By now, you’ve probably had your fill of the Uber, Lyft, taxi, horse and buggy, river barge, jitney debate in San Antonio. After Thursday’s 7-2 vote on the matter, it’s pretty much done for a while. Whether the TNCs pull out of the city has yet to be determined. San Antonio isn’t like most cities in the nation since we have not only a thriving tourist industry, but is recognized as a convention or business destination. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table. But the real question that has to be asked is why it had to end up like it did?
Today, City Council picked their three applicants to consider for a successor for the unexpired District 1 seat. While I have thoughts about the selection of those three, that’s not for me to explore publicly. But I can say that one man seeking that office took me on a journey that gave me faith in people committed to public service. When he called me over a week ago to express his interest, never did I ever think I’d get to watch and work with someone as committed to the task of serving the people as Gavin Rogers. Even though he was not selected in that top three, he’s definitely in the top three of those he met.
Last night Sen. Leticia Van de Putte answered the question that has been outstanding since the November election – whether she was going to run for mayor or not. Citing encouragement from political and community leaders, Van de Putte has decided to exit the Senate at the beginning of the session to run for mayor of San Antonio in the May 2015 municipal election. Her decision comes after being recently defeated in the Lieutenant Governor by Sen. Dan Patrick, a staunch conservative. Now the question is if voters will give her a second chance to serve in what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates.
This afternoon, Mike Villarreal kicked off his mayoral campaign before a crowd who braved the cold, rainy Sunday afternoon in Maverick Park. Maverick was picked because his offices are located across the street at the corner of 9th and Broadway. But it was hard to ignore the now vacant field office of the Wendy Davis campaign, wondering if Davis’s running mate, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, would be jumping from that failed campaign to enter this race only weeks after a solid defeat by Sen. Dan Patrick. Mike’s in, but is she?
The 2014 November Midterm has not even been canvassed and the rumors have already started regarding the political future of Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. In a statement regarding a possible mayoral candidacy, Van de Putte said “At this time, I am enjoying my family and praying for guidance.” I texted the last part of that statement to a friend Sunday asking if he knew what those are codes words for. The response was “I’m getting ready to run.” While I admire someone for seeking inspiration from a higher power before taking such a big step, I would have expected more thought in the process.
Today, another one of San Antonio politics’ least kept secrets was announced when State Rep. Mike Villarreal announced to the press he was stepping down to focus on a run for mayor of San Antonio. Least kept in the sense that Mike’s been running since the summer, but waited to resign until after the election to avoid issues with selection. Villarreal’s move should start the wheels moving as others fill out the slate for the May 2015 muni election. So what does this potential slate look like?
I was going to write my synopsis of what I think happened to Democrats leading up to the Red Storm, but this article by David Mann of The Texas Observer pretty much articulated some of my thoughts. So I’ll just add a few other things I think came into play with this past election season. Regardless what some might think, Texas Democrats were not ready to make the power play they tried this election season, but they did and now, as Mann states, it may have set progress back several more years afterwards.
Since I started working downtown, I began riding VIA’s 93 Express Bus from the Crossroads Park and Ride. It’s pretty convenient and drops me off four blocks from the office. For a $35 a month pass I avoid parking and gas costs, leaving the driving to VIA. So what happens when you get a transit nerd like me riding the bus regularly? I start to see where VIA could really up their game for riders. So, while I ride downtown I’ve decided to start looking for solutions and recommending them to VIA. I hope they’re ready for the fun.
VIA’s streetcar plan is a dead issue now when you consider that the city and county have both pulled their support from the plan, including financial support from the city. It’s unclear if TxDOT will allow VIA to keep the $92 million it allocated after a shell game pulled by the county to avoid legal wrangling about the use of sales tax dollars for rail projects. Even though some at VIA seem to be hanging on to this project for dear life, to do so now would be political suicide and taint the careers of any proposing such an option. It would further the arrogance exhibited by VIA since this project began.
Yesterday, Mayor Ivy Taylor, joined by Judge Nelson Wolff and flanked by council members, announced the city would be pulling funding from the controversial VIA streetcar project. She also said she would direct city staff to begin working with VIA, the county, and other agencies to develop a comprehensive multimodal transportation plan for the city. The plan would involve the community and would be taken to the voters of the city for approval. I support every single part of this announcement and am glad to see the leadership of Mayor Taylor on this matter.
Today San Antonio City Council selects a new interim mayor to replace Mayor Julian Castro, who is headed to DC to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development. You can follow the proceedings with this Live Feed of tweets from key members of the media and other sources. Read more…
Last night, PBS hosted the National Memorial Day Concert, held on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It’s a tradition that celebrates 25 years of honoring those who have served and especially to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Watching that concert, I was struck by the many generations of war veterans in attendance, understanding they each experienced a level of service devoted to the protection of us all. But, like all holidays in America, even with this inspiring tribute by the National Symphony Orchestra, the significance of the day may have escaped us.
Last night, I ran across Ann Curry’s report on climate change on NBC purely by accident. It was one of the best summaries of what is happening with our climate and some of the impacts of those changes. It provided some of the best cause and effect linkages I’ve seen with regards to the topic. The problem is that some people are either still in denial about these linkages or prefer to sweep them under the covers, opting to disregard any assignment of cause to our current situation. So, instead of debating on the the merits and realities of cause, can we at least agree on effect? In other words, regardless as to the cause, shouldn’t we at least be addressing how to minimize the effect?
Yesterday Lyft and Uber had their day in court. Actually they had their day before City Council’s Public Safety committee, as reported by Vianna Davila of the San Antonio Express-News. The committee reviewed the issues regarding whether the ride share companies should abide by the existing taxi regulations or if a new set of regulations for ride sharing should be drafted. Nothing was settled and SAPD Chief William McManus will be back before the committee in a month with a report and a possible recommendation. One thing is for certain. There probably won’t be any free rides when this is done.