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15 New Year’s Resolutions for San Antonio and Texas 


With the New Year comes new promises. Well, maybe not promises exactly, but hopes, aspirations, resolutions. Lofty ideals to pair with your black-eyed peas.

That goes for cities and communities as much as for individuals. That's what we've come up with here: some suggestions for New Year's resolutions for the powers that be. Some are perhaps overly optimistic, a few are more tongue-in-cheek than serious, but all of them are things we hope to see benefit our city and state in 2016. Cheers!

For the Spurs: Win the Race for Seis

If not for the Golden State Warriors' once-in-a-generation season, the Spurs would be the clear front-runner for the 2016 NBA title. But regular season success — no matter how mind-boggling — is no guarantee of a ring. The Spurs will have as good a chance as anybody of lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy this year, which would be their sixth in the Duncan-Popovich era. Here's to meeting at the River Walk for a little parade in June.

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For the City of San Antonio: End Veteran Homelessness

The city projects it will effectively end veteran homelessness by April 2016, a goal that cities such as Phoenix, Philadelphia, Houston and New Orleans have already reached. We hope that projection remains on track, and that a new approach toward the general homeless population also yields results. Police Chief William McManus announced late last year that the police will work with other departments to form multidisciplinary teams to bring services directly to people on the street, halting the practice of "arresting away the homeless."

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For the City of San Antonio: Manage Gentrification

Development and change — particularly in a city as large and dynamic as San Antonio — are inevitable. The trick is to manage those forces so that historic populations — particularly of lower and middle class people — are not displaced. It's often said that San Antonio is a "city on the rise." In 2016, we'd like to see that be true for everyone — not just newcomers to the central city and condo dwellers on its fringe.

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For SeaWorld: End Your SA Orca Shows

In the wake of the documentary Blackfish we learned that SeaWorld knows how to carry out a propaganda campaign. But does it know how to do the right thing? SeaWorld announced in November it would halt orca shows at its San Diego location. It hasn't announced plans to do the same in San Antonio, even after three whales died at the park within six months. Stopping orca shows in San Antonio would restore some goodwill for the company, whose earnings have dropped significantly since the release of Blackfish.

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For City Council and VIA: Progress on Vision Zero and Public Transit

Spearheaded by District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, Vision Zero is a commitment to eliminating pedestrian deaths in San Antonio. That's a worthwhile goal in and of itself, and reaching it carries over into other aspects of the city we hope to see improved: infrastructure for automobiles, bikes and walkers, more efficient and accessible public transit, and improved air quality by lowering emissions, to name a few.

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For the State of Texas: Continue Medical Marijuana Reform

Or maybe just legalize it altogether, man. Texas took a small step forward on the medicinal weed front when Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in June 2015 to allow epilepsy patients to use non-euphoric oils from marijuana to treat their condition. Some advocates hailed it as a major victory, while others said it was too small a step to be significant. Both are probably right, but we're pulling for marijuana laws — particularly for medical purposes — to keep loosening through 2016 and into the next legislative session.

For Spurs Sports and Entertainment: Get That MLS Bid!

There's a good argument to be had about whether any taxpayer money should be dedicated to pro sports. But now that the City of San Antonio and Bexar County have put up millions to buy Toyota Field with Spurs Sports and Entertainment, we hope 2016 means momentum for Major League Soccer in SA. The Big Announcement of a team coming to town is unlikely to happen so soon, but our fingers are crossed for some smoke from the behind-the-scenes dealing the Spurs group is doing.

For Police and Fire Unions and City Council: Resolve the Damn Police and Fire Union Contracts Already

If there's no deal by March, the fierce debate over the police and fire unions' contract with the city will be two years old. And with the city pursuing lawsuits over the contracts' evergreen clause, there's no definite end in sight. Union representatives have pledged to come back to the bargaining table if the suits are dropped, which some City Council members have urged other officials to do, but that seems unlikely. In 2016, we hope an agreement is finally reached that does right by the folks who keep us safe.

For the City of San Antonio: Enforce the Non-Discrimination Ordinance

San Antonio extended its non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 2013. But those who've dealt with it say that filing a complaint is a complicated process, and the penalties for violating the ordinance aren't harsh enough. Without a more effective enforcement mechanism, the NDO is essentially toothless.

For the U.S. Supreme Court: Strike Down House Bill 2

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the legality of House Bill 2, the 2013 law that placed burdensome regulatory hurdles before abortion clinics in Texas. The bill has greatly diminished the number of clinics in the state, and for the sake of women's rights, the high court should strike it down. And we hope City Council considers doing the same with the frivolous zoning ordinance it recently passed that makes it more difficult to build a clinic.

For the San Antonio Zoo: Take Meaningful Action for Lucky the Elephant

Lucky, the San Antonio Zoo's lone elephant, needs help. Critics of the zoo claim that Lucky's habitat is insufficient, and that keeping an elephant alone is inhumane. An elephant refuge in Tennessee offered to take Lucky in for free, but the zoo refused, claiming that the stress of the move could kill her. But the zoo should do something. Whether it's moving Lucky to an elephant sanctuary, finding her a companion elephant, improving her habitat or some other solution, Lucky needs a change so she can have a brighter future.

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For Ted Cruz: Go Back to Canada

Just like our own lofty goals (dropping 15 pounds, learning to play the mandolin), this one probably won't happen. But what's the New Year for if not blind, stupid optimism? Texas' junior senator has taken the mantle from former Governor Rick Perry in embarrassing the state during a presidential run, making good-natured Iowans and Ohioans ask "How do Texans keep electing these people?" The best solution is for Cruz to return to his native Alberta, where perhaps he could take up a more innocuous vocation, like lumberjacking or igloo fabrication.

For the Alamo Historic District: Show Us Your Vision

We're in the infancy of a new era for the Shrine of Texas Liberty. The Alamo's footprint is set to grow, with the city and General Land Office partnering to expand and revamp the historic site, with the intent of accurately capturing its history and more effectively engaging visitors. The master plan for the Alamo Historic District will likely be unveiled in 2016. Previous similar efforts have failed — but this one, especially given its many deep-pocketed supporters — looks promising.

For the Obama Administration: Stop the Detention of Immigrant Families

Undocumented immigrants from Central and South America who have crossed the southern border fled from gangs, violence and other atrocities in their home countries. For many, particularly women and children, their welcome to the U.S. is imprisonment in a South Texas detention facility. Reports of poor medical treatment, development of mental illness and due process concerns have trickled out of the facilities, which congressional Democrats such as San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro have called to close. In 2016, the Obama administration should heed that demand.

For All Local Government Agencies: Give Us Greater Transparency in Local Government

An annual item on any civic watchdog's wish list. But it seems especially worthy now, after a 2015 in which the City of San Antonio slapped an $81,000 price tag on a public information request by the San Antonio Express-News, and rehired William McManus as SAPD chief after putting candidates to replace him through an open vetting process. Let's put a camera in every municipal conference room, and upload every public document to the cloud.

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