Hannah Whisenant / Rivard Report
By many measures and in every slice of life, 2017 was an eventful year for San Antonio, Texas, and the United States.
San Antonio saw changes in City leadership with the election of six new City Council members and Mayor Ron Nirenberg in the May general and June runoff elections, as well as the passage of a historic bond and “equity lens” budget. The city mourned the loss of two men in uniform, 10 migrants who perished in a human smuggling incident in late July, a former City councilwoman and state representative, and others.
A school board member was arrested on federal bribery and fraud charges in February, and acquitted in December. Public art installations as well as Alamo’s Plaza potential makeover caused public outcry throughout the year, and scandals surrounding the leadership of the Tricentennial and the nonprofit Centro San Antonio marred the holiday season as the city headed into the year-long celebration of its 300th anniversary.
Texas experienced much political turmoil over NAFTA negotiations and contentious legislation such as the “sanctuary cities” and “bathroom” bills. Hurricane Harvey in late August and the tragic shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church on Nov. 5 went down as the most devastating natural disaster and mass shooting in the state’s history, respectively.
And Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency ushered in sweeping changes for the United States throughout 2017 – just ask Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs coach was not the only one who spoke candidly on the year’s happenings. Here are some of the most memorable quotes from the Rivard Report‘s 2017 coverage.
“Don’t be a bystander. Education is the key to everything. Be strong. Love yourself. … Believe in yourself. … Never give up.”
– Holocaust survivor Rose Williams, who at 90 continues to share her experiences with San Antonio students and as a volunteer at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio’s Holocaust Memorial Museum housed at the Barshop Jewish Community Center.
“Tonight the voters rejected the politics of division and false choices, and they said ‘yes’ to a bigger and brighter vision of inclusion, of diversity, of respecting each other, of fairness, of respecting each and every person in San Antonio … Tonight the voters said ‘yes’ to a mayor for all of San Antonio.”
– Ron Nirenberg upon winning the June 10 runoff election over incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor
“To me, it’s broken people … people not being in a relationship with their Creator, and therefore not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities … and not being productive members of society.”
– Former Mayor Ivy Taylor on the causes of poverty during an April 3 mayoral candidates forum. Taylor became the subject of a viral video that cut off the rest of her response, which addressed public policy, including her stance on improving access to education and reducing teen pregnancy as a means to ending systemic poverty.
“If I were to be in elected office after this, I think you might spy me running for mayor. The question just would be the timing of that.”
– Rey Saldaña, hinting at a possible mayoral run after his final term as District 4 councilman ends in 2019.
“Everybody seems to forget where in the hell they came from. We’re all immigrants in this country, all of us are.”
– Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on supporters of Senate Bill 4, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 7. Bexar County in June joined the City of San Antonio, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and others, in a lawsuit to block the “sanctuary cities” law.
“Thank you, Councilman Cheese Grater – excuse me, Councilman Krier.”
– Former Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10) addressing former Councilman Joe Krier (D9), who frequently referred to the sculpture, Liquid Crystal, at the Henry B. González Convention Center as “the cheese grater.”
“When you are covered in dirt, you realize you’re not better than anybody else.”
– Erika Prosper, H-E-B executive and wife of Mayor Ron Nirenberg on her humble upbringing and working in migrant fields in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I am convinced from an aesthetic but also from a civic standpoint that the walls do need to come down. Democracy has its public places, and sometimes it’s not always pretty … but I think we can find a balance to restore the sanctity of the Alamo, but also respect the public nature of it.”
– Then-mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg on an Alamo Master Plan design proposal to put glass walls around Alamo Plaza.
“Our primary mission at the San Antonio Police Department is to handle calls for service and work with the community to prevent and solve crimes. That is it. It’s not to chase people around and ask for their immigration status. For every second an officer spends dealing with an immigration matter, that’s a second … responding to your emergency calls [that’s] twittered away.”
– San Antonio Police Chief William McManus on Senate Bill 4.
“You’re depleting half of your workforce resources if you don’t realize women have a lot to offer.”
– Guido Construction CEO Maryann Guido on the benefits and importance of equality in the workforce.
“We’re very fortunate that there weren’t 38 of these people trapped inside this vehicle found dead.”
– San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood on eight people found dead along with about 30 other people left inside a tractor-trailer in July. Two more people died later in the human smuggling incident.
“She was the person I went to battle with, and the person I went shoe-shopping with.”
– Former State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte on Ruth Jones McClendon, a Democrat from San Antonio who represented Texas House District 120 from 1996 to 2016 and San Antonio’s City Council District 2 from 1993 to 1996. McClendon died at age 74 on Dec. 19.
“She appears to be a very sophisticated crook.”
– City Manager Sheryl Sculley on former Centro San Antonio accountant Alicia Henderson, who is thought to have embezzled up to $260,000 from the nonprofit.
“Not until now.”
– Former SAISD board member Olga Hernandez, in response to her defense attorney when he asked if she thought two people seeking school district contracts had ulterior motives when they lavished her with gifts. She was acquitted Dec. 19 on federal charges of fraud and bribery.
“It sounded like a hundred Detroit diesels parked out there, cranked up all the way. And then whenever the wind got really bad right before the eye hit, the whole house was shaking. It felt like a freight train coming by us.”
– Rockport resident James Sammons on Hurricane Harvey.
“We have the freedom to choose. And rather than choose darkness like the young man did that day, I say we choose life.”
– Frank Pomeroy, pastor at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, in his sermon one week after Devin Kelley opened fire at the church on Nov. 5, killing 26 and injuring more than 20 parishioners. Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter was among those slain.
“Our country is an embarrassment to the world.”
– Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, delivering scathing criticism of President Donald Trump’s administration and his comments on professional athletes at the team’s media day in late September.