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The Queque - December 15, 2010

Warning shot

As the Texas Legislature prepares to convene in January, tasked with skimping our way out of a projected $21-billion budget deficit over the next two years, proposed cuts in state mental hospitals and community-based mental health services are getting serious attention. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s consolidated 2012-2013 budget proposes $65-million in cuts for mental hospitals and community mental health services under one scenario.

San Antonian Janet Paleo has one word for any lawmakers considering making such sweeping cuts: lawsuit.

“The moment they cut the budget and anyone winds up in jail because they couldn’t get services, Prosumers `International` would be a plaintiff in that case,” she told QueQue on Monday. “Just give them something to think about while they’re toying with the budget.”

Prosumers International is a grassroots group with chapters in Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. Paleo herself was recently honored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Hollywood as a community leader and mental health advocate. But if Paleo sounds like she’s simply rattling her advocate’s saber: consider North Carolina. That state started tinkering with cutting mental health funding last year and was sued by advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina for alleged Civil Rights violations. They got quick support from the U.S. Department of Justice, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Paleo champions the economic argument for maintaining a healthy safety net for those suffering from mental illness. After all, the cost of a bed in jail, or an emergency room visit, far exceed the money used to treat clients in the community.

Fanatical rapport

After a week of asking and no callbacks from Rackspace Hosting’s communications manager, we thought it best to just drop what we had on SA’s tech darling. In a Monday blog post, we wrote that Rackers had told us about a November 17 meeting in which Jacques Greyling, managing director of Rackspace Hosting, told a team of employees that in 18 months the company plans to close its two San Antonio datacenters, SAT1 and SAT2. The change-up would affect, at most, about 30 locally based employees, according to one source. The heart of the “Castle,” as the company’s Eastside office is called, is not expected to be affected.

“These two datacenters don’t make us any money, because we’re limited by space, power, cooling, and weight requirements … and then employee salaries,” a Racker told the Current last week.

Some employees are reporting they’ve heard the datacenters could close in as little as nine months, creating some internal tension among engineering staff. In all, the San Antonio-based company has more than 2,900 employees around the world, two-thirds of which are in San Antonio.

Rackspace’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Roenigk, released a prepared statement later that day: “The datacenter space we have available in the San Antonio area is up for contract renewal in the next couple of years and we are evaluating our options.”

Hope we didn’t interfere in any hard bargaining elsewhere. We’ll check back in nine months.

DREAMtime

The Board of Directors for Port San Antonio decided this week they will not press charges against supporters of the DREAM Act who staged a sit-in at U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office on November 29. You may recall the group of 16 UTSA students and fellow supporters were arrested by San Antonio Police Department officers and charged with criminal trespassing by order of the Port Authority. Most were released on public recognizance bonds the next morning.

Only Methodist minister Reverend Lorenza Andrade-Smith, of Westlawn United Methodist Church, refused to leave the jail, vowing to continue a hunger strike inside Bexar County Jail until the Senate voted on legislation that would provide a potential pathway to citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children, provided they join the military or attend college.

Her attorney, Ricardo Briones, told the Current this morning that the ultimate decision on whether the protestors are prosecuted lies within the office of Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed. QueQue hasn’t been able to reach Reed for comment, and Port spokesperson Paco Felici refused to go into detail about how the decision not to press charges was reached.

DREAM supporters reached in D.C. said they had to consult with each other before making any statement on the quasi-pardon. But they too will be watching Reed for signs of compassion, or, barring that, life.


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