was at a debate and that he was running for Congress. Scott stated that after the debate his opponent, Charlie Gonzalez, grabbed his right arm and squeezed it as he sat next to him. I listed Scott's condition on the police report as "fair," although he was not transported to the hospital for excessive squeezing.
"You're pretty wild and far-out aren't you?" I told Scott. "Cigarette?"
Scott then explained that he told Gonzalez to let him go then pulled his arm away. Scott said Gonzalez was upset with him because he had questioned him about his voting record.
Let me tell you something, Scott's an Eagle Scout. With a neck like a fire hydrant. And the Gonzalez family has a long history of fighting. Like in 1986, Charlie's father, Henry B. Gonzalez, punched a man in Earl Abel's who had called him a Communist. But this time was different. Charlie Gonzalez has a grip of steel.
We gave Valdez and Scott case numbers to follow up. Soto, Seaton, and I walked out on Broadway. Thought about democracy. Thought about America.
"You know Soto," I said.
"What's that Joe?
"For the first time on the job, I'm gonna be sick." •
By Lisa Sorg