The January 15th campaign finance reports for the 2015 San Antonio municipal elections are out. What they reveal is who’s been hard at work getting ready for the elections. What they also reveal is who supports who in terms of money in the bank. But just like any good story, there’s always a good subplot to be revealed and these reports have plenty of subplots in them. One of the biggest involves campaign finances that seem to drift between state and local regulations, namely those of Mike Villarreal and Leticia Van de Putte.
Today San Antonio honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with what many consider one of the largest MLK marches in the nation. With an expected crowd of over 120,000, it’s hard to dispute that claim. But today, when I asked a friend who has lived on the Eastside if he was going to the March, he had an interesting reply. He said, “When it’s all over and people pack up their signs and all the buses leave, the dogs come back out, the drug dealers go right back to the street corners, the ladies prance up and down the streets, and the gunshots ring out again in the night.” His point was simple; why join something that seems like more of a “feel good” show than a call to action?
Recently, a New York Times article speculated about the possibility that Pres. Obama’s presidential library could end up at Columbia University in NYC if a land ownership dispute is not resolved in Chicago. At issue is a concern by the library’s foundation that the potential site would be on land controlled by the Chicago Parks District, not the University of Chicago or the City of Chicago. To me, changing the venue to NYC would be a wrong move and uncharacteristic of the role presidential libraries play in our nation. But, as always, there’s more to the story and I decided to dig into that story.
There has been quite a bit of press lately regarding campaign contributions. In fact, one candidate for the SD-26 race, Trey Martinez-Fischer, seems to have made it his mission to call out another candidate, Jose Menendez, for a double standard of sorts regarding allegiance. The issue is contributions from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a PAC focused on tort reform, something trial lawyers seem to hate with a vengeance. But just as Jesus warned the Pharisees, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” If that were the case, Martinez-Fischer would be in a big heap of trouble trying to accuse Menendez.
My inner data nerd kicked in last night and I decided to pull the campaign finance data for the special elections for the SD-26 and HD-123 races in San Antonio. After all, I had been blitzed by Trey Martinez-Fischer ads showing how much he cared for San Antonio and how his roots are deep in this city. Then I saw where he had raised close to $800,000 for this special election, outpacing not only his nearest opponent, but all candidates combined in both races by a 2 to 1 margin. So I decided to run the numbers to see where this jackpot of money came from and the results were pretty startling.
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.