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Easy Reader: A chain of emails about the Eastside Crosspoint facility fight

As the Express-News reported last week, another Eastside battle is underway, this time over a proposed reentry facility -- a residence for individuals who are transitioning from the criminal-justice system to the real world -- which is on the Council's agenda this week. I care very much about SA's East Side, am a fan/fascinated observer of her many political leaders and personalities, and have followed a few key stories:

• the attempted Healy-Murphy Park sale
• the attempted St. Paul Square sale (still under way)
• the BRAC expansion at Fort Sam

But my better half, Michael Westheimer, sits on the Zoning Commission, which approved the zoning-change request that would make the facility possible (he voted against it), so I won't be writing any stories about this one, even after he leaves the commission this month.

So, I'm bequeathing to you, readers and sleuths, the fascinating chain of email traffic I've received on this issue to date, in the order I received it, most recent to oldest (some of the emails contain earlier emails to which the author is responding; I've color-coded them so you know what arrived together). Enjoy!


from    TC Calvert <neighborhoodsfirstalliance@yahoo.com>
to    ewolff@sacurrent.com,
ernie@tpr.org
date    Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 10:42 AM
subject    Why I'm Supporting the Holy Spirit Convent Rezoning: ACTION ALERT

Why I’m Supporting the Holy Spirit Convent Rezoning: Know the Truth, Check the Facts and Do Your Homework:  Action Alert from Tommy T.C. Calvert, President, Neighborhoods First Alliance
 
As President of the Neighborhoods First Alliance, I want you to join forces with me and the members of the Holy Spirit Convent in strong support of the proposed rezoning of their Convent for mixed-use development, intended to become transitional re-entry housing for people who have served their time in federal prison.
 
Opponents of this rezoning are putting out false and misleading information that states that the rezoning on the Convent property will become a jail.  We know that this is simply not true because the Bexar County Commissioners Court and the Bexar County Sheriff have not approved funding in this budget cycle for a jail to be built at 301 Yucca Street .
 
The elderly nuns of the Holy Spirit Convent want this rezoning.  They just built a ten million dollar facility directly across the street of the proposed Re-Entry Center, and they need the money and believe in helping people who are poor, have no voice, and have made mistakes, and paid for them.
 
This rezoning, though, is more than about the Holy Spirit Convent rezoning.  It’s also about new housing development and new commercial development badly needed along Martin Luther King Blvd..  NFA has done the research and its homework, and this is one of the reasons why we want you to support the rezoning.
 
I feel that it’s important you know the history, background and the facts about who is stirring this controversy.  Former councilwoman Sheila McNeil charged at a Town Hall meeting at Sam Houston High School in front of over a thousand people that Crosspoint -- the non-profit organization that’s buying the Convent, is building a jail.  This is not true, but false and misleading, like crying fire in a crowded theatre. 
 
By her actions and speech, former City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil deliberately incited the crowd, when in fact, she supported the same type of facility when she was on the City Council, on June 6th, 2006 . (Minutes of the City Council, June 6th, 2006 )
 
Why did Sheila McNeill support a Re-Entry Facility then and not now?
She was, in-fact, supporting a “corporate,” “for profit,” facility, named Cornell Companies, one of the largest for-profit Re-Entry corporations in the country.  Cornell Companies is one of the most corrupt organizations in the business.  (Cornell Companies Inc. Securities Litigation & Civil Action No. H-02-0866 ( U.S.  District Court, Southern District, Feb 10, 2006 ) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOEIN/is_2004_Oct7/ai__n6226181/
 
At the time that Sheila McNeil sang the praises of Cornell at that City Council meeting on May 18th, 2006, Cornell had been named in the criminal conspiracy indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom Delay nine months earlier (September 2005) for a $10,000 illegal contribution.
 
It’s important that the community understands there is a major conflict of interest.  Barbara Hawkins is the CEO of the George Gervin Youth Center and was appointed by Sheila McNeil to represent District 2 on the Zoning Commission in 2007.  Gervin Hawkins does not live in District 2.  Up until last month, she lived in a 4265 sq.ft. mansion off Boerne Stage Road that sits on two acres.  A story on her house was featured in the San Antonio Express-News Real Estate Section, “Buy My House Please!,” 4/19/2009 .   
 
Sheila McNeil now works for Barbara Hawkins at the Gervin Academy , so she’s on Barbara Hawkins’ payroll.  We have evidence that proves the Gervin Academy (GYC) has wanted the property for years (“Gervin to Open Center on the Eastside,” SAEN, 9/19/91 ). 
 
I appeal to the community and to those who are in opposition to do their research and homework and start asking the hard questions to former councilwoman Sheila McNeil and Barbara Hawkins along with their colleagues who are spreading false information and untruths that will destroy this mixed-use development -- that can benefit our community, like the commercial development along Martin Luther King Blvd and the badly-needed new housing in our community.  The reality of our long-held dreams of development for our community rests on this Holy Spirit Convent rezoning, and the contract with Crosspoint for the proposed Re-Entry Center -- a second-chance center for our brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, whom we all know and love. 
 
I urge you to call City Councilwoman Ivy Taylor at 207.7278 and tell her you support the rezoning of the Holy Spirit Convent.   ivy.taylor@sanantonio.gov
 
Finally, please call Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz and ask him if he’s appropriated funding for a jail at 301 Yucca Street :  335.6010.  Email:  sheriffao@bexar.org
 
ACTION ALERT:  Neighborhoods First Alliance , Eastside Victory Outreach Ministries and Sisters of the Holy Spirit Convent will have a bus leaving from the Holy Spirit Convent, 301 Yucca on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 .  We will assemble for a pre-meeting and briefing at 12:00 noon at the Convent.  Park in front.  Please call to RSVP at 226.9041 or call Rev. Elliot Gould at 532.4767.
Or call Bus Captain Michelle Daniels 224.7969; John Alcoces at 320.1105;
Lucille Scott at 227.1184
 
Yours for Community Progress,
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
 
______________________________________

from    Ron Wright <mybnjsa@yahoo.com>
to    Cloaude Black <cloaudewblack@yahoo.com>
cc    ivy.taylor@sanantonio.gov,
jlgrant44@yahoo.com,
James Edward McNamara <jemcnamara@sbcglobal.net>,
date    Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 1:30 PM
subject    Re: Councilperson Taylor Unopposed to District 2 Development of Largest Half-Way House in Texas
 
My wife and I have both recieved this email, and do not know who the author is.
 
First, I take great offense at whomever this is by using Claude Black's name. I am more than sure this individual is a coward of unspeakable proportion. Please take me out off your contacts. Unless you can identify yourself, you and I have nothing further to talk about.
 
Ron Wright
990-37047

From: Cloaude Black <cloaudewblack@yahoo.com>
To: mybnjsa@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 3:47:49 PM
Subject: Councilperson Taylor Unopposed to District 2 Development of Largest Half-Way House in Texas

Councilperson Taylor Unopposed to District 2 Development of Largest Half-Way House in Texas

Crosspoint Inc, a for-profit business that makes money housing convicted criminals, has brokered a deal with Sisters of the Holly Spirit to convert their Catholic Convent at 301 Yucca Street into the largest correctional facility of its kind in Texas. Sisters of the Holly Spirit were behind a controversy earlier this year when they were caught operating an illegal soup kitchen in the middle of a residential block which attracted dangerous transients into the neighborhood. Now, desperate to sell their Convent, they're lobbying the support of District 2 Councilperson Taylor for the rezoning and city planning change to allow the conversion.

Councilperson Taylor, who's husband is in the business of servicing criminals as a local bail bondsman, is apparently ignoring city staff and the District 2 Zoning Commissioner's recommendations against the zoning and planning changes. In a public forum when asked if she would oppose, Taylor refused and stated she had not made up her mind, blaming staff for not properly informing community members of the proposal. One of her three recently separated staff members, Ron Wright, accused her of lying and taking campaign donations to support the development.

Many in the District 2 community are concerned they can't get Taylor to listen including former Councilmember Sheila McNeil. Crosspoint Inc is well known for mismanaging their facilities. The much smaller facility Crosspoint operates at the 1500 block of North Pan Am Expressway was where heroin dealer, Mexican Mafia member and half-way house resident Jesse Espinoza Onofre shot and killed two young men. Crosspoint failed to perform regular weapon searches, but spokesperson Melvin Braziel says there is nothing that can be done from preventing this from happening in the future.

Email Councilperson Taylor at Ivy.Taylor@sanantonio.gov and tell her to oppose the Crosspoint development.

________________________________________

from    Ivy Taylor <Ivy.Taylor@sanantonio.gov>
to    peopleforronwright@yahoo.com
date    Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 1:24 PM
subject    Re: article circulating

I know who wrote the email and I know that it was not you. Ivy

From: Ron Wright
To: Ivy Taylor 
Sent: Tue Sep 15 13:21:18 2009
Subject: article circulating

Dear Councilwoman,
 
This is simply a statement to let you know that whomever penned the article that is circulating on the web, I have nothing to with and no knowledge of. I am sure you know, that if I have any complaints or concerns I will address them face to face or by letter with my name attached. I have never been nor ever will be a coward.
 
Thank You,
Ron Wright

_____________________________________________

from    Ron Wright <peopleforronwright@yahoo.com>
to    kevin downey <kevin.downey@crosspointinc.us>
date    Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM
subject    Re: Fwd: Urgent Call to Action

Mr. Downey,
 
I am appreciative of your remarks. I have been asked whether or not I penned an article that is circulating through the web. I want you to understand what my community knows about me... If I have something to say or write my name/ face or both will be attached. I do believe that some sort of deal can be constructed, perhaps not a halfway house (maybe a home for pregnant mothers, seniors facility, etc.) I don't believe it can be done in this short time to Thursday's council session, which I will be speaking at. Again you will see my face, when I have something to say.
 
Ron Wright
990-3704

--- On Tue, 9/15/09, kevin downey <kevin.downey@crosspointinc.us> wrote:

From: kevin downey <kevin.downey@crosspointinc.us>
Subject: Fwd: Urgent Call to Action
To:
Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 1:57 PM

 
An email that is a blatant misrepresentation of facts was sent out yesterday to a large number of San Antonio citizens, purportedly by Cloaude Black (sic).
 
The following facts contradict the false allegations made in that email:
 
• Crosspoint is a local, nonprofit organization.
• The convent proposal is not the largest residential reentry facility in Texas.
• Zoning Commission voted to support the zoning change.
• District 2 Commissioner recently stepped down from her post due to apparent conflict of interest.
• Crosspoint is an accredited, nationally recognized provider of reentry services.
• Regular resident searches is just one of a full range of accountability and security procedures performed by Crosspoint staff as evidenced by 46 years of service delivery with a single serious incident in their facilities.
• Board Member Melvin Braziel never made a statement regarding Crosspoint’s  ability to prevent serious incidents in the future. It is obvious that with a record of only one serious incident in 46 years that Crosspint facilities are safer than many parts of the city. 

Finally, when he was alive Reverend Claude Black was on record as supporting reentry services in San Antonio, specifically backing a 130-bed residential reentry facility in District 2 (May 2006) that was spearheaded by then District 2 Councilwoman Sheila McNeil.

 
We need your help to bring this Community Services Center and enhanced reentry services to District 2.  Please call and/or email council members to express your support of the zoning change requested by the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Crosspoint.
 
This is critical. Act now.

______________________________________

from    Warrick <blackrosebud@gmail.com>
to   
date    Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 3:25 AM
subject    Letter to the Editor / Please Publish - Councilperson Taylor Unopposed to District 2 Development of Largest Half-Way House in Texas
mailed-by    gmail.com
signed-by    gmail.com

Councilperson Taylor Unopposed to District 2 Development of Largest Half-Way House in Texas

Crosspoint Inc, a for-profit business that makes money housing convicted criminals, has brokered a deal with Sisters of the Holly Spirit to convert their Catholic Convent at 301 Yucca Street into the largest correctional facility of its kind in Texas. Sisters of the Holly Spirit were behind a controversy earlier this year when they were caught operating an illegal soup kitchen in the middle of a residential block which attracted dangerous transients into the neighborhood. Now, desperate to sell their Convent, they're lobbying the support of District 2 Councilperson Taylor for the rezoning and city planning change to allow the conversion.

Councilperson Taylor, who's husband is in the business of servicing criminals as a local bail bondsman, is apparently ignoring city staff and the District 2 Zoning Commissioner's recommendations against the zoning and planning changes. In a public forum when asked if she would oppose, Taylor refused and stated she had not made up her mind, blaming staff for not properly informing community members of the proposal. One of her three recently separated staff members, Ron Wright, accused her of lying and taking campaign donations to support the development.

Many in the District 2 community are concerned they can't get Taylor to listen including former Councilmember Sheila McNeil. Crosspoint Inc is well known for mismanaging their facilities. The much smaller facility Crosspoint operates at the 1500 block of North Pan Am Expressway was where heroin dealer, Mexican Mafia member and half-way house resident Jesse Espinoza Onofre shot and killed two young men. Crosspoint failed to perform regular weapon searches, but spokesperson Melvin Braziel says there is nothing that can be done from preventing this from happening in the future.

Email Councilperson Taylor at Ivy.Taylor@sanantonio.gov and tell her to oppose the Crosspoint development.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Citizen
 

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 9/16/2009 5:19:51 PM
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