Will today’s City Council meeting decide whether el parque Brackenridge gives up parkland for a city garage so the Queque can see more wild, vivid, and plaster exhibits at the Witte? In short, no.
It’s an errant news story, being promulgated by local KENS 5 and partner Mysa.com. And even the UK’s Guardian Unlimited took a chop at our natural science and history museum’s supposed tree-lust, invoking American folksinger Joni Mitchell’s paean to preservation, “Big Yellow Taxi,” about paving over paradise for a parking lot (which the Queque, a nationalist, counters with the British troupe Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song”).
The alarmists said the fate of hundreds of trees would be decided at today’s special farewell episode of the term-limited San Quilmas City Council, called “All the Things We Were Afraid To Do Before the Election.” Or at tomorrow’s spillover council meeting. But the agenda will only consider doubling the Witte’s lease space, designating 4.28 acres currently landscaped by the City — the fountain and area north of Pioneer Hall to Broadway — as the museum’s responsibility, City staff say.
Blame the hubbub on River Road residents who think of Brac as their personal backyard, says a Witte spokesperson. Parks and Recs’ Ron Smudy called the battle cries a little premature:
“A parking-garage facility … is in `the Witte’s` Master Plan. At some point in the future … that is something that will be addressed.” But site surveys and approval processes for a City-led parking-expansion effort haven’t even begun. “That’s not to say that we won’t fight this battle someday, but `today` isn’t the day,” said Smudy.
In other tree-clearing news … the Council will consider a more severe wallet-trimming for people who cut los arboles without a permit (a 2-K minimum fine’s on the horizon for you silly, misguided lumberjacks).
Following in the footsteps of Tony Snow, former Express-News Education Reporter Jeanne Russell has hopped the church-state divide to replace the mayor’s communications director, J.J. Saulino, who left town in pursuit of a joint degree from Harvard Law and the Kennedy School of Government (ignore Russell’s bio and email on the E-N website please; it takes time for the technology to catch up to real-world situations).
Not only will the Queque miss J.J. — who we thought of as our hometown Mike McCurry for his dispassionate, frank way with answers and documents; Russell is more Ari Fleischer-like in her brevity (OK, she’d been on the job all of an hour when the Queque called and as she said, “It’s all new to me.”) — but we’ll also wonder what kind of footsie is going on under the City-State table: Russell is married to Captain Recess, State Rep Mike Villarreal. Not that we think you can’t have healthy, ethical press-government relations. The Current’s editor is married to District 1 Zoning Commish Michael Westheimer, after all. At least for the moment that’s his job; Westheimer was appointed by Evita-elect Mary Alice Cisneros’s predecessor, Roger Flores, and there’s not much love lost there. Hmmmm ... maybe the mayor’s office is hiring ...
It’s been two months since the Queque last briefed you on our local military-industrial complex, and if you need someone to blame, aim that frustro-ray at congressional Democrats for playing tug-o-war with Bush’s Iraq spending plan, only to let go at the last minute. (As if Bush cares. When hasn’t he landed on his ass and acted like it was supreme victory?) Congress passed the $120-billion bill late last week, which means that military contractors (and, thanks to earmarks, sugar beet and spinach farmers, and shrimp and salmon fishermen, etc.) will soon receive all sorts of financial blessings.
In the meantime:
At the very beginning of April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handed a San Antonio firm a $7.3-million contract for an “Air Support Operations Squadron and weather facility” at Fort Bliss, a military installation near El Paso. The friendly employee who picked up the phone at winning-bidder STC Constructors’ headquarters (near UTSA’s 1604 campus) wasn’t authorized to elaborate on the “weather facility” bit, but we sincerely hope it involves weather balloons. Weather balloons = calls from UFO conspiracists.
This time last year, McGoldrick Construction Services Corporation, out on Fredericksburg and Wurzbach by the Methodist Hospital, picked up a $9-million guard-dog-training facility contract for Lackland Air Force Base. Apparently, the little Muttleys were yappy enough that Lackland’s now letting McGoldrick handle humans: In May the firm was chosen to design and construct a “Basic Expeditionary Airman Training Facility,” worth $11.5 million.
The big boon of the season, however, was the U.S. Navy’s indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract giveaway. Through their new electronic SeaPort-e procurement system, the Navy awarded open-ended contracts to 391 companies (apparently only 8 offers were rejected). Five San Antonio companies are among those with a shot at spearing $5.3 billion in Naval treasure. Our local winners: Eagle Applied Sciences, Instant Data Technologies, N2N Tech Solutions, SpecPro Technical Solutions, and Mystikal Solutions. The Queque isn’t exactly sure what a “solution” is, but of the 391 companies, 47 have it in their name. (Mystikal is a veteran-owned IT firm, not a purveyor of crystal balls and pyramid hats, although their website does claim they specialize in “bringing order to chaos.”)
Speaking of questionable solutions, the ticker at Costofwar.com says Iraq has cost San Antonio $1,746,430,000, which could’ve been turned into 16,000 housing units, or provided health insurance to 1 million children.
The Department of Defense reported two San Antonio military casualties in May: 23-year-old Specialist Marquis J. McCants, who was killed in a firefight in Baghdad; and 21-year-old Corporal Anthony Bradshaw, who died with five other soldiers in an IED explosion 30 miles northeast of Baghdad.
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