News Speed reads

Dragon slayer

Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a non-profit research organization that tracks the influence of money and corporate power in politics, was selected by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of its 15 “Mavericks, Renegades and Troublemakers of 2005.” After examining former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s successful, yet dubious Congressional redistricting plan for Texas, McDonald dove into federal paperwork filed by DeLay’s fund-raising group, Texans for a Republican Majority, and found corporate contributions had been funneled to Republican state House candidates, which is illegal under the Texas Election Code. The plan was that these House candidates, many of whom were later elected, would then vote to redistrict Texas congressional districts in the GOP’s favor.

As a result, a Travis County jury returned 43 indictments related to TRMPAC, including DeLay and two political associates. As McDonald told Rolling Stone, “It takes a village to slay a dragon.”

Speed reads

Toll-road naysayers

Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas and People for Efficient Transportation on December 21 filed an injunction in federal court asking a judge to stop work on the U.S. Highway 281 toll road.

Three weeks ago, AGUA, an advocacy group for protection of the Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio’s sole source of drinking water, and PET, a transportation-watchdog organization, filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Transportation, alleging it should have conducted an environmental impact statement before embarking on the project. A portion of the toll road would pass through the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, an environmentally sensitive area that is vulnerable to pollution.

Public-access execution stayer

The City has a survey on its website,, for public-access TV producers. The public-access Channel 20 will temporarily go off the air January 1 until February, according to the City. `See related stories, “Fade to black,” December 15-21, 2005 and “Pulling the plug on Public Access,” December 22-28, 2005.` When the channel resumes, the City plans to accept pre-produced programs on a monthly basis and purchase equipment to play back those programs. The City also plans to hire one full-time programming person and to buy remote equipment for producers to check out; no studio facility will be available. For more info: call 207-7235.

Francesca Camillo and Lisa Sorg