Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lone Ranger or Don Quixote? Marcus Tullius Cicero Unmasked

Some of you have already figured this out, and have up to now respected my wish to remain temporally anonymous, and for that I thank you. For the rest of you, it would not have required the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery. There were plenty of clues for those had the curiosity or initiative to find them.

Clue #1
The name. San Antonio Election 2005 sounds a lot like SAElections.com.

Clue #2
The first blog entry entitled “A Good Place to Start” just states http://www.saelections.com/

Clue #3
The first link under recommended Links is http://www.saelections.com/

Clue#4
In a city with precious little interest by its vast suburban populous, and even less by its City government, in its cultural institutions, San Antonio Election 2005 seemed to be virtually preoccupied with references to its museums and to have special knowledge about their workings.

Clue #5
It clearly states on http://www.saelections.com/ the identity of the producers of that site.

Clue#6
From http://www.saelections.com/ there is a link to my curriculum vitae and anyone who read it would find that I am an art historian and museum professional that has spent a good deal of his career working in various capacities at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Due to the contents of some of my posts, it is unlikely that I will ever be employed at my trade again in this town. This is something I sincerely regret, not that I retract one word of what I have said, but I have a profound affection for, and loyalty to the missions of, these institutions and would have loved to have spent the rest of my life serving in them in some way. But alas, one cannot bite the hand that feeds them and expect to continue to eat too, even when that hand has been bitten for its own good.

Clue#7
Late one night I made a comment post to The Red State where I directed readers to http://www.saelections,com/. In describing that site I referred to its producers as “we” and inadvertently signed the post “Cicero.”

Clue#8
The geekier among you might have trace routed my email address to determined the registrant of the domain and find my wife’s name. If I had been really up to mischief I would have secured this backdoor.

I promised I would reveal my identity and here it is:

Joseph Bravo, Media Coordinator for http://www.saelections.com/.

As most of you already know, this is the website that provided a “One-stop shop for San Antonio elections information.”

SAElections.com was produced single-handedly through the prodigious talents and heroic efforts of my wife Lori Bravo. Her website claims to be “non-partisan information for people who vote.” In fact, by all accounts from voters, candidates and their campaigns from all political persuasions throughout the city of San Antonio, it is just that.

For the record, although sponsorship to the http://www.saelections.com/ website was open to anyone except candidates and PACS, only one local businessman, T.J. Connolly, saw fit to actually come forward with $300 for an advertisement. For this he is to be commended. (Shame on the rest of you!) He bought it early in March after visiting the site. The transaction was done through his office and we never had contact with him again throughout the campaign season. We did not know Mr. Connolly before we produced this site. While he is active in San Antonio political circles, I suspect he, like others, occasionally found the information presented at http://www.saelections.com/ a little inconvenient to his own personal politics. He in no way had any input into the content presented at http://www.saelections.com/.

Other sponsors included Adam McManus at KSLR radio. This was an in-kind contribution where he agreed to mention http://www.saelections.com/ on his radio show and in return received and ad slot. Neither Lori Bravo or I are regular listeners to his radio show (or anyone else’s for that matter,) nor should his sponsorship be construed as our endorsement of the views expressed on his program. He had no input into the content of information provided at http://www.saelections.com/. As with others, I suspect that occasionally information provided there did not serve his political agenda either.

360 Degree Virtual Real-estate is a venture owned by the parents of the technician who operated our server. He is a lifelong friend, who offered his services for free, but we offered him an ad as remuneration and he requested we put up one for his parents’ Wisconsin-based real-estate photography services instead, so we obliged.

You don’t have to have earned a PHD from the Chicago School to gather from this, that Lori’s positive cash flow for this entire venture was a whopping total of $300. This is all the financial remuneration she received in return for well over a thousand hours of dedicated, highly skilled labor. (Again, my words, not hers, shame on the business community of San Antonio, I know thousands of you read her newsletters and burned up all the fiber in town accessing http://www.saelections.com/, her web stats prove it!) In addition to her time, she spent cash out of pocket to repeatedly contact candidates in writing who, for whatever reason, would not respond to her telephone or email requests for information about their candidacies. Initially this was most of them, until they began to look conspicuous by their absence from this well visited site.

On that note, special kudos for courage go out to Kevin Wolf and Cynthia Test, who were the only two candidates, out of the forty-four running for office, who linked to http://www.saelections.com/ from their campaign websites. None of the three frontrunners in the Mayor’s race ever personally acknowledged the existence of the site, even after Castro’s CFR debacle. What were all these free publicity-hunting politicians afraid of? Lori’s web statistics showed that the majority of the campaigns were hitting the site almost daily. I guess they, like their colleagues at the City Hall and at the local media outlets, who statistics also show extensively and regularly checked http://www.saelections.com/, thought it was their secret espionage tool, for checking out the opposition. Various media outlets used information they found at http://www.saelections.com/, including direct quotes from the site, as the basis for numerous articles and stories they published or broadcast with nary a citation. So much for journalistic ethics. It appears that Wackenhut is not the only cat watching canaries. Regardless, Lori assures me she has no regrets and believes the voters were entitled to her services, since nobody was going to provide them if she did not. I concur.

When she first started http://www.saelections.com/, Lori received email from various campaigns that presumed she must be a member of the politerati and was concealing some pernicious secret agenda. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and all information presented at http://www.saelections.com/ was on the level. Lori’s endeavors were solely motivated by a desire to assist the citizenry in voting. She believes sunlight is the best mechanism to achieve this goal. The only people that had an aversion to her efforts were, by definition, the more vampirically inclined among the political class.

I may be biased about this one issue, but I believe that the entire city of San Antonio owes Lori Bravo an enormous debt of gratitude and a three-cheer salute for her tireless and conscientious efforts on their behalf this election season.

I also think several of the media outlets owe her an apology for claiming credit for her impressive work as if it were their own. For these people all I have to say is, “May your intellectual property become popular in China.”

My role as Media Coordinator for http://www.saelections.com/ was simply as cheerleader. Lori is shy and her talents (like most people’s) lie in areas other than public speaking. I on the other hand…well you’ve read my postings. I was interviewed by Chris Duel on KTSA radio, by Jeff Coyle on WOAI television, and jointly with Lori by Jaime Castillo at the Express News. Shame on the rest of the local media, (that means you Fox News at 9, KSAT 12 and others), for your excellent impersonations of a flock of ostriches! These “News” outlets should realize that when they bury their heads, they leave the rest of us viewing their most flattering asset. Due to my relatively public role in promoting http://www.saelections.com/, revealing my identity earlier might have lead to misperceptions and the more cynically minded to cast unnecessary dispersions on Lori’s endeavors.

I could not sit by and listen to my wife’s discoveries night after night and not form any opinions on events taking place in this election. I’m an objective observer, not a mineral. But http://www.saelections.com/ is not a venue for opinion of any kind, even Lori’s or mine. I did not want her admirable efforts to get guilt by association with my personal views, which do not necessarily reflect her own. It is for this reason that I created my own blog to vent my growing frustrations with the embarrassing mess that generally constitutes a San Antonio election. I chose to remain anonymous so nobody would use what I said here to discredit the facts presented at http://www.saelections.com/ or impugn the integrity of Lori’s noble undertaking.

For me, the purpose of San Antonio Election 2005 was to provoke thought about the issues facing San Antonio this election season. I have tried to be objective, and an equal opportunity critic of the local political establishment. Undoubtedly, just about everybody found something here with which they would take exception. I did not endorse any candidacy because, as you might imagine, none of them would have been very likely to endorse the opinions offered on this blog. From this, one should not have construed that I thought all the candidates unfit to serve or equally inappropriate choices to hold office. My goal was to make voters think about their choices, not to make those choices for them.

I want to thank Cincinnatus at the Jeffersonian for his fine analysis and tolerance. Also shout out to the Red state and Off the Kuff for their attention to this blog as well as their fine work at their venues. Special heads up and good luck to Cernig at Newshog whose site is always provocative and insightful. Of course thanks to the rest of the blogosphere who dained to read the musings found here this season.

I hope you found the views expressed here interesting and occasionally a source of edification. Thank you for having taken the time to consider them. For now, Marcus Tullius Cicero/Joseph Bravo will be signing off in this venue, perhaps to appear elsewhere, who knows?

San Antonio Election 2005 will continue to exist as an archive as long as its server remains.

Thanks

Another One Bites the Dust

San Antonio’s election season has come to an end and to the surprise of no one and the dismay of some, Phil Hardberger is the next Mayor of the Alamo City. I wish him the best of luck, he’s about to learn that having a thing is not so nice as wanting it. A little late in the day for such lessons, but better late than never.

Regardless, I suspect for the next couple of years San Antone will muddle along much as we always do. Developers will continue to pave the aquifer with abated taxes, City staffers will continue to award contracts to insiders who pay to play, lobbyist will continue to deliver faite au completes to our elected officials who will continue to oblige if they want to raise funds for their reelection campaigns.

This is not Phil’s fault it is ours. The same would have been true if Julian had won, even if he might have hoped otherwise. Citizens in our historically underserved communities feel that they have heard it all before and they have little hope that our leadership is really going to come to their aid and do tangible things to improve their quality of life. Hence they are understandably disengaged, unregistered and apathetic. Northside Loop Landers feel no sense of place or civic loyalty. They are absorbed in their big box shopping and soccer mom universes. The only time they get activated is if they feel their property values are threatened or their taxes might be raised. They bought into the developers’ line of bull that any limitations on unrestricted paving of the aquifer constitutes a threat to homeowners’ property rights and undermines most families’ primary source of savings. This is of course hogwash, but is so widely accepted among Northsiders that it qualifies as a suburban myth.

San Antonians pretty much get the quality of government we deserve, and we don’t deserve much. We neglect our school children at rates that put our kids amongst the lowest performing in the nation. We acquiesce as for almost a third of our young men the Bexar County Jail is a more likely career path than UTSA. We pay our workers less than almost anywhere in the country and we expect less out of them so they remain compliant. We neglect our cultural institutions into oblivion when we are not running them directly into the ground. We let our leaders play Anglo off against Hispanic as if Justice was a zero sum game. Our leaders may not be the best and brightest amongst us, but most of them are typical representations of what constitutes a San Antonian and for the most part they accurately reflect our stated and unstated priorities. If things suck its because our priorities, not our votes, are misplaced.

San Antonio is the land of unfulfilled potential. We are geographically placed to become a center of trade and cultural exchange for the future. If we only had the right set of priorities our denstiny could be promising indeed. But in order to fulfill that destiny we must pull our heads out of our collective asses. We must realize that “our children are our future” is not just a pop lyric. We must demand that out of town corporations that come to our burg to exploit our cheap labor and export the profits they make in our community must at least pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of punking us out. We must realize that sustainable development is not just some left-wing jargon but the only alternative to environmental and economic collapse. We must come to understand that economically integrated residential development is good for our property values, good for our community and essential to ensuring the health of the polity. We must invest in our cultural institutions to help establish our brand identity as a tourist destination not because the arts are touchy feely and pinko, but because they are essential to successful economic development. That they increase and intellectual and spiritual quality of life is just the icing on the cake. We must not be content to return to our homes and families as if our front doors were sufficient to keep the troubles of our community at bay. We must all become more activated politically and bring our ideas and values to our politicians as well as our money to their campaigns. We must demand more from our elected officials in terms of competency and accountability. We must insist on transparency at City Hall. But mostly would must demand more from ourselves.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

So Much for Carroll’s 18 Pounders

Surprise, surprise, Carroll Schubert has endorsed Hardberger for Mayor. The other shoe has finally dropped, but as for Schubert’s testiculos, they are still awaiting the arrival of fuzz.

Apparently Carroll feels there are enough Anglo Republicans out there to ensure his political career without the need to pander to folks he really doesn’t like anyway.

The Mayor’s race is likely to be close, but a betting man would probably put his money on Phil. Big money and power tends to trump ethnic unity every time. This is especially true when that ethnic pride has to unify around a coconut.

Castro’s professed policies would probably be better for San Antonio than those Phil’s old guard Concrete Mafia cronies have in store for us. But what Julian professes today will likely change with the political winds. This, not his age, is his true Achilles heal. His constant equivocation puts the status of his cojones in question at least as much as Carroll’s.

As far as Hardberger’s manhood is concerned, given his age, he is probably running mostly on gall and Viagra.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Why Is Schubert So Coy?

Schubert is withholding his endorsement, but why? Does anybody really think he is ideologically inclined to support Castro? Until his tantrum during the debate, everyone would have expected Julian to throw his votes to Hardberger in the event he didn’t make the runoff. Did this provide an opening for Carroll?

Carroll got shut out, so Julian’s bluff was never called. But what is really in the offing? If Schubert does the obvious, he endorses Hardberger and Phil wins. But Hardberger feels pretty much entitled to the remnants of Carroll’s base so he probably wouldn’t view this as a substantial favor. But Castro could really use the help broadening his appeal, especially with the likelihood that some portion of his base might not show up to vote in the runoff. If Carroll throws his weight to Julian, Castro is liable to be very grateful.

So why would Carroll be interested in gratitude? Well, if as some suspect, he is really planning to run for County Commissioner, then support from Castro could substantially increase Schubert’s appeal with the Latino voters. Could Carroll Schubert be looking for a quid pro quo from Julian that Hardberger cannot really match? This would be a risky tact for Schubert to take, but it could make for a very close race in the final hours.

Of course it presumes that his conservative Northside constituency would follow his lead, which they very well might not. In this event he discredits himself with his own base, alienates Hardberger, Castro loses anyway and has no quid pro quo to offer. This would leave Phil up a creek with out a paddle of any kind. He might once again look to the state Republican political machine for support, but they couldn’t even get him into the runoff, so putting all his eggs in their basket after he has alienated his base would probably prove worse than futile.

It seems Carroll is flirting with disaster if he is willing to bet the farm on Julian. But this would be an incredibly bold move for a man whose campaign could be described as anything but bold. But maybe a close up look at defeat has made him remember where he left his cojones. If Carroll does ultimately endorse Julian, then they must be eighteen pounds apiece and solid bronze. Keep watching and we’ll see what Schubert is really made of.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

How Could City Government Help the People?

Everyone has their own take on this, here is mine:

1. More beat cops on the street in crime-ridden areas.

2. Stop giving tax abatements to oligarchical businesses that pay minimum wagish salaries for part time, no benefits jobs from which the employees will be laid off before they ever retire. The “no benefits” constitutes a transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the corporations. These employees perpetually remain among the working poor and burden the social service system despite their industry and hard work. The abatements also come out of my pocket as my house is reassessed every year to pay for new people with children moving into my district.

3. Lobby the state to means test parents who avail themselves of the Public School system. My Dad was a government mule at Kelly. On his meager salary he paid my tuition to Grace Bible School, San Antonio Military Academy and Keystone. Every day I drive past Churchill and see a parking lot full of $40,000 cars driven by teenagers. This amounts to a redistribution of wealth from the lower and middle-middle class to the wealthy. Why am I paying for the indoctrination and substandard education of the children of the elite, simply because they don’t care enough about their own offspring to sacrifice that extra condo in Aspen for the sake of tuition? The elite’s parents abdicate, I pay and Johnny can’t read. I could go on about this, but suffice to say that means testing would be a boon to private schools, would free up much needed resources in public schools, and be a general benefit to school children everywhere.

4. Reform Zoning laws to improve economic, ethnic and political justice in society. Subdivisions with houses from the $75s-$125s, $175s-$350s, $250s-$600s, $500-$3,000,000s, are the problem. Such developments segregate us by wealth, ethnicity and political interests. They undermine civic unity and create ghettos for the rich where the rest of the community is out of sight and out of mind. If we zone for real economic integration with a mansion, a 4-bdrm, a 2-bdrm, a duplex, and a 4-plex on every residential street, this would avoid concentrations of poverty and wealth. It would increase social access and upward mobility, both economic and social. The current model provides only an illusion of security as your precious gated communities are surrounded by apartments filled with folks who find the wall no obstacle to burglarizing your home or selling drugs to you unsupervised youth. It is only a barrier to coming to know you and learn to share your much-vaunted work ethic.

For those who say this is not what the buyers market wants, I cite you property values. If you try to buy a 2,000 sq. ft house on say Lullwood or Mistletoe between McCullough and San Pedro, you'll pay about $200,000 for a home that needs a new roof, new foundation, new paint, new fixtures, new electrical etc. That brings it up to about $350,000. This is in just such an economically integrated neighborhood as I’ve described. If the buyers market is willing to pay this much just to be in such a neighborhood without good schools why not build more development like this?

It is just such economically integrated neighborhoods that are the most contested in local elections reflecting their relative political diversity as well. If there were more such communities, this would lower the stakes in gerrymandering and reduces the incentive for the shenanigans that always emerge in the process.

5. Stop building freeways and spending millions rebuilding their intersections. This only serves to concentrate traffic flows, create gridlock, and the traffic jams that are the real source of big box revenue. Big boxes have extraordinary start up costs, roughly $3.5 million for an Olive Garden. They have to recoup these costs competitively with the stock market, not just the restaurant market. That means you have to sell a lot of spaghetti real fast. Your business model relies on building a $500,000 sign that will be viewed by about 2,000,000 drivers a day. Without these 2,000,000 car passes your model falls apart. Who subsidizes the huge expense of this model? The taxpayer, federal, state and local does. This is yet another transfer of wealth from the working and middle class to the corporate coffers. Maybe if we got back the two hours we spent in the car everyday we could supervise our latch key kids and cut down on STDs and teen pregnancies to boot.

6. Continue to improve local drainage. Make under-served areas that have been waiting for a century the first priority and move new developments to the end of the queue.

7. Stop spending money subsidizing the negative cash flow to the community that professional sports create. I like sports as much as the next guy. In particular I like fencing, shooting sports, equestrian events, Grand Prix automobile racing and motto cross. Imagine the outrage if I asked the citizens of San Antonio to provide $200,000,000 to subsidize my athletic interests. The horror, the horror!

8. Instead of trying to be a second rate Houston or Dallas, we should zig when they zag. This is the first rule of establishing a successful brand identity. These capitals of mammon are not going to play fair with San Antonio and we will never compete with them at their own game. We should play the culture card. If done right, this would leave them in the dust and be a boom to our local economy, for more on this check out some of my posts.

9. We should reform the charter to end term limits, but keep short terms of office. We should extend ethics reform to the lobbyists and make them report how much they receive and how they spend it. The City should deploy effective technology to make this information available and make sites like SAElections.com obsolete.

More on these themes to come.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

NFL: Beatify This

Hardberger’s at it again, more pandering to the mook crowd. San Antonio Saints? Not likely, more like yet another cynical move by an NFL owner to extort more money from his hometown through threats to leave New Orleans. They can keep the Saints in New Orleans. If we get the losing franchise, then it will be San Antonio taxpayers that are, like clockwork, subjected to such periodic shakedowns.

To New Orleans, “Keep your losers. We know there are no Saints in the NFL Owners Association, only thieves."

At least Castro got this one right. Julian says the Saint's are welcome so long as they bring their own checkbooks with them. So where were his cajones when Soccer punked him out? This guy flips back and forth so often, I'm beginning to think he's a hermaphrodite.

Paradigm Shifts and Ideas

A certain little punk at another blog complained that there is a lack of address to ideas at this site. He said Hardberger is an Old Guard Democrat with outmoded leftist views from the 70's. He suggests there has been a paradigm shift, and the current candidates fail to reflect the new mood of the country.

Let’s examine his premises.

This site is in fact about ideas. It is about one idea in particular that has been beaten like a big base drum, namely that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s it in a nutshell folks. Power in San Antonio is concentrated in the hands of a few dozen people who determine the fate of the rest of us without the slightest concern for the general well being of the community. This has been a running theme throughout this blog. It may not reflect recent paradigm shifts, as the Religious Right now snuggles up to power oblivious to its inherent moral challenges. Smugly confident in their own righteousness as defenders of the unborn and crusaders for public decency, they content themselves with the Pharisee’s prayer. Unfortunately for them, it will fall on deaf ears.

Is Hardberger an Old Guard Democrat with outdated ideas?

Unfortunately, although it pains me to throw the nameless dog a bone, he’s right about this. Don’t look to Phil for the vision thing. He’s one of those tax and spend liberals that thinks spending money is the same as doing something. But this is not exactly a News Flash to anyone that has followed the campaign. It also probably won’t seriously bother the majority of citizens in a city in which the have-nots outnumber the haves by 2000:1. This may not reflect the nationwide paradigm shift, but it does reflect the disparagement of opportunity in San Antonio. Tough luck to the New Right, but the democratic process will continue to trump paradigm shifts so long as injustice so self-evidently prevails. The tragedy for the historically underserved communities in San Antonio is that Hardberger will content himself with spending money tinkering around the edges of the status quo. Their plight will continue unabated, the homeowners’ taxes will continue to rise unabated, and the big box retailers who come to town will continue to get their abatements on schedule.

What are the implications of the Paradigm Shift with regards to local politics?

First it means cutting funding of groups like Planned Parenthood that offer abortion services, as well as women’s health services, to the underserved areas of town. Is this a good thing? That depends on how you feel about abortion. Regardless, it will mean a decrease in health services to some of the people who need it most. But Neo-Cons suggest that these services are more aptly the responsibility of the non-profit community who they assert provide them more cost effectively. Other budget cuts to social programs that are less ethically charged would also be in order, with the similar transfer of responsibility to the non-profit sector. This sounds good on the surface, but scratch that paint and you’ll find rust eating away at the social fabric.

The reality of the non-profit world in San Antonio is that the philanthropic fundraiser is about as welcome in the halls of wealth as a dentist who forgoes the use of anesthesia. A typical fundraising event in San Antonio goes something like this:

A bunch of rich inbred old biddies sitting on a Board of Trustees make up a guest list to a fundraising party. They carefully scratch names off the list so nobody on the social outs gets in, regardless of their inclination for giving. The biddies occupy all the time and resources of the management and staff of the organization for three months as they plan their party. They need catering, flowers, interior decorators, live music and hot and cold running chambermaids scurrying in every direction. All these expenses come out of the operating expenses of the non-profit organization in question. Frequently these expenses may add up to as much or more than ¼ of its annual budget. Party night comes and a bunch of old rich folks and their useless scions attend a $300,000 bash at the organization’s expense. A speech is made calling for donations. At the end of the evening, if the party has been well planned (if not, the non-profit may go into the red on the event), they raise $350,000 and congratulate themselves enthusiastically. The Chairman of the Board and head biddy now uses this meager $50,000 to beat the institution’s Director like a rented mule until the next fundraiser 12 months away. In the meantime a feud ensues regarding the size of the print and position of the names on the bronze plaque that is to be erected in honor of the generosity of these so-called philanthropists. Eventually it is agreed that whether you gave $500 or $10,000 your name will be the same size. The people who gave less consider this a most important victory and congratulate themselves on their shrewdness, since the more foolish generous individuals paid too much for the same amount of prestige. Lesson learned, in the future write a smaller check and stick to your guns when fighting for credit.

Counting on the generosity of San Antonio’s aristocracy is like counting on the generosity of the mugger who just stole your wallet to buy you dinner. It ain’t going to happen! If we cut public funding you cannot rely on the generosity of San Antonio’s misanthropists to pick up the slack. If you don’t believe this just ask anyone working in the non-profit sector.

The second note of the Neo-Con local mantra is that property rights trump all others. This is a pernicious bate and switch. Fear mongering tactics are used to scare the middle class homeowners into thinking their interests and the Developers are identical. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Developers thrive on fear. In particular they feed on fear of the encroachment of Hispanics into the Northside suburbs. They sell homes with the catch phrase good schools to mask their hidden redlining agendas. Bad news for the Northsiders who fear their brother more than they love him, U-haul is going to continue to rent trucks to Latinos and every few years you’re going to have to sell your ticky tacky house and move yet further north if you don’t rid yourself of your contemptible racial paranoia.

The Neo-Cons real agenda is big box development as far as the eye can see, aquifer be damned and they won’t let anything come in the way. What is deplorable is they are selling us Fascism and calling it Libertarianism. It’s not, it’s a hoax based on fear and greed. Ever notice how you almost never see Bill’s Flower Shop, Steve's Garage or Wally’s Restaurant in these big box strip centers? That’s because they are designed and priced to keep these business models out. Say goodbye to the middleclass entrepreneur, as we all become a nation of wage slaves gerrymandered around our racial fears and prejudices.

How’s that for ideas, rattled brains? Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

Castro and Hardberger Aren’t That Bad

Sorry if that last post sounded, well a little strident, but Rattled Brains had it coming. His harassment has made me realize that in fact, the biggest jerks in town aren’t the one’s running for Mayor.

San Antonio will stumble down its mediocre road regardless of who wins the runoff. The developers will continue to pave the aquifer. The City services will be expensive and inefficient. The historically underserved communities will stay underserved.

Julian will come to learn the depressing fact that there is nothing this town resents so much as vision. It doesn’t matter what the relative merits or demerits of a particular vision are. In San Antonio it is vision itself that is universally viewed as at best suspicious and worst intrinsically pernicious.

In 1994 I came to the citizens, business and nonprofit community and shouted to anyone who would listen, “The Internet is coming! The Internet is coming!” San Antonio’s unanimous response was. “Go away kid you bother me. The Internet’s a fad. Nobody will use it.” Or the unfathomable,"OK, I'll take a one page website, but I don't need email." It might surprise some readers that at one time in 1994 and early 95 there was more information on the Internet about San Antonio than about New York City and Los Angeles combined. No Bull! It is true folks. But as usual San Antonio squandered its opportunities and waited until it was the last one to board the train. Anybody remember The Coffe Gallery down on Commerce St.? How many realize that the 3rd Internet Café in the world was opened in San Antonio less than one week after the first one opened in San Francisco and the second in London? Yeah, I didn’t think you knew that. But sad as these facts are, they are true, and they reflect the malaise that is San Antonio culture. Julian will inevitably learn what many who have come before him already know, “A prophet is never loved in his hometown.”

Phil is about to learn that San Antonians are not going to just do what they're told no matter what it is you tell them to do. You could command a bunch of San Antonians to evacuate a flaming theater, and they would hem and haw and shuffle until the last person burned alive. He’s also about to find out that they don’t play nice together either. San Antonio’s power base skipped kindergarten and headed straight for the Fiesta Balls. Hence sharing was a lesson most of them missed.

As a financial capital San Antonio ranks somewhere between El Paso and McAllen, yet we have more chambers of commerce than we have successful business ventures in this town. There’s the Greater Chamber, the Northside Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the Alamo City Chamber, the Women’s Chamber etc. etc. There are more chambers opening up constantly in the outlying areas. These are a lot of chambers for a town that’s claim to fame is that it is where successful businesses come to fail. Unless you’re selling tacos, automobiles or a new house, your business prospects in San Antonio are bleak at best. So why so many local chambers? Because divide and conquer is an effective strategy and it is the one that has been exploited for decades by San Antonio’s elite business and political power brokers to their own resounding success and extravagant profit. These folks already had a meeting, and they had it without Phil. Whatever policies he attempts to deploy will run into a concrete wall as they hand him a fate au complete. If his resistance is more than token, he will find himself a one term Mayor and his ultimate legacy will be that he was thanklessly thrown out of office by the same people who put him there.

It is not the uninspiring candidates that are going to be responsible for San Antonio’s continued slump into mediocrity; it is the fault of San Antonio itself. As long as we are determined to be a village of sheep rather than a city of lions, we will continued to be ruled rather than governed. Our destiny will be determined by the handful of elite power brokers who will continue to mismanage our prosperity into oblivion.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I'm Sorry Rattled Brains Is Such A Jerk.

I apologize to the whole blogging community for having been an attractive nuisance to this poor deluded fool, Rattlerman. I am truely sorry if he has been a pain in your collective butts. But now I must lay this punk out once and for all.

Ok, Rattled Brains, I've had about enough of your crap! That was your last post here.

Endorse Hardberger? Hardberger apologist? Basta! Put down the aiplane glue. Open a window. Pull your head out of your a**. Do someting man. your oxygen is clearly cut off.

What blog have you been reading?

At this blog I've called the Judge a greedy trial lawyer repeatedly. I've said his $300,000 loan to his own campaign is tantamount to a license to accept over a quarter of a million dollars worth of bribes for the next two years. I’ve accused him of being disingenuous and pandering regarding the NFL in the Alamo Dome. I’ve decried his desire to make City Hall more open to business as the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire. I’ve questioned what a trial lawyer knows about business anyway. I’ve stated that his motivation for running is an ego driven attempt to put yet another notch on his belt and create his final legacy. I've asserted that he is vacuous and a cynical panderer for Chicano votes when it comes to the Arts. I've written that he is old and out of touch when it comes to technology. I've said that he thinks he can just tell people what to do and underestimates the difficulty of forming a real consensus. I've accused him of being beholding to very much the same interests as Schubert. These same moneyed interests that will now undoubtedly throw yet more of their corrupting support behind Judge Hardberger.

Hell, at this point I've accused him of just about everything short of grand larceny and alzheimer's. I’m just hoping a posse from the Hardberger campaign doesn’t meet me in a dark alley some night. If they do, I’m sure it won’t be to thank me for my loyal support.

How many ways do I have to say, “The Judge is a pernicious old fart, don't vote for him,” before a dim-witted myope like yourself gets the point? Or a life for that matter? My position is that there is not a dime's worth of difference between any of the self-serving, ambitions, social climbing, money grubbing, shyster lawyers who would run this town for the profit of the elites rather the benefit of the citizens. Let me make this perfectly clear: I do not endorse Judge Phil Hardberger!!! or his adolescent coconut opposition either. If you want to be Schubert's bitch that's your choice, but I ain't catching for anyone.

If you think I’ve been playing favorites in the Mayor’s race, you are alone in that presumption. As evidence I offer this email I received from J.J at 12:25 PM on May 5:

“I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your posts. You give all the candidates a good knock-around, and I'm actually of the opinion that it's really good for the process…”

You want to talk about blind prejudice. Lets talk dipwad. Lets talk about the blind prejudice of all those Republicans who think all Democrats are Godless Communists. Let's talk about the blind prejudice of all those Democrats that think all Republicans are money grubbing, self righteous, war mongers. Lets talk about the prejudice of both parties toward anyone that refuses to swear unconditional allegiance to either. Let's talk about the way most partisans dismiss all dissenting voices as static created by idealistic cranks. Yeah, I'm prejudiced. But I'm not blind. I'm prejudiced against any who would seek political power by sleeping with big money interests. You cannot accurately judge the content of a man's character by the color of his skin. But a close look at his friends and financial backers is usually a pretty damn accurate indicator of what a person is really made of. I don't know, but I'm guessing your friends are a** holes at the very least, but more likely, they're just few and far between.

Regarding "the trappings of power behind the written word..acting like one grabbing the power he likes."

What a load of horse pucky! Geez your grandiosity is revolting. I would be surprised if more than a dozen different people have read my blogs since I started. What's more, I'll eat my hat if a single one of them didn't have their mind made up on who they supported long before my first post. Most of the bloggers are partisans in case you haven't noticed. Since most of what I have published is guaranteed to offend most of them most of the time, its not likely that I'm winning many friends or influencing many people out here. If these are the trappings of power, I need a new tailor. As far as "grabbing the power I like," what a load of crap. The quickest way to get power is to go where the power is, and tell people what they want to hear. The power isn't at Blogspot dumba**, it's at those Schubert and Hardberger fundraising parties. If power was what I wanted, that's where I would have headed. But instead I headed here to exercise my free speech in a pint sized-venue. What do I find here? Power, prestige, literary fame? Hell no, instead I find a little self-important trouser snake like you. This isn't power, this is pathetic.

Regarding "somebody has to watch the bloggers:" (Yeah, this numb nut actually said this folks, can you believe it?) Who died and made you the guardian of the blogosphere? Who are you watchin for punk? Why don't you just let the bloggers do that, since they seem a hell of a lot better informed than self righteous radio personalities who think they're too clever for their own good. I'm willing to be judged by my own peers, but not by interloping posers in internet drag trying to disguise the fact they're from another medium. But then I'll wager your pretty comfortable in drag, aren't you sweet cheeks?

Regarding my identity: There is no grandiose conspiracy you self-important paranoid jackass. Lay off Lori Bravo. Lay off SAElections.com. Lay off Cincinnatus. Lay off yourself or you'll get a rash. What they do at their respective venues has nothing to do with what goes on here in this blog. Cool it with your wild speculations. I noticed you didn't take up my offer to email me with your identity and meet me in person to call me a liar to my face. That was probably a healthy, if predictably cowardly, choice on your part.

I will very shortly reveal my identity to anyone who cares. But I will do it in my own time, in my own way, punk. But I’ve got a $20 bill that says that when I do, nobody but you will give a tinker’s damn. I’ve got another $50 that says you won’t be so anxious to reveal your own rattled identity and meet in person to call me a liar to my face. I’ve got yet another $100 that says if you do, you sure as hell won’t do it again. To be honest, I don’t really give damn who you are. It is more than clear to everybody in the blogosphere what you are.

I have not lied to anyone so far in this campaign, I just haven’t told you what you want to hear. But if you don't get off my a** and stick to your own sorry excuse for a blog, I may have to return the favor and start making you my special project. Unlike Carroll, I won't kiss you first.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

David “Dracula” Earl Can’t Stand Light of Free Speech

Apparently what’s good for the goose is not in fact, good for the gander. David Earl is no fan of free speech. The Stop David Earl sign at the corner of Dreamland and Vance Jackson was vociferously destroyed and its pieces disapeared by a vandal this morning. Could this have been done by David Earl, or was it one of his “Associates?”

David Earl’s client, Chris Petit, put up unsigned Stop Art Hall signs throughout the neighborhood. Then Bert Cecconi signs appeared over night and Art Hall signs were torn down and thrown into bushes. Then the Stop David Earl signs appeared and lasted for less than 48 hours before the Dark Lord’s henchmen came and tore them down as well. They even tore down the graphic sign that justly portrays their influence as Fascism, even though it mentioned no one by name. But I guess they knew who they were even without a direct reference and they don’t want you to know what they’re up to. So they tore down the signs.

This kind of crap is why someone needs to Stop that shyster-lawyer-lobbyist-backroom-wheeler-dealer David Earl. He and his Associates hide in the shadows with their money tempting and intimidating our elected officials and perverting our Democracy. Down with this hidden power! Down with the influence of opaque money in government! Down with David Earl and all he and his traitorous pernicious ilk stand for! Down with tyranny! May he and all those like him suffer the torments of eternal damnation for their misanthropy!

This is America, damn it! This is not Putin’s Russia and we do not have to tolerate a tyranny of oligarchs who subvert freedom of speech, intimidate our elected officials and shake down the remaining honest business people of our community. Who do these moneyed elites think they are? Where do they think they are?

This is just the kind of behavior Mussolini’s Black Shirts pulled in Fascist Italy. It is what Hitler’s Brown Shirts did in Germany. For those who say it can’t happen here, I’m here to tell you it is happening here, right now. The Germans thought these people were just a bunch of punks that could be dismissed, but they soon came to regret their naivety. Beware of Fascists who don’t want you to know that’s what they are. Beware of people that think secret money influence, the kind that’s not reported on CFR’s, is their tool for maintaining power. Beware of those who would subvert your liberty with impunity. Beware of that sorry SOB David Earl.

Some of you who are asking, “What’s Cicero’s personal beef with David Earl?” The answer is, "I don’t have one." In fact until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of David Earl and Associates. I was at the City’s website where I saw a link for registered SA Lobbyists, I was curious so I downloaded the PDF’s there. What I found was shocking. David Earl and Ass. had more clients than all the other SA Lobbyists put together. The disproportionality was striking. His former partner Brown, P. C. has a fairly impressive list himself, although if appears he got the ugly children in the divorce. More appalling was the identity of the people on Earl's registered list of clients. They were a Who’s Who of almost every major player in the development industry, the construction business, the concrete establishment, the biggest realtors, bankers and car dealers in town. In its totality the list was quite revealing about how your City government really works.

You need a zoning variance for your new parking lot? Call David. You need to avoid a pesky tree preservation ordinance? Call David. You need to eminent domain a stubborn landowner to make way for a big box development? Call David. You need a golf course over the objections of the electorate? Call David. You want legislation passed in the dark of night in Austin to facilitate a secret deal you’ve got working behind the scenes at City hall? You got it, call David. David Earl is the Fix-it man downtown. We elect our officials to do one thing, then someone else puts David Earl and Associates on retainer to see those pesky voters and their amateur elected officials don’t get in the way of the big boys agenda.

This is the kind of shady, hidden influence that undermines voter confidence in our officials and is responsible for the epidemic of apathy among San Antonio voters. If you think a 17% voter turnout for a heated election is pathetic, blame David Earl and Associates. It is David and his cohorts that make our votes irrelevant. We vote, they buy, cajole, intimidate and sue. You go more than three rounds with these guys and you’re going down. You either pay to play with these lobbyists, or you don’t get invited to any more reindeer games.

Hitler and Mussolini never did anything to me personally, but I still don’t like them and I will tell anyone who will listen how loathsome and evil they were. David Earl and Associates have until this morning never done anything to me either. But I detest those who would thwart the voters' will and game the system for personal profit. So I decry the pernicious activities of David Earl and Associates and of all those Fascists who would sacrifice our liberty on an altar of unrestrained greed. Schubert, Hardberger and Castro have all promised fiscal restraint in City spending. But, if only we could get rid of the exploitative influence of parasites like David Earl, we could afford to spend money like drunken sailors to address the real needs of the decent hardworking citizens of San Antonio, and still balance the budget.

A first step to ridding ourselves of these sebaceous cysts on the body politic would be for the City to require them to publicly list not only their clients, but also how much money they receive from each of them, and like the candidates, how they spend it. Wouldn’t this be revealing? The skeletons that would come flying out of that closet would look like the final scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s probably why you’ll never see it in your lifetimes.

Transparency in the political process is not something that ends with candidate CFR’s. It must extend to all those who would influence the process as their professions and livelihoods.

Call or email our newly elected officials and let them know to avoid David Earl like the plague. Because that’s exactly what he is. Let them know that you will view any affiliation with him or his associates unfavorably and that you will remember their alliance with his evil on the next Election Day. Between now and the runoff contact both the Castro and Hardberger campaigns and let them know how you feel about hidden money influence in government. Tell them if they do not denounce the influence of lobbyists at City Hall, especially David Earl, that you will actively campaign against them over the next few weeks. If they don’t, it won’t matter whom you voted for on Saturday, or who you choose for Mayor. David Earl and Associates will just buy, threaten and sue their way around your interest to pursue their own agendas. Hell, if you have the cajones, just write David Earl himself at 111 Soledad, San Antonio Texas 78205 or call him at 210-222-1500 and tell him where he can go. If you don’t, the status quo will remain. You vote, David Earl decides, and profits in the bargain.

Great Work San Antonio Bloggers, Take A Bow

Congratulation fellow San Antonio Bloggers for a great days work. Special kudos go out to The Red State for his live blogging. Also honorable mention to The Jeffersonian for his accurate prognostications. Honorable mention to Burnt Orange Report for covering elections across the state. Honorable mention to Matt for recognizing discretion is sometimes the better part of valor. Special kudo for Newshog for calling a spade a spade, and last but not least, a very special raspberry for anonymous who went to the Salsa Net debates.

Also congratulations and salute to all the candidates and their staffs who have been busting ther humps motivated by optimism and a sense of civic duty. Hats off to you all win or lose.

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