The Queque 

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It ain’t no easy trick for the Queque to escape not only the office, but the city for a couple days mid-week. Especially if our main goal is to check out the hottest new Nordic indie-rock outfits. But even political bloodhounds can’t resist the scent of SXSW blowing in from the 35: armpit patchouli, flat and fetid bargain beer, and freshly mowed grass (the class-B-misdemeanor variety).

To justify the trip, the Queque wormed our way into a 20-minute speaking slot at the Alternative Spring Break, which is the annual activist-training camp thrown by the Texas Students Against the Death Penalty for high-school and college activists. (Can you imagine the stories? “One time ... at death-penalty camp ...”). We met with Say-Town’s own survivalists, both from the International School of the Americas: Jew-froed, Matisyahu acolyte Sam Kohn and Aryan Hedayati, brother to Hooman Hedayati, TSADP’s president. Dave Maass embarrassed himself, but for details you’ll have to read his confession on our Chisme Libre blog.

The Queque’s pilgrimage coincided with the death-penalty art censorship controversy. Surely you read about it, perhaps in the LA Times, the NY Times, the Washington Post, or the Guardian? Last week, the Texas Moratorium Network moved much of the artwork from their annual anti-death-penalty art show, “Justice for All?”,  to the E2 Capitol Annex. Representative Boris Miles, a Democrat from Houston, happened upon these two images while leading his 5 and 8-year-olds down the corridor:

“Doing God’s Work,” a watercolor by Portland-based artist and Art Institute of Chicago alumnus Shanon Playford; and “The Widowmaker,” by death-row inmate and native Cuban Reinaldo Dennes, which links racist lynchings to the death penalty.

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In order to protect his children from the horrors of art reflecting the horrors of Texas state policy, Miles yanked the two works off their easels and locked them in his office — that’s instead of complaining to the State Preservation Board, which oversees Capitol displays, or Representative Harold Dutton, who sponsored the exhibit. The first offends Christians, the second offends blacks, Representative Miles told student activists. Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network, found it amusing and wished only that it had been a Republican censor instead.

The Queque is obviously a proponent of free speech, especially at the Capitol, the most public of public buildings, where ideas should flow as freely as snot from a crying babe’s nose. All things should be discussed under the Pink Dome, particularly the ugly stuff, like the rapes and abuse within the Texas Youth Commission. Rapes and abuse, by the way, are not appropriate for children.

Next week we hope to hear that Miles is tearing up the tile at the Capitol with his bare hands. This mosaic pattern is certainly questionable:

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One of the Queque’s bachelor degrees is in public relations, ’cause our mother would be unhappy if we only majored in English (which brings to mind the Curb Your Enthusiam/Henry Clay adage that “a good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied.”) … so the Queque just happens to know about media manipulation. And here’s our question for the trio handling media services for the San Antonio Police Department: How will you ever get us to play Judy Miller to your White House if you lose your shit on a simple fact-finding visit from a reporter who wants clarification on a department item pulled from the City Council agenda?      

Granted, SAPD spokeswoman Sandy Gutierrez may have been hyper-wary since that day’s Express-News portrayed her colleague Sergeant Gabe Trevino as a case-hardened cop mouthpiece in their coverage of the child-abuse and murder case of Sariyah Garcia and Sebastian Lopez, the Southside infants allegedly killed by their mother and found under their apartment on March 6. Some hard-on designer dropped the first part of a Trevino quote (“We don’t take kids from parents lightly.”) and sprayed the second part large on Page 1 (“If physical abuse isn’t readily apparent to us when we arrive on the scene, there’s `only` so much we can do.”) — a shoulder-shrug-sounding, out-of-context quote that even the E-N’s Bob Richter admitted was unfair to Trevino.

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But that’s no reason for Gutierrez to come unmoored when we visited the SAPD’s PR dock and took notes as she refused to comment on a proposed parade-permit change (see page 8).

“I don’t like that word, ‘comment.’ I like ‘discuss.’ My statement is ‘I am unable to discuss an agenda item that has been tabled,’” said Gutierrez. “You’re taking notes?! … Please be fair,” she said with her palm raised like an agitated cop pleading with the Queque to yield or she’d tase us. “Please!”

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Makes the Queque appreciate the more hearty dross that elected officials are filled with, like Councilwoman Sheila McNeil, who gave us a raw interview last week outside the City Council Chamber — while she was in the bathroom — about what she perceives to be the unelectability of the two challengers for her District 2 seat.

“Ron Wright used to work for `previous District 2 rep` Joel Williams. If you vote for him you’re going to get what you had.” And Fort Sam Houston School Board President Keith A. Toney, she said, is walled up behind a protected community. Neither have the “community capital” amongst East Siders to get elected (beyond the Scylla-Charybdis/father-son duo of T.C and Tommy Calvert, expected to oppose McNeil’s re-election), nor her $30,000 campaign treasury, McNeil boasted.

Back inside the chamber, a House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee field hearing on rail safety focused on human error in the Union Pacific derailments all too common in San Antonio. Beyond the Abu Ghraib-ization of overworked train operators, the feds gave our local representatives the bad news about a $200-million proposed cap on the damages companies would pay for derailments.

“I hadn’t heard of that,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told the subcommittee panel that included Congressman Charlie Gonzalez. “`It` doesn’t sound good. If it’s their fault they ought to pay for it.”

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Dear Pete M. Gonzales Jr., CPA,

Congrats on your new job as city auditor! Do you have any idea what you’re getting into? One of the Queque’s sources questions the breadth of your fiscal-watchdog resume (working for the $70 billion in annual revenue Postal Service is great, and at the Boston Field Office of the Inspector General you helped make mail operations more efficient. But do you have any idea how frustrated with City Council your predecessor Pat Majors was when she left almost a year ago?). Before the Mayor starts pressuring you to check with the City Manager before releasing an “Aha! Gotcha!” city audit, maybe you can have your 11 news bosses (that’s City Council, not City staff) over to your house this Monday, March 26, at 9 p.m. to catch the UCLA Dynasty on HBO. Hardberger might find something inspiring in the tale of UCLA’s legendary basketball coach John Wooden — who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships after 15 years of mediocrity, only after he stopped surrounding himself with

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