Loopholes & pre-K, honorary ICE agents, and our Ode to Troglobites

Loopholes & pre-K

The now-complete hijacking of the Tea Party by corporate-minded Republicans has legislatures around the country clamping down on social-services spending while casting a blind eye to the doings of our banking and business elite. Thankfully, the U.K.-spawned Uncut movement has begun to inspire actions stateside. On Saturday, U.S. Uncut chapters (including one in Dallas) will be protesting Bank of America, which received $2.3 billion from the feds last year — or nearly enough to offset the proposed $2.5 billiion in federal cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps millions of low-income Americans afford their heating and cooling bills each year. While it will be difficult to push the Texas Legislature from a cuts-online mindset to one that challenges our many corporate giveaways — but that hasn’t stopped SA’s state Representative Mike Villarreal. The legislator’s brilliantly obvious HB 1308 would establish a permanent commission to investigate the state’s tax code, ferreting out loopholes, credits, and giveaways that have perhaps outlived their original intentions. For instance, Texas provides corporations sales tax discounts for filing early — or merely on time — that will cost the state an estimated $207.8 million in 2012, according to the Legislative Budget Board. That could well cover the $103 million in state pre-K grants state lawmakers are now looking at eliminating. In response to the budgetary threats of expiring federal stimulus funds and state cuts, San Antonio ISD is on the verge of moving to half-day-only pre-K and closing two of the district’s four pre-K facilities, including two-year-old Carvajal Early Childhood Education Center on Arizona Street in the heart of the lower-income Westside. Under the proposal, nearly 450 two- and three-year-olds now in 28 classrooms at Carvajal would be shuffled into area elementary schools, faced with less-specialized teachers, test-focused priorities, and (parents fear) the inevitable schoolyard bullies. SAISD Trustee Tom Lopez said the district is tasked with cutting a minimum of $38 million from its budget, though that could rise as high as $58 million. A vote on school closures, teacher layoffs, combining programs, and, yes, Carvajal, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, at a location to be determined. Call the district’s switchboard at (210) 299-5500 for updates.


Honorary feds

A group of Texas police chiefs and sheriffs aren’t so sure they want to be made honorary ICE agents, tasked with enforcing U.S. immigration law. Even as Congress works to cut financial compensation for local governments holding federal inmates, Texas lawmakers are pushing to force local police to take up the charge nonetheless. Last week, prominent badge bearers — including San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus — testified that such measures would stretch their forces too thin and ruin relationships they’ve built with their respective communities, making people too afraid to report crime. At the statehouse, the officials denounced the multitude of bills filed in the Legislature that target immigration, from proposals that mirror Arizona’s anti-immigration law SB 1070 to those that would make simply being an immigrant in Texas a state trespassing violation. The visit came just a day after Republican lawmakers filed bills to combat so-called “sanctuary city” policies.

“With a loss of trust, crime reporting goes out the window, especially in a community that is populated primarily by Hispanics or Latinos,” McManus said, adding that the changes would undo his own progress in combating racial profiling within SAPD. “Are we to believe that because of someone’s appearance, skin tone, their accent, or their inability to speak the language as well as some think they should, that they’re in this county illegally?” he asked.

McManus was joined by El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo (who spoke for QueQue when he stated the obvious concerning the slew of anti-immigrant legislation: “This has to do with emotion, the economy, and scapegoating”).


Ode to a troglobite

Developers like an easy path from trees to roofing beams, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife have bugs they want to screen

Endangered beetles packed inside Bexar County’s watery caves may live nowhere else on Earth, for that they should be saved

But before we can expand the range of protected habitat, the feds say they must hear from you: the public, that’s a fact

While enviro-minded persons have urged QueQue quite directly to raise the specter of biomedicine (and to do so most sincerely)

Do these bugs have a wonder drug inside the usual goo? If we’re ever to know for sure will depend on you.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are receiving public comment on a proposal to expand critical habitat designation for Bexar County’s endangered cave-dwelling invertebrates.

Write them before April 25 (verse is encouraged, but no emails accepted):

Public Comments Processing

Attn: Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2010-0091

Division of Policy and Directives Management

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222

Arlington, VA 22203

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