Any port in a storm
Demolition’s already well underway at the Westside Haven for Hope luxury social-services campus for the dwelling challenged, but neighborhood activists haven’t thrown in the trowel. Their new tack, backed by former zoning commissioner and not-a-snowball’s-chance-in-Texas ’07 mayoral candidate Eigenio Rodriguez, is environmental toxins. Perhaps not coincidentally, Rodriguez was present at the recent Big Tex update (sitting in back, taking notes, much like Queque), and the Name That Strikes Irritation in the Heart of a Certain Southtown Developer has been invoked in the hollow halls of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
But so far, the comparison has failed to move the state toxins eunuch. Not only are the two sites almost two miles apart as the grackle flies, but Haven’s issues — your run-of-the-mill urban-industry heavy-metal and asbestos contamination — can’t hold a breath mask to Big Tex’s tremolite-asbestos problems, says TCEQ.
What’s galling the ’hood, however, is the “shoot first, ask questions later” MO that has so endeared this City administration to its allies. Why, they want to know, is the City scheduled to open the campus in December 2009 when it admittedly won’t be finished with its Voluntary Cleanup Program evaluation for at least a year.
Because it’s voluntary.
“If the City owns the property, they can do whatever they want to do to it,” says TCEQ remediation project manager Jim Formby. “TCEQ isn’t the agency that goes out there and enforces these cleanups and evaluations.” (Queque can’t make this shit up.)
Sleep easy in your own covered and heated bed, says COSA Environmental Services Manager David Newman. They’ve already scraped up the dirty dirt. It sits in piles as you read, awaiting removal by Waste Management, or maybe BFI. The asbestos? Gone, too, except possibly for one building, and disposed of properly. It’s true they’re thinking not to install the VCP monitoring wells until after the demo’s done, or maybe even the construction (they’d hate to mess them up, says Newman), but the water’s already Class 3 (read: bad) and won’t be used for drinking in your lifetime.
“If done properly, `demolition` can’t really be harmful,” says Formby, unusually optimistic for an enviro-science type. “Current `asbestos` abatement processes are done safely every day.”
If low bars you like
B Rock (dba Boobie Rock) attorney Jim Deegear sounds less upbeat than Formby, but he could just be fatigued, appearing in court with Larry Flynt-like virtue-for vice on his clients’ behalf. Deegear was back at the bench Monday — this time in front of Judge David Peeples, who will shepherd the proposed adult-entertainment club through its remaining legal bondage, including a tentative February jury date — arguing once again that the term “prurient” in the deed restriction upon which the offended neighbors’ hopes rest is too flimsy to be meaningful and in any event slips into something more comfortable with each new generation.
Deegear is clearly singing on the side of the angels — “In olden days a glimpse of stocking/ Was looked on as something shocking,/ But now, God knows,/ Anything Goes” — but District 8 Councilcrusader Diane Cibrian is marshalling the forces at her disposal, including a proposed Unified Development Code change that would define nightclubs right out of the restaurant category, which they use like a Trojan (horse) to sneak into unsuspecting neighborhoods before the residents can take prophylactic action.
Wielding a favorite weapon of citizen reformers, the isolated police statistic, Cibrian indicts Boobie Rock sibling Sugar’s for some 72 police calls for criminal trespass, deadly conduct with a firearm, and every transgression in between, from January to October of last year. (Queque’s comparison stats for other clubs haven’t arrived yet, open-records timelines being what they are, but we’re holding our indignation in check.)
“Residents deserve the right to know when a strip club is coming up in their neighborhood,” says Cibrian. “This is really not about Not in My Backyard. It’s about not in anyone’s backyard.” Especially the backyard of the 50-odd kids living at a nearby apartment complex who’ve been identified as potential victims of low entertainment. Although, Queque suspects, to put a little twist to John Henry Faulk, those kids’ll learn how to masturbate all by their lonesomes. (Up next: Removal of all wireless-internet ports and blocking of HBO’s real-sex shows, which are multiplying like Playboy bunnies.)
This City not being one to pass up the opportunity for more bureaucracy (see: River Commission; read: job security), Cibrian is already lining up council supporters. Also appearing in the NIABY Nightclub Revue, er Review, are fellow UDC proposal signatories Justin Rodriguez (7), Philip Cortez (4), John Clamp (10), and Mary Alice Cisneros (1).
The Main Plaza makeover remains on track for its late-spring debut, despite history’s pesky insistence on leaving her playthings strewn about where backhoes and shovels are bound to dig them up, causing those busybodies at the Texas Historical Commission to come poking around. The booty tally so far? The City prefers not to tout it on the major news outlets “because of our concerns regarding possible treasure seekers,” according to a September 21, 2007, memo from City PR queen Di Galvan. But there is an 1850s coin that may be of some interest, and City Council is scheduled to vote this week on additional funds for the project: $700,000-plus for engineering and design-enhancement items, and another $187,000 to SWA Group for primarily archeological activities having to do with “disarticulated” human bones, sword tips, glass, and pottery. Oh, we’re diggin’ all right. In the meantime, enjoy Galvan’s philosophy on working with the local news media on the Curblog at sacurrent.com. •