Camp Bullis: Trees today, trees tomorrow
If we had a Doomsday Clock at Current HQ (something we’ve been seriously considering — since, like, way before the last non-rapture rapture), some poor intern would be tasked with pushing the minute hand forward this week. What with official word that the Drug War has failed, our cell phones are killing us, and — what’s this? — the cartels are building tanks in Tamaulipas? If anything out there has tempered our scary-bad assessment on regional affairs, it would have to be the fact that San Antonio has (apparently) survived a swipe in the Lege after our tree-protecting powers in the extra-territorial jurisdiction in Bexar County. By the time the Lege gets another shot in two years, James Cannizzo, environmental attorney for Camp Bullis, expects to have purchased all the mitigation credits the military needs to say, finally, that Bullis has fulfilled its obligations to the Golden-cheeked warbler. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back before the Lege in 2013 supporting tree protections again. “If we have to go up again in two years, we’ll do it,” Cannizzo said. “Long-term we’re better off if we have the tree ordinance.”
After all, threatened clear-cuts — which could push the region deep into non-compliance with expected tightening air quality measures — could still crimp the Camp’s style. “Whenever the EPA finally gets around to doing that re-designation of ozone we’re probably going to be two rungs down in non-compliance, so the more trees we have around the better. If everyone wants these military installations to grow, they need to get a handle on [air quality].”
Charlie Gonzalez meets Gerry Mander
An overly GOP-friendly congressional map that cleared the Senate Monday and will likely sail through the House has Democrats and Hispanic groups seething. But was anyone expecting ruling Repubs to play fair with redistricting? Sure, we expected they’d draw Austin liberal U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett into a heavily red district (and they did), but when they took on SA’s Charlie Gonzalez, that was too much.
On the senate floor Monday, state Senator Carlos Uresti said Republicans typically score 55 percent of the vote in Texas, yet the new map is designed to give over 70 percent of the state’s seats to GOP congressman. “In what world would this be seen as proportional?” he said.
Luis Figueroa, a legislative attorney with MALDEF, called the new plan “retrogressive,” saying it ignores that Latinos accounted for 65 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade and actually cuts away at existing Hispanic-majority districts. While the map creates a new Hispanic-majority district between San Antonio and Austin, it carves out heavy portions of Charlie Gonzalez’s District 20 so that it is no longer a Hispanic-majority district, Figueroa said.
“Everyone has been talking about the tremendous Latino growth, and yet it’s never reflected in the maps that come out. … We think that’s unfair, and we think the courts will agree,” Figueroa said.
MALDEF had proposed a map that would draw Hispanic-majority districts in the Fort Worth and San Antonio-Austin areas, and create a “coalition” district in the Houston area rich with minority voters. The new map still must pass muster at the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court panel. Office pool subject: time it takes for another MALDEF lawsuit
Priest abuse preceded Leal murder
In a clemency petition filed Tuesday with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, lawyers for death row inmate and Mexican national Humberto Leal, Jr. — convicted in the brutal 1994 rape and murder of a Southside teenager and slated for lethal injection on July 7 — claim their client was repeatedly molested and raped by a local parish priest as a child.
In their clemency petition, Leal’s lawyers [See “Illegal Injection,” May 25, 2011] claim Father Federico Fernandez, a former priest at the Southside St. Clare Church, repeatedly assaulted and raped Leal while he was in the fourth grade. In a sworn affidavit Dr. David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who evaluated Leal, stated, “Mr. Leal’s disclosure was anguished. … It was apparent that he was experiencing intense humiliation and shame, emotional states that at times were so intense that he could not continue speaking.” Dr. Lisak’s testimony details Leal’s stories of abuse in graphic detail.
Leal was not alone. A Bexar County grand jury indicted Fernandez in 1988 on charges that he sexually molested two boys at the church. Charges against Fernandez were eventually dropped days after the boys’ families settled a civil suit against the San Antonio archdiocese out of court. According to bishopaccountability.org, a website that chronicles church abuse scandals, Fernandez has since been assigned to Templo de San Francisco in Bogota, Colombia.
Drunken ‘loner’ blamed for deputy’s death
Despite rumors and speculation of nefarious ties to organized crime, it appears Bexar County sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Kenneth Vann, simply, and tragically, pulled up to the wrong stoplight at the wrong time. On Monday, Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz remarked that Mark Anthony Gonzales, the 41-year-old arrested and charged Sunday in Vann’s shooting, was a drunken “loner” [Tom Cruise, take notice] on antidepressants.
According to authorities, it was Gonzales who pulled up next to Vann’s cruiser in the early morning hours of May 28 near the corner of Rigsby Avenue and Loop 410 and, for reasons unknown, opened up on the officer with his MP15 assault rifle. Gonzales’ arrest warrant affidavit shows that he called a long-time friend just 45 minutes after the shooting saying, “I killed a cop. Don’t tell no one, not even your wife.”
Within a week the friend told his wife, who then called authorities over the weekend identifying Gonzales as the shooter, Ortiz said. Gonzales, taken into custody after Bexar County and FBI SWAT teams raided his Southside home Sunday, refused to talk with investigators and immediately asked for a lawyer.
Though Ortiz ruled out involvement of drug cartels or any other organized criminal gang, authorities still have no motive. “Why did Mark Anthony Gonzales pick out Sgt. Vann and assassinate him the way he did?” said Ortiz. “We can only speculate at this time.”