June 2010 - A message from Carlos...
Well, it's here. The first day of summer may not officially come until June 21, but why let the calendar decide something so important? Memorial Day, the traditional opening of summer, means school is coming to an end, and the season of picnics, baseball, swimming pools and family vacations is underway.
Summer is a time for students to make some extra money and spend more leisure time with their friends, for families to travel together, take advantage of the longer days and accumulate more shared experiences.
I urge everyone in Senate District 19 to have a fun, exciting and productive summer, but also remember that it can also be a time of danger and tragedy. Last year, there were 112 child drownings in Texas, a staggering number that far surpassed the previous year's record of 82. The deadly pace was set even before the first day of summer, with 50 deaths by June 20, 2009.
The are many causes of drowning, but when young children are involved, it's usually the result of parents, older siblings or other caregivers not paying full attention. Tragedy can strike in an instant, while you're looking the other way. So don't leave young children alone, especially when you're in or near the water.
Have fun and be safe this summer, and don't forget the sun block. It may be the season for swimsuits, but you don't want a killer tan!
Uresti honored by young lawyers
Every profession has an upcoming generation, and young people just starting out often need a helping hand.
Senator Uresti, who has been in private practice in San Antonio since 1992, has made a practice of doing just that. Now he's gotten something back: the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association named him Mentor of the Year.
"For me there is no greater honor than being recognized by your peers, not just as an equal, but as a mentor, and because of that you've made me very proud today," Uresti told the association.
We're No. 2!
Of course it's always better to be first, but San Antonio can take great pride in being second at something very important. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 70 percent of the households in the Alamo City have mailed back their Census questionnaires, putting us second only to San Diego, Calif., among the nation's largest cities.
But Sonny Melendrez, chairman of the local Census 2010 Complete Count Committee, said there is still much to accomplish. "We still have work to do, in that there are many people who didn't respond, that we're trying to get to," Melendrez told the San Antonio Express-News.
Since the response has been lowest among people who live in apartment complexes and gated communities, Melendrez and the 16-member committee of community leaders and volunteers are making an extra effort to encourage those people to respond when a Census taker comes calling.
The deadline for mailing the Census form was April 1, and Census workers began going door to door on May 1. That will continue through no later than July 10.
Much is at stake in the Census count, including federal representation and the distribution of some $400 billion in federal money to the states.
Former City Councilwoman Patti Radle, who is involved in the outreach, said an accurate count is necessary for San Antonio to get its fair share.
"If they think we're not here, why would they spend money on us," she told the Express-News. "So we need to let them know we are here."
To Texas A&M University San Antonio graduate student Cresencio Davila, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as the student regent on the Texas A&M University Board of Regents.
Davila, who is working on his MBA, is president of the TAMUSA Student Government Association. He will serve as the student regent for the next year.
Senator Uresti's Latest Pictures
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Senator Uresti marks South Side progress, lays out legislative agenda in his State of the District Address to the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
By Carlos I. Uresti
Hello everyone and thank all of you for being here today. Before we acknowledge our accomplishments and consider the challenges ahead for South San Antonio, I want to take a moment to honor a hero.
Heroes come in many forms. They can be that special teacher who refused to give up on you… the police officer who patrols your street at night… the doctor or nurse who saves your life… anyone who sacrifices something of themselves to make life better for others.
But today I want to recognize a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice. Twenty-two-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Christopher Rangel was killed last week by enemy fire in Afghanistan.
Chris, who attended classes at West Campus, was the second South San Antonio School District graduate to die in the war on terror. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ray Rangel died in 2005 while trying to save soldiers in an overturned Humvee in Iraq.
Now, this is an amazing coincidence, but to me very symbolic of the feelings we share today. Though Chris and Ray shared the same last name, they were not related to one another. But today, as we prepare to pay our last respects, our community comes together in the spirit of one large family to share the pain and sorrow of his death and celebrate the joy he gave in life.
So to Chris's immediate family… please know that this wider family of friends, neighbors and grateful strangers sends its deepest condolences and respect. We honor you and your son and brother for his bravery and his sacrifice.
Thank you everyone. I must give Cindy (Taylor) a lot of credit for the venue. This is a wonderful place, and I regret that I haven't had the opportunity to see it before. But in a way that's a positive thing to say.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when an addition like this on the South Side would have been impossible to miss. Truth be told, it would have been impossible even to exist. But so much is going on here now… it's actually hard to keep up.
Just down the street from my district office, I can barely recognize the intersection of I-35 and Zarzamora. For a long time, the Valero Station on the southwest corner was a lonely business. But now, there's an Olive Garden and a Red Lobster. A Longhorn Steakhouse and a Buffalo Wild Wings just opened this week. Mama Margie's is getting a real run for her money. And at the Lowe's across the street, the hiring sign is out.
That's all great news, but it gets better. The South Side is getting even deeper in the game. We're giving UTSA a run for its money!
A week ago today, we broke ground for the new building at Texas A&M University San Antonio. Non-believers said we couldn't do it, shouldn't do it; wouldn't do it. I have one word for them… TAMUSA, Texas A&M University San Antonio.
Before the ceremony, Secretary Cisneros recalled that 40 years ago… the entire South Side was pockmarked by landfills and junkyards. Raw sewage flowed into Mitchell Lake. Our side of town was San Antonio's dump… and truth be told, it smelled like one.
But no more, my friends! Because of the hard work and vision of people like you, the South Side has been transformed… and that transformation continues with the construction of this new campus.
Since I reported to the chamber last June… the Kingsville System Center sign has come down… the students, faculty and staff picked their mascot and colors… and school President Maria Ferrier got the word 'interim' dropped from her title. And last Friday, for the very first time, I drove my car down University Way.
It's not much to look at right now… just a road through a pasture. But I think of it as a true field of dreams. And in September of next year… a 91,000-square foot building will sit at the end of that road, housing classrooms, offices, computer labs, a library, bookstore and more.
Look a little farther into the future… and you see more buildings, surrounded by a pedestrian-friendly urban village of shops, homes and apartments. Forty years ago, no one would have dared even to dream about something like this, but soon it will be a reality.
Texas A&M San Antonio is already fulfilling the dreams of its students… 2,600 have enrolled so far, and a new word has entered the South Side lexicon. If you don't know it yet, we are the "Jaggies!" Someday, this campus will be second in size and importance only to the A&M flagship in College Station. But we already have cause to celebrate and be proud.
Dr. Ferrier said last week that she was standing on the shoulders of hundreds, that "When no one believed, you believed." I want to thank everyone here today for never giving up on the South Side and for believing that its future and spirit could be embodied in a university of our very own. And Dr. Ferrier we believe in you as well.
On the public school front, voters in the South San Antonio ISD last Saturday approved a $58 million bond package to renovate the district's high school.
The vote was a reversal of last November's rejection of a similar $62 million bond proposition… and the major difference in outcomes appears to be improved communication and leadership… and I congratulate Superintendent Ronald Durbon for that.
The students themselves got involved… forming their own political action committee, handing out flyers, knocking on doors and registering voters.
I applaud these students for their activism and for their commitment to their own education. In the process, I think they taught us something this time.
I want to recognize all our school districts today… East Central and the job that Gary Patterson is doing there.
Harlandale and Superintendent Robert Jaklich, the excellcence this district is showing with its fine arts program. The Columbia Heights Elementary School has its own exhibit at the Bexar County Court House.
At South Side, Superintendent Juan Antonio Jasso is making terrific progress. Just last month, theater Arts Teacher Jill Gable at South San Antonio High School won the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the first one in the district's history.
I always enjoy delivering the State of the District Address to the South San Antonio Chamber, even though it makes me feel a little bit like the nervous boy bringing his report card home from school. Fortunately, thanks to all our hard work, the grades are mostly good. But there is always room for improvement.
I am happy to report that BexarMet as an agency has made some progress, and that after a long search process… a general manager is in place. We still have some work to do but we are making progress. In the next session of the Legislature… which is coming at us fast… BexarMet will be a legislative priority for me.
We will try again this time to get higher standards of ethics for board members, limit campaign contributions, impose term limits, beef up candidate qualifications and create a recall provision. In the meantime, we wait once again for the board to fulfill its promises and get its act together.
There are some other things we need to do better at. According to a new study out this week by Girls Incorporated… almost one-third of the girls in our nation are engaging in sexual intercourse by the ninth grade. That's a startling number, and should serve as a call to action for all of us.
This study shines a glaring light on the attitudes of young girls in our society and shows the incredible risks they are willing to take. And it certainly explains the epidemic of teen pregnancy that is cascading through our community.
Unwanted pregnancies not only impede the social, educational and economic progress of these young parents, but they place young children at a much greater risk for abuse and neglect.
Parents, educators, school counselors, our priests and ministers… all must come to grips with the temptations and challenges that young people are faced with today.
Pre-teen and early teen years are becoming more and more critical in a girl’s life… and we must provide love, guidance and understanding for them to emerge successfully into adulthood. There is too much at stake here to continue treating the issue of teenage sex and pregnancy as a taboo.
A little over a year from now, I will be back before you to report on the 82nd Texas Legislature. If you thought the last session was a doozie… just wait. There are some major challenges on the horizon.
Three days ago, House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts pegged the state's budget shortfall at the high end of the projections we've been hearing… 18-billion dollars. Speaker Straus told Pitts' committee that the gap must be closed without passing new taxes. You know where that will leave us.
Some of the ideas he tossed out include unpaid state employee furloughs, a moratorium on new programs and a halt to issuing bonds due. I am worried what this austerity will mean for child abuse prevention and treatment programs, our commitment to public education, to our public health safety nets and our state police, and courts and prisons.
Now, we're expected to have eight-point-two-billion dollars in the state's rainy-day fund. We'll, look outside. It's raining. It's unclear how much of that money the Legislature will throw at the deficit but it will make up some of the shortfall.
We could also raise about one-billion dollars by approving casino gambling. But even in this environment, I'm not sure I'd bet on that happening. Just this week, Governor Perry warned us not to send him a bill.
Into this mix you throw the contentious issue of redistricting. Ten years ago, the Legislature was unable to pass any redistricting bill in both Houses. The matter was left to the courts for congressional boundaries and to the Legislative Redistricting Board for the House and Senate.
You may recall that some of us slipped off to Oklahoma the last time this happened. I really don't want to go back to Ardmore.
There is another issue that I hope does not arise in the next session… because it will make matters even worse. I'm talking about any attempt to emulate Arizona's controversial new immigration law.
The Arizona measure and the threat it poses to civil liberties should not serve as the template for a similar misguided attempts by Texas.
America does have a right to protect its borders and it should… and business and industry have a duty to respect immigration laws… but it's the federal government that is obliged to write and enforce those laws. Arizona's law addresses very little of the real problem, while providing great potential for discriminating against American citizens, authorized immigrants and foreign visitors.
Comprehensive federal immigration reform is necessary for the economic and political stability of the United States and Mexico. But true reform cannot be based on anger, ignorance and misperception. As the senator for ten border counties… and the chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus… I will oppose an Arizona-style approach to the problem in Texas.
But, I will urge President Obama and Congress to put this issue on the national agenda. We desperately need a fair and workable immigration policy that respects human rights while addressing the security and economic needs of our country.
Now, in the midst of all this, there are a number of things that I want to accomplish beyond the reforms at BexarMet, and I'm happy to say that we're down the road on several of them.
Last year we created the statewide Blue Ribbon Task Force, which has been reviewing existing laws and resources to find better ways to coordinate strategies for fighting child abuse and neglect.
I am so very proud of this group. Without the benefit of even gas money, they've traveled across the state, meeting in Austin, Dallas, and Houston… and next month in San Antonio… to find solutions to this horrific problem.
A child is abused in Bexar County on average of once per hour… and that has to stop. The members of this group are burning up the road and their personal travel budgets in the cause of child abuse prevention. I'll file a bill next year to give this panel the financial resources its needs to continue its work at findings solutions that will become law in a future session.
In concert with that effort, my staff and I have been meeting with Child Protective Services Workers to see how we can make their jobs a little easier and more effective.
These caseworkers are manning the front lines in the battle against child abuse… and they must have the tools, resources and support of their managers to claim any kind of victory.
And there's some leftover business from the last session that needs to be addressed. I'm going to try again to pass the Kristi Appleby bill that would redefine "dating violence" and make protective orders available in cases that don't involve direct romantic relationships.
I want non-custodial parents to pay dental support for their children… and put that requirement in child support orders. I also want to pass a Foster Children's Bill of Rights, and I'll try again to raise the smoking age to 19.
I also intend to file legislation to give residents and landowners in far South San Antonio a greater say in development decisions affecting the area. As it is currently constituted the 15-member board of the City South Management Authority is not a truly representative body. Landowners must have a greater voice… and I intend to give them that voice.
So, we'll see how all that goes. I am an optimist at heart. And my great hope is that when I return to you a year from now, I'll be able to praise the work and the wisdom of lawmakers in this very important session and bring you a report card as good as the one I brought today.
And it was a good one. The economy is on the rebound, the South Side isn't just growing, it's thriving, and all of you are owed a debt of gratitude for that, and thanks go to Jane, Cindy, Doug and the entire Chamber.
The State of the District is sound… and I can say again today that I am proud to be a Texan and very proud to be from the South Side of San Antonio.
Sen. Uresti hails renovations at historic Garner State Park
Senate District 19 is blessed with its share of natural resources, scenic wonders and vacation spots, and one of the best is Garner State Park. Already a jewel in the Texas State Park System, Garner is going to be an even greater attraction for nature lovers with enhancements to its historic cabins and screen shelters.
Garner has always been a great getaway spot for picnickers, hikers, floaters and animal watchers. Now it's going to be even better.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, working with bond funds approved by Texas voters, is restoring and renovating Garner’s historic Civilian Conservation Corps cabins, built in 1938-39, and repairing all the park’s screen shelters.
The department has started on four of the park’s 17 cabins, with the rest to follow until all are done. Work is already completed on 15 of the park’s 47 screen shelters. After the summer season, work will resume on the shelters and begin on the replacement of a Rock Beach comfort station. In all, about $4 million in improvements are planned for Garner.
Texas voters wisely recognized the value of enhancing this wonderful park, and they will reap the benefits for years to come. A whole new generation of Texans will be able to enjoy Garner State Park and form life-long memories of their stay.
Of the 17 cabins, 13 are original Civilian Conservation Corps structures of native Texas rock and local hardwoods. Crews have already started on the four non-CCC cabins. The CCC cabins are being renovated with great respect for their history.
When done, two of the cabins will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The screen shelters are simple rectangles with wood and screen sides and a picnic table inside. They can be significantly altered, so 11 will be reworked to ADA standards. The cabins and five of the shelters are located in the park’s original section, known as Old Garner, near the Oakmont Camp Loop. The rest of the shelters are in the River Crossing camp area along the Frio River.
Work on the new comfort station, the department's name for a restroom without showers, also is to begin after the summer season. It will be located in the popular Rock Beach area of Old Garner. The all new structure will replace a station that was beyond repair. It will have much-needed changing rooms and, since it is located in a flood plain, it will be built on concrete piers.
Garner is located 8 miles north of Concan and 90 miles west of San Antonio. For more information on the park, call 830-232-6132. Or visit the Garner State Park website.
Click the links below to learn more about Senator Carlos Uresti and how the community has rewarded his hard work.
Awards and Recognitions
• 2010 Campaign Endorsements
Click here for more news releases from Senator Uresti.
Texas Folklife Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio
Thursday, June 11 - Saturday, June 13
801 S. Bowie St.
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Juneteenth observances throughout San Antonio, including a picnic, festival, Freedom Fair, and cultural celebrations
Friday, June 19
San Antonio, Texas
Pecos Parade and B-B-Q
Wednesday, June 23
8 am - 2 pm
San Antonio District Office
Falcon International Bank
2530 SW Military Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78224
Toll Free 1.800.459.0119
Eagle Pass District Office
Maverick County Courthouse
501 Main Street
Eagle Pass, Texas 78852
Pecos District Office
Reeves County Courthouse
100 East 4th Street
Pecos, Texas 79772
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711