What’s next? Lady Gaga Drive?
Today I heard from someone that a small group apparently is trying to get a portion of Pecan Valley Drive renamed “Barack Obama Drive,” supposedly not for political reasons but to honor his presidency. While I respect the group’s intentions, it’s a little too early to start renaming streets for Pres. Obama. Usually that honor is given after the president leaves office. At that point, depending on the impact of that person and his or her administration, honors are bestowed in accordance. I’m not sure what’s driving this movement, other than a little motivation by the effort to rename Durango to “César E. Chávez Boulevard.” So, who’s next? Lady Gaga?
I say that with jest but when you look at some of the efforts to rename streets in San Antonio, it seems to be more about publicity than anything. In many cases, the groups don’t do the research, understand the impact, or follow the process, as was the case with former Councilman Phillip Cortez on the Chávez rename effort. While the Obama rename would only affect about 1 mile of Pecan Valley Drive, it could thwart a better honor for Pres. Obama in the future.
I’m not sure if Otis Thompson is thinking to the future. His intentions are noble based on his interview with KABB, but is he really thinking this through and coordinating with the rest of the community, particularly the African-American community? Should the community follow the process and later decide to rename a more significant street in honor of Obama, now they have to deal with an existing street. The question by council and the city will be why make the change? You already have the street named. Why go through the expense of such a change?
It also sets a bad precedence for future honors as they come along. Who’s to say that a group wouldn’t follow the same path as Thompson and work to rename some street in San Antonio “Lady Gaga Boulevard” or the Bieber Nation start a Twitter campaign to get “Justin Bieber Freeway?” Heck, he’s got over 10 million Twitter followers and mobilizing that for some zany campaign like renaming a freeway is possibly in line with some of the antics of the teen singer.
Hopefully Thompson’s efforts will die for lack of interest and a more fitting honor could be bestowed, if merited, at a future date. That’s to be determined by history and the sentiment of a nation. In Arkansas, home of former Pres. Bill Clinton, the only street in Little Rock named after the favorite son is Pres. Clinton Avenue, a six block stretch of street that ends at the Clinton Presidential Center and Park. It’s a cool space in Little Rock but it’s really more about the River Market area than it is about Clinton.
The Durango Boulevard controversy is still that, at this point, with a judge urging both sides to come to an agreement and avoid a court battle. I’m not sure where this will be going, since Mayor Castro seems to have dug his heels in on the matter. Personally, I still advocate for changing Durango in the westside and leaving downtown alone, as I reasoned in my blog entry. But, then again, I’m just a simple blogger. People in City Hall and the Conservation Society seem to have a lot more at stake in this than me.