News » The QueQue

Standardized tests and sudden-death playoffs

Waiting for some dough

The Queque imagines an anteroom somewhere ... drinks and hors d’oeuvre are not served, absent-minded, understaffed attendants circle by at irregular intervals ... in which SA’s toxin casualties await word from the EPA in 30, 60, and 90-day increments.

“Hi, Ramiro,” says one to the other. “What’s the latest on Big Tex?”

“Oh,” replies Ramiro, with a slight cough, “they took some new samples last month. We’re waiting on the lab. You?”

“Yeah, new tests, too. We’ve got a public meeting Wednesday.”

And so on. Samples. Tests. Results. Meetings. Ad infinitum.

Test the Queque’s scene-setting cred at 6 p.m., May 14, at the Fuerza Unida office at 710 New Laredo Highway, where the EPA’s Gary Miller will explain the new air samples being collected in the Toxic Triangle surrounding the former Kelly Air Force Base — a working-class neighborhood set atop contaminated groundwater that residents believe is responsible for a local rash of cancer and other debilitating diseases. `See “Containment policy,” June 28, 2006, and “Foul plays,” December 26, 2007.` The latest tests are being conducted to address fears that fumes from the toxic plume have seeped into homes over the years.

For a 24-hour period, the EPA will collect short- and long-term samples (drilling small holes into slabs where necessary), the first of which will be analyzed on site in a mobile lab, the second of which will be sent away for evaluation. None of which will be released for 60-90 days. Once results are in, says Miller, they’ll contact the 20 or so homeowners who are part of the sampling first, and then hold a (wait for it ... ) public meeting.

Nano nuke

So CPS Energy has graciously sloughed off the nuclear component of its requested rate hike coming before Council this Thursday. Makes no nevermind, to them; they’ll just pull that $216-million options package for partnership with NRG Energy from the general funds (and lead the city into a multi-billion-dollar black hole).

Queque and Toxie `see Last Words, page 70` wonder if the City utility has a million-marker threshold whereat their Council overlords must seranade with a “si o no.”

Back inside the Congressional Death Star, the Lieberman-Warner climate-change bill is expected to explode on the floor the first week of June. Already bundled with $500 billion for nuclear subsidies, more amendments are expected to be trotted out for more taxpayer billions.

Anyone exhibiting sissified qualms about leading the world into non-renewable, potentially catastrophic dirty-bomb proliferations can dial into the Congressional switchboard and request a personal audience with Texas Senators Cornyn and Hutchison.

Misplaced that number? Try punching (202) 224-3121.

River of gold

But that’s not this week’s only big fish. The City/County landed one Saturday with the help of 7 percent of the registered electorate. Your passively designated reps voted overwhelmingly in favor of the four venue-tax proposals we’ve been gabbing about for the last three months. As a result, SA interlopers will continue to pay a 1.75-percent hotel-occupancy tax and a 5-percent vehicle tax to support a $415-million civic-building boom: soccer fields, fancier rodeo grounds, river improvements and hike-and-bike trails, and a permanent home for our opera and symphony. `See “Welcome to San Antonio,” March 26-April 1, already.`

From here on out, things will move quickly. Sometime in the next month, the City will transfer ownership of the Municipal Auditorium to the Bexar County Performing Arts Foundation, who will coccoon it with additional greenery to the tune of $32 million, unveiling a butterfly of a multi-use theater in time for the 2014 Nutcracker season.

In the bank, virtually, is $125 million for the San Antonio River Improvements Project, most of which goes to the federally handicapped Mission Reach, but a chunk of which is pledged to the Avenue A/B hike-and bike trail. `See “It’s for the birds,” April 30-May 6` The funds certain should push resolution of that hotly debated pathway. River Road Neighborhood residents and birders are divided on which routes would be appropriate for feet and wheels, but the Municipal Golf Association–SA is firm in its stance: No path through the park, and fences to keep out the terminally reckless (although on a recent tour of the course, MGA-SA bogey man Reid Meyers told the Current that he was open to fence alternatives such as landscaping, because, he said, fencing presents its own obstacles, ahem, in a flood plain — a problem El Westside, with its long-neglected creeks and sluices, would be happy to explain to you).

Board of adjustments

District One Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros looked truly stricken (or politically panicked) last week over the City’s faulty demo of Paul Chance Kinnison’s Myrtle Street fixer-upper, and she’s trying to find at least some redemption for the Peace Corp alumnus and SA native — who for his part still appeared to be in shock when he stopped by a community meeting at the house of Cisneros Executive Assistant Adam Greenup May 2. `See “Sound of the wrecking ball,” April 30-May 6` The councilwoman is trying to get the City to waive the demo bill it automatically sends out when it “emergency” remediates your abode. It’s just like when they have to come cut your damn grass, lazy bones. Only more expensive. And in this case unjust. As of press time, the District 1 office was awaiting word from City staff.

Green on green

Last week, councilmembers could barely (and frequently didn’t) restrain their back-and-forth gushing on the occasion of the Council’s approval of the Voelcker Park master plan (devised by Stephen Stimson Associates and D.I.R.T Studio) and $852,907 for Phase I improvements on the park.

Frequently lauded during the meeting as a state-of-the-art, urban-ecology model and a 311-acre jewel of the North Side, Voelcker Park was saved from development by the council in 2006, at an ultimate cost of nearly $50 million to city taxpayers.

District 8 Councilwoman Diane Cibrian praised Mayor Phil Hardberger as “a leader and visionary” and called the park “his lasting legacy.”

“`This` will go down as one of the great moments in San Antonio history,” she added.

District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriguez confessed to a bit of “park envy” over the fact that Woodlawn Lake Park is in his district and sorely needs revamping.

The lone speaker to whiz on the victory parade (albeit politely) was George Longoria, representative for Off Road Mountain Bikers, who complained that mountain bikers were shut out of the Voelcker Park planning process.


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