On the record is brought to you by Steve and Adele Dufilho San Antonio is a fast growing, fast moving community with something new happening every day.
And that's why each week we go on the record with the newsmakers who are driving this change.
Then we gather at the Reporters Roundtable to talk about the latest news stories with the journalists behind those stories.
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Hi, everybody, and thank you for joining us.
For On the Record this week.
I'm Randy Beamer.
We have a lot to talk about, including a new councilman who is going to explain everything there is to know about his priorities, where he's from, what he's all about.
Thank you very much for joining us.
District ten new Councilman Mark White.
Appreciate you coming in.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
We were talking before about the kinds of cliche questions you get from everybody right now, but some of those we we would like to have answered because we don't know you that well.
Tell us about where you're from and how you got to San Antonio.
So I was actually born in Houston.
I got to San Antonio a little over 20 years ago when I came here for Saint Mary's Law School.
So I'm an attorney by trade.
I'm married to my beautiful wife, Lauren, and we have two little girls that are 11 and eight and just love being here.
San Antonio is home and will be well, well into the future.
And now you've been a mediator, a lawyer.
Why do you want to get into or why did you want to get into politics?
Because you ran after Joe Strauss left office at the state capitol, a state lawmaker or unsuccessful.
Then why did you want to do that?
Why do you want to be a city councilman?
So I've always had an interest in public service.
It probably started for me back in college.
I was there at Wake Forest University and I got lucky and got a couple of tickets to the George Bush Al Gore debate in the year 2000.
And I remember leaving that debate thinking, you know, there's two smart guys, completely different ideas for the country.
And so it got me curious from there.
I just decided I was going to go to law school and then, you know, I've always been one that's enjoyed solving problems.
And so I actually I went to see Lyle Larson in 2012, and I said, Lyle, help me get involved.
Show me what I got to do.
And he sent me.
BLOCK Walking in Ohio that year in Ohio, in Ohio.
And it was cold, but I went up there for Governor Romney in a Romney Obama election in 2012.
BLOCK Walk for governor Romney came back and said, all right, while I did it, you know what's next?
And from there, he introduced me to a bunch of folks, including Speaker Strauss, who who's really become something of a mentor to me.
And again, it's just it's been something that I feel like I would be good at.
I think my skill set lends itself to be able to work with different groups of people.
Find solutions to problems.
And so I'm excited for the opportunity.
You mentioned a couple of people there in Republican circles.
They are maybe to the middle, to the left of say, current conservatives, Lyle Larson and Joe Strauss.
So you identify more with them than what some people would call hardcore, more right wing conservatives.
Yeah, I don't know.
I don't like labeling myself, but but I consider myself.
Push you into those corners.
Media loves doing that.
I consider myself a common sense conservative.
I've always been conservative.
I believe that conservative values are what has made this country great.
You know, for me, it's faith, family and freedom.
I think that's what the Republican Party has always stood for.
Small business is pro-business ideas.
That's, again, I think, what has made America great and what will continue to keep America on top going forward.
But now City Council, historically, not Republican and Democratic, we have been independent, at least in name.
And I know people have asked you this before, but where are you going to be on the council?
Clayton Perry, the lone conservative, maybe the holdout, maybe, Councilman?
No, I think somebody called him just because of the makeup of the council.
Where are you compared to Clayton Perry?
Yeah, well, I tell people, I bet Clayton and I probably line up on 95% of the issues.
He was the most conservative, certainly on this council.
And I expect that I will be for sure as well moving forward.
But for me, I don't want to go there and get outvoted 10 to 1 every time.
I'm looking forward to trying to work with each and every council person with the mayor, find solutions to San Antonio's problems and moving forward priorities.
What are the problems of San Antonio as you see them right now?
And where are you going first?
Yeah, public safety is number one.
I heard about it all throughout the campaign trail as I was knocking on doors around the district.
We've got to get more police officers on the street.
I've already talked to some of the other council folks about this.
I've talked to city staff about it as well.
I'm optimistic that in this next budget that's coming up, we're going to get more money for for police on the street.
We've got to try to do something on property taxes.
You know, there's a limited amount that we can do here at city council, but we've got to double this homestead exemption.
I was pleased to see that the mayor seems to support that.
He said the other day.
And so I'm optimistic again that in this coming up, we're going to be able to do that.
So it's public safety, it's property taxes and economic development.
There's still so much we can do in San Antonio.
I think we got to dream big.
We got a district ten, has a lot of space where we can invite new businesses, incentivize them to come into the district, create jobs for our residents.
And so the priorities.
In the last bond issue, as well as the last couple of sessions of the council, we've been talking about housing, affordable housing and seeing things through an equity lens.
Where are you on those kinds of issues?
You know, I don't you know, when you start talking about looking at things through an equity lens, you know, first of all, I think that means different things to different people.
I want to look at things on a on a sort of merit based through a merit based lens.
What do we actually need to do to advance the interest of the city?
Let's talk to the people, the smart folks out there that have run the data that have looked at the different metrics about, you know, where we need housing, what kind of housing we need.
And we always got to keep in mind that the folks that that are providing the housing and really everything else in the city, they're in it to make money for themselves as well.
I mean, that's the American way.
So we've got to balance all of these interests, look at the data, figure out what's best to move us forward.
How about dividing resources per council district?
In the past, we've talked about, you know, making sure everything is equal, but health care in certain parts of town, life expectancy in certain parts of the town, maybe it may have suffered because of that.
What do you hope to do in terms of things like like health care and and life expectancy in different parts of town that are so disparate?
I got to get in and again, look at the data, Right?
I mean, I'm just coming in new new to a lot of this.
Again, I'm going to the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to ask my staff when these issues come up, show me the data.
I want to see what the numbers say, and then we'll analyze that and then look again what's best for District ten, but as well as the city.
How about downtown?
We had the decade of downtown and people have different reviews of that.
How supportive are you of growing the downtown as part of the business community?
Very supportive as opposed to District ten specifically?
Yeah, Well, obviously it's a District ten city council person.
I'm very interested in economic development within within our district.
But downtown is very important.
It's it's it's it needs to be you know, we've talked for years about developing downtown and having more life in downtown and what can we do in downtown?
It's time to actually do it.
There's been talk, you know, now with the Spurs, everybody's excited, right?
We're getting the number one pick.
Do we need a new arena for the Spurs?
Where's that going to go?
Downtown may be a great possibility, if we could figure it out.
So these are these are things we need to look at.
We're about out of time, but that brings up baseball stadium.
Hey, I love baseball.
I grew up playing baseball.
I love when kids are outdoors, doing fun things like playing baseball.
And if San Antonio could have a bigger presence with baseball, that would be great.
Again, is it economically feasible?
That's what we got to figure out.
That's the question.
Unfortunately, we don't have time for it.
But thank you very much for coming in and good luck.
District ten Councilman Mark White.
Thank you for having me.
You might have seen the stories recently on juvenile crime, on the increase here in San Antonio and Bear County.
To talk about that now is Councilwoman Melissa Vale Poveda.
Thank you very much for coming in.
Thank you for having me.
The increase in juvenile crime we're talking about is in the more violent crime, it seems like, because overall, as I understand it, the numbers for nonviolent crime about the same or maybe a little bit decrease from last year at this time.
Tell us about where we are in terms of what's going on, especially compared to the pandemic.
Well, you know, it's alarming.
Whenever we're talking about juveniles getting involved in crime.
It's it's it's upsetting to know that.
But we are we definitely have had an increase.
I think something like 94% increase in just the first couple of months of 2023 as opposed to last year.
We had, I think, cases up from 300, from 200 to 384.
And we're talking again, not misdemeanors, we're talking about felonies, juveniles getting involved in aggravated assault, arson, you know, upper level drug offenses, things like that.
So it's I mean, it's jarring what's happening out there.
The first thing you want to know is what's causing this what what's happening with our juveniles and why.
And I think a big part of it is the pandemic.
I know our teachers and administrators out there in school districts are doing their best, but a lot of kids just didn't come back from the pandemic.
They're sort of lost to the pandemic.
So, unfortunately, a lot of those juveniles are out there committing these crimes.
They never made it back into the school system after being home from the pandemic and now have turned to crime to to figure out what their life is going to be, you know.
And unfortunately, they sometimes these crimes are a family business, you know, running drugs or even guns, things like that.
And I think that's part of what is most alarming about it is when they didn't come back to school and they didn't have that alternative, they're turning to crime specifically gun offenses that's gone way, way up.
Yeah, that would tell us about that, too, because crimes involving guns and juveniles, as you said, is way, way up.
Why do you think that is?
Just more accessibility?
And if so, why?
I do think it's more accessibility.
I've talked to Chief McManus about it, and he did say that a lot of it not just for juveniles but for adults, is is a crime.
I'm sorry, is gun accessibility.
And that's increasing our crime numbers.
You know, we've talked to neighborhoods.
I take the chief to as many neighborhoods as I can.
And we also have an issue with people not reporting the things that they see.
We have a neighborhood that was posting on Facebook, all of this juvenile crime that they were seeing in the neighborhood, but they weren't calling the police on it.
They were just posting it right.
So we had a reminder to our community, when you see something, say something, make sure you're calling the place.
You're making those reports.
And the idea there is to hopefully deter the crime, not whatever they're doing with that gun, that they don't go out and use it for, you know, for any violence.
I think it's also juvenile upon juvenile violence.
You know, unfortunately, we hear stories of one high school kid killing another high school kid because over drugs or over, you know, a love interest or something like that.
And I think a lot of it is because coming from back from the pandemic, they didn't really go back to school and they haven't recovered in that way.
Even the ones that went back are still turning to to lives of crime, which is scary.
And I don't exaggerate when I say lives of crime.
If you're getting involved in this at 14, 15, 16 years old, what's your future hold?
So I think a lot of my my my view of this is we have to gather the data.
We have to figure out what's going on.
This 94% increase, 200 to 384 cases, their gun offenses, their school threats, making threats on social media to schools.
That's also increasing.
And so gathering that data, trying to figure out what what is actually happening happening out there, and then making a plan.
What about gangs?
Because back in the nineties, I remember we talk about gangs a lot is are we seeing that on the increase or is this separate?
That's something I grew up with.
I grew up you know, I was in high school in the nineties here in San Antonio and we was very prevalent.
I mean, we saw it everywhere and you don't see that as much anymore.
It there are still gangs, they are still involved.
But they what's happening a lot of times it's not necessarily a gang entity, but juveniles are getting more organized in regards to vehicle thefts.
So you see a lot of what we see in neighborhoods is kids at night kind of going to seeing it, the cars open and then stealing the vehicle.
That's they're more organized about that.
And I say that having talked to one of our juvenile court judges, we have great juvenile court judges, Jackie Valdez and Rose Sosa and then Cruz, Shaw and Cruz is a good friend of mine.
We talked about what he's seeing in this courts.
And a lot of them are the gun issues, these organized kind of rings of juveniles stealing vehicles and then also the the school threat.
So that's what he was talking.
And those specialty courts involving judges that you mentioned, how are they dealing with this increase right now?
Do they need more judges?
I'm not sure about the increase in judges.
I imagine they would say yes.
So it seems to increase, at least in the first couple of months of this year.
But what I really appreciate about our juvenile court system is they're very careful with their language and they look at compassion.
They don't call them their recess, they call them referrals.
So these juveniles have been referred to their court and it's a way to really look at the whole person, because a lot of these kids, too, have had a rough upbringing.
We have foster children.
We have children that are in abusive households.
Again, you know, they're they're they're thieves or thieves are teaching them how to run drugs.
I mean, they're not growing up in an environment that's that's positive for them.
So I really do appreciate that the the court system looks at the child as a whole child and tries to figure out not how do we punish them, but it's not punitive, but more rehabilitative.
I understand that some people, some parents and family members actually call trying to figure out how to get some of those resources, even though their kids haven't been arrested.
So they couldn't get into the system or they haven't been truant.
So what do you tell those families?
Well, we have a great system of nonprofits in our city, and a couple of months ago, I had the juvenile court judges to our public Safety committee.
Let's kind of talk this all out.
Let's make a plan.
What can we do?
And a lot of it was we didn't know as a city, didn't always know what the county's doing.
The county doesn't always know what the city was doing.
So we kind of shook hands and figured out let's work together and do better.
But we're not the city in the county.
You're not in the business of, you know, a lot of these, you know, mental health issues, things like that.
So working with nonprofits, we have a wonderful nonprofit network system and making sure that these children are in their families are referred over to to those nonprofits.
You think it's a blip or bite out of time?
They think it's a blip.
Post-Pandemic or not?
I don't think it's a blip.
I mean, we had this huge increase in population.
And when we have a huge increase in population, all of the numbers that are going to go up, including with crime.
So making sure that we're adequately staffed, of course, with our police department, with our code officers, all of our city is is ready to take this challenge on and also look at compassion, ways to figure out to make that child's life better so that they turn away from that crime and do better for their.
You're looking at that in terms of the budget.
One other thing, 20 seconds.
You mentioned animal care services.
You're hoping to increase that as they deal with family issues and everything else on the streets.
So you have animal care services doing their best to try to go out and take care of our animals.
We have so many animals in the city.
We're an animal loving city.
And unfortunately, a lot of these animals are not strays.
They're actually what they call free roaming.
They're owned by people.
So education, making sure that these officers can go out and let people know you have to have a rabies, get a microchip, take how to take care of your animal.
That's part of it.
Also, working more towards being a no no kill shelter and doing what we can to support so that we can we can do that for.
Good luck with all that.
Sounds like it's going to be a slow summer for everybody at council or not, But thank you very much, Melissa Cavallo Hovda, San Antonio City Council.
We have the latest now on the ongoing saga involving the development around the Alamo, Alamo Plaza, and in this case, a bar, the Moses Rose Bar.
You may know they've been talking about eminent domain for a while because they couldn't agree on a price.
And now to tell us all about the latest is James McCandless, who is a commercial real estate reporter and an emphasis on downtown for the San Antonio Business Journal.
Thank you very much for coming in.
Thanks for having me again.
What's the latest on this?
Moses Rose Bar right around the corner from the Alamo and the stand off the game of chicken that the owner has been playing.
I guess what, the city or state as well?
Well, a couple of weeks back, the city filed its condemnation petition to actually begin the actual legal eminent domain proceedings.
What happens then and what happened last week is the judge assigned to the case appoints a three person commission to determine the damages that that the city is going to award vindicate to the owner after they after they take it and.
Now back up.
This has been going on for months.
And the original well, the reason for it is it's what they want this because they.
Want it as part of the master plan for the Alamo to totally redevelop the the area of that particular portion is needed for a museum that they want to build on that corner or and and while the Alamo Trust was able to negotiate with several other people in that area to let go of their leases, they were not able to come to an agreement with them.
We're talking about the south side of Houston Street, just around the corner from the Alamo near the Walgreen's building and the old Walgreens building.
And so what was the original valuation or what the city wanted to pay or I guess the whole Alamo Plaza redevelopment Group?
So they had offered him numbers between 2 to 5 million.
The last offer that they that they had before ending negotiations was 5.3 million.
And he rejected it.
He'd been wanting numbers in the range of like 15 to 18 million.
And they just weren't.
They just weren't going to come to come to the table.
And part of the issue of this is the property valuation that he had valued the property at for property taxes was much less than that.
A half million range.
But everyone's going to contest their property taxes.
He his contention is that it's a loss that he's losing revenue over the life of what's going to be a significant tourist draw in what is a significant tourist drawing, what will continue to be over the lifetime of of his lifetime and his family's lifetime.
So he's thinking he's losing a lot of revenue based on that.
And there's also an issue, or at least he's raised the issue of whether this should be eminent domain at all because of what it is and what it is for.
Right, he contests that you cannot use eminent domain.
As for another entity, he's claiming that the city it doesn't benefit from using eminent domain in partnership with the Alamo Trust and the General Land Office.
He also says that you can't use eminent domain for economic development purposes, but any legal legal experts I've spoken to said that that you can that that he's kind of he's mistaken and that you can use it for a public purpose like this, like a museum or a library or something like that.
So he's just mistaken in that regard, according to these legal experts now.
So what's the timeline now with this three?
It's not a judge panel, but a three lawyer panel that's going to decide damages that he will get.
State law says that if nobody strikes any of the one commissioner selected for the panel, the two parties have the opportunity to do so.
Then they have to schedule a meeting, I think within the month or so to hear evidence from both sides and then award award damages.
Now, they wanted to get this done within whatever the timeframe was, a few months, and it was supposed to speed things up and it didn't.
Do you expect that whatever the damages that are come up, that have been come up with that, that will be challenged as well and it'll just go on in terms of the courts or is that not likely in this case?
I think the most likely thing to happen is that they will settle before it reaches a trial.
If they if they can agree on, on on something, then that's what happens.
But you know that that if that goes to trial, then there is no then that's even less likely to have a good outcome for for him.
But I think he was counting on or maybe I have this wrong, but on public support for him and maybe nationally as well, because it involves the Alamo where people think we fought for this or people fought for whatever, and that to use eminent domain in that regard is just antithetical to what it was about.
As that groundswell as he got in that national publicity, as he got and what he was hoping.
For, he got it initially.
But it seems to have down died down quite a bit.
I don't think that there's enough current public support for a forum, so I don't think that that's a factor in any sort of turning the tide kind of thing.
And how about legal advice on his part?
Is he use the same lawyer the whole time?
Is it pretty much what he wanted to do you think, or is his legal advice?
Do we know?
I'm not sure.
He has a attorney that specializes in eminent domain, but I'm not sure if he's the one driving the ship or if can't do is or if he's just sort of letting to drive the boat there.
And now you also have been covering the rest of the development around the Alamo.
And of course, that museum has been, I guess, in limbo a little bit because of that.
The one across from the Alamo, not the one behind the Alamo.
Where are we in terms of the development of the whole plaza redeveloped?
Yeah, there's scheduling.
They're on track to start construction on the plaza this summer.
They just got approved for design approval.
But from the Historic and Design Review Commission.
There were some resistance to it because they some commissioners thought that it wasn't as reverent as it should be to the first part.
This is for the.
Plaza de Valero and just sort of the public plaza that's that's going to sit next to the Alamo Plaza.
Plaza de Valero.
We never used that term before, but it's like in front of the Mingora.
It's the southern part of it.
And the whole thing is going to be closed to vehicle traffic.
It's going to be very pedestrian focused.
There is going to be a pavilion and a gathering space and places for people to to just sort of hang out and and and take in the site.
But now as opposed to what we saw, I guess years ago with the when there was a very controversial plastic walls or things like that to represent what were the original walls.
There isn't a overall plan that's been presented to a historic design review commission yet, and that's what they want to see is an overall plan instead of piecemeal, what.
They what they complain about sometimes is that is that they see renderings of these designs sector by sector.
They don't see the the the project doesn't come up for and the whole project doesn't come up for review each time.
It's just sort of this Plaza de Valero piece or this mission gate or this Lunaire piece and that's something that frustrates a few of them, at least that they wish they could see the whole thing.
Is there a timeline now overall that we've heard from from the Alamo?
I think they're slated to start on construction on that part this summer.
I don't exactly know.
I don't think there's a date on that yet.
But for how many years overall?
There could be delays.
There could be a number of things.
But they want to get going this summer.
Well, we'll keep you busy.
Thank you very much.
And keep us updated on the stand off at Moses Rose Bar, James mercantilist San Antonio Business Journal.
And thank you for joining us for this edition of On the Record.
You can see this show again or previous shows as well as download the podcast at KLRN .org We also wanted to take a moment here at the end of this program to remember all of those affected by the shooting.
One year ago in Uvalde, in honor of those 19 students and two teachers who were killed.