April 23


A horse of a different color, ethics-wise

The District 8 Council race between Rolando Briones Jr., Ron Nirenberg and Michael Kueber is starting to heat up on matters totally unrelated to bond programs, Pre-K 4 SA or cops and robbers. Briones’ frequent and generous contributions to other politicians have become a nagging issue in the media and at public orums because they show a marked shift in giving from Democrats to Republicans. The question is whether this was the result of political convenience or personal ideology.

In January of this year I began working for District 8 Councilman Reed Williams on special projects, most notably the San Antonio Area Broadband Network. Now that my City Hall contract is complete, I can finally weigh in on some of the hot races in the May election. What better place to start than D8?

Unlike county or state races, our municipal elections are nominally nonpartisan, and overt partisan wrangling has traditionally been out of the ordinary. But these days political ideology seems to be on voters’ minds more than anything else, so much so that it’s becoming a bellwether for how an elected official will behave in office.


Glitter Political: Patti Radle

The former District 5 Councilwoman and current SAISD board member on letting politicians off the hook:


Sizing up the challenges in D5

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschWith budding flowers emerging from their stringy branches, the peach trees in my backyard on the near South Side of San Antonio are showing signs of life. This means two things: spring is near, and considering it’s an odd-number year, City Council elections are just around the corner.

All Council district elections – not to mention the inevitable reelection of Mayor Julian Castro – are important. But the race that’s shaping up in District 5 has been garnering extra attention. The district is represented by the young and some would say unimposing David Medina. Recent coverage of Medina – or according to his critics, the empty chair that has begun to characterize his two-term tenure – has put the spotlight on a district whose neighborhoods are a defining feature of the soul of San Antonio.

The West Side has produced venerable politicians such as Henry B. Gonzalez, Henry Cisneros, and the Castro brothers. Yet despite boasting two native-born sons who are currently in the upper echelons of local and national politics, the district still lags far behind in economic development and progress compared to other areas of this rapidly evolving city.


Glitter Political video: Rebecca Viagran

Jade Esteban Estrada interviewed District 3 Council candidate Rebecca Viagran this week at El Sol Mexican Restaurant. Look for the full GP profile next week.

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

Battleground TX needs Castro at the top of the '14 ticket

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschBased on media reports and early noise from the two parties, Texas elections are going to be a battleground in 2014. From House races all the way down to dog catcher – if we actually elected that position – the two parties are staking out their territory and drawing battle lines for a showdown that could forecast the future of politics in Texas. The real question is whether this is more hype than hope. After all, as one of my Facebook friends commented last week, “These ‘battleground’ plans have been cooked up before. I truly hope it works this time.”

That comment was made in response to a Politico article about a plan conceived in Washington to turn Texas blue. Founder Jeremy Bird told Politico the new initiative will be “a grassroots organization that will make Texas a battleground state by treating it like one.”

It’s interesting that Democrats have had to resort to outsiders to change the face of politics in Texas. Bird comes from Obama’s community organizing project, where he served as field director, but reading his bio, it doesn’t look like he’s ever worked a Texas race. But maybe an outsider’s perspective and optimism is exactly what’s needed to energize the base in Texas.


How complete can our streets be?

Portland's network of neighborhood greenways.The positive impression many tourists have of San Antonio is largely driven by two commercial corridors with strong identities and historical roots: The River Walk and South Alamo. Rarely do visitors take much notice of the Monte Vista neighborhood, though its historic homes may be even more impressive than those in Southtown. This is because the businesses along South Alamo give outsiders (and I’m including local suburbanites in this group) an access point to the King William neighborhood, while the River Walk south of Chavez gives them a safe, beautiful pedestrian connection to the commercial areas downtown. Together they provide multi-modal connectivity and a strong sense of place, for at least a small section of the city.

Over the last 15 years, San Antonio’s leaders have done a good job of leveraging the River Walk into something more comprehensive: the Museum Reach and Mission Reach, as well as the system of greenways being built throughout the city, which have multiplied residents’ access to safe, pleasant running and biking trails.

Our leaders’ record of encouraging the (re)development of street-level corridors is not so impressive.


All in the (Canales) family

Newly elected District Court Judge David A. Canales rises to greet me from his corner table at Cascabel Mexican Patio on South St. Mary’s. The Sharpie-fueled collage of signatures, sayings and well-wishes on the wall behind him is representative of the commercial decor in Southtown – perhaps the only district in the city where overtly spending money on interior design is still frowned upon. Canales is wearing a gray pinstripe business suit that’s upstaged by his pressed white shirt.

It’s shortly before Christmas, and Canales hasn’t yet been sworn into his new life, but he has had a crash course in his pending responsibilities.

So it's like a school? I ask as I take off my jacket and scarf.

“Well, it's called the College for New Judges," he says, looking up the exact title on his phone. As he taps away on the screen his gold wedding band reflects the light above us.

“But we call it 'baby judges' school," he says putting down his phone.


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