Haven for Hope update

Bill Greehey and Patti Radle don't look like they have much in common. He's the hard-nosed former CEO of Valero and current chairman of NuStar Energy, and she's the West Side community activist and former council member who's basically the white-haired, hippie mom we all wish we had.

Unlikely duo though they may be, at yesterday's City Council B-session, it was obvious how chummy these two have become over the three years they've collaborated on the Haven for Hope project, with Greehey putting his arm around Radle and enthusiastically chatting her up.

Robert Marbut, Haven for Hope president and former District 8 Council member, filled in the Council on the homeless center's progress, citing the early success of the Public Safety Triage and Detox facility and saying that -- with 10 campus buildings yet to open, and future openings expected to happen at a rate of one per month -- the entire facility should be in operation by the end of the year.

Haven for Hope's original capital budget was $30 million, but the ambitious scope of the venture has pushed that figure up to $80 million, resulting in a $9-million shortfall. During yesterday's session, Mayor Phil Hardberger announced that Council members had scraped together some money from the $30 million bond-bonus discovered by City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her staff (forgotten, leftover funds from old bond projects that had been languishing in various bank accounts).

Upon hearing this, we fully expected to learn that the $9-million Haven deficit had been erased. No such luck. The 10 members of the Council were able to scrounge up a mere $1.5 million from the $30 million of bonus funds. Would it have really been so hard to use $9 million of this leftover bond money for Haven, and let the Council members divide up the rest? I suppose that would have been too easy, too logical, too smooth. Ultimately, this Council probably assumes that with the deep-pocketed and well-connected Greehey in charge, Haven will get by, with or without their generosity.

Finally, in the counting-chickens-before-they're-hatched category: Embattled District 1 Council member Mary Alice Cisneros -- maintaining a brave public face after a week of criticism over her apparent efforts to facilitate the City's sale of La Villita and Market Square -- assured Greehey and Radle that she would support Haven in her next term of office. This could qualify as locker-room pinup material for Chris Forbrich, Cisneros' electoral opponent.


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