Some congratulations are in order for activists in San Antonio for successfully challenging a heavy-handed attempt at implementing a streetcar system against their will. By shouting for accountability when their local government officials behaved irresponsibly, bi-partisan activists in San Antonio have made it clear that their wallets are not discretionary resources for the pet-projects of their public officials.
Last week, a bond package cobbled together by San Antonio’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, Via, was denied sale by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office. The AG’s opinion hinged upon the question of the legality of using funding from the Advanced Transportation District (established in 2004 on the condition it would not be used for light-rail) to leverage a bond package for the purpose of constructing the Westside Multimodal Terminal, a central component of Via’s proposed streetcar system.
The denial rode in on a wave of increasing public scrutiny, ultimately climaxing in a lawsuit filed against Via. The lawsuit itself illustrated the breadth of the opposition to Via’s proposed streetcar system as it featured two co-plaintiffs of an unlikely coalition: George Rodriguez of the San Antonio Tea Party and George Alejos of LULAC. Via tried to bully the co-plaintiffs out of the lawsuit, but fortunately the quick response from the AG’s office made that pending litigation a moot point.
If the history of this issue is any indicator, however, the fight is far from over. These officials have shown they will stop at nothing to get their pet program implemented, and now is no time to take a break. Having said that, it is nice to see a tangible example of the type of impact a tireless few can have on their local government.