April 23


Chan's big take

District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan raised more than $52,000 in donations and pledges at a Club Giraud fundraiser last week. The take at the door was more than $30,000 – a respectable Council fundraiser in a city where the individual cap is $500. If the pledges come through, it's headline-worthy, especially given Chan's public profile lately as Castro Antagonist Numero Uno.

The strong turnout – more than 70 people at the standing-room-only event, with some guests turned away – lays to rest the notion that Chan's willingness to initiate a down-zoning threat in last year's Walmart fight might have hurt her base support. One attendee described it as "a very Republican crowd."


Bexar Dem Chair backs Velasquez in D3

Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Manuel Medina is supporting District 3 candidate Gabriel Velasquez, fourth from leftHey, that's a familiar face at the campaign kickoff for District 3 Council candidate Gabriel Velasquez. No, we're not talking about the actor from Fame (Jesse Borrego, third from left; like Velasquez a Harlandale grad). We're talking about the one on the far left: Manuel Medina, Bexar County Democratic Party chair. Medina is supporting Velasquez, a precinct chair who worked to get Medina elected last May.

"I personally think he's got lots of smarts, and he's got a great big heart," Medina said. "And he's fought for the South Side community all his life." Velasquez, he added, will be a leader on women's rights, LGBT equality and other social-justice issues. "He always stands up for what he believes in."

(And how.)

Velasquez may prove to be something of an asset to one of his opponents – Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna, who's trying to win the seat she was appointed to a year ago. Supporters of Rebecca Viagran, also running for the seat, are trying to cast Ozuna as an arriviste with no roots in the district. We're told Ozuna and Velasquez – whom she replaced on the City's arts-funding advisory board during the Mission Drive-in hullabaloo – are distant cousins.

"My mother called me a trucha when I threw him off the CAB," Ozuna said.


No quaking in D9 or D5

Rick Schroder, the Helotes administrator who's interested in taking on District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan in the May elections hasn't made it official yet, but we hear he's doing some leg work – opposition research on Chan's public contracts, and meetings with major political players. A Council whisperer close to the development community speculated that Chan would have trouble raising money this year in part because of unhappiness with her leadership – including last year's showdown over the Walmart next to Hardberger Park – but that the smart money wouldn't bet on Schroder, either.

It's not true that the Castro foe can't make bank, say sources familiar with Chan's campaign


Choosing the bar over the courthouse

There's a backlog of thousands of cases in the Bexar County court system. New courts have been added at taxpayers' expense in recent years to alleviate the crush of cases. That's why most judges are working five days a week.

So why is one judge hanging out in a bar on Fridays instead of sitting on the bench?

By most accounts, County Court at Law Judge Wayne Christian is a good judge who runs an efficient court. He handles the county's veteran's court, relying on his own military background when hearing cases involving our fighting men and women who end up in court after they come home from battle.

But on Fridays it can be a real battle to find the judge because his courtroom door is usually locked.

“It's very well known throughout the courthouse that on Fridays this judge, Judge Christian, goes to the restaurant and drinks for most of the day," says a courthouse insider who tipped me off to Christian’s work habits. “He's an elected official and he needs to be working just like the rest of the judges.”

Hear what Judge Christian has to says in his own defense by watching the complete story ...


Chickens: roosting imminent

Former COSA employee and civil-rights plaintiff Michael CuellarThere's a face for the name now, and, unsurprisingly, a First Amendment lawsuit. With the support of the Texas Civil Rights Project, former COSA employee Michael Cuellar filed suit this week against the City, City Attorney Michael Bernard and Police Chief William McManus, charging that his civil rights are being violated by the criminal-trespass warning they issued against him last fall, without a demonstration of cause and no process for appeal. TCRP argues that the ban violates due process and places unreasonable restrictions on Cuellar's exercise of his constitutional rights. Cuellar is also seeking damages for his termination. PdA was the first local media outlet to report on Cuellar's (and John Foddrill's) predicament. Read more about it here and here. The TCRP press release (linked here as a PDF) also contains a timeline and additional information about Cuellar's treatment at the hands of the City.

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