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Newsmonger: Clinton stumps for Gallego,Pre-K 4 SA debated, Local lawyer vying for Supremes

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Bill Clinton and Pete Gallego at South San High School. Photobomb by Joaquin Castro.

Clinton stumps for Gallego

Former President Bill Clinton spoke to an overflow crowd at South San Antonio High School last week aiming to boost Democratic turnout at a crucial moment for congressional hopeful Pete Gallego (above), who's locked in a tight race with GOP Congressman Francisco "Quico" Canseco. The Hill, Real Clear Politics, and the Cook Political Report have all labeled the race for Texas' 23rd congressional seat a toss-up. Things got particularly ugly this month, with Canseco's campaign sending out mailers accusing Gallego of denying God, supporting "abortion for young girls," wanting "marriage to be between man & man." Gallego called the mailers — which featured a stained-glass image of Jesus, a photo of a baby, and a photo of two men kissing — over the line, crass, and disrespectful. More recently the Sierra Club has targeted the race, airing a new Spanish-language radio ad in El Paso, Odessa, and San Antonio highlighting Canseco's ties to big oil and gas, which has donated $230,000 to his campaign. The Canseco campaign has responded by claiming Gallego is aligned with "radical environmentalists." In his San Antonio speech, Clinton summarized Canseco's strategy as "your basic, standard Tea Party deal. 'The government would mess up the two-car parade, and God is on my side.' Isn't that basically what they're saying?" Seems about the size of it.

Pre-K 4 SA debated

Mayor Julian Castro's been out in full force giving his city-wide pre-kinder initiative a final push before Election Day, as anti-tax groups and local conservative electeds continue to hammer away at the proposal. In two local forums last week, Castro touted his Pre-K 4 SA initiative, which would fund full-day pre-K for about 22,400 kids over the next eight years by maxing out the city's sales tax with a 1/8-cent increase. If voters approve it, the money raised will fund four so-called educational "centers of excellence," training for local teachers, and competitive grants for local school districts to help them expand their own pre-K programs. Castro and Pre-K 4 SA supporters note that the Lege last year cut some $200 million that local districts had used to fund full-day pre-K.

"Am I gonna wait for the governor or the federal government to actually do something about the education of our children who are not getting high-quality, full-day pre-K? No, I'm not going to wait for that," said Castro in a forum at Rackspace Hosting last week with Northside Councilman Carlton Soules, who opposes the tax increase. Among his many reservations, Soules questioned the notion that full-day pre-K is superior to half-day, which Texas school districts already offer.

Groups like the tax-averse Homeowner-Taxpayer Association of Bexar County have argued over the benefits of full-day pre-K, despite research showing full-day students get substantially more time learning core academics and average higher academic gains than their half-day peers. Jeff Judson, a senior fellow with the conservative Heartland Institute, and former local Tea Party president George Rodriguez ramped up efforts against Castro's plan this month with a 501(c)(4) nonprofit (which may be skirting finance disclosure laws) dubbed the South Texas Alliance for Progress. Among their claims: full-day pre-K ignores "how parents play a crucial role in the lives and development of their 4-year-olds."

Local lawyer vying for Supremes

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