Renting while brown
Just in time to dash Queque’s sunny new-year musings about San Antonio’s shining beacons of progress — commemorated most fecundly last week with the baptism of a Monterrey Oak tree in honor of his Mayoralness, adjacent to JFK’s Lacy Oak tree in District 3’s Espada Park; the seedling, which the Queque will heretofore address as Your Honor, will be “upright when young, more rounded when mature,” according to the Dirt Doctor, and may also be referred to as a Mexican White Oak, although perhaps not by the Minutemen native to the tree’s Valley terrain — the Department of Housing and Urban Development arrived in town to deliver a $275,000 check to the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio (that is all of Bexar and nearby counties) for the investigation and eradication of discriminatory housing practices in sales and rentals.
Say-town received 1,000 complaints in the last two years alone, says HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Kim Kendrick, for such offenses as jacking up prices for non-white applicants and refusing to make reasonable accommodations for disabled renters. The Fair Housing Council, one of three recipients statewide, will use the funds to conduct market tests and offer workshops about predatory lending and renters’ and homebuyers’ rights. Attention landlords and real-estate agents: this PR push is for you, too, in case you don’t know that you’re required to let tenants add, i.e., grab bars to the shower if they need them, but not at your own expense.
While the one-year grants (which in federal-accounting fashion may actually be spent over the course of five years) are not directly related to HUD’s 2000 Housing Discrimination Study, Queque notes that report suggests Quetzalcoatl’s multitudinous diaspora may actually face more discrimination now than they did in the year of our Madonna, 1989. But like a prayer, you will feel the power, says pro-accountability Kendrick, and marvel at new data in April 2009. The housing-oppressed can add their own voice to the chorus, even if they’re undocumented, by calling toll-free, 800-669-9777.
Fighting flaming with fire
Queque does not support the tallying of lists of homegrown “terrorists,” which strikes us as a dangerous hobby even in the most benign of times (last spotted in the New World circa 1491). Nonetheless we hope that someone besides ADHD Queque is paying attention to what may be a resurgence of inflammatory behavior (as opposed to inflammatory remarks, which again we are fond of to the point of chronic behavior) evidenced by two alleged acts of arson against white-hot beacons of liberalism: Austin’s community-owned KOOP radio and veteran Jim Goodnow’s Yellow Rose of Texas Peace Bus. The latter was touring the country in support of our troops (that is in support of saving their asses from a venal, power-mad cesspool) and impeachment of the President until it mysteriously combusted last Friday evening in a South Jersey parking lot. For alarming pictures of smoke billowing over the words Veterans Against the War, a calm, drawling call to action from Goodnow, and info on donating to Veterans for Peace, visit Yellowrosepeacebus.blogspot.com.
Just a week before Goodnow’s second Article II Section 4 conveyance — his family rode across the U.S. in a Magic Bus emblazoned with Impeach Nixon in the ’70s, right up to Tricky Dick’s resignation — went up in flames, the Austin Fire Department ruled that a January 6 blaze at the studios of KOOP 91.7 was intentionally set.
“Somebody came to the studio and attempted to put us off the air,” says Andrew Dickens, president of the station, which airs such pugnacious programming as David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio and The Radical Mothers’ Voice, co-founded way back in the late ’90s by your very own Queque. “We’re not sure who would do something like this,” says Dickens, although, “There’s always the possibility we rubbed somebody the wrong way.”
The damage was extensive enough that the volunteer programmers will be relocating to a temporary broadcast site this week and Dickens estimates it will take a couple of months to rehab their home base, including the addition of new security measures. As of press time, KOOP is streaming archived programs from its website, koop.org, where you can also get info on upcoming fundraisers and making donations to help cover the gap between insurance and actuality. Also, should you harbor Unibomber-esque suspicions about someone with motive and opportunity, you can drop the dime at 877-4FIRE45; perpetrator-yielding narcing pays five grand.
’Twas a chilly January day and no birds sang in the trees. A lone tomcat prowled the deserted parking lot of the Japanese Tea Gardens, and as Queque climbed the cockeyed steps toward the temple-like stone-and-thatch pavilion, we wondered if perhaps the January 14 press release announcing the return of water to the long-neglected Brackenridge Park oasis was but a Chinatown-style setup.
But then, over the spiky terraces and humps of wintry-looking rosemary floated the cheerful twang of men at work: “This `wall’s` pissing a little here,” announced one with a chuckle, quickly admonished when Queque’s unsure foot set a pebble tumbling down to the pools below — which were indeed filling with water: 400,000 gallons when all’s wet and done. Next up, a circulation system, and eventually the return of water plants and the resident Koi, who’ve been sojourning up the road at the Zoo. A grand reopening is tentatively scheduled for March, says San Antonio Parks Foundation President Lila Cockrell, when you’ll be able to enter through Dionicio Rodriguez’s faux-bois gateway and admire the Gardens in their restored verdant glory. Up next is another fundraising campaign, beginning with a surplus from the $1.6 million project, to reintroduce tea service and refreshments in the Jingu house Bamboo Room, and spark an adaptive reuse of the adjacent Mexican-village casitas, perhaps as the artisan studios first envisioned by Parks Commissioner Ray Lambert in the 19tweens. •