There’ll be a bed for you, protestor. The Legislative Budget Board made sure of that.
As gaggles of distraught, disenfranchised Texans plot on the eve of rampant public hearing mania over Goodfella Perry’s NAFTA highway plans, the state’s fiscal manager has found that thanks to recent judiciary diversion programs, the state prison population is leveling off just beneath our current carrying capacity of 157,000.
So, thanks to all you fine conservationists who voted for state-parks funding under Prop 4 (We need a constitutional amendment to fund state land? You shoulda wondered … ) who also unwittingly approved construction of three new prison units. But let’s not cast stones, we may need those beds for the most American wave of dissent that is gathering (as you may have been made aware while you were cleaning chicken bones pre-Super Bowl with the theatrical reading of the Declaration of Independence by our best pigskin handlers).
The Guv’s recent endorsement for fencing off Mexico (apart from those humming trade corridors, that is) has also helped catalyze Border Wall resistance from Brownsville to El Paso. Perry’s Grito is simply: “We want your stuff, just not you.”
East Texans are meeting by the hundreds in preparation for coming hearings on the Trans-Texas Corridor, while SA’s toll-road resistance can roil in luxury with liquor and bar snacks at a screening of Truth Be Tolled at the Palladium this Thursday (meet cast and crew; get details at truthbetolled.com and corridorwatch.org).
At the other end of the state, West Texans are steeling themselves for the final showdown over La Entrada al Pacifico (mini TTC) and Big Bend Border Wall plans are crouching in a sideroom of the public library with an advance copy of The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández to remind themselves of Joint Task Force Six’s cowardly tracking and shooting of Presidio High School student Esequiel Hernández a decade back. Stealing top honors at the Binational Independent Film Festival and selling out Juarez capacity, the film is a good reminder why a militarized border should be resisted at all costs. Distributors, are you listening? Yeah. I bet you are.
Meanwhile, the entire length of the border is on fire with news of begrudged federal lawsuits seeking to punish those who have resisted giving away their land for an Apartheidesque national segregation wall. It seems the Border Patrol’s 1950s “Operation Wetback” is back with a vengeance, and it’s burrowing deep into Mainstream America with lurid and illusory economic and terror-related fears. You may have noticed the national temperature toward our Tex-Mex flavor is somewhat heated. Line up against the Fatherland, I mean Homeland, crowd, and we could see those prisons built after all.
All it takes sometimes is some considerate weather to keep the dozers dozing and the federal dollars flying into highway projects. The EPA announced last week that San Antonio is off the hook for its smoggy air — for now. Thanks to a meek, carbon-friendly summer, sprawling SA is to be cut from the ranks of the EPA Gestapo’s dirty-air places. But does it mean the city has been able to reduce tailpipe and smokestack venting of NOX, SOX, and sooty particulates? Not really.
While efforts via an “early action” compact in 2004 put us on better footing, we didn’t find our way under the ozone line until last year. In fact, ozone counts rose from 2005 to 2006 by one critical part per billion, leaving us two points above the Fed’s line in the smog of 85 ppb. Since the federal eight-hour ozone standard it measured by three-year averages, last year’s 74 parts-per-billion means we can forget about ozone for a couple years at least. By then, more self-professed Americans will have seen another Super Bowl reading of the Declaration and just may gnaw over that line about “the right of the people to alter or abolish and to institute new government.”
Love those averages and that timebomb of a Colonial-era document.
Despite the McGruff bark-and-growl show the DA’s office treated us to a couple of weeks ago, as of press time Class A misdemeanor charges have yet to be filed against the three needle-exchange-program volunteers targeted for Teach the Public a Lesson (What might that lesson be? Back Susan Reed into a corner and she’ll go ’possum on your ass? Ask the State Legislature, authors of the Bexar County pilot program put on hold by Reed’s allegation that our reps set up the volunteers for arrest. See “The damage done,” January 30.) Reed’s office announced in late January that they’d be ratcheting a Class C possession ticket up to a possible-jail-time rap, sparking a round of harsh national ridicule for Texas, which is Lone in yet another respect: It’s the only state without some form of needle-exchange program, despite the fact that even the Feds acknowledge their efficacy in reducing the spread of AIDS and Hep C (mind you, they don’t fund them, but that’s another ball of string).
Bring on the Good Samaritan perp walk, says the volunteers’ pro-bono legal rep, Neel Lane of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, who is also a member of St. Mark’s, which has funded the group’s activities. If charges are filed and his clients arrested, he’ll make sure the show is well-attended by the wide variety of reasonable folks who believe in trading clean needles for used ones (some for Christian reasons; others for cold economic factors): “We’re going to make the support known for these people.”
“That case is pending in this office,” Assistant DA Brian Chandler assured the Queque. “We’re taking a closer look at it.”
Check the Curblog at sacurrent.com for updates. •