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The QueQue, June 29, 2011 

Municipal Auditorium work cleared

State District Judge Victor Negrón on Tuesday shot down a request to block Bexar County from moving forward with its plan to gut Municipal Auditorium. Plans for the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, to be built atop the standing auditorium, would essentially demolish the landmark building, opponents contend. Sharyll Teneyuca, who has spearheaded the effort against the new building and filed for a temporary restraining order in court Tuesday, said she would appeal as quickly as possible.

Castro punks Perry

Fresh from his renewed push to dismantle so-called sanctuary cities at the Texas Lege, Governor Rick Perry addressed the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials to a subdued hostility last week. Harassed and derided by protesters on the street, Perry also took heat from none other than Mayor Julián Castro inside before reaching the podium. Referencing Perry’s effort to, not once but twice, push controversial immigration measures through the Lege, Castro said, “We’ve seen in the State of Texas the call for Arizona-type legislation. We have seen, in this legislative session, easily the most anti-Latino agenda in more than a generation, pursued without shame.” Castro left the stage without even introducing the governor. After an awkward five-minute pause, Republican convert and South Texas state Rep. Aaron Peña took to the mic, introducing Perry by praising him as a tax-cutting, experienced leader.

Protesters outside Perry’s speech scoffed at his presence at the NALEO luncheon, saying it was nothing more than a move to gauge support among Latinos while pondering a White House bid. “It’s insulting for us,” said Diana Lopez, an organizer with Southwest Workers Union. “He wants to run for president, that’s why he’s here. He wants to be seen with these people.” If Perry hopes to sway Hispanics, his San Antonio reception suggests he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. New projections from NALEO released last week estimate at least 12.2 million Latinos will turn out in the next presidential election, an increase of 26 percent from 2008. And Latinos in Texas, NALEO says, are likely to account for over 20 percent of the Latino vote.

Mea Gulpa?

Last Friday, New York state legalized gay marriage. The same day local coffee roaster/barrista/café owner Aaron Blanco of Brown Coffee Company shot his business in the face, posting on Twitter:

“No human law can ever legitimaze what natural law precludes #SorryFolks #NotEqual #WhyBoth #ChasingAfterTheWind #SelfEvident.”

It didn’t go unnoticed. Almost immediately, New York City-based distributor RBC NYC announced they will no longer buy from Brown and none other than Anthony Bourdain responded via Twitter: “Dear Brown Coffee: God called. He said you suck.”

While the tweet was quickly removed and the account set to private (meaning you can’t see it), the company’s Facebook page was also deleted (leaving many frustrated, enquiring minds in the dark). Many unsuccessful attempts have been made to contact Brown’s Blanco, but for now, all we know by way of explanation is what he posted on his blog Tuesday:

“This was a post about CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY and LAWS (a la Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc.), not PEOPLE; but somehow people began to twist what was written and added their own lies to the post to mean that somehow we at The Brown Coffee Company are hateful, homophobic, intolerant people. … we have been viciously maligned for something we never said.”

The confusion obviously lies in a misreading of that curious word “legitimaze.”

Planned Parenthood unhitched

While the 2012-2013 state budget already gutted state family planning to the tune of some $70 million, ensuring that an estimated 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women could lose basic care, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, according to the Legislative Budget Board, some lawmakers circled back during the special session to finish the job by effectively kicking Planned Parenthood out of the state-funded family-planning business.

“The result is all bad — more abortions, and more families who will look to the government for public assistance,” said Jeffrey Hons, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas.

And language currently being drafted by the state’s Health and Human Services Commission is also expected to ban Planned Parenthood from of the state’s Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid-waiver program that saves Texas over $40 million every year. Planned Parenthood currently serves roughly 40 percent of the women in the program.

In all, anti-abortion groups have prided themselves in making Texas the largest state to, in practice, block state funds from Planned Parenthood. “Family planning dollars are a revenue stream for the abortion industry,“ said Elizabeth Graham, president of Texas Right to Life. “[Lawmakers] rightly put in restrictions to make sure that family planning agencies and organizations not in the abortion business would be eligible for family planning dollars first, leaving abortion providers as the last level of priority.”

Planned Parenthood says Texas is poised to clash head-on with the federal Health and Human Services Department, which recently rejected similar measures to block Planned Parenthood from state funding in Indiana. A federal judge sided with Planned Parenthood in Indiana on Friday, blocking the implementation of a newly passed state law excluding the group from the Medicaid program.

“We’re watching the situation in Indiana closely,” Geoff Wool, a spokesman with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said Tuesday. “We recognize the similarities to what’s going on in Texas, but each situation is different, and we’re moving forward to do what we need to do.” •

¡Marcha! (A correction) Last week’s Que2 referenced a July 4 protest against Perry and Co.’s push to fuse the state’s law enforcement agencies with U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement apparatus — including opening every jail in the state to the fed’s Secure Communities Initiative. While that march organized by the Cesar Chavez Legacy and Educational Fund is still happening, most of the city’s progressive organizations have mobilized to march two days earlier on July 2. Groups like Fuerza Unida, Esperanza Peace & Justice, Southwest Workers Union, and Texas Indigenous Council are urging folks to gather 9 a.m. at Milam Park (Plaza del Zacate, 500 W Commerce) for an 11 a.m. march to City Hall.


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