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.
There’s a storm brewing on the streets of San Antonio and it seems to involve a pink moustache on the front of cars. The issue is whether the ride-share company Lyft will be able to operate its service in the city without having to adhere to the city’s current taxi ordinances. The company has taken an innovative approach to transporting people throughout the city. But while innovation sometimes looks good on the surface, if due diligence hasn’t been addressed, you have to wonder how risky the venture might be.
If things go according to the plan of city leaders, San Antonio is going to have a streetcar system of some description and length by 2017. Without some sort of divine intervention, streets will be torn up by then. The cost? Probably around a quarter of a billion dollars for a system that’s just a little longer than the current Disney-style trolleys. Forget real justification for the project. We’re going to get the streetcars because city leaders just think we need them. But what if an alternative and cheaper approach were considered? Why not try using a fleet of electric buses instead?
In many cities across the nation, rail transportation solutions are part of an overall long-range transportation plan, usually implemented when density reaches a point to merit the highly expensive option. In fact, rail is usually a part of almost every major city’s transportation plan, usually designed to transport commuters to, from, and throughout the urban area to reduce vehicles on the road. But, for some reason San Antonio’s city leaders seem to have skipped that part of the transportation planning process and opted to push a solution that doesn’t seem to fit a need, other than to fill an agenda item.
This past week, Texas entered the federal court circus surrounding same-sex marriage, adding a case filed in the San Antonio District Court by two same-sex couples to the growing number of federal cases headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. While these cases are primarily focused on allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the civil act of marriage opposite-sex couples partake of today, it exposes a more subtle form of discrimination masked in compromise to religious institutions, the “religious exemption.” Looking more closely at that form of compromise, it is really hiding underlying animus towards a class of people through the hypocrisy of the selectiveness.
Most of the eyes of the world are going to be on Sochi, Russia for the next two weeks as they host the 2014 Winter Games. Everyone was hoping to see something similar to those images left with us from Vancouver, but the views so far have been far from the case. Those views should give you an indication that it takes skill and leadership to host major events, something San Antonio has learned over the past three decades thanks to San Antonio Sports.
Sochi 2014 will most likely be the most active Winter Games, in terms of social media. I’ve provided some key information for you to be able to keep up with Team USA at the Games, including their social media feeds. Heather Hernandez also has a page of information about the Games with other information, including facts about Sochi 2014. This page will contain information, as I find it such as the tweets of all the athletes in a feed, any other information such as scores, and links to information about the sports. Once again, it’s a way to explore one of the biggest worldwide events from a social media and interactive perspective. Read more…
This past year Atlantic Cities, a division of The Atlantic, created the “Ask A Mayor” series where editors interviewed mayors of various major cities around the nation on a variety of topics. They still have a few more videos to publish but I decided to collect what they have published so far so you can enjoy some of the insight. In Video 8, “What Have You Copied or Borrowed from Other Cities?”, You find some of the magic behind the Portland experience. I had the fortune of meeting Mayor Hales on my last visit to Portland. A very insightful mayor. Enjoy the series. Read more…
Last night, Pope Francis delivered a homily during the Christmas Midnight Mass to the crowds in St. Peter’s Basilica. In that homily he opens with the passage from Isaiah, saying “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Pope Francis delivered a message of hope, not only for those in the Basilica, not only for Italians, not only for Catholics, but for all the world. It’s becoming a habit of his, often shaking up the religious and secular community with his ideas of social justice, sometimes sending a message many were not expecting. But, on this Christmas I think many got what they expected from this servant-pope.
On Friday, US District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah’s Amendment 3 banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, violating protections under the Fourteenth Amendment. In his ruling, he focused on several views of the subject, mostly focusing on decisions in Baker v. Nelson and Loving v. Virginia. While both have relevance, to some degree, Shelby drew from the Loving case to decide that the amendment passed by Utah voters by 66% violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Later that night Utah filed an appeal with the Tenth Circuit, asking for an emergency motion for a temporary stay.