Tag Archives: San Antonio

Motorists get phone-ban message on highway

cellphone ban

SAN ANTONIO — What a capital idea!

Texas’s second-largest city has a ban on handheld cell phones and texting while driving.

How do I know that? I read repeated messages on electronic highway signs as my wife and I tooled through San Antonio en route from Rockport to Johnson City.

Holy mackerel! I lost count of the signs I saw that warned motorists that texting and using handheld phones was in violation of a city ordinance.

What a concept! Letting motorists know while they’re driving through the city that they’d better behave themselves while weaving in and out of traffic.

Gosh, do you think other cities should adopt such a proactive approach to notifying motorists — particularly those who don’t live in that city — of such municipal restrictions?

Amarillo has a similar ban. It also has a couple of interstate highways running through it.

I’ve seen general messages on occasion flashed on electronic signs about the hazards of texting or using handheld phones while driving. I do not recall reading anything about a municipal ordinance that bans such activity.

I’m thinking it’s a pretty tool to let motorists know they’d better obey the law while they’re traveling through the city.

Footnote: I would have taken a picture of a sign across the freeway, except … well, you know.



Texas Democrats take a punch in the gut

You want to know how Texas Democrats are feeling today?

Like pure dookey, based on what happened way down yonder in San Antonio over the weekend.

Get a load of this: A veteran former Democratic state senator, Leticia Van de Putte, who’s lived in the Alamo City for virtually her entire life, got beat in the race for mayor by Ivy Taylor, who was born in New York City and who’d never run for a partisan office before..


Van de Putte was supposed to win, although she was far from a shoo-in. Let’s be clear as well: Taylor also is a Democrat, so the mayor’s office is remaining in Democratic hands.

But the former state senator, who got thumped in her bid for Texas lieutenant governor last year by Republican Dan Patrick, figured to remain in the public eye and the state’s Democrats figured to count on her to remain one of its key voices on issues across the state.

Texas Democrats keep offering up brave talk about coming back from the political wilderness. They vow to make the state competitive in the next presidential campaign. They vow to take some of those statewide offices all held exclusively by Republicans since I can’t remember when.

Even here, in the Panhandle — the heart and soul of the Texas Republican Party — this kind of bravery can be heard.

I hope one day for a return to a competitive two-party state.

With two major parties fighting on equal footing against each other, there’s bound to be some semblance of moderation from the GOP, which has been running roughshod over the opposition. The same thing happened when Democrats owned all the political power in Texas.

Leticia Van de Putte might have symbolized a return to that competitive posture.

Instead, she becomes just another political casualty.


Castro’s VP stakes on the rise

Julian Castro has the chops to be vice president of the United States.

I’ll lay that out right now. He’s as qualified to be VP as, say, Dan Quayle or Spiro Agnew. Heck, even Richard Nixon was considered a young buck when Dwight Eisenhower selected him to run as vice president in 1952; then again, Ike could have run with a trained chimpanzee and still been elected in a landslide that year.

Castro’s stock as a potential running mate on a Democratic ticket led by Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be rising.

The Big Question: Does Castro’s presence on a Democratic presidential ticket deliver Texas to the Democrats? It’s not going to happen.

However, it could make Texas more competitive than it otherwise would be.


Castro is the highly charismatic former mayor of San Antonio who now serves as housing secretary. He’s had his federal job for less than a year and wasn’t mayor of Texas’s second-largest city all that long before moving to Washington.

He did light up the Democratic National Convention in 2012 with a stirring keynote speech.

Castro’s ties to the Hispanic community are quite obvious, given his name. What’s more, the name “Castro” doesn’t carry quite the negative political baggage it once did in this country, given that Fidel Castro is now out of power in Cuba and the United States is on the verge of establishing normal diplomatic relations with its former enemy. Sure, it’s still a commie state, but it poses no threat to the United States of America.

These things occasionally have a way of reversing themselves. Someone else could emerge from nowhere to become the next favorite to join Hillary Clinton. Heck, someone else also could emerge — from the same nowhere — to bump Clinton out of her shoo-in status to become the Democrats’ next presidential nominee. Do I think either event will occur? Umm, no — definitely not the latter.

For now, it’s fun to watch Julian Castro navigate his way through the treacherous world of political punditry and speculation.

The young man already is adept at dodging the obvious questions that keep coming at him.


Running mate selection? Way too early for that

The blog post attached to this short note is meant, I believe, to illustrate the absurdity of handicapping the major parties’ presidential tickets.


But it’s happening in some quarters.

Who would the candidates, Democrat or Republican, want to run with them?

It’s all a sort of parlor game played by people I believe have too much time on their hands or who see themselves as experts on something about which they know nothing.

I remain somewhat — although less so than before — that the Democrats will nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton at their convention next year. One name being kicked around is Julian Castro, the Texas Democrat who once served as mayor of San Antonio; he’s now the nation’s housing secretary.

Sure thing. Let’s talk about it. Maybe later.

The Republican field is as wide open as it can possibly get.

Besides, I don’t like handicapping these things. No one’s going to ask my opinion, although I might be prone to give it the closer we get to the days of decision.


Austin soon may not be so ‘weird’ after all

Well now. It turns out Austin — the Texas capital city and the home of some of the best music anywhere — is grappling with ways to maintain its self-proclaimed weirdness.

Motor vehicles, lots and lots of them, are rattling Austinites’ sense of uniqueness.

NPR broadcast a story today detailing how Austin’s population is continuing to skyrocket and how all those people are arriving in Central Texas aboard all those vehicles, be they SUVs, pickups, sedans, Jeeps, whatever. They’re clogging the city’s streets. They’re making Austin like, well, every other big city in America that apparently has done a good enough job in planning for future growth.


My favorite part of the story was when it told how the Texas Department of Transportation built a toll highway east of the city that is intended to divert traffic away from Austin.

Here’s the problem: TxDOT put an 85-mph speed limit on Texas 130, which I’m guessing has scared a lot of motorists away from the highway. The NPR reporter noted that Austin traffic is still gridlocked but Texas 130 is virtually empty.

How is the city going to deal with this problem, which only is scheduled to get worse in the years ahead? The city’s current population of about 850,000 residents is projected to double in the next two decades. One set of ideas being kicked around is to make Interstate 35 a toll road, take the toll feature off of Texas 130 (and perhaps slow it down a bit, say, to around 80?) and build some light-rail lines through the city to lure people out of their cars.

Good luck with that, Austin.

NPR took particular note of an ironic twist. It said Dallas — long thought to be a bastion of conservative political thought — has built the nation’s largest light-rail transit system while Austin, arguably the last liberal holdout in all of Texas, has done nothing to promote rail transportation.

And Austin remains the largest city in America with just a single interstate highway running through. I-35 has long been thought of as a virtual demolition derby between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio.

Traffic is going to be a great inhibitor to future growth in Austin. That’s the message I got from NPR’s thorough report this morning.

But hey, there’s always the music.