Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) has already proved himself the most nauseating freshman of the 80th Legislature by sponsoring a remarkable array of far-right sludge, including a pro-life measure to pay pregnant women $500 to give their babies up for adoption in lieu of abortion. Last Thursday he proved himself unscrupulous as well as hypocritical, when he voted to kill debate over SB 966 — The Free Flow of Information Act `“Go with the (free) flow,” April 17-24` — essentially breaking a major campaign promise.
As a conservative radio personality on KSEV 700 AM in Houston (the man credits himself with “discovering” Rush Limbaugh), Patrick is the only member of the media in the Senate. His vote betrayed his colleagues at the Texas Association of Broadcasters, the lead supporters of the bill. The biggest losers here, though, are Patrick’s constituents: During his campaign, he made six promises that he called his “Pact with Texas,” among which was a pledge to “end the practice of requiring two-thirds of the Senate to agree before a measure can be considered in the Senate.” The bill’s sponsor, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) thought he had the 20 supporters, but when the vote came he was two senators short — Patrick being one. Correct the Queque if we’re wrong, but surely the first step in abolishing a practice is to cease exploiting it oneself.
And so, this week the Queque raises a bottle of Maalox to Texas’s prosecutors for their unstomachable victory over a law that would’ve allowed the media to protect their sources, particularly whistleblowers. You convinced the minority contingent that irresponsible prosecution trumps responsible journalism; while we won over the Bexar County’s Senate delegation — Uresti, Van de Putte, Wentworth, and Zaffirini — who all voted in favor of the bill. Thanks for caring, guys.
Year-to-date amounts, as of last Sunday: 97,390 pounds of drugs and 19,482 undocumented aliens, said the sign outside the Border Patrol checkpoint with the highest seizure rate in the country: Falfurrias, a town of just over 5,000 and three hours south of Say-Town on 281. It took the Queque 20 minutes to mosey through the three-lane chokepoint coming back from the Valley. The Queque dog-whispered “gehen Sie weg“ to the German shepherd near the trunk.
12 municipal candidates out of 35 had responded to the Current’s general-election questionnaire, even after a three-day extension. The Queque thinks it’s incredibly bootsy for someone seeking to represent our city of 1.4 million people to neglect questions from a ragazine with a readership of 237,300 a month (according to International Demographic’s Media Audit). We understand the two uncontested City Council candidates — District 9’s Kevin Wolff and District 3’s Roland Gutierrez — have the bag sewn up and feel they don’t have to humor us with their plans to protect housing stock and develop Brooks City Base (Roland’s questions), or whether they like toll roads and the City’s automated trash services (Little Lobo’s questions). But there were a slew of citywide questions about the direction we’re going (i.e. the $550-million bond), and these two Gilligans are already onboard, steering City Hall.
Come to think of it, none of the incumbents responded to our survey (the intern mailed them, we’re almost positive!), except for Mayor Phil Hardberger: We salute you for taking your role as a representative who dialogues with the public seriously (except there were 100 churchgoers mad as hell’s hornets when you flaked on last Wednesday’s mayoral forum at Destiny Church on Callaghan Road. Nevermind the pastors, Phil. They don’t read us
We’d also like to thank the following other candidates: District 1 race: Mary Alice Cisneros; District 4 race: Manuel Navarro, Jr. and Philip Cortez; District 7 race: Justin Rodriguez; District 8 race: Gloria Sanchez, Mario Obledo Jr., and Jacob Dell; District 10 race: Rey De Los Santos; and in the Mayor’s race: Michael Idrogo, Rhett Smith, and Eiginio Rodriguez (we read on Sanantoniolightning.com that candidate RG Griffing had health issues). More about the content of those surveys later. Early voting starts Monday: If nothing else, take into account which candidates take our publication (and deadlines) seriously.
• 83 bills had been signed by the governor as of last Sunday. We’re fast approaching the end of the Texas legislative session — mark your calendars! It’s May 28. The closest thing to a dominating issue in this 80th session, writes the Dallas Morning News, is the “veritable congregation” of bills pushing religion. Like Representative Warren Chisum’s substitute to HB 1287 — requiring every Texas high school to offer an elective course in the Bible (“Unholy mandate,” April 11-17) — which made it out of committee with ironic* amendments last week and is heading to the House floor. (*It’s ironic, the Queque thinks, that one amendment says the Bible cannot be used as the core textbook for the course.) Whether Perry will call another special session is uncertain, one lege staffer said. “Wow. Way too many variables to say.”
Every time we hear SAPD Chief Bill McManus’s name we’re reminded of Tim McManus, the idealistic but self-obsessed assistant warden in the cable series Oz.
Like his HBO counterpart, McManus seems caught between pressure to be conventional and the call to address community issues. Just look at the $5-million worth of grants he laid before City Council last Thursday. The bulk of the funding was for traditional law enforcement — curbing drunk drivers and speeders, ticketing people who don’t use seat belts or child restraints, preventing car theft, and more bullet-proof vests — but McManus also shifted funding towards domestic violence. He forwarded four domestic-violence grants to the council, including $378,000 over three years to provide battered women with six days in a motel while case workers look for permanent housing, and $26,500 to buy 20 digital cameras and 10 laptops to speed up the statement-taking and warrant-securing process. It’s a start, but we’ll see if he lasts till the season finale.
In other police business, the San Antonio Fire and Police Retiree Healthcare Fund’s Board of Trustees (henceforth “The Fund”) discussed on Tuesday whether to divest from companies doing business in Sudan. According to Savedarfur.org, the three-year conflict in Sudan has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. Divestment seems to be working: Rolls Royce PLC, which topped the Task Force’s list for selling the Sudanese government oil-engineering equipment, announced last Thursday it will be completely withdrawing from the region citing “international humanitarian concerns.”
The Fund’s executive director, James Bounds, told the Queque that the Fund is indeed invested directly in at least one high-level offender, the China Chemical and Petrolum Company, aka Sinopec Corporation, which according to the Sudan Divestment Task Force is one of Sudan’s largest oil-service providers. Sinopec also happens to be very profitable, Bounds said, and the trustees may decide divestment’s not worth the revenue loss.
Check in with the Current’s blog, Chisme Libre, for more details on the Fund’s Board of Trustee’s discussion.
The Southwest Workers Union is encouraging San Antonians to ditch out on work and school on Tuesday, May 1, avoid buying and selling anything, and don’t cross the border all day. Why all the disorder? May Day, of course, the International Workers holiday. The SWU will live it up with a rally at noon at Milam Park (Santa Rosa and Houston) and a march at 6 p.m. The “People’s Demands,” according to their coral-colored flyer (available wherever Socialist sympathies are served — Esperanza Center, Ruta Maya Coffee, etc.), include an end to mass deportations, the war in Iraq, justice for Katrina survivors, and universal healthcare.
While you’re out there, the Queque would like to hear y’all throw out a “Free the Children” chant for the asylum-seeking families still detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the privately operated “T. Don Hutto Residential Center,” a not-so-converted prison in Taylor, Texas. Earlier this month, a federal judge slammed the facility in a ruling, siding with the ACLU, who argues that ICE violated a 1996 settlement barring immigrant children from being held in a secure environment. In the decision for an August trial, the judge wrote that the ACLU is “highly likely to prevail.”
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