The Queque - October 27, 2010

People Power

How long before “load”-sensitive toilets compute each household’s input to the city’s bottom line? Surely that was the question on everyone’s mind as area elected leaders and local water officials gathered at the San Antonio Water System’s Dos Rios Water Recycling Center last week to celebrate the grand opening of a national first.

SA’s new biogas plant will capture methane gas generated during the sewage treatment process and clean it up so it can be sold as pipeline-grade natural gas to commercial buyers, thanks in part to a 20-year partnership with the privately-owned Massachusetts-based Ameresco.

The partnership, put into play in 2008, positions SAWS as owner of the first biogas plant in the nation to sell on the open market. Once operational, the plant is estimated to save the publicly-owned utility $200,000 a year. (And if we can somehow break the stranglehold of the health- and wellness set in this land of puffy tacos, think of the additional revenue we could be depositing!)

As it stands now, roughly 90 percent of material flushed down the crapper can now be recycled, including the recycled waters already irrigating city fairways and parks and composting solids spread across local landscapes. “We can collect 900,000 cubic feet of natural gas a day, `that’s` comparable to a natural gas well which will eventually become depleted,” said Anne Hayden, SAWS’ communications manager. Of course, thanks to each one of you, this is one well that will never go bottom up.

Prior to the biogas plant, these excess gasses were flared off, generating unwanted carbon dioxide and cologne de Panchito’s. “By reusing biogas instead of burning it off, we are helping protect the city’s air quality and developing a renewable energy resource,” Robert Puente, SAWS president and CEO, said in a prepared release. Bet you’d never been called that before.

¿Qué PASA?

A joint sculptural installation by artists Peter Zubiate and Wesley Harvey was abruptly removed from yet-unopened Terminal B of the San Antonio International Airport late last week, just days after its installation, pointing to a communication breakdown between Public Art of San Antonio (PASA), who choose and orchestrate public art in the airport and … U.S. Homeland Security?

Zubiate and Harvey told the Queque that they installed Zubiate’s “House,” and Harvey’s “Flower Gardens Are Best” after an approximate two-month design and approval process. During this period, photographs of the already-existing works, installation plans and sketches, and a Powerpoint presentation were made by PASA to the Airport Commission, who reportedly accepted the Harvey-Zubiate project wholesale.

But upon installation, “House” came under disapproving scrutiny: within the enclosed 3-D space, Zubiate placed a wooden chair, a lamp, some black birds … and a gun. Which, depending upon the observer, is either pointing at the plain wooden chair, or directly at the checkpoint of TSA, (aka the Transportation Security Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), according to Airport Public Relations Director Richard Johnson, who gave the QueQue a private tour of the now installation-free Terminal B.

In any case, the artist side of the fracas — including Zubiate, who promptly replaced the gun with a Bible — agrees with PASA director Jimmy LeFlore that “an accidental arrangement with a chair facing a pistol isn’t the most likely option for an airport entrance in the 21st century.”

Even after this replacement, the airport rejected the entire installation outright — including, after brief consideration, Harvey’s unarmed “Garden” component — ordering its immediate removal, stressing that the “House” and “Garden” ouster occurred before City Manager Sheryl Sculley, in particular, set eyes on it.

“The Airport had no idea about the subject matter of this installation,” insists Barbara Prossen, the airport’s Marketing and Community Relations Director. “It was not brought to our attention.”

So who saw the Powerpoint, then? LeFlore, understandably, declines to throw anybody under the bus. And Prossen agrees that the airport administration “enjoys working with PASA, that it’s been collaborative, and that they’ve done a great job.”

Chalk her out

It’s not exactly acts of civil disobedience in play here, but over the last week, the creators of, a group of anonymous, mostly Republican San Antonians operating under the acronym FLUSH (Foes of Larcenous Unethical Slippery Hypocrites) out to drive the veteran district attorney from office, have been firing up their chalk stencils. In an attempt to drive traffic to their website, volunteers from the legal and business communities have been spray-chalking their url on King William sidewalks. Over the next week, members expect the message to spark up around polling locations, churches, and, possibly, the AT&T Center, said a self-identified middle-aged, high-tech employee, speaking on condition of anonymity. was built to be a clearinghouse for the many questionable decisions and statements made by Bexar County’s top prosecutor. “Over 12 years, Susan Reed’s been in so many scandals and done so many things, she’s just an embarrassment to our city and our county,” he said.

The guerilla group’s spokesperson even reminded the QueQue of statements Reed made not included in this week’s “Bexarly Legal” (Page 11). To access the compendium of Reed’s “repeated, erratic, and sometimes fascist statements,” dial up “We’ve got some really brave souls, but if they get caught Reeds’ gonna fry ‘em,” our subversive source said.

Not to be unkind, but the Que2 will be watching the police blotter for that anonymity to break. Nothing personal, but we’re suckers for political intrigue. •

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