The QueQue

Breaking bad

The troubled Bexar County probation department’s top dog got whipped by the County’s Court at-Law judges Tuesday, when six of the misdemeanor black robes voted to give Chief Bill Fitzgerald the boot. `See “Urine trouble,” July 29.`

The vote came during the first job evaluation Fitzgerald has received in five years, according to one court administrator. In the anonymous vote, two judges abstained and two voted to keep him.

While a letter announcing the results of the ballot was sent to Fitzgerald’s other bosses, the District Court’s felony judges, there is no corresponding agenda item on that group’s Wednesday meeting, according to a staff attorney there.

However, they may get another shot when they gather for a discussion of probation’s budget on Friday. Keep an eye on QueBlog for updates.

Nuclear wintermint

Your delightful Councilmade it through the first City-hosted town hall on CPS Energy’s proposed $5.2-billion nuclear-expansion plans in one 10-member piece Monday evening. `See for compete coverage of this topic.` While the Express-News credited the meeting’s remarkable temporal efficiency to Mayor Castro, our read of the clock suggested we were kept on track by the failure of the various chambers of commerce to offer rebuttal or followups to their questions.

Councilman John Clamp, meanwhile, has been hunting for answers to one of the community’s long-simmering questions: What happened to the $50 million in energy-efficiency and clean-energy programs supposed to be included in the 2008 3.5-percent rate increase? Clamp’s chief adviser on policy and zoning, Mario Hune, told the QueQue he has been working for “five or six weeks” to get an answer to that puzzle and others like it and, thanks for asking, but, “No. We have not received that data yet.”

Also AWOL: a study commissioned earlier this year by the City from sustainability guru Jeremy Rifkin re: transitioning to a more decentralized power supply (that is, fewer power plants, more onsite renewable-energy generators). It’s been gathering dust at CPS, City staff told the QueQue this week, though it should have been shipped back for a final edit from Rifkin as much as two weeks ago.

Which may be one reason CPS staffers were short on alternative-energy options at Monday’s meeting. Russell Seal of the Alamo Chapter of the Sierra Club nearly erupted in his chair when one CPS rep suggested energy storage for solar and wind power was not technologically feasible. In his hand, Seal clutched a flyer from PB Energy Storage Services, whom he said CPS managers have simply refused to contact. During Seal’s angry march back to his chair from the microphone, CPS Co-GM Steve Bartley took the mic and promised to make the call — this time.

Though some anti-nuke activists are grousing about the the meeting’s structure, it has advanced the dialogue significantly. One more stroke in the progress column: Mayor Castro has committed to at least one more public meeting hosted by the Council.

Choice words

The Bexar County Commissioners wrapped up the second day of interviews for four County Court-at-Law benches Tuesday and quickly gave the nod to Michael LaHood, Monica Gonzalez, Ernest Acevedo Jr., and JP Linda Penn. Speculators had been predicting for going on a month that the fix was in for LaHood (whose son, Nico, is running against District Attorney Susan Reed in 2010) and Gonzalez (who got the Family-Violence seat), but the betting was wrong on Pamela Gabriel Craig and former state legislator, county judge, and commissioner John Longoria.

Our favorite (not to say only) daily reported ahead of the decisions yesterday that Longoria’s candidacy was all but derailed by opposition from pro-choice forces, who remember his days in the Pink Dome not-so-fondly. Longoria was a Frank Corte-style neoconservative, authoring provisions to grant fetuses personhood and criminalize teen sex, e.g., according to the Texas chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. TARAL encouraged its Bexar County members to phone and write the Commissioners opposing his appointment.

But Longoria’s local critics might prefer to be billed more broadly as women’s rights advocates, because they also remember Longoria as the man who derailed the career of County Court-at-Law Judge Bonnie Reed, who spearheaded reform of the County’s domestic-violence system. (TARAL is not publicly commenting on this issue, but Executive Director Sara Cleveland notes that many of their members also belong to the National Organization for Women, and this is very much on their radar.) While Reed was on the bench and Longoria was in Austin, Reed refused to reschedule a domestic-violence case in which Longoria represented the defendant, although state law indicates legislator attorneys are entitled to continuances. Citing immediate danger to the victim, Reed instead scheduled arguments for a day the legislature wasn’t in session; Longoria dug in his heels, and his client was convicted. Reed was subsequently found in contempt of court, spent 13 days in jail, and resigned not long after under continuing Longoria-generated pressure. NOW, which protested Reed’s jailing, reported at the time that Longoria had long been at odds with Reed over abortion rights, and often represented abortion protesters accused of trespassing at clinics.

Longoria told the E-N this week that thanks to the lobbying of those pro-choice activists, his shot at the seat had evaporated, but as of last Friday, Bexar County Democratic Chair Carla Vela remained staunch in her support for Dem-in-name Longoria, characterizing his critics as “a group of women who really shouldn’t be involved.”

“The problem they have with Longoria is that he’s pro-life,” said Vela, but “I think he’s an excellent choice.”

Tonight, Bob, we take over the world

Dear Reader: Direct your eyes right for a moment, to Parse This_, and allow us to break the Fourth Estate’s fourth wall so that we can converse directly with you about a matter of some concern to our democracy.

Regular QueQue readers will recall that the City is proposing to sell five historic buildings in St. Paul Squareto a subsidiary of political heavyweights the Zachry Corp. `See the QueQue, June 17.` The African-American community is not very happy about this proposal, because the square was once a hub of black business, church, and social life, and Jesus, has the City not whitewashed enough of that already (see: Bishop Settlement)?

The QueQue first learned about the proposed sale when Eastside activist Nettie Hinton called us because she reads the daily’s classifieds, god bless her, and was able to decipher the tiny, bold type that constituted the City’s legally required public notice of the sale.

From: Chris Kurzon
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 2:10 PM
To: ‘Hermandez, Sara M’
CC: George Rodriguez; Marcia Shelf Orlandi;
Martha Almeira; David McGowan
Subject: St. Paul Square Proposed Sale
In an effot to keep you apprised of the City efforts to publicize the public meeting regarding our intent to sell the 5 buildings at St. Paul Square, attached is a copy of the legal notices we have published in the San Antonio Express News. In additional to the legal notices we have also managed to get information out to the public via articles in the Express News (appeared in the 6/13 edition) and the San Antonio Current (appeared in the 6/17 edition), the 2 most widely circulated newspapers in San Antonio. I am confident that these efforts will reach the widest spectrum of citizens possible resulting in a successful campaign to reach out to the public to ensure they are aware of the opportunity to comment and participate in the process. After we hav the hearing on June 26th, this office will update you on the results. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact me. Chris Kurzon City of San Antonio, Real Estate Division

Then, we wrote a couple of articles in which various folk — including our local chapter of the NAACP, which also learned of the sale via the classifieds — expressed their alarm and displeasure at not even being included in the damn talks.

But look at that email exchange: COSA employee Chris Kurzon coopts our coverage of the issue as part of the City’s public-outreach plan. Which is at once ludicrous and batshit ballsy.

Now, don’t jump all over Kurzon just yet. If you read the Express-News regularly, you can see where City employees might get the impression that the press is working hand-in-hand with them to educate the public about pressing issues of the day (... those that they want you to know about, anyway). Seems like ever since they laid off a hunk of newsroom employees earlier this year, the E-N has compensated for its lost reporting resources with the private press conferences known as “Editorial Board meetings.” One recent example is an August 6 story titled “Mayor tells CPS to rethink nuke options,” which caused arch-conservative blogger Alamo City Pundit to snark: “Must be pretty nice to have the newspaper convene an Editorial Board meeting when the mayor wants to make a change in policy. Managed news,’ anyone?” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, ACP.

The QueQue reported incorrectly last week that the City’s outdoor pools are open 1-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; they are open Saturday and Sunday, too, during the season. Another item we got wrong: Richard Alles is a former member of the Planning Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee, not a current member.

U.S. Military deaths: 4,331 /Civilian deaths: 96,641-101,129 /Cost in U.S. currency: $672,820,175,000 as of 6:03 p.m., CDT, August 11, 2009 Sources: National Priorities Project, Iraq Body Count,

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