Stories and multimedia projects by John Tedesco
August 24, 2014
Oil and gas companies rushing to drill in the Eagle Ford Shale since 2009 have burned and wasted billions of cubic feet of natural gas — enough to meet the needs for an entire year of every San Antonio-area household that relies on the fossil fuel…
Oct. 9, 2011
From the outside, the Texas Highway Patrol Museum doesn’t look like a multimillion-dollar telemarketing operation…
Jan. 31, 2010
Despite the growing popularity of towering retaining walls like the one that buckled last week, San Antonio officials have paid scant attention to the structures in residential subdivisions and can’t vouch for their safety.
No one at City Hall tracked how many walls were built over the years as thousands of residents flocked to the Texas Hill Country and developers reshaped steep terrain for new homes.
City inspectors never checked the walls.
And, according to members of the real estate industry, it wasn’t widely known that a permitting process existed for tall retaining walls.
“No one can find where the city has ever asked for or insisted on a permit,” subdivision developer Norman Dugas said. “I can’t find anyone who has ever gotten one …”
March 11, 2007
City records show the Fire Department’s mission of protecting lives and property is clashing with San Antonio’s appetite for new land.
In the past six years, firefighters rushed to inner-city blazes far more quickly than to fires in popular outlying areas that attract thousands of new homeowners.
Delays on the city’s edges plague rich and poor alike, from the exclusive enclave of the Dominion to low-income neighborhoods like Sunrise, a struggling community on the far East Side.
San Antonio annexed many of these neighborhoods despite protests by residents, who complained the city would fail to provide swift fire protection.
The city’s own records reveal that most of the time, those fears came true …
May 21, 2006
Miss Pretty Promises collapsed near the finish line and struggled to rise on her shattered forelegs.
A pickup rushed to the crippled racehorse. Two men sprang out and shielded the filly from the crowd with a crinkled tarp as the vet went to work.
It was April 28 — opening night for live racing at Retama Park. In the stands, many people had gasped when horse No. 4 with the crisp yellow silks tumbled in front of them on the dirt track.
A covered trailer soon whisked the concealed horse away and onlookers clapped and cheered, as if they were rooting for a football player who was limping bravely off the field.
But Miss Pretty Promises never would run again …
Oct. 16, 2005
An obscure Texas law written for developers has cost San Antonio millions of dollars, stripped parts of the scenic Hill Country of trees and blocked attempts to protect the region’s water supply …
May 11, 2003
Thanks to this multimillion-dollar pill, new homes breathe life into dying parts of town. Families move in, proud of their investment.
You might say good things about such a program.
Now imagine how the same subsidy puts buildings on valuable land that would have been developed anyway, and stops local government from collecting $658 million in tax revenue – enough money to build three SBC Centers, and then some.
And imagine one of the city’s top lobbyists taking a cut of the tax pie for himself.
Welcome to San Antonio’s complicated world of tax increment financing — TIF, for short — where each ambitious project comes with a price …
Up in Flames
Reliving the Battle of the Alamo
Texas Highway Patrol Museum spends little money on state troopers
Concealed handgun permits skyrocket in wealthy zip codes
Man finds missile launcher on rural property
For nearly 18 years, I’ve traveled across Texas, met interesting people, and shared their stories with readers of the San Antonio Express-News.
I got to meet Paco, the quirky owner of Frank’s Cafe who served big steaks to celebrity hunters and has since passed away. I met Deborah and Gary Swenchonis Sr., who were mourning their son who died in the bombing of the USS Cole, but were unfailingly gracious because they wanted to tell their son’s story.
It’s impossible to count all the interesting people I’ve interviewed over the years. But to everyone who let me share their unique stories … thank you.
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