Barricaded into a corner
The Queque’s intro has been preempted by the Quiet Zone `see page 10` this week. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled joie de tangent next Wednesday.
City Council is set to decide this week how much a protest march’ll cost you, following a judge’s order expressing concern that the new Parade Ordinance allows the police to charge whatever number pops into their heads the day you apply for the permit. (Esperanza and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition, for instance, worried that the ephemeral cash register would spin like a one-armed bandit anytime a “controversial” group walked through the Police Department’s door.)
While the actual proposal was not available before press deadline (ready by the end of business Tuesday, said the City Attorney’s office; check Curblog for details), the Request for Council Action notes that the offending charges for “security” will be stricken, and SAPD Deputy Chief Mike Burns was available to discuss what the Request refers to as “objective guidance.”
“It’s not a hard and fast rule when it comes right down to it,” said Burns. Sure, a police officer costs what a police officer costs; same for cones and barricades. But the length and size of the procession, as well as the number of intersections crossed, affect the final permit fee. Still, says Burns, most downtown First Amendment parades should come in under the $3,000 the City pledges to pick up, so he expects to see a lot more of them once word gets out about the free-speech giveaway.
While Burns worked the taxpayer-expense angle, the Request for Action played a falsely triumphal tune, noted Free Speech Coalition attorney Amy Kastely, who contradicts its assertion that Judge Xavier Rodriguez “upheld key points” of the ordinance.
“All the judge did was decide we did not show a likelihood of success” on a couple of items, says Kastely, including the City’s sponsorship of some First Amendment marches and confining cash-poor groups to sidewalks and parks. “We’re gonna continue to present evidence,” when the case returns to court in the fall.
The Queque’s legendary badassedness melts straight away in the warm glow of Witte Museum CEO Marise McDermott’s Brackenridge parking garage effusement. The park has been “a beloved space for 100 years,” enthuses McDermott, and people arrive in droves with the sunbeams, despite the parking spaces eaten up by the recent makeover. (And doesn’t the Queque, who couldn’t locate an open spot three Saturdays ago, know it.) “When they put in those beautiful paths, which are so fabulous, that took out hundreds of parking spaces,” McDermott reminded the Queque, and by extension the garage’s critics, some of whom were not swayed by its green features (a water-cachement system, i.e.) or the replanting of numerous “legacy trees.”
Council, undeterred by the critics, and as enamored as McDermott of the garage’s proposed location on the old City nursery land at the edge of Brackenridge — where park and museum patrons may use its 325 spaces free of charge once it’s completed in fall ’08 (fingers crossed) — is set to release $3.75 million Thursday to begin construction. •