April 17


The price of not knowing

Information may want to be free, but to be liberated, sometimes it has to demonstrate its value first.

When the County Commissioners look at the jail or the courts, they're prone to see dollar signs, more so now that Bexar is facing declining property-tax revenues. This spring's ill-fated attempt to find a better system for providing lawyers to the poor was DOA not only because the loudest defense attorneys weren't particularly interested in doing away with the current method, but because more promising ideas also looked more expensive. You can circle it in the catalog, kids, but don't look for it under the tree this year.


Open Mike

Glancing at the loaded menu at Southtown's Liberty Bar, it's clear Austin has me in a headlock. The realization that my second month of veganism is going to require serious diligence slowly sinks deep into my leafy soul. The options before me are yawn-inducing and the waitress, though quite nice, is hardly helpful. Unfortunately, San Antonio is years away from the state capitol, a magical place where any dreadlocked, incense-reeking 19-year-old can suggest a dozen restaurants within a quarter-mile that can produce the green on a silver platter.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I faithfully seek advice from local superstars like Texas State Representative Mike Villarreal, who's gone against the cultural grain to maintain health and well-being on his own terms; "Austinity" of the mind, one might say. This week, I met Villarreal to find out how he stays so fit and fabulous in the verdant jungle of state politics.


New county manager: powerhouse or puppet?

We were talking on the phone, but I could practically see my contact shaking his head. He’s no fan of County government — which is like an army packed with generals, most of them scheming to maintain or gain small advantages over one another — and Commissioners Court’s creation this week of a county manager position left him mystified.


SB 100 could derail a Perry presidential run

The conservative steamroller known as the 2011 Texas legislative session surely brought a crinkled smile or two to Rick Perry. Without meaning to, however, the GOP-dominated Lege might have put a serious roadblock in the path of Perry’s presidential ambitions.

In response to the 2009 MOVE (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment) Act — which requires states to get absentee ballots to service members at least 45 days before a federal election — the Legislature had to alter the state’s election schedule to leave a longer gap between next year’s primary and its runoff.


Hitting the union where it hurts

There are no sit-ins at the Bexar County justice complex, no busloads of out-of-town protesters unloading at Main Plaza, no weary camera crews scoping setup shots for their on-air talent. (A single fired-up KENS-5 reporter was looking for Kevin Wolff, the lone Republican on Commissioners Court, at 10 a.m. sharp yesterday.) But a slow-motion union showdown has been underway at the old courthouse since 2009, when the most recent contract with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County officially ended.


Cross-border trucking rolls ahead

It's been a bumpy road, but it looks like the long U.S. detour to circumvent international trucking obligations under Nafta is finally over.

Last week in Mexico City, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed a deal with Mexican counterparts from the Communications and Transport Ministry to permit long-haul Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways beyond the 25-mile border zone, fulfilling a Nafta provision Washington had flouted for nearly two decades.


Sylvia's casual yet serious

Last year, while mounting my new show, The Menudo Monologues, in Chicago, I came across a question about one of the characters — Senator Mary Alice Villalobos Levy-Sosa, who is campaigning for Texas governor in the middle of her term. I wondered when and why it was legally permissible for an official to campaign for higher office before her elected term is over. Who does her job while she's on the campaign trail?

Sylvia Rincon, the senior reporter at Fox 29, who covers local and state politics, sent me an extensive explanation via Facebook using the example of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who ran in the last gubernatorial race while holding office.


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