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The QueQue

The QueQue: Planned Parenthood hits back, Radwaste site's water risks ruled secret, Building lobby behind Build SA

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Critics of WCS' plan have insisted the dump sits dangerously close to the Ogallala Aquifer (some contend on top of the aquifer, though the company disputes it), the nation's largest aquifer stretching all the way to South Dakota. If this is starting to ring a bell, it should. Former TCEQ geologists and engineers told their bosses in 2007 that WCS' radwaste license shouldn't be approved partly because of concerns over contaminating the nearby water table. They resigned in protest when the TCEQ forged ahead, ignoring their concerns — then the former TCEQ director who issued WCS' licenses, Glenn Shankle, left to lobby for the company. "Staff professionals at TCEQ have resigned over the licensing of this site — experts quit their jobs because they do not agree that the site is safe enough for radioactive waste," said Karen Hadden with the SEED Coalition in a statement Monday.

Burnam also released a non-confidential report from WCS to TCEQ showing that between November 2011 and March 2012 the company pumped more than 23,000 gallons from a monitor well inside the so-called "buffer zone."

Building lobby behind Build SA

Fundraising for Build SA Now, the political action committee pushing for passage of the city's fast-approaching largest bond ever, clocked in at $234,000 between January 1 and April 2 this year, campaign finance reports released last week show. Even though no real opposition has formed to rally against the bond proposal, some of the biggest names in local construction and development contributed to the PAC to ensure the $596 million bond's easy passage come May 12.

Billboards have already gone up and print ads, yard signs, and mail-outs are well on the way. The report shows Build SA Now has so far spent $22,500 for a citywide poll, and another $20,000 to local strategist and consultant Christian Archer's Adelante Strategy Group, along with spending $13,726 on printing and ads.

Donations from architecture, engineering, and construction firms account for roughly three quarters of all donations that came flowing into Build SA Now, among them heavy hitters like Freese and Nichols Inc. ($7,500), Zachry Construction Corporation ($15,000), Pate Engineers ($7,500), and Pape-Dawson Engineers ($7,500). Other major big-leaguers made high-dollar contributions, like USAA ($15,000), Valero ($10,000), and NuStar ($7,500).

Mayor Julián Castro has said the bond, for the most part, invests in the "meat and potatoes of what local government does," with $465 million, or nearly 80 percent of bond proceeds, tagged for basic improvements to roads, bridges, sidewalks, and drainage. Along with addressing such so-called "urgent infrastructure needs," the bond's also set to play pivotal role in the city's efforts to transform downtown — $40 million has been earmarked for downtown streets, $30 million for HemisFair Park, and $4 million for downtown's Central Library. Early voting for the bond runs from April 30 through May 8. •

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