The 30 Crossing project proposed by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department seems to no longer be the slam dunk the department had hoped for. Focused on a segment of I-30 in downtown Little Rock, it’s designed to improve traffic flow through the area. The area is experiencing continued growth and could become an urban, walkable experience with even more residents, businesses, and entertainment moving into the area. But that may change with the plans of this highway project.
Since moving back to Central Arkansas, there’s one thing I’ve noticed and love about Little Rock is the growing downtown I’ve come to experience. From the River Market District to the area around the Clinton Presidential Center to the growing creative corridor along Main Street, Little Rock is definitely getting things right in urban development. But it looks like that is about to be threatened thanks to a plan by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to expand I-30 as it traverses downtown and crosses the Arkansas River.
Today, the San Antonio Express-News published their endorsement for Leticia Van de Putte in the San Antonio mayoral race. I don’t normally like to pick apart things like this, primarily because it leads to nitpicking. But this one deserves a rebuttal, especially in such an important race. While the Editorial Board of the E-N can pick who they want, I would expect a better justification for their choice than what was published. In fact, maybe the reason for the weak endorsement is their candidate isn’t really the best choice.
The past month has been a pretty busy time for Arkansas on several fronts. In some ways, the state seems ready to go after new economic development and work at maintaining what it has today. But, thanks to a few socially conservative legislators, it almost sent a message to the business community that if economic did consider relocating to the state, not everyone would be welcome. It’s a state in conflict and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the one public official who should be herding the cats, has been late to the issue almost every time. But there may be some opportunity ahead.
How does one start a blog entry that tries to capture over a quarter of a century in a city? Where do you start? Even more so, where do you end? But, end I must, even if it’s with heavy heart and fond memory of my time in the Alamo City, one of America’s historic and cultural gems. Even during my two week long farewell tour, I know there are many friends I would have loved to have said goodbye to. But, as I’ve told those who I did connect with, “there’s always Facebook.” So maybe it’s best to look at what I’ve learned and experienced during these 27 years here.
We’re less than two months away from San Antonio’s municipal election where we’ll be electing a mayor and ten council members, as well as voting on charter changes and an extension to an 1/8 cent sales tax for aquifer protection and creek way development. With less than eight weeks left until the election, details are sorely lacking online from the candidates. It’s time for some reasons to support these candidates, and those reasons may have to come from you.
This May, voters will be faced with some big changes to the City Charter, most notably a change to how the City compensates council members for their service on City Council. It will be an interesting ballot since it will also include a charter amendment regarding rail in the city, replacement council members and the mayor, cleanup language of some other charter provisions, an extension of a sales tax for aquifer protection and linear creekways, council elections, and probably one of the most competitive mayoral races we’ve seen in a while. That’s a busy ballot, maybe too busy.
As promised, I held any indication of my support for the San Antonio mayoral race until after filing was over. I do that to allow the opportunity for a better candidate to enter the race, giving myself a chance to truly evaluate the field. That period is over and, based on the slate of candidates for mayor, I feel Mike Villarreal would be the best choice for mayor of the city. This is based more on fact and vision than personality or past loyalties. There are reasons to support Mike and reasons not to support the others, which I will outline.
Recently, Gov. Scott Walker fielded some questions regarding his reaction to Rudy Giuliani’s remarks about Obama, followed by questions of whether he thought the president was a Christian or not. Walker deflected the questions adequately in my opinion. He said, “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?” If you’ve ever read my thoughts on this subject, you should know I agree with Walker on this.
While it seemed odd to have the first mayoral debate before the filing period closed for the office, three of the lead candidates in the field squared off before a substantial crowd at Churchill High School. Sponsored by the Asian American Alliance of San Antonio, the debate gave voters their first chance to see how the candidates would frame their campaigns side by side on a variety of issues facing the city. Based on the interest in this first debate, these candidates will probably be in demand for more, possibly rivaling the 2012 Republican presidential marathon the American public endured.
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.