Our ambush of U.S. Congressman Charlie Gonzalez at the King William’s Fair in San Antonio this weekend was both a blast and a great success.
If you couldn’t make it out, never fear — Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current did, and just posted a great blog post with full coverage from the parade. Be sure to check out the video, featuring our very own Sarah McDonald, ReEnergize Texas’ Patrick Meaney, and cameos from a whole host of Public Citizen, ReEnergize Texas, and SEED Coalition staff and volunteers.
More good news from the Curblog is that Charlie Gonzalez is still listening to both sides of the auction-or-free-allowances debate, Bloomberg article to the contrary.
Ginette Magaña, a spokesperson for Rep. Gonzalez, said her boss had not committed to either side on the matter of carbon credits.
Not only that, but no letter exists as reported in the Bloomberg article, she insisted.
“There is no letter,” Magaña said. “He’s still looking at the bill and trying to find the best decision. I don’t have anything other than that right now … Charlie had never signed on to that letter … There is no letter.”
Things are certainly looking up. Check out this diary from Trevor Lovell of ReEnergize Texas fame for another perspective on the parade:
Sorry Charlie, Giveaways Aren’t Green
“This feels like one of the good old campaigns,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Executive Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, Saturday afternoon in reference to activists swarming Congressman Charlie Gonzalez’s carriage in the King William Parade that morning in San Antonio.
Smitty may have been showing his age a bit (he’s directed Public Citizen’s Texas office for the last 25 years, and become a local legend and then some in the process), but the sentiments were positive among organizers young and old alike.
Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is the key swing vote on a subcommittee considering the Waxman-Markey bill. A conservative Democrat, Gonzalez has joined a misguided throng calling for CO2 credits to be given away, a solution deemed unacceptable by environmentalists and economists who point out that such a system would create unfair profits for polluters and cripple any attempt at CO2 real reductions.
Learning late Thursday that Congressman Gonzalez would be in the King William Parade, a Fiesta celebration for the well-to-do and well-connected King William neighborhood of San Antonio, activists at Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, and my group, the ReEnergize Texas student coalition, got together and planned a full scale outreach and publicity action to let the Congressman know that giveaways are unacceptable.
We showed up in San Antonio as the parade floats were mustering outside of King William and quickly found the Sierra Club group that was marching in the parade. Having no permits to be there ourselves, we asked if we could join up, and they enthusiastically accepted. We saw Charlie’s carriage a few stations back, but event organizers prevented us from approaching. So we went along with the parade, waving our banners and talking to folks in the crowd, all the while looking for an opportunity to peel off to the side and face him with our banners and signs. It came quickly enough, and when his carriage came by we chanted “CHAAAR-LEEE…CHAAAR-LEEE” to draw his attention to the signs. After the carriage passed the bag around my shoulder spilled its contents on the ground, so Karen Hadden from SEED Coalition and Patrick Meaney from ReEnergize Texas ran ahead to catch the carriage.
While I was picking my things up, Karen and Patrick approached the carriage, still holding their signs and asking the Congressman for a good bill. Sitting next to the Congressman was Bear County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson who knew Karen and greeted her kindly. The conversation was just getting going when event organizers rollerbladed up to Karen and Patrick and told them they could march with the Sierra Club or leave the parade.
What the rollerblading authorities didn’t know was that I had been separated and was running desperately to catch up.
I got ahead of the carriage and found a Sierra Club activist holding one of our signs which read “Justicia Para El Clima!” and asked if she would help me hold the banner and another sign reading “No Polluter Bail Outs!” and “Want My Vote? Support Waxman-Markey!” respectively. As the carriage passed we called out to him “give us a good climate bill” and he called back “I will.”
Not convinced that he’d gotten the message, I walked behind the carriage, catching up on a small side street with virtually no crowd. I came next to the carriage and said “Howdy Congressman.” We talked for a couple minutes, me explaining that giving the credits away was terrible policy and possibly worse politics (“if you make concessions, the opponents of this bill are going to take credit for making you do it”). He answered that he thought the bill would give away “a percentage” of the credits and auction off the rest.
I left with courteous “Enjoy the Fiesta,” seeing more of our signs waiting for the Congressman up ahead. Before all was said and done he would see our signs and banners no less than 7 times and had 4 reasonably personal conversations with our members. His position had improved from “give them away” to “give away some” before the morning was over.
It was a good day, and all put together in under 48 hours. It probably was a little like Smitty’s good old days, and I look forward to telling young activists 25 years from now about our good old days when Charile Gonzalez just couldn’t get away.