> The QueQue
What makes a house a home? According to the City, a voter-registration card will do. In which case District 2 Council candidate Byron Miller is probably in the clear, despite fellow contender Ron Wright’s call for Miller to withdraw from the race. Wright alleges Miller really lives with his (ex)wife on a street that lies just outside the council district’s boundaries. Miller says he simply visits his (ex)wife — they’re on good enough terms that they appear together in a recent church-bulletin family photo — but really resides at 135 Paso Hondo, where he also keeps offices for his insurance business and his campaign HQ.
Although Miller declined to show us the homey side of the Victorian bungalow at the corner of Hackberry and Paso Hondo (come back later, when I invite you, he insisted; meaning, “after a quick trip to Rooms to Go?” we wondered), according to the Bexar County registrar, Miller’s registered to vote at that address. Which may be good enough for the COSA clerk, but will it be good enough for Miller’s prospective voting base?
The QueQue, frankly, is more curious about Miller’s 2006 address, when he applied to fill an unexpired term for the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s District 2 board seat (he has since been elected to the position). For that official “residence” — which the state defines as “domicile, that is, one’s home and fixed place of habitation to which one intends to return after any temporary absence” — Miller listed 1149 E. Commerce, which you’ll recognize as the cute row of renovated storefronts across from Sunset Station where SAGE and theFund keep offices. According to the Bexar County Appraisal District, it’s all office and bar space, and Miller’s business is listed as keeping property on site from 2004 to 2007. Current tenants are using public-restroom facilities down the hall, but the QueQue was unable to examine all of the “apartments” — maybe there’s one that’s tricked out with cozy amenities. Or perhaps the “detached garage” out back has an efficiency.
“I’m used to living in the place where my business is,” Miller told the QueQue last week, but he hasn’t returned calls for clarification since last Friday, when he refused to play host when we dropped by Paso Hondo. Per the current race, Miller said he’s now leasing to own the office/home at 135 Paso Hondo, which would make him not just an alleged resident, but a property owner in District 2. We can’t wait for the home tour.
KTSA Operations Manager Greg Martin says that recorded endorsements from local political luminaries don’t undercut his station’s ability to take on mediocrity and mendacity when necessary. To promote their tag, “The other guys are out of touch, and out of town,” the station (where the Current occasionally participates in Jack Riccardi’s Friday-morning Gang of Four) has been recording promos with, i.e., District Attorney Susan Reed, mayoral candidate and District 8 rep Diane Cibrian, Police Chief William McManus, Henry Cisneros, and ... Mike Huckabee (who has a really nice smile, by the way, but that cross jewelry turns us off).
Hardberger’s on the wish list, says Martin. “He’s a good friend of the station,” who makes himself available Wednesdays to answer calls from citizens. “We don’t screen the calls,” either, says Martin.
A way-irritated Current reader contacted the QueQue a couple of weeks ago to complain that the backscratching was one more example of media gone soft on the power elite, but Martin cites Cibrian — who came under heavy fire on air for her unreported vacation overnighter at the condo of a local developer — as an example of their willingness to bite the hand that pets them: “We still hold these people to the fire.”
Decide for yourself at 550AM.
It’s hard to argue with KTSA’s desire to brag on its localism, especially with MediaPost reporting January 16 that recently privatized SA-based airwave behemoth Clear Channel Communications is considering bucking the Go Local trend with a “system of ‘national programming’ to reduce dependence on local staffs at its network of about 1,000 radio stations.” (Déjà vu all over again.) Job cuts are expected in the outdoor-advertising division too, and “Clear Channel will also slash programming budgets and back-office expenses,” says MediaPost. QueQue wonders: Will that affect political donations in the heart of its digital-billboard kingdom?
Many of you will remember that when the Council approved a hefty pay increase on December 11 for City Manager Sheryl Sculley, council members defended the new contract by insisting that Sculley has saved the City $47 million.
That made the QueQue wonder exactly where the $47 million had come from, but after several weeks of back-’n’-forthing with City bureaucracy, all our sources could muster was $17 million, recouped via the City’s AAA bond rating and staff reorganization. That left $30 million of purported savings unaccounted for. How did she do it? Municipal car pooling? More efficient deployment of City paper clips? QueQue wanted to know.
Well, last Friday we got our answer, in perfectly packaged form. Hardberger, joined by eight council members (Diane Cibrian and Jennifer Ramos were the only no-shows), jubilantly announced that Sculley and her staff had miraculously found $30 million in unspent funds from old, completed bond programs.
“I imagine this is the first time in San Antonio history to find $30 million we didn’t know we had,” Hardberger said, crediting Sculley for her “principal role in this little drama that we’re playing.”
Sculley explained the unexpected fiscal windfall by saying that when the City launched its current bond program in 2007, she and her staff began examining the last 25 years of bond programs, and discovered money, earning interest, in various bank accounts.
“It was tedious and not as simple as it sounds,” Sculley said.
This may be a matter for more seasoned semanticists, but if I have five bank accounts and I forget about one of them for a few years, when I finally realize how much I have in that account, I’m not “saving” myself any money. I’m simply finding money that I already had. Doesn’t the same logic apply here?
Nonetheless, the good news is that the long-forgotten funds are expected to be used for infrastructure improvements and will be spread more-or-less proportionally across the city’s 10 districts, with priority given to projects such as Voelcker Park and Medina Base Road.
It’s worth noting, of course, that if councilmembers were tossing around that $47 million figure on December 11, they knew about the windfall at least five weeks before last week’s press conference. Guess they wanted to save some cheeriness for January.
One of the council members cheering on Sculley was District 9’s Louis Rowe. Two weeks ago, when the QueQue caught up with Rowe at City Hall, we asked how this year’s election campaign was shaping up, and he answered, “It’s looking good,” before catching himself and noting that he hadn’t decided whether or not to run. Last week, he ended all suspense by announcing that he wouldn’t be seeking another term.
Rowe’s decision to pull out probably didn’t stun Council insiders, who’ve suggested that he seemed a bit lost ever since being appointed last January to replace Kevin Wolff, who resigned in favor of a successful run for a County Commission seat. It was hard to imagine the relentlessly pleasant but vaguely stiff Rowe block-walking and pressing the flesh on the campaign trail, and something tells us he came to the same conclusion – aided no doubt by the electoral firepower lined up behind engineering proprietrix Elisa Chan: Tracy and Nelson Wolff, Red McCombs, Ed Whitacre, and Ramiro Cavazos, e.g.
The hometown hero of Andrews, Texas, isn’t any high-school pigskin chucker. Nope, that honor sits with the nuclear-waste storage pits way out in the flat plains of western Andrews County, opened by Dallas billionaire and one-man Republican slush fund Harold Simmons a few years back. Consider it West Texas’ post-prison-boom economic-diversification strategy.
TCEQ commissioners found themselves overrun by a sea of nuke-dump boosters last week when their final vote on a low-level nuclear-waste-disposal permit hit the agenda. Caught up in the spirit of the event, two-thirds of those Perry appointees said no further evaluation is necessary before the Panhandle dump starts burying shipments from the Feds, Vermont, and its big-hat homeland.
Although at least one former inspector says WCS’s trenches sit just 14 feet above groundwater supplies — possibly the nation’s largest freshwater aquifer, the Ogallala — the commissioners denied a Sierra Club request for a contested case hearing that would require more serious inspection. Among the wastes to be interred for all eternity will be some of the hottest of the so-called “low-level” waste mined in the Belgian Congo and stored for many years in Fernald, Ohio.
“The application contained inconsistencies and contradictions and a lack of detailed ,” objected former TCEQ geologist Pat Bobeck in May when the draft permit was approved. Bobeck resigned from the agency to protest an apparent political agenda to approve the dump despite serious geologic concerns. “There is water there in that clay and in the siltstone, and water is going to move that waste around. It’s going to cause problems and there’s no way around that.”
Commissioner Larry Soward abstained, and the TCEQ’s Office of Public Interest Counsel recommended against approving the license, but the commissioners’ chamber was reportedly packed with about 150 Permian Basin-based dump supporters wearing green T-shirts. No one spoke in opposition to the permit, partially because residents of neighboring Eunice, New Mexico, are not allowed standing under state law.
Should you be in any way peeved about this situation, QueQue recommends you contact the fine groups working to reverse this decision, which, in this case, includes the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, which is making noise about taking their objection to the state Supreme Court. •