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The QueQue


We know what all you motherlumpers, er, readers, want from Queque this week. The mandate is clear, from the chat rooms to the press pools. You want lil’ Que to describe to you in that very print-media way the look of naked Sarah Palin.

We must tell you now, that is not going to happen. While we are sometimes-proud members of the media elite (you can just smell it in these pages, no?), and while we were invited to the unveiling of McCain’s new ingenious campaign strategy (which is, we’ll be frank here, to arouse speculation on Palin’s undressed hottiness), we refuse to be played by the Republican Establishment. All we can say with certainty is that: Yes, it is Cold in Alaska, if you know what we’re saying… *horrible, sick, grunty noises*

Double jeopardy

Getting back to Real News Land: Under federal whistleblower protections, CPS Energy can’t fire Linda Knowlton for calling attention to millions of allegedly misspent Benjamins, but that doesn’t mean they have to play nice. The day after the Current broke news of Knowlton’s federal lawsuit against the City-owned utility (See “Federal Cases,” August 27), CPS suits went calling for the woman sharing office space with Knowlton. After facing a battery of questions about Knowlton’s lawsuit — what she knew, what she’d seen — the employee was moved out. Her phone and computer were yanked, too.

Since Knowlton first discovered nearly $4 million in payments allegedly made by CPS on expired contracts, her professional life has tanked and she’s been exiled from CPS’s HQ to a Salado office outpost. Just when middle management seemed like it couldn’t get much lower, Knowlton was thrown into isolation, according to local staffers at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 500.

But will Knowlton survive her attorney Sam Beale, and Beale’s assistant (non-lawyer) Jim Conley? That way be dragons. Knowlton told Queque that if an update on her case appeared in the Current, Beale said he would drop her as a client, taking her untold thousands in retaining fees with him. “We’re no longer free to talk about her case,” Conley said. “As a matter of fact, I wish she’d drop off the face of the earth.” Ouch. Beale? “I have talked with my client and I’m not authorized to give you any statement.”

Queque observes Knowlton being abused by both sides and prays an attorney of stronger stuff will intervene to champion this wronged woman’s rights. Our sometimes-humorous and identity-amorphous personae agrees (at least within its own hearts) that neither the union, the utility, nor bullying docket-combers can be allowed to dictate what news the Que2 delivers. ¿Comprendes?


We do, however, except fried lumps of dough and pretty cakes. Both bakery bribes came in over the last two weeks from one D’Anne Trethan. You may recall that name from the Code Enforcement/Animal Control Services raid/seizure/murder of 50-some cats (See “No such thing as a free kitten,” February 13, 2008). The rasping residents had found none-too-clean but apparently survivable sanctuary at the woman’s Northside home. Now the city’s most-abused and belittled cat lady is shooting back.

Trethan, backed with scratch from another raided resister and fan of all things feline, has retained a local attorney to sue the City for killing her cats immediately after they were seized. Point of departure for the two parties is curled up somewhere in how you define “ill” or “suffering,” the terms by which ACS justified the rapid gassing.

“It’s important for people to understand, their lives were in danger,” Trethan told us of the cats at her sanctuary in her signature putty-tat lisp last week. “I’m not saying the way I did it was perfect, but at least they were alive.”

Queque couldn’t reach Trethan’s canny attorney by deadline this week, but a financial success could see a bona-fide cat sanctuary built in SA for those many neglected, poisoned, and shot ferals stalking roaches and mice in our alleyways and abandoned lots. We’re forecasting a rise in required pest-control services.


Tommy Lee Jones, suing Paramount for another slice of No Country for Old Men profits (a juicy $10-million slice), can celebrate one recent public-relations success: His name has been stricken from the roster of San Antonio’s residential Water Hogs.

After being listed in the eight spot back in June, Jones’ people got with SAWS’ people and the City’s water folks helped recalibrate the Jones turf irrigation methodology, dropping the numbers.

“As soon as they found out, they got with us immediately,” SAWS staff told the Queque last week. No true Texan, where we live a perpetual drip away from Alarm Stage drought, can get behind the idealized rolling green lawns culturally imported from our English precedents. Still those in the million-gallon club may need a reminder that such status is not nearly as prestigious as the celebrated mile-high club, grown oh-so-much riskier with all those additional security restrictions.

Now if we could get current and reigning Number One Hog, Kinetic Concepts Inc. CFO Martin Lander, and fellow hog Tom Turner — both using more water than the entire San Antonio Housing Authority — in line with the Texas good-steward ethic, maybe our alarm stages wouldn’t sound so often.


Slipping the Ex-News/KSAT annual water hog scrutiny — where SAWS’ top 10 residential and business customers are ranked — until now has been the growing San Antonio Zoo. Using up 900 million gallons of water per year, the Zoo is nearly four times as thirsty as the top-listed “business” Hog. It’s not a meter misread. The Zoo benefits from virtually unlimited access to the grandfathered “Hippo Well” owned by the City. City staff was busy quantifying the economic benefits from the well months ahead of this summer’s renewed lease agreement with the San Antonio Zoological Society when they came to the conclusion (“Parse This,” eyes below) that the Zoo enjoys about $1.7-million worth of free water use per annum.

Though the Zoo and SAWS are partnered on low-flow toilet schemes and whatnot, monthly water use at the expanding zoo continues to boil: From a bubbling 11.5-million gallons guzzled in August fiscal ’04 to 13.5-million gallons down the drain this August. Of course, they only pay for what they use in addition to the City’s gratis 375 acre-feet, which, happily for City coffers, they do quite regularly.

More water than Lackland AFB? We’ve seen Wild Kingdom. Just keep those frickin’ hippos happy and behind the barricade!


Subject: Hippo Well at the Zoo
Anita Vela-Johnson
To: Jeff Pullin
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 2:23 PM


I wanted to follow up on our conversation with an email so that I can make sure that I understand the current situation with the Hippo Well at the Zoo. My understanding of the issues are as follows:

The water that is pumped from this well is potable

The City “owns” the permit for the well, but we don’t pay for the water being pumped from this well

Because this is a City well, SAWS does not meter or bill for water usage at this well

The amount of water that SAWS has permitted to be pumped from this well is 2,200 acre feet

Approximately 1,700 acre feet is being pumped each year for zoo use

The zoo is only paying the EAA fee, which is minimal (EAA charge is approximately $48.30 per acre foot), so the zoo is basically getting this water for free

SAWS has determined that the zoo is using five to six times the amount of water of other major zoos (not sure how they determined this fact)

SAWS has stated that they want to help the zoo conserve water, but there is no incentive because the water is basically free

SAWS will be providing you with more detailed information in the next few days and I will get a copy from you

You have kindly offered to calculate the value of this water usage by the zoo.

If I got anything wrong, please let me know. I really, really appreciate your assistance.

Anita Vela-Johnson

Contract Administrator

Parks and Recreation Department


From: Anita Vela-Johnson
To: Laurel Jensen
Cc: Ron Smudy
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 2:54 PM


I spoke with Jeff earlier today, and sent him the following email to ensure that I understood everything correctly. I let both MM and Mr Smudy know about my conversation, and MM wants it included on your matrix. I would suggest we wait until we get the value from Jeff. I will tell you that when I took an average acre foot cost from the last contrat year of $1,053.42 and multiplied it by 1700 acre feet, I estimate that they received $1,790,814 in well water. If all they paid was the EAA fee, they only paid $82,110, so they ended up “saving” $1,708,704.

I will let you know what Jeff responds.

Anita Vela-Johnson


From: Laurel Jensen
To: Anita Vela-Johnson
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 3:31 PM

Wow. And am I correctly understanding that all of this water is in addition to the 350 acre feet the City provides each year?

From: Anita Vela-Johnson
To: Laurel Jensen
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 4:24 PM

You are correct.

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