Billions served 

Nori Roll-On

This week’s press deadline converged harmonically with the July 15 campaign-finance filing deadline, and papers and blogs alike are reading the numbers like heavenly prophecy in the underdog tale of Rick Noriega, war vet and Texas state rep v. Senator John Cornyn, loyal Bushite and SA native. The cash-on-hand contrast is the most striking, with Big John at $9 million, 10 times the ready spending money of our Lieutenant Colonel.

Lost in the marveling over Cornyn’s impressive pocket wad is news that the Noriega campaign had its most successful fundraising quarter yet, scraping together almost a million, just over half of Cornyn’s take for the same period. And a national cash cavalry could be on the way. According to Holly Shulman of the Noriega campaign, the Houston-based contender met last week with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which could deliver a hot-dough injection if it thinks he could stage a November Surprise. “They’re very excited about the campaign,” says Shulman. `See “Elephant’s Memory,” July 9-15, for a Current Noriega profile.`

With Cornyn’s finances being enriched handsomely by defense-related bidness and enough medical cartels to field a socialized Latin-American country, you’d think he might return the $7,000 soon-to-be-defunct Countrywide Financial PAC has contributed to his coffers since October 2007. (Bank of America just bought the PAC’s parent, the eponymous embattled mortgage lender that emerged from the ongoing subprime-lending meltdown somewhat worse for the wear.)

Cornyn may feel his Countrywide relationship is above reproach. Not only does he have no sweetheart Countrywide mortgages in his closet, says Communications Director Kevin McLaughlin, but Cornyn recently irked some of his fellow Senators by suggesting that the mortgage-rescue bill currently being amended into pulp on the Hill contain a provision requiring our elected reps to disclose their home-lender info. He also voted against a version of the legislation June 25, saying in part he objected to the bailout for his generous donor. (True, he didn’t put it quite that way.) It’d be a nice gesture nonetheless if the ranking member of the Ethics Committee (charged with investigating those special Senate loan packages) rejected cash earned, to some degree, on the backs of hard-luck homeowners. But says McLaughlin, to date “there have been no discussions about this.”

 

Water lines

Sure, the Federal Voting Rights Act of ’65 took a few years to filter into Texas, but when it finally arrived 10 years late, SA attorney George Korbel went to work. He hesitates to call himself a specialist, but when Comal County merged two voting districts in 2006 — where previously existed one majority Anglo and another majority Hispanic district — into a majority-Euro-descendant lock, Que2 suspects his reaction relied a lot on reflex.

When the Edwards Aquifer Authority updated its district maps to match those in Comal, it didn’t raise any eyebrows. After all, they’ve got cutthroat development interests to deal with. (A stealth missile intended to prevent SA and the EAA from their stricter-than-TCEQ water quality measures hits twin natural resource committee gatherings Thursday, sources say.)

However, Korbel filed an objection with the U.S. Department of Justice. Daddy DOJ, who has had to shepherd Texas into Civil Rights compliance, responded, saying, “Hmm? Baby, tell me more.” That’s usually enough to get the rewrite rewrote. As it stands, the EAA District 8 went from 55 percent majority Hispanic to about 51 percent mid-tone, according to the EAA’s designated talker.  (“We knew that would raise interest from the DOJ,” he said.)

How this will be settled remains to be seen. Comal’s lines have long since been cleared, but the EAA would like to have some resolution before November. And then? Could Korbel (or some other well-meaning meddler) go after the EAA more directly? After all, the agency’s lines were originally drawn to give rural residents a stronger seat at the table. That small fact hasn’t escaped Korbel’s sight, either: “There may be a question about the constitutionality of that, but that is the current system.”

 

Triangle-ated

It was just an idea. Less shootings with big guns. That’s what one participant at a recent Eastern Triangle Community Plan meeting said she hoped the future would bring her neighborhood. Unfortunately, she was envisioning long-term change. In the short-term there seems to be no slowing the Triangle guns, with two MLK Drive drive-bys this weekend stirring resentments in what locals say is a growing gang problem.

Dan Martinez, head of both the ET Community Plan and the San Antonio Crime Coalition, says all this popping is the work of various outlaw affiliates, and territory is the issue.

“We’ve got about 8,500 gang members in San Antonio, and probably about that same number that hasn’t been documented as of yet,” said Martinez.

Neighbors in the Sunrise area have been working with SAPD to make a lot of arrests recently, but Wheatley Heights presents more of a challenge.

He says the residents of these established neighborhoods are the biggest asset of the anti-shooting interests. Strong voter turnout stats back him up. “They’re professional and business people. ’Course you have union and civil-service people that reside out here. We have a good mixture. They all work together in this rainbow community, if you will. I think we have a better footing than a lot of communities.”

Our inquiry found a decrease in “gang-related” killings (peak of 34 in ’04, down to 12 last year). City mouths said they don’t track gang-related “shootings.” That would be filed under aggravated assault. That becomes meaningless.

Gun-adverse residents have their work cut out for them. Days before their very first meeting at a local Boys & Girls club, a street shoot-out rattled residents.

So will ETCP participants move toward advocating more programs and opportunity for young people or side with “tougher loving” strategies? One thing is clear: These homeowners want their streets back.

“We need a National Night Out every night,” said another to enthusiastic applause.       


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