News : Dark chapter continues with 'Express-News'

Could it be time for Jim Crow to submit his resignation?

The San Antonio Express-News has never publicly announced it, but Jim Crow seems to be one of that newspaper's editorial writers.

Case in point: Crow penned an unsigned editorial last week that claims City Hall's history has just passed a "dark chapter," referring to former District 2 Councilman John Sanders' recent guilty plea to a federal bribery charge.

The city's sole daily newspaper gleefully revisited the story of how a federal snitch who was caught and scrambled to save his own ass entrapped District 4 Councilman Enrique "Kike" Martin, who in turn agreed to drag Sanders into the hogwallow of bribery and corruption. Sanders recently pleaded guilty to bribery after Martin agreed to testify against him in federal court.

But the Express-News also tried to drag Reverend Thurman Walker and 3,000 members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church into the quagmire. Jim Crow alleged in the editorial that the church was the "benefactor" of a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant to help build its new sports complex while Sanders served on the District 2 City Council seat. Crow beat up on the Community of Churches for Social Action, and Thurman, its chairman, for supporting Sanders after he was arrested in the federal entrapment scheme.

Sanders should not have taken the $2,500 for his vote to award a City contract to a law firm. Sanders also should have produced the college degree he claimed to hold when he ran for re-election in 2003, and lost.

Yet Jim Crow should know that 3,000 members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church filed grant requests with the City, not John Sanders, to get a $257,818 CDBG payout through a non-profit organization, Antioch Community Transformation Network. That group recently received a $173,000 grant during Councilman Joel Williams' watch.

The church organized the non-profit to build a 22,645-square-foot sports complex, a community center, and a 26,546-square-foot school on either side of the church located at the intersection of Walters and Nolan Streets. The sports complex will include a regulation basketball court, where the Silver Stars can practice.

Furthermore, the $250,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $10 million the non-profit has raised for the project through donations, grants, and credit from Frost Bank. The church also has purchased and renovated two commercial buildings at the intersection of Walters and Houston streets, which it plans to rent to businesses - a move that could jumpstart the slow economic redevelopment near the SBC Center.

"SBC has not had the impact we hoped it would," explains Carolyn Heath, executive director of ACTN. "We want Houston Street to become a commercial corridor. "I don't think the East Side is any different than any part of town. We need jobs, shopping centers and housing, and we need that in balance. Right now it's way out of balance."

Heath and others contend that ACTN went through proper channels to apply for the $250,000 grant, and would have received the money with or without Sanders on the council dais.

Sanders has performed community service on the East Side for 30 years, and Judge Royal Ferguson should assign probation, or additional community service, instead of prison time.

City Council should cancel its contract with Linebarger, Goggan, and Blair, and refuse to take any future contract bids from that law firm.

And Jim Crow should submit his resignation and erase a dark chapter in the newspaper's history. That would remove the perception that for the Express-News, bigotry means never having to say you're sorry. •

By Michael Cary

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