Labor Day gave us a shortened work week

The second public hearing to discuss renaming the Oakwell Branch Library at 4134 Harry Wurzbach the Robert L.B. Tobin Library went to the nays last Saturday. The Friends of Oakwell Library and other volunteers and neighbors tipped the balance of the public comment period their way, imploring the San Antonio Public Library Board of Trustees to leave the name or, at least, get the Tobin Endowment to cough up more than the $100,000 donation tied to the naming proposal. Though they had slightly fewer numbers, the Tobin supporters had more notables: Lila Cockrell, Tracy Wolff, District Attorney Susan Reed, a few Tobin cousins, and bristly representatives from the fundraising arm of the public library system, the SA Public Library Foundation, whose chairman Dennis Martinez said the city wants to strip the Board of Trustees, which he characterized as a rogue citizen panel, of their naming powers. “The Trustees should have no business in naming library systems,” he told the Current (before calling the Current’s coverage of the controversial renaming “junk” — see “Tobin, or Not Tobin,” August 2-8, “The Tobin Library `Reception Desk`,” August 23-29).

If a student of class warfare had happened into the packed meeting room at the Oakwell Branch, they might have been conscious of more than a philosophical divide regarding naming existing public buildings (despite an historic link between the land that the library sits atop and the philanthropic Tobins): The hoi polloi in attendance threatened they might not volunteer at book sales and the like if the name change passes. One Tobin supporter spent the meeting shaking her too-blond head, tsking and bobbing her orange-streaked tan legs in a peeved rhythm when renaming opponents took the mic.

“I don’t have the means to donate millions of dollars, and how much is it going to cost to satisfy someone’s ego?” said a member of the Friends of the Library, wearing shorts and a plain black ribbon around her ponytail. “Why pounce on us? Why go through the inconvenience and trouble of going through all this now?”

On last Friday’s visit to the Menger Hotel, gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman said something not quite as questionable as his recent remarks about Houston’s leftover Hurricane Katrina evacuees being “crackheads” or his plans to put 10,000 state National Guardsmen on the border if elected.

“When I talk about throwing the moneychangers out of the temple, I talk about getting in people with the traits musicians have; integrity, maturity, and a sense of humor,” said the man who contributed “Asshole from El Paso” to the musical canon. “And I think `musicians are` sincere.” What? The Current can’t think of a more sport-fucky, egocentric profession, Kinky: For all Bob Dylan’s musical ability, he had twice the cunning, and used his then-girlfriend Joan Baez’s success to build his own (he’d join her onstage, but refused to share his spotlight). And wasn’t it Mick Jagger who stirred up a hornets’ nest when he reneged on paying the Hells Angels for bodyguard services at the Stones’ Altamont concert (immortalized in the rock-doc Gimme Shelter)? Imagine what Mick’d stir up at the border. “If there were a group of musicians in this room or Peace Corps volunteers … there’d be healing here,” Kinky told a small group of reporters, adding that you can’t find healing in a room full of politicians, or media people.

Bexar County Kinkyistas are holding a fundraiser this Friday, September 15, at 4 p.m. Augie’s Barbed Wire BBQ, 3709 N. St. Mary’s St. at Brackenridge park, with live music. $50 per person. Contact Phil Darrah at [email protected] or 402-6040.

Eastside civil-rights attorney James Myart is staying true to his first litigious love — the police-abuse case. Myart phoned SAPD’s Internal Affairs department last Tuesday to warn that he’d make such a scene if, on Wednesday, he couldn’t accompany his clients Brenda Shaw and her three teenagers before the Chief’s Police Advisory Action Board (the body that recommends disciplinary actions for police misconduct), that he’d have to be led away in cuffs — the way he left a Martin Luther King III event when he raged about police abuses earlier this year. Citizens with complaints against officers aren’t allowed to have legal representation during Action Board hearings, a stipulation the police union got on the books in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Myart said. Meanwhile, the city attorney can attend the hearings on the City’s behalf.

The heads-up phone call may have backfired: As soon as he arrived, Myart was handed two warrants for unpaid traffic tickets. He regrouped, and later that afternoon appeared at a press conference on the Federal Courthouse’s steps with his clients, who allege that six city officers showed up during a family dispute on Mother’s Day and beat, handcuffed, and filed false reports against several members, a case Myart has dubbed “The Mother’s Day Mayhem.” Myart filed the Mayhem federal lawsuit against the City that day, with an item asking that the IA’s grievance procedures be declared unconstitutional.

Sharing a God and splitting the money
District 10 Councilman Chip Haass gave the most intriguing rebuttal to a job-training program’s request for additional funding at last Thursday’s council meeting and FY 2007 budget discussion. Sister Gabriella Lohan brought along a mirthless band of 50 or so youth in maroon T-shirts — all beneficiaries of Project Quest’s free college and career-training services, offered since 1992 — which provoked Councilman Haass to say that there were too many backroom dealings pressuring the City for a greater sum of money; and the Sister should call off her priests. “I am a member of the Knights of Columbus … and I believe in the same God you do … As a Catholic, I don’t appreciate Catholic priests ganging up on me and intimidating me,” Haass said.

Haass added that he wanted to break the “stranglehold” Project Quest has on the City’s workforce development monies (the daily reports they get 90 percent of the pie). The Sister, a Project Quest boardmember, could only take so much, and bumrushed the mic (“I want to respond to you, because we go to the same church and we believe in the same God”) to say that morning’s Express-News had misreported the nonprofit’s own fundraising efforts, a condition for continued city funding (the E-N ran a correction the next day). Just as the debate was getting good, the Current had to go to its parking meter — the Current doesn’t have a hybrid it can park for free at the city’s downtown meters, a convenience that took effect earlier this year. Council decided to give an extra $500,000 to Project Quest after all — bringing its grand total in the neighborhood of $1.5 million for the fiscal year beginning October 1. No word yet on how Sunday service went.


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