Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Alamo -- in musical form!

Aaaahh God! Singing at the Alamo!

I don't care for musicals, and I think they are especially lame when they deal with serious subject matter (anyone remember Cop Rock?). So, you can imagine what I think about the worthiness of combining musical theater with the Battle of the Alamo.

And the musical is showing here, in San Antonio.

March 2, 1836 heralded the birth of the Republic of Texas and this year, THE CHURCH THEATRE commemorates the day with the opening of “GONE TO TEXAS, THE MUSICAL”, the award-winning production dramatized by San Antonio composer Tom Masinter, Austin playwright Steve Warren and New York producer-lyricist June Rachelson-Ospa.

Led by an all-star cast and directed by five-time Globe winner Diane Malone, the famous struggle for power and honor is chronicled in a new script with never before heard songs about the legendary men, wives, and families who fought at the Alamo during the 13 day siege that defined Texas history.

I wish the production luck. Really, I do. I like to see smaller ventures succeed, especially music-oriented ones, and I like to see San Antonio and our history promoted in positive ways. Just because I have no plans of seeing "Gone to Texas, the Musical" doesn't mean you shouldn't, if you happen to like musicals. I don't. Which is why, when contemplating this one, I can just barely muster this: Aaaahh God!

"Man Confesses to Mutilating and Killing School's Animals"

What an odd way to pass the time.


In January, security cameras caught several teens breaking into Madison High School's animal barn and mutilating and killing the animals. One lamb was hanged from a rafter and gutted, and two others were stabbed. ...

Police said an [sic] former Madison student, 19-year-old Horacio Favela, confessed to killing the lamb.

The police are still looking for his cohorts.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Just another odd mayor's race V

R.G. Griffing, one of the contenders for the mayor's seat in San Antonio, finds it difficult to take on city hall ("Hardberger's Office Blacklists RG Griffing").

Mayor Hardberger's Communications Gatekeeper, JJ Saulino, lost his temper and possibly his mind last week when he decided to blacklist the San Antonio Lightning from City Hall.

RG Griffing, editor and publisher of the Lightning, is currently running against Hardberger in the Mayoral Joust. ...

Saulino refused to comment on the pictures, or to identify the staffer involved. He went further to say that since Griffing is running for Mayor, Saulino's office will no longer respond to questions from the Lightning.

"You can't be in the media AND run for political office," Griffing quotes Saulino as saying.

Actually, you can. It's squishy ground, though.

"Child Adds Gasoline To BBQ Grill; House Catches Fire"

A child adds gasoline to a barbeque grill, which is not a particularly bright thing to do at any age. The house burns, but luckily no one is hurt. Bad move, but, he's a child, right? Perhaps he didn't know any better. And, where were the adults anyway?

Oh. KSAT-TV tells us:
Investigators said the child was being supervised at the time of the incident.
Poor kid.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Streetcar named "San Antonio-gou"

This streetcar isn't in San Antonio, but it's named for San Antonio.

The Streetcar Catalog is a photoblog dedicated to images of the streetcar system in Kumamoto City, Japan. Since Kumamoto is one of San Antonio's sister cities, they are apparently honoring the Alamo City with a streetcar named after it. This isn't really that strange, but I thought it was pretty cool, so I put it on here. Thanks, Kumamoto.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A burning pile of mulch XIV

More good news on the Helotes mulch fire: though another well was found to be contaminated, the firefighting efforts continue, and the majority of the fire is put out.

Details from Jerry Needham of the Express-News:

Greg Flores, spokesman for SAWS, said the smoky water was discovered as part of stepped-up monitoring activities agreed upon by the two agencies in an effort to protect the drinking water supply for 1.7 million people in the region.

[Texas Commission on Environmental Quality communications director Andy] Saenz said firefighters have made "tremendous progress" since resuming operations on Feb. 12. TCEQ seized control of the pile and hired contractors to extinguish the blaze on Jan. 9.

"The latest estimate we have is that we are between 60 percent and 70 percent extinguished, so we are right on track if not maybe a little bit ahead of schedule to put this thing out," he said, adding that the schedule calls for having it doused by
March 5.

By the way, the winds must have been blowing my way (southeast of Helotes) today, because I could smell that fire all day long.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Big Rig Catches Fire; Chocolate Bars Destroyed"

The horror! The horror! Chocolate destroyed!


Police said that the big rig was headed eastbound on Interstate 10 near Roland Avenue at 3 a.m., when a back brake is believed to have caught fire.

The fire caused the tires to explode, creating a flash fire that burned at least half of the trailer, which was hauling Nestle's Crunch chocolate bars.

Mmm, I bet that was one good-smelling fire.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Two dozen dogs seized from Southeast Side home"

We've seen too many cats. We've seen too many people. And now, there are too many dogs in one local home, as KENS-TV reports:

"We had information that there were too many dogs at this location. We thought there was gonna be 15, but when we got out here, turned out to be 24," animal cruelty investigator Eddie Wright said.

All of the two dozen dogs were Pit Bull mixes, and 10 of them were puppies.

Just what we need, more pit bulls.

UPDATE: It looks like the initial report was wrong. The dogs weren't in the house, and they were being cared for and loved. ("ACS returns 24 pit bulls to owner")

Animal Care Services had seized the dog, along with 13 other adult dogs and 10 puppies of the same breed, from a vast backyard on the East Side where Gilbert Lopez, 22, has raised the dogs for years. ...

Animal control officers suspected Lopez's animals were being used for dogfights. But when they arrived at his home in the 200 block of Roesler, they encountered animals living in exemplary conditions within a subculture that rejects the pit bull's nasty reputation.

The well-fed, muscular canines sat in spacious cages on 1.4 acres outfitted with a septic tank to eliminate bad odors. The property is equipped with outdoor lighting and a portable toilet for those who attend dog shows on-site.

"The dogs appear to be show dogs more than anything else," said Eddie Wright, animal cruelty investigator for the city. ...

In their brief time at the pound, the 24 seized pit bulls were conspicuously calm — a sign they were well cared for and not a threat, [spokeswoman for Animal Care Services Lisa] Norwood said. Only one dog seemed to rebel against its temporary captors, urinating on a mud flap of the truck used to haul it away.

Looks like these particular pit bulls aren't a danger. I wish I could say the same about the rest of them in this town.

"Duck dilemma dogs development"

If you lived in a neighborhood with too many ducks, would you treat them like your children?

From the Express-News Neighbors section:

El Dorado, a Northeast Side neighborhood between Nacogdoches and O'Connor roads, has around 70 ducks at its two ponds — 20 to 30 more than normal, according to Ann Caldwell and Linda Sarsfield, whose yards back up to the ponds.

The self-described wildlife lovers have become surrogate mothers to the brace of ducks (called a flock of ducks in flight and a raft of ducks on water).

"Ducks make a contribution by controlling snakes, mosquitoes and other undesirable things around a pond," Caldwell said. [emphasis added]

For those neighbors who aren't so surrogate-mother-minded, though, there's always a way to control the duck population.

Car crashes into house

Here it is, your latest report on a vehicle coming into fast contact with a dwelling in San Antonio.


Police are searching for a driver who slammed his car into a home on Rio Grande overnight.

Officers say the man driving the car ran off following the crash.

According to police, a woman was left inside the wrecked vehicle. She called a friend to pick her up.

Possible overheard conversation: "Uh, can you pick me up? I'm at somebody's house, somebody I don't know, and I'm still in the car. -- No, I'm in the house, too. -- Yeah, so's the car. -- Uh, when you get here, do you mind if I drive home?"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Uresti's wife says she called cops 'out of revenge'"

This is more than a little strange. In fact, it's downright embarrassing when the wife of a state senator calls the cops on her husband because she thought he was cheating on her. No proof of infidelity, just a suspicion, and the woman calls the police.

From the Express-News:

Yolanda Uresti said Tuesday she was seeking revenge against her husband, state Sen. Carlos Uresti , when she called police to their Southeast Side home early Saturday.

“We said things we wish we hadn't, and, I'll admit, I called the police out of revenge,” she said in a written statement. “As they say, though, what is done is done, and no matter how much we may wish to, we cannot take it back.”

When police turned up at their residence in the 9000 block of Walhalla Avenue , Yolanda Uresti told officers she was upset with her husband “due to him having a possible affair,” according to the San Antonio Police Department incident report. ...

The SAPD dispatcher originally coded the call as a case of family violence with a gun. But the incident was ultimately classified as a disturbance.

Who wants to bet the "incident" is ultimately forgotten? Politics are funny that way.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A burning pile of mulch XIII

Time for an update on the mulch fire in Helotes. The good news is, everything is going well, and the fire that has been burning since Christmas Day should be out in a couple of weeks.

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO -- Firefighting crews in Helotes have reduced a huge burning pile of mulch by 25 percent and officials said the fire should be completely extinguished in two weeks. ...

Officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it appears the water is not seeping into the Edwards Aquifer.

That's good for everyone, especially the residents of that town. I just wonder if it will be awhile before they can stomach a big fat link of smoked sausage.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"17 year old shot in both legs"

Wow. Shot for staring.

From the Express-News:
A 17-year-old boy was shot in both legs on the East Side Friday after he and his friends and another group of men “stared each other down,” before one party became aggravated and came after the other.
The news story says the two groups of people were merely staring at each other, and it doesn't seem as if there was any other provocation than that. I wonder if there's more to this story than what has been reported.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just another odd mayor's race IV

R.G. Griffing is back in the race for mayor of San Antonio, and the Express-News gets around to covering this strange candidate.

Minutes before the City Council put its stamp Thursday on a proposed $550 million bond package, R.G. Griffing formally entered the mayor's race and essentially gave a Bronx cheer to the spending plan. ...

Griffing, publisher of the San Antonio Lightning, a sometimes gossipy, sometimes inflammatory Internet news site, said he simply didn't buy the absence of a tax increase and doubted the need for the proposed $550 million in spending. ...

Griffing filed paperwork for the race Thursday morning, pitting him against Mayor Phil Hardberger and Rhett Smith, the only other candidates so far that have officially thrown hats into the ring. The candidate filing period started Monday and ends March 12.

Bakery owner Patrick McCurdy also is expected to jump into the race.

It will be interesting to see how Griffing covers this on his own Web site. After all, he is the man who announced his candidacy with the declaration, "You people make me sick!", thereby endearing him to all the voters in the Alamo City.

"Weapons Found In Baby's Crib, Diaper Bags"

I suppose if you are the type to join a gang, deal in drugs, and keep loaded weapons within easy reach, it might just make a certain amount of sense to you to make those weapons available to the babies as well.


SAN ANTONIO -- Eight people, including seven documented gang members, were arrested in a weapons and drug raid Wednesday night on the city's East Side.

Bexar County sheriff's deputies said they confiscated nine pistols, an assault rifle and various high-capacity magazine clips at a home in the 1200 block of Aransas Avenue. ...

"We recovered one loaded weapon in the crib," said Sgt. Ron Tooke of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office. "And another diaper bag with two loaded weapons and 30-round capacity magazines in the diaper bag. And another two loaded weapons in the sides of the diaper bags and throughout the floor of the home. And they were where the children were getting into cabinets and loaded weapons everywhere."

The sheriff's department says the household was apparently gearing up for a defense from a drive-by attack.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cooking out inside: not a good idea

Grills and barbeque pits are meant to be used outside. Here's an example of what can happen if you don't heed such advice.


SAN ANTONIO -- A mother and daughter were injured in a fire that started after they tried to cook with an open barbeque pit in their home, authorities said.

"It appears they were cooking inside the house with briquets cooking with charcoal inside the house," District Fire Chief Chris Varelas said. ...

One of the victims managed to run out of their back door carrying the barbeque pit that had caught fire, a neighbor said.

She tossed the pit outside, but caught fire, a neighbor said. ...

The 59-year-old daughter suffered from smoke inhalation and burns.

Her mother suffered burns from the waist up.

I hope the ladies recover from this accident, and I hope everyone else keeps their grills outside.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Car crashes into house

A man had stolen a car (allegedly!) and was running from the police when he lost control and crashed into a house -- just when the homeowner, after completing some remodeling, was talking to someone about renting the dwelling.


The man was trying to get away from officers when he lost control of the car and hit a home on Ligustrum and Woodlawn Tuesday, police said.

The homeowner was doing renovations on the house, and in seconds, three months of hard work was gone. ...

“All this hard work for nothing,” homeowner Raymond Bueno said. “The day we were suppose to rent it out, this happens."

That sucks. And (sorry for the obvious Spanish pun) the whole situation for Mr. Bueno is no bueno.

Marrying on Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and, once again, Bexar County is offering free marriages for the holiday. The only catch is that you and your spouse-to-be must show up at the courthouse at one of the scheduled times: midnight, 11:00 a.m., noon, or 6:00 p.m. And, yes, you do need a valid marriage license.

While I understand the sentiment that prompts couples to tie the knot on February 14, what I think is strange is that anyone would want to do it at midnight.

I bet it's crowded at that time, too.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Man Stabbed: Robbery or Self-Inflicted?"

Here's another "ouch", perhaps self-inflicted.

Emergency crews arrived at the Beverly Gardens Apartments on the 7200 block of Harlow just after 11:00 p.m. Sunday. They found the victim inside his apartment, stabbed once in the stomach. He was taken by ambulance to Brooke Army Medical Center.

The man claims a robber attacked him and stole dozens of his DVDs. However, his wife told officers that the two of them are having marital problems and the man may have stabbed himself.

Well, now, surely there are better ways to fix a marriage.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Man Impaled While Evading Police"


SAN ANTONIO -- A man that was running from police was impaled by a fence stake, police said.

The man jumped over a fence to escape police, he slipped, and was impaled in the leg by a metal spike on one of the stakes, police said.

The man will probably be fine. But, again, ouch!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

"DWI Dude helping to clear people of charge"

Get arrested for DWI in San Antonio? The "DWI Dude" may be able to help you out.


Attorney Jamie Balagia calls himself the DWI Dude.

"I'm not inexpensive, but good lawyers aren't cheap, and cheap lawyers aren't good at this," he said.

Balagia keeps a big, red truck emblazoned with messages like, "Just say no to the DWI cops," and "No blood, no breath, no tests," parked across from the Bexar County courthouse.

Very interesting.

A burning pile of mulch XII

The San Antonio Water System has agreed to let water be used the Helotes mulch pile, which has been burning since Christmas. But with conditions.


Under the SAWS plan, they will provide no more 300,000 gallons a day for fighting the fire. After three days of firefighting, efforts will cease for two days to test more than 30 wells.

If the wells show no contamination, efforts will continue.

"If anything shows up in the aquifer or if anything shows up in the local wells TCEQ, will immediately stop the operation,” said Steve Clouse, of the SAWS.

In addition to the two-day tests, TCEQ will sample all wells in the area twice a day.

Complicated, but better than doing nothing, I suppose.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A burning pile of mulch XI

Out of concern for the Edwards Aquifer -- San Antonio's primary source of drinking water -- the San Antonio Water System is prepared to take legal action to prevent anyone from dousing the burning mulch pile in Helotes.


SAN ANTONIO -- The board of the San Antonio Water System on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes lawyers to seek a temporary restraining order that would prevent water from being poured directly onto a huge pile of burning mulch in Helotes. ...

During an emergency board meeting, board chairman Alex Briseno said the SAWS must be prepared to go to court in order to stop firefighters from "screwing up our water." ...

SAWS staff member Steve Clouse said the utility wants to help pursue other way[s] to fight the stubborn fire that has been smoldering since Christmas Day.

"Our intent is to look for equipment or methods that can move the material off of the pile, put it into the clay-lined pits and then extinguish it," Clouse said.

Work has already begun to build clay-lined pits around the fire, which has not been battled for nearly two weeks after water contamination was discovered in two private water wells. ...

Clouse added that SAWS officials will meet with representatives from the Texas Commission On Environmental Quality, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon, to map out a plan of action. [emphases added]

Man, if leadership was ever needed to cut through bureaucratic bickering, it's needed here.

UPDATE: More from the Express-News.

Just another odd mayor's race III

In previous posts, I have drawn attention to R.G. Griffing's quixotic quest to become mayor of San Antonio, including his strange approach to winning the voters over: "You people make me sick!"

Now Griffing seems to be out of the running because he missed a filing deadline. And he blames the city -- and perhaps even the current mayor, Phil Hardberger -- for cutting him from the race.

San Antonio City Clerk Leticia Vacek has admitted that City computer problems pervented Mayoral Candidate RG Griffing from filing required financial records on the proper due date in January, however she refused to allow an extension of the filing deadline beyond January 18th, even though she acknowledges the glitch was not fixed until the next week.

When asked directly if she had been influenced in her decision by any City officials, including Mayor Hardberger, she refused all comment. ...

Griffing's maverick campaign has been encountering problems with others in the inbred SA establishment, including the Express-News which refused to accept his political advertising on the grounds that it was not in their "best interest," according to E-N spokesperson Cheryl Cantu.

"Inbred". That's endearing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A burning pile of mulch X

Well, just when the firefighters get ready to start battling the Helotes mulch fire again, the local water system pulls the plug.

Or maybe the metaphor should be, plugs up the pipe.


SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Water System board members on Tuesday denied a request for 300,000 gallons of water to help fight a huge mulch fire in Helotes.

Board members apparently were concerned how runoff might affect the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, KSAT 12 News reported.

The decision came hours before a contractor was going to resume efforts to fight the blaze, which has been burning since Christmas Day.

Ever get the feeling that what's needed most for this situation is some real leadership? Right now, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, SAWS, Helotes officials, Bexar County Commissioners, and just about everyone else is bumping heads over this fire. It's past time someone took charge and just got the thing done without worrying about stepping on any toes.

UPDATE: And BexarMet, a rival water company, steps in to save the day.

SAN ANTONIO -- BexarMet announced Tuesday that it would provide water to extinguish a Helotes mulch fire after San Antonio Water System board members voted to deny a request for 300,000 gallons of water.

BexarMet spokesman T.J. Connolly said BexarMet is obligated to help their neighbors in need.

"This is one of the most challenging environmental problems we've seen in this area in decades, and the idea that SAWS would cut and run and not help their neighbors is inexcusable."

And SAWS is upset.

UPDATE II: Yet, the ineptness goes on (from the Express-News) as the state can't make up its mind: "Vulcan Materials, which operates a nearby quarry, has water on site and Bexar Metropolitan Water District has offered to help, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hasn't decided which water supply it will use."

And the Feds wait in the wings: "At any time, the state could call on the federal government for help. The Environmental Protection Agency says it's monitoring the fire, but the TCEQ hasn't asked for its help."

As I said, this situation needs leadership.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"SA Named Stingiest City in America"

San Antonio? Stingiest? Most miserly? Least charitable?

Nah. I don't buy it.

According to a new survey by the makers of TurboTax, people in San Antonio give the least amount of money to charities. On average, San Antonians donate $717 a year. People in Houston and Dallas donate more than a $1,000 each year.

TurboTax. Now there's a reliable polling firm.

Seriously, though, the only thing this survey reflects is what people are willing to admit on their tax forms.

Claiming the top spot on America's Stingiest City list is San Antonio where residents donated far less to their favorite charities, doling out on average just over $700 per resident, as reported on Schedule A of the federal 1040 tax form.

I'm willing to bet that people in my home city are much more generous with their money for the real reasons, i.e., they give to charity because it is the right thing to do, not to get a tax break.

But, we all know it's ultimately just a sales pitch.
The residents of Salt Lake City know that giving to charity not only helps others but it also helps cut their tax bill. Charitable contributions, both cash and donated items, are among the more than 350 possible deductions and credits included in TurboTax Deluxe Deduction Maximizer. TurboTax is the most trusted tax software package, helping millions of Americans year after year prepare and file their taxes with confidence — no matter which city they live in.

Gee, thanks for offering to keep track of our charitable givings. But, you already pissed me off with the "America's Stingiest City" comment.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Police Pull Naked Man From Dumpster"

I offer this story from WOAI with no comment.

San Antonio Police pulled a naked man out of a dumpster overnight, after he was attacked with a knife. ...

The woman told officers on the scene she was angry with [Jessie] Martinez because he wanted to have sex with her 21 year-old daughter. She told police she wanted to cut Martinez’s penis off.

She now faces sexual assault charges.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Car crashes into convenience store

This is not quite as strange as a car crashing into a house, but the vehicle in this case got pretty far into the gas station store.


The crash occurred at the intersection of Huebner and Bandera roads.

Police said the woman drove into the store when she became dizzy and disoriented and mistook the gas pedal for the brake. ...

The car clipped a clerk's leg while he was stocking shelves in the back of the store, police said.

The car eventually came to a stop before going through the store, police said.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A burning pile of mulch IX

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me: "Helotes Mulch Fire May Ignite Lawsuit"

Dozens of Helotes residents who live near the mulch fire met with a Houston-based law firm Wednesday night to discuss their legal options.

Resident[s] said they want those responsible for the mess to pay for their expenses.

No lawsuits have been filed.

Yet. But they want to go after the owner of the pile.

I still haven't seen anything that pins down the cause of this fire, but, if the cause is accidental or the result of arson, and if the owner has truly been following state guidelines for the past 15 years in the maintenance of his huge pile of mulch, it hardly seems fair to sue him. Perhaps the state regulations need to be changed, but it seems a bit mean to go after the man if he truly has been doing his best to ameliorate the situation.

"Hoarded Cats Found In Home"

When the smell gets so bad that your neighbors have to call animal services, perhaps it's time to get rid of some of your 58 cats!


"There is no reason for that many cats," Elaine Adams, a neighbor, said. "You can't be happy and healthy with that many."

Eddie Wright, an animal care employee, said the cat hoarding case is one of the worst incidents he's seen.

"It's not the worst we've ever seen, but it's close," Wright said.

The city only allows someone to keep 10 cats total. That's still a lot of cats in one house, but the woman in this story had almost six times the maximum feline level allowed.