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Newsmonger: CNN's solar hit job, 'Gloves are off' in judge race

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Julián "The Real Deal" Castro was a subject of the stellar journalism (and fact-checking) of CNN.

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CNN, Castillo said, was most fixated with Castro's travel months before the OCI deal announcement. On October 11, 2011 Castro traveled to South Korea for the Urban Environmental Accords summit on green cities, a trip that had been scheduled in advance that April, Castillo said. Castro cut the trip short to attend a White House dinner honoring the South Korean president on October 13, 2011. Castro had turned down a state dinner invitation from the White House the year prior, Castillo said. "That's why he left South Korea early. … You don't turn down a state dinner twice."

Castillo met with CNN's Rowlands at a Houston Street Starbucks recently to discuss the issue and to show CNN details of Castro's travel itinerary from 2011, Castillo said. "That's when it hit me. [CNN] had the impression [Castro] was invited to these secret meetings or something" with OCI, Castillo said, insisting Castro never met with OCI officials until after the firm had already been recommended by CPS following its selection process.

Nonetheless, CNN's Rowland's insinuated, without any sources, that the trips and OCI deal were linked. CNN also flashed a mugshot of the wrong Castro (using Joaquin instead of Julián) across the screen. "[CNN] said the Mayor was too busy to meet with them. That pissed me off somewhat," Castillo said. "He wasn't too busy. I freakin' kept him away from them."

Solar San Antonio executive director Lanny Sinkin says he was interviewed at length by Rowlands in the weeks before CNN aired its piece, though the network included none of it in the final segment. "During the interview I talked about the 800 jobs, the $100 million investment, bringing manufacturing to San Antonio, all those things. [CNN] wanted none of it," Sinkin said. "I kept hearing two things from [Rowlands]. One, 'How come Korea companies won and not U.S. companies?' And two, 'What about the mayor's trip to Korea and the trip to the White House?'"

Sinkin now calls the CNN piece "deliberately irresponsible. "[Rowlands] was even willing to imply that there was some kind of under-the-table deal between the Mayor, OCI, the president of Korea, and Obama, with absolutely no evidence," Sinkin said. "This was a political hit piece."

'Gloves are off' in judge race

With Election Day in less than two weeks, we're getting some frank talk out of Kevin O'Connell, who's fighting to de-bench longtime District Judge Mary Roman.

O'Connell, a Republican and the first real challenge Roman has faced in her 20 years presiding over Bexar County's 175th State District Court, says he and the judge gave short pitches before a North Side homeowners association last Tuesday. Roman was brutal. "She went off, cherry picking cases I've worked, calling me a 'yes man' for the defense bar," said O'Connell, a veteran prosecutor with the Bexar County District Attorney's Office. "She said I'm bought and paid for by the defense bar. … [DA Susan Reed] would have fired me a long time ago if that was true."

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