Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Battling to hold on to his elected office and salvage his reputation, City Councilman Alan Warrick (D2) told public radio listeners that he was embarrassed about waking up on a City Hall park bench Friday morning after a night of drinking at a downtown bar.
Warrick, 36, defended his record in an interview recorded Tuesday for the Wednesday broadcast on Texas Public Radio‘s The Source. Attorney William “Cruz” Shaw, his challenger in the June 10 runoff, appeared live on the same broadcast.
With early voting in the June 10 runoff now underway, Warrick faces a tough trial in the court of public opinion as he struggles to put the best face on the incident and live down a previous version of the events in which he claimed to have been the victim of a drugged cocktail or have had an adverse reaction to alcohol consumption that caused him to black out in a public place.
Warrick is known as a regular weekday night bar hopper, several people asserted in interviews this week with the Rivard Report, disputing his accounts that his behavior last week was out of the ordinary.
Warrick admitted in the TPR interview that he “went too far” Thursday night, engaging in “overzealous partying for a friend’s birthday,” but denies having a drinking problem. He told TPR program host David Martin Davies that he has pledged anew to make sure “that my behaviors are…what I promised my wife, my family, and the people of District 2 in regards to making sure I’m always in a presentable fashion, as I have been for the last three years or so in public life.”
Video from a camera at City Hall obtained by the San Antonio Express-News shows Warrick passing out on the bench around 6 a.m. and a security guard waking him up about 20 minutes later.
The video was released as early voting continues through Tuesday, June 6. Shaw, 39, has called for Warrick’s resignation. Warrick received nearly 41% of the vote in May 6 general election while Shaw came in second with more than 28%. Keith Toney, who finished third with 23%, has since endorsed Warrick.
In the wake of the incident, some people have come forward – largely on social media and in comment sections on local media websites – to attest to past examples of Warrick appearing in a manner some might describe as less than presentable. While some contacted the Rivard Report directly, most bar owners and those who would continue to work with Warrick should he be re-elected refused to speak on the record.
Krista Lynn Crain, a former bartender at The Ticket Sports Pub, a popular Houston Street bar, posted on Facebook in response to the Rivard Report’s coverage of Warrick’s retraction of claims that he was drugged. Crain wrote that Warrick was considered a “regular” at The Ticket, but that she didn’t know his name or that he was a City councilman for months after he began frequenting the bar.
“All the bartenders knew his drink; he never had to ask. That’s how often we saw him, and that is just one establishment of the many he would frequent downtown,” Crain wrote. “I have NEVER seen this man ‘only have three drinks.’ Ever.”
When asked Wednesday if he had seen Crain’s post, Warrick confirmed he had.
“I haven’t been to The Ticket in maybe a year,” he said. “I don’t recognize her face.”
Contrary to social media traffic and reaction to last week’s incident, Warrick said he doesn’t get drunk often and hasn’t had a drink since Thursday night.
“Yes, I [go] out, but it doesn’t mean I get inebriated to a point that I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. For now, he’s going to quit drinking, but “not permanently,” because he does “not have a drinking problem.”
“We have never had any issues with Alan at our business or as a councilman,” Jeret Peña, who owns Brooklynite and several other downtown bars, told the Rivard Report via text.
Warrick said people who struggle with alcohol and substance abuse should “look [for] signs, look at your 12-step programs … take an honest account of your actions and behavior of where your life is going and if it’s not going in the direction you would like.
“Everyone’s ‘[rock] bottom’ looks different,” Warrick said.
Blacking out and waking up on a bench in a public place is a sign that Warrick needs help, Shaw said.
“I feel bad, I really do,” Shaw told TPR. “If he needs help, I would rather him go get help for the sake of himself, his wife, and his children. That’s a scary situation. I practice criminal law and see what alcohol can do to you.
“There [are] bigger issues that he’s dealing with right now and District 2 residents can’t afford to be second or third chair – they need to be what’s most important,” he added.
Warrick dismissed Shaw’s call for his resignation as opportunistic.
“If he wants to make this the issue as opposed to stray dogs, as opposed to violence in our community, as opposed to the lack of good jobs and high paying jobs in our community, that’s his only way of winning this race,” Warrick said. “I don’t see any reason to drop out of the race.”
He also pointed to Shaw’s recent absence at several candidate forums and neighborhood association meetings.
“That doesn’t make it clear to me that [Shaw] wants to be the councilman,” he said.
Both Shaw and Warrick have past DUI arrests. Shaw received a DUI charge when he was 19. Warrick received two, in 2002 and 2004, when he was in his early twenties.
The Rivard Report tracked down a few people who claim to have observed Warrick drinking more than he should.
“[I’ve seen him drunk] tons of times,” she said.
Cleaver has supported the Shaw campaign.
In November 2016 Warrick co-hosted a trip to Washington, D.C., with the Eastside Dreamers Academy, a City of San Antonio and San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce partnered program led by Warrick’s office and facilitated by Winslow Consulting and the mentoring nonprofit One Million Dreams.
After the trip one parent accused Warrick of drinking too much and yelling at her student on the group’s bus. Winslow Swart, the group’s co-leader, said he is “99.9% sure” that this did not occur. He said that even when drinks were served with dinner, Warrick would have one at most. Swart has seen Warrick at several social occasions over the course of their Eastside Dreamers partnership and insists he has never seen the councilman drink to the point of disorderliness.
“That’s not his style,” Swart said. “He’s not one of the guys I see as a problem-drinker.”
Swart said he was surprised to hear about the May 26 incident: “I’ve never seen him lose it like that.”
Others were less surprised. Warrick attended the 2016 and 2017 SA to DC trip, hosted by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce along with fellow council members and local business leaders. One fellow attendee, who asked to remain anonymous, said that on both trips Warrick “pretty much just [partied] the whole time,” adding that while Warrick did not attend the “really very fruitful” meetings during the trip, he would show up for networking mixers and stay out late at local bars.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) said he couldn’t speak to Warrick’s drinking habits, only knowing him in the context of his work at City Hall. Warrick is a “professional colleague,” Treviño said Friday. “I am glad he is safe.”
On Saturday, Warrick retracted claims that his drink was spiked with a drug and suggested that Shaw’s campaign was somehow involved. He sent out emails and social media posts about the dangers of date rape drugs.
Later in the weekend, after meeting with bar owners who reviewed security footage from that night, he admitted he had simply had too much to drink and apologized for the accusation against Shaw’s campaign and for possibly tarnishing the reputation of On the Rocks Pub.
“I actually feel pretty good … at first it was definitely disheartening and embarrassing to my wife my family and myself,” he told TPR. “But after getting out in the community – in a community like District 2 where we have people that are in need of second chances, are in need of a little bit of forgiveness, are in need of opportunity – they totally understand. I’m harder on myself than they are on me.”