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July 5th, 2010:

It’s all right, he wouldn’t have contributed anything to the debate anyway

The first gubernatorial debate of the general election is today, and one person will not be there.

Democratic nominee Bill White and Libertarian Kathie Glass, both lawyers, are scheduled to face off in a Kerrville Area League of Women Voters debate at 7 p.m. at the Cailloux Theatre in Kerrville.

The debate will be carried live on Kerrville’s KVHC-TV and will be streamed live on the station’s website.

Kerrville Area League President Donna Robinson said [Governor Rick] Perry was invited to attend but turned it down.

Perry’s spokesbot claimed it was because White hasn’t yet released a detailed accounting of the allowance he received as a kid, but we all know the real reason.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson called White’s decision to debate Glass a “mixed bag.”

The debate gives White the opportunity to promote a candidate who may draw votes from Perry in the general election and highlight the fact that Perry will not debate. But Jillson said it also gives White’s campaign an air of desperation.

“It caters to the idea that they are a little frantic and are taking the eye off the ball, which is Rick Perry,” Jillson said.

All due respect, Cal, but I’m pretty sure White is going to spend his entire allotment talking about Perry, Perry’s miserable failure of a record as Governor, and the fact that Perry didn’t have the stones to show up and talk about his record. I’m not sure how that counts as “taking the eye off the ball”, but whatever.

CM Johnson speaks

Council Member Jarvis Johnson has a few words to say about his arrest for evading police on Wednesday.

“I want to be very clear about the night in question,” Johnson said at a brief news conference. “I am not going to talk about the details, but I certainly want to let you know that at no time did I ever exit my car and run. At no point did I ever speed away from the officer, and at no point was there ever any physical or verbal confrontation.”

[…]

Seated next to his wife, Charlene, the councilman said he wanted to thank her and their two children “for being so understanding and for being so strong.”

He also introduced 27-year-old Candace Hurt as his secretary and scheduler and identified her as the second person in his car Wednesday night. Hurt stood silently behind Johnson and his wife during the news conference.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk about the other person in the car and as I said that was Candace Hurt,” Johnson said. “I thank God that it was not during campaign season that I was stopped because quite possibly (a female staffer) might have been in my car at 12 o’clock at night, and I know that certainly would have took a whole other look on itself.”

Again, I don’t know what happened, and I don’t want to speculate. If this makes it as far as a trial – I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t make it that far – then maybe we’ll have a decent idea of who did or did not do what. Stace has more.

Valet parking

Do you love it or hate it?

Whether one makes use of the service or not, valet parking has a spot in the Houston area’s landscape. The podiumlike stands with uniformed attendants sit like landmarks in front of hot night clubs, high-dollar stores and even joints that buzz on weeknights with regulars who would rather eat out than wash dishes.

For fans, valet parking allows elegant at-the-door arrivals that preserve heels and hairdos and create an illusion of red-carpet glamour. For these folks, it’s all about the convenience and service.

Others consider valet parking a nuisance, an excuse for hungry companies to hog the good spots, forcing regular Joes to hike around the block for a meal or a drink. These drivers balk at the idea of turning over the keys to their automobile castle to a complete stranger.

Or you can be like me and just generally not go to restaurants that have valet parking. This is partly because I’m a cheapskate, and partly because restaurants that cater to young kids, which is where I do the bulk of my eating out, usually don’t have valet parking. For what it’s worth, when I do visit a restaurant with valet parking, I only use it if it’s mandatory or if the weather is bad. I don’t get too worked up about it either way.

For those of you keeping score at home, Katherine Shilcutt wrote a very similar piece last year. What’s your opinion about this?

Defining downtown San Antonio

The city of San Antonio is going to take a closer look at what it’s doing with its downtown.

How to change the locals’ experience of downtown, and why it even matters, has become Topic A for many — in particular for Mayor Julián Castro, who has taken up the role of downtown booster from former Mayor Phil Hardberger and is making the cause his own.

“Downtown is the heart of the city,” Castro said. “A great city is defined by a great downtown for both residents and visitors. For the past four decades, it’s been about the visitors.”

Later this summer, Castro will announce a major visioning initiative — SA 2020 — that will look at the city’s challenges and goals for the next decade, with a big emphasis on improving downtown.

He and others imagine downtown as a place with a lively, 24-7 urban vibe, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and streets, alternative transportation such as streetcars or light rail, more apartment buildings, a strong inner-city school system to attract families and practical amenities, such as a grocery store.

A series of public meetings would get people thinking about the kind of things they want the city to pursue.

The city’s upcoming bond program in 2012 could direct dollars toward improving downtown.

The story is long, but it’s worth your time. There’s a white paper with more details linked in the sidebar. My perception of San Antonio’s downtown, which is largely shaped by having been a student there in the 80s, is that it’s primarily a tourist destination. There are people who live in downtown SA, and I imagine there will be more over time, no matter what becomes of this effort. I look forward to seeing how this goes. The vision Mayor Castro has is an exciting one, and I hope he succeeds at it.