April 23


PdA on publishing hiatus

Jeremiah Teutsch's caricature of Bill FitzGibbons, the former Blue Star director whose management PdA lamented early and oftenDear PdA Subscribers,

We deeply appreciate your support during the past two years. You made possible candid, critical coverage of stories that might otherwise have gone unreported – like Jeffrey Wright's recent expose of H-E-B's business practices. PdA was first to report on the unconstitutional City Hall bans that a federal judge struck down this spring; we broke or wrote the defining piece on several important local stories, including the bankruptcy of the San Antonio Opera and the emergence of its would-be replacement; profiled key players before they were household names; published some of the only critical coverage of arts organizations in town; and questioned SA's troubling political practices and all-too-familiar faces. We remain the only publication that's consistently covered the County's ongoing struggle to provide quality indigent defense, and one of the few media outlets that hazarded criticicism of our peers (ah, irony).  Your support also enabled a series of free public forums and events, including last month's HemisFair intervention, A Brutal Redesign.

We also are proud to have published and promoted the work of several outstanding local bloggers and artists, including the prodigiously talented artist Jeremiah Teutsch,  triple-threat comedian Jade Esteban Estrada, thoughtful urban revolutionary Ben Judson, smart-money contrarian Bankers Anonymous, political junkie Randy Bear, and literary and culture critics Jacob Muncy and Rod Davis (apologies to anyone left off the list). And we are grateful for the opportunity to work with Silver Fox Studios, where we produced sometimes brilliantly unscripted interviews with local arts and political leaders.

Plaza de Armas will remain on an indefinite publishing hiatus while we reconsider our content and model in light of recent developments that have made it difficult to continue producing the quality reporting and writing we promised you when you subscribed. Several key PdA alumni have moved on to other jobs and cities, including Gilbert Garcia and co-founder Greg Jefferson (now at the Express-News, including the paper's new paid premium-content site ... ahem), Callie Enlow (the new editor of the Current), and Terry Gildea, who leads the newsroom at the NPR affiliate in Salt Lake City, UT.

We cannot begin to express how much we value the support of our subscribers, advertisers and the many colleagues who aided and abetted our work, including NOWCastSA, Firecat Studio and Silver Fox Studios.

The site will continue to be live, and while we are suspending recurring subscription payments, current members will retain access to the content behind the paywall. We will be reposting some of our favorite stories to the top of the page, but all content is searchable and accessible. One-month free subscriptions are also available for research purposes - see info here. Subscribers will receive some automated email notices as we make changes to your accounts; if you have concerns or questions about any of them, please contact me at (210) 218 2151 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thank you!

Elaine Wolff

PdA stories done: Jan 27-Feb 2, 2013

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschRandy Bear pitched running Julian Castro at the top of the Texas ticket in 2014, even if he can’t win.

Elaine Wolff detailed the case of former COSA employee and watchdog Michael Cuellar, and his rude handling in the daily.

Judge Steve Hilbig explained the water-law cases that could cost the state, and taxpayers, millions. 

Ben Judson suggested San Antonio can do much more with bike paths and street planning to create welcoming, easy to navigate communities and neighborhoods.

District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules argued that the Mayor’s proposed ethics changes don’t go far enough.

Glitter Political posted a sneak video preview of his interview with D3 Council candidate Rebecca Viagran.

Nelson Balido wrote about guns, Mexico-U.S. relations and border security.

Bankers Anonymous reviewed the intertwined histories of personal debt and the USA.

PdA stories done: Jan 20-26, 2013

Photo by Debra SugermanCallie Enlow interviewed Senator Leticia Van de Putte about the Women’s Health Program and the 83rd Legislature.

Elaine Wolff examined some of the 12,000 objects at Villa Finale, King William’s handsomely endowed member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

She also spoke with Jonathan Gurwitz, Express-News columnist and editorial-board member, who’s leaving the paper at the end of the month to join communications and PR powerhouse KGBTexas.

Critic Tom Payton surveyed local architects to create his list of 2012’s best local buildings.

Jacob Muncy reviewed Trinity professor Andrew Porter’s new novel, In Between Days.

Glitter Political profiled new District Court Judge David Canales.

Bankers Anonymous copped to missing the Great Recession – but maybe not for the reasons you imagine.

In case you missed them, highlights from the previous week:

Callie Enlow reported on the sudden postponement of Southwest School of Art’s new BFA program.

She also explained the increasingly gray spectrum on local college radio.

Ben Judson outlined Graham Weston’s ambitious three-pronged downtown revitalization strategy.

Elaine Wolff asked just how many ethics babysitters City Hall (and the Mayor need)?

Changes at Plaza de Armas (updated)

Dear Readers:

As many of you are aware, there have been major editorial changes at Plaza de Armas during the past six weeks. In August, co-founder Greg Jefferson left PdA to work full-time for the San Antonio Business Journal, where he is covering the energy industry among other topics. Last week, Gilbert Garcia, who was also with the site from its inception in January 2011, rejoined the San Antonio Express-News as a political reporter and columnist (which tempers our appreciation of the new leadership at the daily somewhat ... ;).

Thank you for your support during the past two years. With the backing of our our subscribers, our investors and advertisers, we have been able to push the local conversation about how our city works (or doesn’t) and why. We plan to keep at it with our trademark disregard for sacred cows of any brand.

Plaza de Armas will continue to publish the work of many other fine regular contributors who write (and draw) with insight, uncommon perspectives, and honesty about our city: master caricaturist Jeremiah Teutsch; Jade Esteban Estrada, who charms politicians and celebrities into candid moments in his Glitter Political and Being There columns; politics wonk and devoted citizen Randy Bear; WOAI investigative reporter Brian Collister; urban planning philosopher and food-truck advocate Ben Judson; built-environment critic Tom Payton; free-trade evangelist Nelson Balido; and pop-culture writer Jacob Muncy. We also proudly print the work of freelancers such as literary critic Rod Davis and financial-industry decoder Bankers Anonymous.

And I will still write every week about public figures and issues that are defining the future of our community yet are inadequately covered (if at all) in other media outlets. Writers tend to overestimate the star power of their own byline (I always think of comedian Will Ferrell, who said something to the effect of, “I was on Saturday Night Live for seven years before people thought I was there for two”), so in case you're not sure how much weight I've been carrying here, a quick rundown of the type of stories you can continue to expect from me:

Bonds and public art, by the numbers

The public-money artist

Brilliant but canceled: Matthew Drutt leaves Artpace

Politics and local government:
Entropy and anarchy in the ETJ

Crunching the Pre-K 4 SA cash

SA’s stray dog problem circles back home

The County kills a flood-control project while the City fights on

Castro ducks Centro role

Media criticism:
The Rivard revisions

Criminal justice and the courts:

For poor defendants, the wheel spins once more

Lawyers challenge reduced fees in children’s court

And a lot of chisme. But why spoil the fun by telling you which ones?

We will still publish fresh content daily Monday-Friday, and on weekends when we have a story that won't hold til Monday. We'll send emails on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and a roundup email on Sunday. And we will maintain the quality and accuracy you’ve come to expect from PdA.

If you know talented, ambitious writers, please send them our way. If there are stories in your community that need attention, please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . And we always welcome suggestions and feedback at the same address. Most importantly, if you're not already a subscriber, please join PdA today and support local, independent journalism.

Elaine Wolff

Founder and editor, Plaza de Armas

(210) 218-2151

This post was updated at 10:20 am, 28 Oct 12.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Weekly Roundup: Oct. 7-13, 2012

Culture critic Tom Payton turned his sharp eye on the redevelopment along Austin Highway, where form is not following high expectations.

Elaine Wolff mapped the new public art that will be funded by the 2012 bond.

Gilbert Garcia measured the reflected glow of Fiona Apple’s fame on West Texas activist Bill Addington.

Wolff reported on a hydrogen sulfide leak in the Eagle Ford Shale that temporarily shut down 180 wells.

Wolff also added up the Pre-K 4 SA donations to date and found most of the case has come from a handful of well-connected sources. Related question: Why are special-purpose committees closely related to a single politician exempt from the city’s ethics rules on contributions?

Brian Collister posted candidate for sheriff Susan Pamerleau’s plan for improving the jail and public safety.

Top Chisme included news of Diego Bernal’s choice for the Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee (which netted 57 likes; that Ernest Gonzales is popular!), and an explainer re: D8 candidate Rolando Briones and his city contract work.

Copyright 2012 Plaza de Armas TX. All rights reserved.