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The QueQue

Incendiary local Tea Party president George Rodriguez lays out his go-local approach

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

San Antonio Tea Party president George Rodriguez: fiery instigator or quiet lobbyist?

A departure would be Tea Partiers' bubbling criticism over VIA's streetcar desires. The VIA project to build starter lines for a downtown streetcar system, paid for with VIA, county, and city funds, is a prime example of "government arrogance and waste," Rodriguez told me last week, something he repeated in an Express-News editorial the next day. He and others piped up at local meetings, insisting voters shot down commuter rail when they voted against a sales tax increase in 2000 that would have funded rail transit. He insists the plan only benefits a select group of developers with property in the new streetcar pathway, ignoring the transportation needs of the broader public.

And Rodriguez continues to quietly reach out to those who hold influence, whether holding forums for the slate of candidates seeking Kay Bailey Hutchison's soon-to-be vacated U.S. Senate seat or hosting a group of ICE officials to talk border policy and national security with his Tea Party kin. It was Rodriguez the conservative brain trust the Texas Public Policy Foundation tapped to explain how to lure Hispanics into the conservative fold at their 10th annual conference for state lawmakers this month. And when GOP state Representative John Garza brought Rodriguez along for a meeting with the Express-News editorial board in August, he told the paper, "I would put George on my mastermind committee."

Back at the Northside sports bar, Rodriguez seems to want to wear both hats: the loud, fiery instigator with the megaphone and the quiet lobbyist. "We're going to make people take us seriously on these local issues," he promises. In the next breath, looking up at Obama on the TV, he says, "Another four years of him, and we can kiss our way of life goodbye." •

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