A Reason to Celebrate – San Antonio Streetcar Plan Killed

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According to the San Antonio Express News today, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor killed the SA streetcar project “in the wake of rising political pressure to put it to a public vote.” The “starter” project covering the first 4.5 miles was estimated to cost $490 million. San Antonio residents have voted against a downtown streetcar project in the past.

The truth is the Streetcar Vote Coalition team  who led the opposition killed the project  by relentlessly exposing the deception, lies, and fallacious arguments extolling  the  worthiness and economic benefits of the bloated government  boondoggle spearheaded by  Nelson Wolff and VIA Metropolitan Transit. The Streetcar Vote Coalition effectively raised the curtain to show the “emperor had no clothes”. VIA and Nelson Wolff could offer no objective, verifiable evidence of the economic benefits of the project to warrant wide support by the public despite the efforts of the VIA Public Relations department and the recent implausable VIA-funded “Streetcar Economic Impact Report” which cost $70K in public funds  to provide window dressing for the downtown streetcar contruction plan. To paraphrase a homespun adage, “You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.”

Special thanks to the leaders of the Streetcar Vote Coalition who persevered and successfully carried out this campaign to bring transparency and accountability in city and county governance and to give concerned citizens of Bexar County a voice in government deliberations. The downtown streetcar construction plan was a clear example of  ill-conceived,  wasteful municipal spending. The goal of the Streetcar Vote team is to change the city charter to require the city to seek voter approval before granting VIA right-of-way for any streetcar or light rail project. 26,000 registered voter signatures were successfully collected to place the charter change on the November 2014 election ballot.

The Streetcar Vote campaign was a model for conservative leaders in San Antonio in how to engage government in public policy advocacy matters and how to educate the public especially when the occasions arise (all too frequently nowadays) in  irresponsible fiscal spending and “social change” ordinances carried out by government entities that undermine our individual liberties, silence our voices,  and attack our cherished religious values.

I believe the bitter fight last year before the City Council voted to pass the “non-discrimination ordinance” (NDO)  which granted special rights to a sexual minority in San Antonio was the opening battle which the political elite misread as a victory for their liberal cause. It was not. The NDO decision in September was followed by the ordinance recall referendum and  City Councilman (Diego Bernal) and Mayor (Julian Castro) recall campaigns. It awakened the Christian community in San Antonio and served to unite and motivate faith-based conservatives, giving notice to long term public official careerists that the people have awaken and will be silent and subservient NO MORE.

It is quite apparent now that Judge Nelson Wolff has accepted the reality that his unpopular pet project may very well have torpedoed his re-election  in November.  Members of the San Antonio City Council should be concerned about the prospects of their re-elections and political careers if they continue to promote and support unpopular policies.

We must continue to remain vigilant and be actively involved in defending our individual liberties and religious freedom as Catholics and evangelical Christians in San Antonio. We still have the heavy boot of the federal mandate pressing down on the necks of people of conscience who cannot abide by the  national health policy compelling individuals, businesses, institutions, and insurance carriers to pay for abortifacients, sterilization services, and contraceptive products that are mostly abortion-inducing. It is immoral to violate the consciences of a free people but to corrupt the bodies and souls of the young and ignorant is unconscionable.

It is our solemn responsibility as people of faith to raise the standard of virtue and to acknowledge that our rights come not from government but from “nature’s God”. Founding father and second President John Adams reminds us moderns today that “statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is  religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can secularly stand”.

Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 called to mind America’s declaration of independence during his pastoral visit to the United States: “America as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such”.

We look forward to what Pope Francis has to say when he visits the United States next year.

By Phil Sevilla, July 29, 2014

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