Saturday,
April 19

 
POLITICS

In broiling August, SAWS flaunts its water reserves

The trigger for SAWS' Stage 3 water restrictions is when the Edwards Aquifer falls below 640 feet. This morning, smack in the middle of our hot, hot August, we were at 637.8 feet and still parked at Stage 2 restrictions, the most onerous of which is the one that lets you hose your lawn just once a week.

This week, the Edwards Aquifer Authority announced that it was imposing Stage 3 pumping restrictions in the aquifer's San Antonio pool, meaning permit holders have to cut how much they pump by 35 percent of the annually authorized amount. That affects Bexar and Medina counties, and parts of Atascosa, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Hays counties.

It's worse for communities drinking and irrigating out of the Uvalde pool. The EAA has them on Stage 4 restrictions.

Other cities around the region also have moved on to Stage 3 restrictions, including New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Austin.

San Antonio, on the other hand, has never declared Stage 3.

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Trading Places: Monster Jam Grand Hyatt edition

Alamodome officials used City-owned suites for personal gain according to a recently completed investigation by the City of San Antonio’s Office of Municipal Integrity.

The City's investigation was triggered by an anonymous complaint last March. According to the June 25 report issued by OMI, Alamodome General Manager Marc Solis, former Assistant Director Jim Mery, and booking manager Michael Flores "personally benefited from a relationship with the Grand Hyatt that enabled them to receive free and discounted hotel accommodations for New Year’s Eve 2011 at the Grand Hyatt."

The "relationship" also extended to friends of Solis and Flores, who received discounted rates at the Grand Hyatt that same New Year's Eve. Investigators say the evidence showed the person who coordinated the exchange on behalf of the hotel got a free Alamodome suite several weeks later for the 2012 Monster Jam.

Despite the report's findings, none of the City employees involved were fired.

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Bexar Towing founder arrested for overcharging

The founder and operator of Bexar Towing was arrested Friday night for charging more than a city ordinance allows after refusing orders from an officer to lower his fee.

The 65-year old John DeLoach has been defiant since a hidden camera investigation by fellow Trouble Shooter reporter Jaie Avila caught his tow trucks violating state rules last year. Police say Friday night they were called to Bexar Towing's Northeast side location by a car owner who was being charged $293 to get his car back. A judge recently upheld the city's towing ordinance, which says towing companies can't charge more than $85.

When officers showed up they were met by DeLoach himself. “He refused to reduce the charge,” SAPD officer Matt Porter said. “At that time he was told if the charge was not reduced, he would be issued a citation and taken to jail, which he agreed upon. At that point he was arrested and taken to jail.”

DeLoach made bond and was released. In a statement from Bexar Towing’s attorney, Mark Cannan, called the arrest “a disturbing abuse of power by the city.” Bexar Towing is still challenging the towing ordinance in civil court, arguing that it violates state law. The company claims the wording of the state law requires San Antonio to complete a fee study before enforcing the towing ordinance, even though it has been on the books since 2002. A trial is scheduled for October.

— Brian Collister, WOAI Investigative Reporter. Find him online at woai-com. Email tips to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

UPDATED: Brainpower Initiative polls well

A poll conducted for the Brainpower Initiative's campaign shows that a strong majority favors Mayor Julian Castro's plan to raise the sales tax to beef up pre-kindergarten education in San Antonio, according to an executive summary of the survey obtained by Plaza de Armas. But the results also anticipate rougher going on the North Side than elsewhere in the city, which prompted pollster David Metz to recommend raising serious money for the campaign.

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It's their Tea Party; cry if you want to

In what was almost a reverse of the Republican Primary race, Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Tuesday's runoff. Because it signals a potential national resurgence of the Tea Party, many political players were not only watching this race but pumping money into it, with well over $5 million provided by the Club for Growth, a conservative PAC focused mainly on Tea Party candidates. After he almost won the primary outright, Dewhurst’s numbers dropped throughout the runoff campaign. A PPP poll taken just before the race gave Cruz a 10-percent lead, and he ended up winning with an even greater margin at 57 percent to Dewhurst’s 43 percent.

Tea Party voters could also rejoice in another victory closer to home as Dr. Donna Campbell defeated Republican state Senator Jeff Wentworth in the runoff for District 25.

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A gold star for Bexar's indigent defense

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschBexar County received a better than passing grade in a report issued by the the Texas Indigent Defense Commission this week. The committee’s report is a followup to its 2010 review of the County’s system for providing legal representation to defendants who can’t afford an attorney. The 2010 evaluation recommended improvements in several areas, including the length of time it took to assign attorneys to clients, attorney case loads, and transparency in the appointments system. In April of this year, the TIDC returned to evaluate court documents and conduct interviews and concluded that the County had addressed the shortcomings.  

“They kicked butt is what they did,” TIDC Director Jim Bethke said. “They’ve addressed all of our issues.”

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Phil Cortez's phony Facebook fan

Samantha Gonzalez is Facebook friends with many of the most prominent people in local government and media. She is young, exceptionally attractive, and politically opinionated. She’s a devoted – some might say obsessive – supporter of state representative candidate Philip Cortez and a dogged detractor of Cortez’s Democratic runoff opponent, attorney Tina Torres.

There’s only one catch: Samantha Gonzalez is not a real person. She is a phony Facebook identity created by a hard-core Cortez supporter on a single-minded mission to upend Torres’s candidacy. Over the last eight months, Gonzalez has used a Facebook profile picture which is actually a stock headshot photo taken from the website of South Carolina modeling photographer Bob Pardue. On Friday morning, after questions started to emerge about Gonzalez’s identity, her Facebook profile picture changed to a photo, taken from a Boracay (Philippines) Beach Girls blog spot, of four bikini-clad young women.

Over the last week alone, Gonzalez has posted 17 status updates, all of them trashing Torres and/or praising Cortez. Despite her devotion to Cortez, however, no one remembers seeing Gonzalez at any Cortez campaign events and Cortez’s campaign finance reports do not include a single contribution from anyone named Samantha Gonzalez.

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