Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bag bans, streetcars, and the “city’s finest”

In uncharacteristic fashion, San Antonio councilman Cris Medina will not vote for a bill before understanding its implications. He’s shelving his plastic bag ban proposal.

A spokeswoman for councilman Cris Medina, who is the sponsor of the measure, says the proposal has been pulled from the City Council Governance Committee agenda so the Councilman, and the retailers who would have to enforce any ban, can receive more public input.

The proposal says as much as 9 percent of all of the trash collected by the city and an even larger percentage of items pulled out of storm sewers, and off fences and trees is the cheap plastic bags, which are widely used by grocery stores, big box retailers, fast food establishments, and other businesses.

Banning the act of littering hasn’t worked, so the city intends to ban the litter itself.

A bag ban at least makes sense from a fascist point of view. Regulating the activity of a million people is hard. Regulating the activity of a few thousand businesses is less hard.

A meeting on the topic with business representatives last week was almost universally negative. Representatives of retailers including HEB and Wal-Mart said the bag bans now in place in Brownsville and Austin have impacted the poorest customers the hardest, and have caused major disruptions for low-income families.

Liberal policies hurt low-income people? Well, at least they’re compassionate.

By the way, what does “9 percent of all the trash” mean? Are plastic bags 9 percent of the city’s total garbage weight? Impossible. Are they 9 percent of individually counted items? That seems more likely, but hardly alarming. In my apartment I have 10 times more pens than furniture pieces, but it’s not the pens I have to rearrange when I put up the Christmas tree.

I bet a substantial percentage of the city’s trash consists of print copies of the bloated, liberal San Antonio Express-News, but there are no proposals to ban that waste of trees.

City cops and firefighters want all the goodies the city irresponsibly promised them.

Hundreds of red-shirted police officers and firefighters jammed City Council chambers today to shout down a proposal calling for them to have to face major cuts to their health care benefits to reduce the city’s “legacy costs,” 1200 WOAI news reports.

First, where’d the money to print those shirts come from? Second, why Soviet red? Third, why is a rapist on the police force still receiving pay?

“We are in a situation where you look at those percentages, public safety is starting to gain on our revenues,” former Councilman Reed Williams, who headed the Task Force that studied the issue, told [the] council. The Task Force was appointed by Mayor Castro last November.

In 2010, President Obama called for a commission to solve the debt crisis that he created by bailing out the banks and “stimulating” the economy. The debt commission’s recommendations were alarmingly illiberal, so he tabled them. Mayor Blondie, who probably sees a street fight over civil servant pensions as damaging to his 2016 vice presidential bid, would be politically wise to follow suit and kick the can down the road.

Or, better, he could bolster his “compromiser” credentials by cutting pensions and raising taxes. Granted, this wouldn’t solve the problem long-term, but it would make him look good. Faux centrism is a Democrat’s best play.

But the San Antonio Police and Firefighters Associations blasted what they called “economic hysteria which is not supported by the facts.”

They say there is no evidence that the costs of their health care is pushing the city into potential insolvency. City Manager Sheryl Sculley says if the costs are not reduced, paying for police and firefighters will take up 100 percent of the city’s general fund budget in the coming decade, leaving no money to pay for street repair, parks, or any of the city’s other functions. She says a doubling of the city’s property tax rate would not be enough to offset a financial catastrophe.

“If you look at active health care, it’s growing at 9.2 percent a year,” Williams said, saying the city’s income is only growing at about a 4 percent rate.

You’re not entitled to your own facts, Senator Moynihan said. The “city’s finest” disown that designation when they demand to be subsidized by the taxpayers for half their adult lives.

Adult infantilization is never pretty.

Politics makes strange bedfellows:

Conservatives oppose the streetcar plan, which has now ballooned to $430 million, because they think it is a waste of money. Liberal groups are denouncing it because they say it will force VIA Metro Transit to cut into traditional bus service which low income people rely on to support the streetcar, to support what LULAC leader Henry Rodriguez called “the ricos,” Spanish for “rich.”

The groups say, even though the streetcar is not on the ballot in the primary election that begins today, voters should defeat any politicians who are on the ballot who back the streetcar.

Former San Antonio Councilman Carlton Soules, who is running for County Judge and will face streetcar backer Nelson Wolff in November if Wolff survives a primary challenge urged that the election become a referendum on streetcars.

The streetcar plan will mire downtown in construction for 3 years, in addition to costing a bundle, so Soules is right. As city councilman he voted against the narcissist ordinance, despite the LGBT mafia bearing down on him, so I’ll reward him with my vote.

Another race worth mentioning is the Republican primary for Texas attorney general. Although he hails from Dallas, Dan Branch is a local boy. He has family who go to my church. But I can’t bring myself to vote for him. I read his amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court in defense of Texas’ marriage statute, and it was legally incoherent. Barry Smitherman may be competent, but his last two public-sector jobs have come by gubernatorial appointment. I like Rick Perry despite his faults, but I don’t like cronies. So, Ken Paxton, the man who was almost Texas House Speaker, is my man.

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