Sunday, May 30, 2010


Memorial Day
Fort Sam Houston

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Suspect sought in gruesome 'ghost tracks' murder "

See? This is why I say it's a bad idea to play around those supposedly haunted ghost tracks.
A horrifying discover was made on the city's south side early Friday. A body was found burning by the side of the road near the infamous 'ghost tracks'.


A couple of cars were on their way to the Ghost Tracks when they noticed a fire under the overpass at 410 and Shane Road.

"They were just driving along.They happened to see a fire and they thought was simply just a fire. When they went closer that's when they saw the body," says Sandy Gutierrez with the San Antonio Police Department.
(from KENS-5)

Those tracks are not haunted. But they are pretty scary. Best to stay away and not play on them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Answer: Where this place is

To answer the previous post about where this place is:

The place is Boerne.

And the picture was taken in front of the historic Turnverein.

Happy bowling.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Question: Where is this place?

It's in the San Antonio area.

This is cross-posted from Painted Ocean. I had put it there originally because this is not really strange in San Antonio (it's a little different, but not really strange, and it's in the San Antonio area, not San Antonio proper), but I wanted to put it out there for a wider audience to look at. If you recognize where this place is, please pop into the comments section and let us know. Bonus blog points if you guess the name of the establishment.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Car crashes into house

And then runs away!

Only to give up the ghost a few blocks later.
Two men in a sedan crashed into the side of a house on the city's North Side early Monday morning, injuring the passenger.

The driver attempted to flee in the vehicle, but the car died a block from the house, police said. The driver then fled on foot, leaving the injured passenger in the car, police said.

The men damaged four mailboxes in the neighborhood before putting a large hole in the side of a house on the 4100 block of Wahada Avenue. The home had about $1,000 in damage, a police officer said.

(from the Express-News)

No fences seem to have been hurt, but those mailboxes took a beating.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Man Charged In Online Solicitation"

Sadly, this is no surprise.
A San Antonio man is accused of trying to have sex with someone he thought was an underage girl whom he met in an Internet chat room.

Thomas Cody McGee, 25, is facing three counts of online solicitation of a minor.

Police in Bryan, Texas, said they had the warrant issued for his arrest after one of their detectives, posing as a 14-year-old girl, was propositioned by McGee.


San Antonio detectives served the warrant at the home in the 3900 block of Viewsite Drive Thursday afternoon and arrested McGee.
(from KSAT-12)

What's a bit odd is the guy's booking photo.

Now, the story doesn't say, and it's entirely possible that McGee got his new face before the police paid him a visit, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that he had resisted arrest.

Or maybe he just ran into Dr. David Banner.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A man who doesn't seem to think much at all

But don't get me wrong. Part of me likes the criminals too stupid to keep their mouths shut. It makes it easier to catch them. Of course, I wish they wouldn't do such things to begin with.
A San Antonio man suspected of killing his girlfriend and stuffing her body inside a closet in the couple's apartment was arrested late Thursday, police said.

Jacinto Riccardo Ragland, 40, was arrested about 9 p.m. He remained held at the Bexar County Jail on a murder charge.


Police arrested Ragland after they received a call that he had walked into a convenience store in the 500 block of Eleanor Avenue and told the clerk he had just killed his girlfriend.

Ragland, who appeared panicked, told the clerk he had accidentally killed his girlfriend during a fight that started after he found text messages from another man on her phone, according to a police incident report. When the clerk urged the man to call an ambulance in case the woman was still alive, Ragland declined, telling the man he planned to wait until nightfall to call some friends to help him dispose of the body.

The clerk alerted police .... [emphases added]

(from the Express-News)

Thank God for clerks who befriend their regulars to such an extent that the customers feel comfortable enough to share their current and future crimes. And thank God when they call the police later.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

City going after hookers

If you engage in the oldest profession, watch out! City Council is coming after you.

A new San Antonio city ordinance would allow police to target those known to be working as prostitutes.

Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos' proposal designates areas of focus, called "prostitution free corridors."

So far, the streets that would be targeted haven't been nailed down, but Ramos says Roosevelt and Presa are likely candidates.

(from KENS-5)

But hasn't this activity already been illegal, or is what's different the specific targeting of "known" prostitutes? And what's with the clumsy term "prostitution free corridors"? [Because "free prostitution corridors" would attract a whole lot of the wrong attention. You know that. ----ed.] Yes, but the alternative makes the effort sound clinical, heavy-handed, and entirely overconfident. [Can you think of something better? ----ed.] No. No, I can't.

Castro to be Colberted

At last! State Representative Joaquin Castro gets the recognition he deserves.
SAN ANTONIO -- Mayor Julián Castro's fame is spreading. He's been invited to the White House, featured in national publications, and now he's received what may be the most fun invitation.

Mayor Castro will be a guest on The Colbert Report on June 28th.
(from WOAI-TV)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eating panties

Doing so should be nobody's business but your own. But the place that sells you such goodies should probably know as much as possible about city ordinances. You know, so they can stay in business----and continue to sell you edible underwear.

Rosemary Benitez thought it was a joke at first. She was told her store was going to require a food permit in order to stay in business. Benitez owns the Shades of Love lingerie store on West Bitters road.

Shades of Love sells racy lingerie, high heel shoes, adult toys, and items meant to enhance a couple's sex life. However, some of those items are edible. That's why the health department ruled the store needed a food permit.

The permit costs about $230 a year. It also means the store is subject to regular health inspections.

Beneitez says, "Everything is sold as novelty. Everything in the box says 'novelty item' only... It's not something you sit down and actually eat. It's more for licking and tasting. Edible? No. It's not going to fill you up."

San Antonio's Sanitarian Services Manager, Stephen Barschewski, told us, "Any facility in the city of San Antonio that sells edible substance requires a food establishment permit. One, it's the law. Two, in case there's a recall, we certainly want to know the source."

(from KENS-5)

"It's not going to fill you up."

"In case there's a recall."

I'm still chuckling.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Failing the children

Where are the parents these days?
Some first-graders are receiving counseling after a fellow classmate threatened to kill them and blow up the school.

The incident occurred Friday, after a 7-year-old student at Caroll Bell Elementary School, in the Harlandale Independent School District, threatened other children, Harlandale ISD spokeswoman Leslie Garza said.

"(He told) them he was going to tie one of them up, kill that student, kill that students' families and he was going to blow up the school," she said.

Garza said school officials found several weapons in the boys backpack, including knives and cigarette lighters.

He and another 7-year-old boy, who said he was coerced by the first boy into holding a knife, were suspended for three days.
(from KSAT-12)

God, I hope that kid turns out OK. I don't have much hope, though.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"A blind school bus driver?"

WOAI-TV asks the question: How could a school district let a blind man drive a bus?
SAN ANTONIO -- A blind man is not someone parents would want driving their children to school. But a Judson ISD worker claims that is exactly what could have happened.
But it must be sweeps month, because--though the guy has vision problems--he's not really blind.
Rudy Mungia works for the Judson ISD. He filed a lawsuit against the district because he says his bosses tried to force him to drive a school bus even though he's blind in one eye.

Mungia lost vision in his right eye during a welding accident back in the 1970's, and said he shouldn't be behind the wheel of a school bus. Mungia has worked as a district mechanic maintaining the buses for 19 years. After making repairs, he takes the buses for a test drive, but insists he doesn't see well enough to drive with kids on board. [emphases added]
Obviously the guy can function. He can't see as well as most people, and he probably shouldn't be driving a bus with students on board, but he's certainly not completely blind as WOAI tries to suggest with the headline and the opening paragraph of the story. But, then again, it is sweeps month, and that's what TV stations do: play up the story. And WOAI is going to need all the ratings it can get after management canned Jennifer Broome and replaced her with some gray-haired dude.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spoiling the dog

Dave at Silver Creek 78250 saw evidence that some people might love their pets just a little bit too much. Really. Click over and see.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not speaking the language

Census worker knocks on a door. Person answers. Census worker speaks. Woman in home speaks. They don't understand each other. What languages do they speak?

Census worker - English; homeowner - Spanish. Right? That wouldn't be surprising.

What is surprising is that, in this case, it was the other way around.
Sylvia Turner told us she was shocked. The census worker she talked to was very nice and courteous, but could not hardly put two or three english [sic] words together. "I tried, I stood there, I tried to be very patient and he could not speak one work clearly."

She said she was surprised because she thought every census worker was tested for fluency in at least english [sic]. She didn't want to get the worker in trouble, but somehow, the system broke down.

Her question was "are they speaking to these individuals or are they just taking applications."

When we cruised around this north side neighborhood we happened to run into a census worker. And wouldn't you know had to be the same guy, because after talking to him for ten minutes, neither one of us knew what the other was trying to say. We didn't want to embarrass him so we aren't identifying him, but we did ask the census bureau if workers are tested and screened to communicate with the public. [ellipsis in original]
(from WOAI-TV)

Your tax dollars at work.

Of course, in all fairness, I guess we should ask the human resources people for the media if news story writers are tested in proper English capitalization.

"Mayor's Mom Says She 'Hates' Alamo"

Nice lady.
SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was recently profiled in the New York Times, which referenced him as the next national Hispanic leader and perhaps president.

"It's been a very promising response," said Castro. "It's a very flattering article."

But comments he didn't make could draw some strong opinions. His mother, Rosie Castro, had strong words when asked about her memories of the Alamo, a symbol of Texas independence.

"They used to take us there when we were school children," Perez [sic] told the Times. "They told us how glorious that battle was. When I grew up, I learned that the 'heroes' of the Alamo were a bunch of drunks and crooks and slaveholding imperialists who conquered land that didn't belong to them. But as a little girl I got the message (that) we were losers. I can truly say that I hate that place and everything it stands for."
(from KSAT-12)

In fairness to the mayor, her son, he responded with this:
"I'm sure that a lot of people disagree with it," said Castro, when asked about his mother's comments. "I ... have a different perspective from what she does. I think that the struggles that the state of Texas went through at the Alamo and other places were necessary for the great state that we have today and all of us should be proud of it." [ellipsis in original]
Is this a generational difference of attitudes, or is the mayor just saying this because he knows he will be up for re-election several more times and his mother knows she won't?

You decide. Especially the next time we vote for mayor.

Monday, May 10, 2010


They are mean, nasty monkeys. Best to keep your distance. Especially if you work at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Around 8:15 a.m., an animal caretaker was cleaning out the baboon cages when two of the baboons escaped from the holding area. The worker then rushed to a safety containment area designed for such an incident, but before he could lock the door, one of the baboons pushed it open.

Both of the baboons then charged the worker who fell to the ground, where he was bit and scratched. A second worker came to help and then, eventually, more workers arrived.

The baboons were eventually returned to their cages.

The caretaker was taken to University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The second worker suffered minor bruises and scratches.

(from KENS-5)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Keeping it in the family

Nepotism, money laundering, corruption, and a deal with a neighboring city to land a high-profile company -- it's all there, just up IH-35 where the San Antonio suburb of Windcrest lies, according to the Texas Rangers.

The release in mid-April of a Texas Rangers affidavit detailing financial improprieties in the city of Windcrest has yet to produce any criminal charges, but its implications are weighty against the former city manager and his brother, a real estate developer.

The April 13 affadavit alleges that Ronnie Cain, who retired April 1 from his post as Windcrest city manager, sat silent as his brother, real estate developer Gary Cain, misrepresented himself to the Windcrest City Council and eventually cost the city $2.8 million ... and may have damaged the city's relationship with its newest business partner, Rackspace Hosting. [ellipsis in original]

On April 11, 2008, then-Windcrest Mayor Jack Leonhardt signed a memo authorizing the city to honor a March 1, 2008 invoice for $2.8 million, to be paid out of a $5 million escrow account established by Rackspace for development around the former Windsor Park Mall, Rackspace's new home.

That $2.8 mill was funneled into the bank account of a fictitious company that the developer Cain created Feb. 26, 2008 — just six days before the invoice date. It was Ronnie Cain who first presented the invoice to Leonhardt and urged him to honor the request and sign the $2.8 million wire transfer.

Today, every cent of the $2.8 million is gone. There's been little progress on the public infrastructure at Rackspace.

(from the Northeast Herald)

Read the whole thing at the link for more wheeling and dealing.

Friday, May 07, 2010

"City's debate: Is topless woman nude if she's wearing pasties?"

Your local government at work.
San Antonio City Council representative Ray Lopez is taking on the definition of nudity. You could call it the fight of Lopez versus the pastie.

A pastie is a sticker that covers just the nipple and areola.

Lopez is trying to close a loophole that affects how strip clubs operate.

Currently in San Antonio, if dancers have their breasts completely exposed, it's considered a topless club and therefore a sexually oriented business. That means there are very strict rules in place for how it must operate.


Lopez wants to redefine San Antonio's nudity law to put a stop to [the possibility that a strip club with women wearing pasties might be built within 1,000 feet of a church or school]. He argues that unless a woman is covering a significant part of her breast with clothing, then she should be considered topless and the club should be considered sexually oriented.

His proposal covers how much of a woman's breast should be covered above and below the areola.
(from KENS-5)

The prigs R in ur Council, and they're measurin' yur boobeez.

"SA Man Arrested With Half-Ton Of Pot"

OK, there's got to be more to this story.
A San Antonio man was behind bars Friday night after police said they found nearly a half-ton of marijuana inside his home.

Police say 39-year-old Dean Dubowik stashed 862 pounds of marijuana in his garage on the city's West side.
(from KSAT-12)

I have to admit, 862 pounds is a lot, but it's somewhat less than the requisite 1,000 pounds to make half a ton.

That's some serious rounding there.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Wavering on the raises

What if you got a raise, and then what if, years later, your employer said you didn't deserve that raise? And what if your employer demanded that you pay it back?

Welcome to these nurses' world.
More than 900 Veterans Affairs nurses may be asked to return as much as eight years worth of pay raises after federal auditors determined that they were given those raises by mistake.

In a letter to nurses dated April 19, Marie Weldon, director of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, said officials will help the 920 affected nurses apply for waivers so they won't have to pay the money back, but that there are no guarantees.


The letter said the pay problems were discovered in a records review that led to a more comprehensive audit; and that it affects registered nurses' pay dating to October 2002, and that of licensed vocational nurses since August 2008. The mistake affects 800 RNs and 120 LVNs.

The raises were given in an attempt to stay competitive in the nursing job market, Weldon said.

(from the Express-News)

The article doesn't say it, but here, in the letter's own language, is what is wrong with those raises:
Audit results identified that since October 2002 for RN’s and August 2008 for LVN’s, a large number of these employees received additional steps or higher rates of pay in order to retain individuals on specific units or wards. There is no provision in VA policy to authorize additional steps or higher rates of pay for retention purposes, therefore, the actions must be corrected. In addition, other actions were identified that require correction. The required corrective actions will place employees at the appropriate grade, step and salary rate had the errors not occurred. Unfortunately in many cases this creates a salary overpayment for the affected employees. [emphases added]
Why is the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) demanding the raises be given back? This doesn't sound like the nurses are at fault, yet they are the ones that will suffer if the system goes through with this! Some higher-up screwed up, and the nurses end up screwed! If the raises were truly given in order for the STVHCS to remain competitive, then what the hell do the bureaucrats think this will do to employee morale once the "actions [are] corrected"?

But wait! It gets better. To handle this increased workload, the payroll department of STVHCS is "hiring additional staff from a temporary service to assist [] in calculating the overpayments."

Don't worry, though. These nurses will be able to disagree in a very bureaucratic way.
If you received an overpayment in salary, you will receive a bill of collection and subsequently a waiver request that you will utilize to request a waiver of the salary overpayment. After you sign the waiver, your waiver request will be sent to the Waivers and Compromise Committee for final review. [emphases added]
Oh, boy. A committee. I hope they've got lots of copies of those waivers. I predict about 920 will get filled out.

(Read the letter here.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

"CPS Caseworker Accused Of Sexual Assault"

Well, this is uncomfortable for the authorities.
SAN ANTONIO -- Police say a Child Protective Service worker was fired after allegations of attempted sexual assault on someone he was supposed to protect emerged.

San Antonio police Sgt. Chris Benavides said the allegations stem back to April 15, when Universal City police picked up a 14-year-old girl for a teen curfew violation.

"It was determined that she had been a runaway from CPS custody," said Benavides. "So, CPS was called back out. The CPS employee picked up our victim, transported her to a motel and attempted to have sex with the teen."
(from KSAT-12)

And, of course, our unequaled mayor jumps right in for the rescue.
However, State Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) said he's calling for a review of the policies at the department.

"I am going to ask the department to outline what their policies and procedures are for a worker who is in that situation and make sure that we have as airtight as possible policies and procedures to keep this from happening again," said Castro.
The thing is, the employee passed all the relevant background checks. If the allegations are true ("Police said the caseworker has not been arrested, and as of Monday evening, no charges had been filed."), then this may have been his first transgression. If so, there ain't gonna be no new policy that can change what happened.

I only say this because I hate when the first reaction of politicos to any serious situation is to increase regulations. We don't always need a new policy.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Testing the tracks

If you're from San Antonio, then you've probably heard about the legend of the ghost tracks on the South Side.

If you haven't, here it is in brief: Supposedly, in the 1930s, a school bus full of kids got stuck on some railroad tracks in San Antonio and got hit by a train. Now the ghosts of the children haunt the crossing, and whenever a car stops on the tracks, the little spirits come out of the woods to push the car to safety. It's such a popular story that people around here do experiments where they stop their cars on the tracks and wait for the kids to push them off. And they all pretty much swear that the ghosts come out and start manhandling their cars.

The problem is, there's no real basis to this story. Even people who believe in ghosts and make money off convincing other people that ghosts exist have come to the conclusion that there never was a school bus that was hit by a train at that location. Therefore, there are no benevolent spirits out there, and there's no such thing as "ghost tracks" in San Antonio.

But, that doesn't stop the people who want to believe.

Which brings me to this video, which I happened to come across while poking around on the web today. It's from October 2008, and it shows a group of people absolutely willing to believe in the nonexistent story. It's pretty entertaining, and worth a watch.

Some observations:

Opening - Nice effects. Nice creepy music.

0:58 - Evidence of children's fingerprints in the talcum powder sprinkled on the trunk? I doubt it. Those prints look awfully adult-sized to me, as if the powder had brought out the residual oils left behind by people putting their hands on the trunk lid to, say -- oh, I don't know -- maybe close the trunk from time to time? But I must be wrong. That kind of thing couldn't happen. Must be ghosts.

1:38 - Wow. Look at that trash. That looks like a dumping ground. I'm not sure I would want to be turning my car engine off in that area.

1:59 - Best line from the video: "Make sure you steer, stupes!"

2:11 - A nighttime try. Gaaaahhh! I'd be scared because of the area's appearance as a lonely dumping ground, not as a haunted place. But, no, go ahead and turn off your engine at night around there.

2:15 - Aaaaahhhh! Now you turned out the lights! What does that prove?

2:32 - Crap. He turned out his lights, too. That would be my cue to get the hell out of there.

2:42 - That ghostly voice sounds an awful lot like a sneeze to me.

2:58 - Dead smell. Most likely a dead animal (what a surprise in a rural area). Or something worse, given the dumping-ground nature of the place. But not particularly ghostly.

3:20 - I can explain it. Sweetleaf. Roll down the windows next time.

All in all, a fun little video to watch. Just don't take it as evidence of anything other than District 3 is in need of a visit from the Abatement Unit.

Car crashes into house

Oh, can nothing be done about the wanton behavior of crazed vehicle with vendettas toward homes in this city?
A man's SUV suddenly accelerated and then smashed into a home on the west side, finally coming to rest inside the living room.

The accident happened just after 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon on Woodfield, near Seguin Road. Investigators say the driver of the SUV lost control while heading down the residential street, then hopped the curb and drove into the home.
(from KENS-5)