Pelicans, Diapers, and ‘Distraction’: 2018 in Quotes

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Composite / Bonnie Arbittier & Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Strong quotes, like pistons in a car’s engine, can propel a story so much further into a reader’s mind. As writers, we sometimes paraphrase what officials and neighbors say – but often no one can say it better than the source.

Our reporters have been taking note of the most poignant, strange, candid, or eloquent assertions throughout the year.

Here are some of the most memorable quotes from the Rivard Report‘s 2018 coverage:

“This will impair our ability to recruit the best executive talent for our city. But the voters have spoken loudly and clearly.” – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg following voters’ approval of Proposition B

“I’m just still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we have pelicans in San Antonio.” – U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) while on a tour at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

“The votes that came up in regard to our city manager and her salary and her ambition and determination was a result of the fact that we as a community don’t like ambitious women. And so, I urge all of you out there to please help us change that stigma, that we can be ambitious, fighters, strong, and polite, too, and not to mistake that politeness for a lack of ambition.” – Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) on a women’s equity resolution approved by City Council

“We have to stop building cities for people who are 30 and athletic. This is critical, especially for a city growing as fast as [San Antonio].” – Toronto urbanist Gil Penalosa, the keynote speaker for San Antonio CityFest

“If someone’s acting a little shifty, I’m not selling you a gun. If someone looks weird, no. Just because someone is able to pass a background check doesn’t mean we have to sell it. So if someone is acting a little shifty, no, I’m not selling to them. Done that all the time. If he’s twitching, acting weird, asking stupid questions, no, I’m not selling you a gun.” – Bill Mochel, a salesman at Nagel’s Gun Shop

“When you’re talking about millions of bats in a dark cave, it’s like guessing the number of M&Ms in a jar.” – Phillip Stepanian, meteorologist, University of Oklahoma

When I became mayor, there were three city councilmen that had been convicted of crimes. It was not a pretty picture. When Sheryl came here, I wanted her to be an agent of change.” – Former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger on City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s retirement

“Just like a dirty diaper, if you don’t bundle it up properly there could be unintended consequences.” – Nirenberg on public policy, ahead of a vote on the new diaper fee

“Look at all the good things that have happened as a result of my mom’s murder. Satan wanted it for evil. But God turned it around for good. I’m in awe.” – Los Barrios Enterprises CEO and President Louie Barrios on the 2008 killing of Viola Barrios.

“[Money is] very very very important to a race like this. … Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” – Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) after winning a May runoff election

“I’ve been instructed to announce … that the season is going forward.” – San Antonio Symphony conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing at a Tricentennial concert that was to have been the season’s last

“This is exactly the future of public research universities – it’s an urban environment. It’s not stuck out in some cornfield somewhere in the middle of the United States. It’s here in a vibrant city.” – University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy on the university’s plans to double its student population downtown and add new facilities

“When the 2.1 million visitors [per year] come to the grounds of the Alamo, they are underwhelmed. Instead of coming onto a historic battlefield of valor, they are welcomed by nothing but distraction.” – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush before City Council voted to approve the Alamo Plaza redevelopment plan

“The number of things in cancer and medicine is exploding so quickly that perhaps the most important new field is in data management.” – Dr. Ian Thompson, president of Christus Santa Rosa Medical Center

“If a first-year male teacher [is asked], ‘What do you want to be in 10 years?’ and he says superintendent, people say, ‘Oh, fabulous.’ If a woman teacher says that in her first year, she gets varying versions of, ‘Well, aren’t you full of yourself.’”Linda Skrla, professor emeritus, educational administration and human resource development at Texas A&M University

“I’d love to tell you that we were working on the biggest problems … but we’re having to play defense [against the fire union].” – Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4) on Council resuming its regular schedule after summer break

“I’ve gotten a degree in homelessness and hunger. I feel very prepared to be able to talk about it.”Joan Cheever on becoming a homeless policy advocate after ending her 13 years of feeding the hungry on San Antonio’s streets

“This system holds us all accountable so the only school[s] it is aggravating for [are those that] are afraid of accountability.” – SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez on the state’s new grading system for schools

“I’m a really good judge; I love the law and I had a mission and we were doing above and beyond making a big impact. It’s not voters who said Renée is not doing a good enough job; they didn’t know.”Renee Yanta, 150th District Court judge who was defeated in November, on lack of information about judicial candidates.

“I always tell parents please don’t judge us by the school. Think of us more as that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that when you walk in you’re thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to end up with scabies,’ but everyone is just completely silent, that’s how into the food they are.” – Abel Deleon, principal at School of Science and Technology, on the school’s temporary building on a dirt lot

“Everybody in the City of San Antonio organization, and throughout the community, rallied behind the idea of San Antonio having a birthday. We were going to celebrate that, and tell people who we are, and artists are really good at that.” – Debbie Racca-Sittre, director of the City’s Department of Arts and Culture, on the Tricentennial’s cultural aspects

“Coming soon to #SanAntonio: another mayor makes an epic political mistake that takes a possible 200MM from the community. Why??? I want to rip the last hair I have out of my head. Maybe he is just waiting on Mayor Sculley to decide for him.” Brad Parscale, President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, criticizing Nirenberg (and referring to Sculley) in a Tweet for not bidding for the Republican National Convention

“Our culture has become so visually-oriented that we kind of rely on our eyes. When you take that away … suddenly you become a caveman or cavewoman. … Is that sound I hear a sabertooth tiger or is it something I could eat?”
– Rudi Harst, founder and spiritual director of Celebration Circle, on turning off the lights inside the Cave Without a Name

“If we’d waited on the feds, do you think we’d ever have got the south end of the river done? … What’s happened in this town is all the money’s gone to the north and the south has always got screwed, and we were determined not to let that happen.”
– Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on funding the Mission Reach project

“Many [reporters] have been here every day for the entire term of this very lengthy trial and you’re very anxious – and I would be, too, if I were in your position – to get to the telephone or get to the typewriter or get to the iPad and start putting your story out there.”
– Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra giving instructions to the courtroom audience before Sen. Carlos Uresti’s guilty verdict was announced

“In order to get a really professional Santa, retailers get on it a good 18 months to a year in advance, because it’s that competitive to get a good Santa.”
– Renee Davis, CEO of a San Antonio agency that manages professional Santas

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