The Riverwalk

Matters Of Interest Concerning The Alamo Itself.

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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Sat May 13, 2017 6:22 am

NefariousNed wrote:Funny. A Chicago official disses the San Antonio Riverwalk in the previous article and
now this article talks about how a Chicago-based company gets the contract for the new
river barges.


I guess Chicago both hate and love the Riverwalk. :D - It looks like it has´nt been decided yet which company will get to run the river cruises.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Wed May 17, 2017 2:25 pm

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EDITORIAL: San Antonio Express-News
Wednesday May 17, 2017

The River Walk barge contract with the city is crucial. Visitors from across the world travel to the city to enjoy the River Walk. Here, a group
of tourists in June explore the San Antonio River and River Walk while being directed by a tour guide from Rio San Antonio Cruises.

Mayor Ivy Taylor and the City Council were warned about the mess they would create if they rebid the city’s high-profile barge contract. A
rebid would not clear up any ethical concerns and would potentially make a messy situation even worse.

And now that mess is here — and the barge contract is as clear as San Antonio River water.

City staff are recommending the second-place bidder, San Antonio River Cruises, which used to be the first-place bidder and is strongest on
operations.

And Taylor is wondering why staff isn’t recommending the new first-place bidder, Go Rio San Antonio, which came ahead in the overall scoring
by a point in the rebidding.

But that was because it picked up points for local preference and small business support. Go Rio San Antonio is a partnership between Landry’s,
VIA Metropolitan Transit board Chairwoman Hope Andrade and Lisa Wong’s Lisa’s Cantina y Café.

At the heart of the issue are ethical concerns about former Mayor Phil Hardberger’s role with San Antonio River Cruises, which is the local arm
of Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises.

In January, Hardberger, an attorney, was part of a presentation to an 11-member selection committee with other principals in San Antonio River
Cruises. Traditionally, city policy has not allowed attorneys or lobbyists to attend such meetings. But staff made an exception for Hardberger,
who is not a lobbyist, and then granted that exception to the other teams. San Antonio River Cruises then finished first, by a significant margin,
in the scoring.

Taylor called for a rebidding, saying city staff failed to adhere to policy and Hardberger was an “unregistered” lobbyist.

But the optics were not great. Taylor is close with attorney Bill Kaufman, who represents Rio San Antonio Cruises, the current operator that
finished second in the bidding. She has said this connection played no role in her decision to intervene — and tellingly, Rio San Antonio Cruises
finished fourth in the rebid.

This Editorial Board agreed with Taylor that the city erred in letting Hardberger speak, and it erred in giving the other teams only a few days
notice to also include their attorneys. But this was never a big enough error to warrant this additional mess. Hardberger spoke for a few moments,
and the other teams had the chance to include attorneys in their presentations.

That didn’t merit further delaying a crucial contract, damaging the city’s reputation at a national level or inviting this kind of unnecessary drama.

As for the bids, it’s clear why staff is sticking with San Antonio River Cruises despite its second-place finish. It’s a better operator. That’s what
the scoring says.

As City Hall reporter Josh Baugh outlined, Go Rio San Antonio received 71.43 points and San Antonio River Cruises received 70.41 points. But all
of San Antonio River Cruises points were for experience, financial capability, proposal quality and economic terms.

Go Rio San Antonio scored a little less than 54 points for these same qualities, and then picked up 17.55 points for local preference and adherence
to Small Business Economic Development Advocacy.

Put another way: San Antonio River Cruises was much stronger on experience, finances and proposal.

This is a crucial contract. Visitors from across the world come to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and check out the River Walk.

The top priority should be providing the best river barge experience possible, even if that means awarding the contract to the second-place bidder.

To recap, the firm with the most solid bid and with the most experience was scored second because it was not deemed as “local” as Go Rio San
Antonio. But if the preference is a local operator for the barges, why conduct a national bid?

We laud city staff for sticking with principle, something the City Council lacked in this instance.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Thu May 18, 2017 3:56 am

To recap, the firm with the most solid bid and with the most experience was scored second because it was not deemed as “local” as Go Rio San
Antonio. But if the preference is a local operator for the barges, why conduct a national bid?


Good question!
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Mon May 22, 2017 12:52 am

http://therivardreport.us5.list-manage2 ... 91dc39eb2d

The Big Fix: River Barges and Runoffs Make for Ugly Politics
Robert Rivard for the Rivard Report 18 hours ago

You might never take a ride on one of the barges plying the narrow confines of the San Antonio River, but as a taxpayer
and voter you should care about the 10-year, $100 million contract that is now up for grabs. The River Walk tourist
concession is quite a lucrative one with a long history of backroom politics deciding the outcome.

Nothing has changed in that regard in this so-called City on the Rise. The wheeling and dealing has only been amplified
by the political moment as Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) head into a June 10 runoff election,
along with two incumbent council members.

That’s why every San Antonio resident ought to watch as Taylor and City Council cast their votes Thursday to award the
contract. In all likelihood, it will be a mere formality, with the fix already in to award the deal to Go Rio San Antonio,
whose members have only modest credentials to claim the business.

Go Rio is a partnership of Houston-based Landry’s Restaurants, VIA Metropolitan Transit Chair Hope Andrade, and Lisa
Wong, owner of multiple Tex-Mex restaurants, including Rosario’s and Acenar. Landry’s operates one dinner cruise boat,
one speed boat, and two shuttle boats in Kemah near Galveston.

Entertainment Cruises of Chicago, doing business here as San Antonio River Cruises, is the bidder recommended not once,
but twice by City staff. The company operates a fleet of 36 cruises ships and boats in 10 U.S. cities and is owned by the
Pritzker family, regularly ranked as one of the most philanthropic families in the country. If City Council decided to follow
staff’s recommendation and Entertainment Cruises were to win the contract, its executives promised to join forces with
True Flavors owner Johnny Hernandez.

Landry’s serves 300,000 customers annually, counting its shuttle boats, while Entertainment Cruises serves 1.9 million.
What the Go Rio group lacks in river barge experience, however, is more than made up in political pull. The team finished
a distant fourth out of four bidders in the first review by City staff, yet somehow maneuvered itself into first place by a
single point after Taylor demanded a second review.

In that second review, Go Rio shifted majority control of the partnership from Landry’s, which has limited cruise experience,
to Andrade and Wong, who have no experience but qualified for bonus points as minorities and local bidders.

The highly unusual second review was scheduled after Taylor cried foul when former Mayor Phil Hardberger, representing
Entertainment Cruises, spoke during that bidder’s presentation to City staff and a citizens committee. Other attorneys
representing other bidders did not speak. The assumption was that Hardberger’s popularity as a former mayor tilted the
review in his client’s favor when he was actually serving as an unregistered lobbyist.

That’s a debatable, but fair argument to make. The fact that Hardberger’s client is a nationally regarded cruise business
and Go Rio’s principals are not even in the cruise business seems like a far more important point of differentiation.

Go Rio is hardly at a disadvantage inside City Hall. The group is represented by San Antonio attorney Frank Burney, and
most City Hall observers would say he is a far more experienced and effective lobbyist than Hardberger.

Taylor’s call for a second review gave the three also-ran teams a chance to regroup, shuffle their qualifications on paper,
and create an avenue to win political support at City Council, support that they were not winning on the merits with staff
and a citizens committee.

The reset also gave a fifth entity the opportunity to jump in and bid. Even conceding the unfairness of Hardberger speaking,
the fact is the second staff and citizen review also favored San Antonio River Cruises by an overwhelming margin until
questionable points for minority and local ownership were tacked on.

Andrade might be the Go Rio CEO and controlling shareholder on paper, but the former Texas secretary of state and owner
of small businesses has no experience in the hospitality or river cruise industries. As the current VIA chair, her involvement
is a clear conflict of interest. The new barge contract requires the service to also operate as a river taxi and new transit
option for locals. How can the chairwoman of the city’s transit agency operate a for-profit transit business using City-
owned boats?

Moreover, who believes Andrade and Wong will run the company when Landry’s, the owner of more than 500 restaurants,
casinos, and the Galveston boats, will be involved? Clearly, the Houston company is the main player, a non-minority, non-
local bidder.

Awarding Andrade and Wong points under the Small Business Economic Development Advocacy Program (SBEDA) belies the
original intent of the ordinance. Wong told City Council that together she and Andrade have a “combined net worth in excess
of $30 million.” That might not land them on the Forbes 400 list, but in this city that makes them wealthy beyond the
imagination of most citizens. I don’t begrudge them their hard-earned wealth, but please don’t tell me they are the victims
of economic discrimination and deserve special consideration.

Hernandez, the wildly successful restaurant operator and chef who is part of the Entertainment Cruises team, is another
example of a local, self-made entrepreneur who deserves a lot of credit for what he has built, yet needs no special hand up
in life at this point.

The original intent of the SBEDA ordinance was to level the playing field at City Hall for disadvantaged minority contractors
who seldom won a fair hearing when competing for contracts. In this instance, the two entities should have been judged
equally. There is nothing disadvantaged about any of the local partners, and Landry’s is no more local than the Pritzkers.

See below to review the first round scoring of the four bidders and the second round of scoring of the five bidders.

The process has made a mockery of local government transparency. If you want to see how San Antonio would operate under
a strong mayor system, this past week offers a clear picture and it is not a pretty one.

Both of the top two finishers were allowed to make 20-minute presentations to City Council on Wednesday. Two Chicago-
based executives and Hardberger spoke for Entertainment Cruises, while Andrade, Wong, and two Landry’s executives spoke
for Go Rio.

It was clear as Taylor and council members quizzed senior City staff members afterwards that Taylor and a clear majority had
decided to support Go Rio. The mayor sat stone-faced as Hardberger addressed her and council members, warning them, “You
are the stewards of our river. You will decide the future of our river and our city…The entire city of San Antonio is watching
this vote.”

It was a lecture Taylor and a council majority did not care to hear or heed.

When Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras attempted to respond to Taylor at one point by referencing the first staff review,
the mayor snapped at him, demanding that he stop referring to the first review.

Like Taylor, City Councilman Alan Warrick II (D2) also faces a tight runoff election. He proceeded to try to trap Contreras and
other city staff with questions that implied their recommendation did not recognize the need to rectify a record of racism in the
city’s history of awarding contracts. No one would dispute that history, but it was ludicrous to try to pin the blame on current City
staff or suggest that Warrick and others were finally delivering disadvantaged minority citizens a fair shake.

Several citizens who served on the bid review committee spoke with me in the days following the Wednesday council B session,
expressing frustration, and in some cases, anger that their work was being ignored as elected officials vied for votes in the June
10 runoff.

San Antonio operates under a city manager form of government, and despite a tense, sometimes hostile mood in the packed
meeting room Wednesday, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her team stuck to their guns and told the mayor and council members
at a special presentation of the two top bidders on Wednesday that staff continued to recommend Entertainment Cruises, even
if it had slipped into second place by a single point.

The elephant in the room was the close proximity of Taylor and Nirenberg, separated by a few seats at the table and about 5,000
votes in the city’s May 6 voting. It was evident Wednesday that Taylor has a majority willing to follow her in awarding the contract
to Go Rio, and that Nirenberg is in the minority.

Taylor and her campaign team seem less confident that a majority of voters will follow her in the June 10 runoff. Taylor won 42%
of the vote to Nirenberg’s 37%, an outcome many did not expect, and it was quickly followed by Taylor’s hiring of political
consultant Colin Strother while Christian Anderson remained in the role as campaign manager.

Last week the Taylor campaign launched the LiberalRon.com website and openly took credit for the attempt to ridicule Nirenberg
and his service on City Council, painting him as a partisan do-nothing in a nonpartisan election, disparaging his endorsement by
former Mayor Julián Castro and others.

It put Taylor at odds with both Hardberger and Castro, her two predecessors in the office, both of whom won multiple terms by
comfortable margins and are regarded as having been highly effective in propelling the city forward.

The LiberalRon.com website was accompanied by anti-Nirenberg robocalls, which a number of voters condemned in calls to the
media. One former councilwoman described the call as a disinformation campaign in a message to the Rivard Report. Strother
disagreed when questioned by an Express-News columnist, but no one I’ve spoken with who received the call agrees with him.

None of these developments seem consistent with the quiet, confident “I am not a politician” profile that Taylor has long sought
to project. The tactics are those of an underdog, one bent on turning the city’s nonpartisan city election into a partisan brawl.

It was a week of ugly politics in San Antonio. This week promises more of the same, which suggests City Council cannot be trusted
to award major contracts during election season.

About Robert Rivard
Robert Rivard is director of the Rivard Report.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Thu May 25, 2017 8:35 pm

Council selects Go Rio San Antonio as River Walk barge operator

By Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express News Updated 1:38 pm, Thursday, May 25, 2017
New Riverwalk Barges.jpg
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Go Rio San Antonio — a team comprising Lisa Wong, Hope Andrade and Landry’s restaurants — on Thursday won a lucrative, decade-long
contract to operate the city’s new fleet of river barges, despite city staff recommending a firm based in Chicago.

The council voted 10-1 to give the $100 million contract to Go Rio San Antonio. Officials listened to nearly two hours of citizen input prior
to voting. Councilman Ron Nirenberg was the lone dissenting vote.

Much of the day’s testimony came from supporters of the third-place team, Buena Vista Barges — a firm owned by Mery & Associates.

Mayor Ivy Taylor said that it’s a good day in San Antonio when the council is choosing between two strong proposals. Those proposals were
scored by a committee that included both city officials and River Walk stakeholders.

In that process, Go Rio San Antonio surpassed San Antonio River Cruises, a Chicago-based firm, because of points awarded for local
preference. Still, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her staff recommended San Antonio River Cruises because they felt it offered the strongest
proposal.

But the council voted to select the first-place team, Go Rio.

“It certainly goes without saying that this is one of the most critical votes this council will take,” Taylor said. “I understand the gravity of
our action today.”

jbaugh@express-news.net
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Fri May 26, 2017 1:57 am

Nothing has changed in that regard in this so-called City on the Rise. The wheeling and dealing has only been amplified
by the political moment as Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) head into a June 10 runoff election,
along with two incumbent council members.

That’s why every San Antonio resident ought to watch as Taylor and City Council cast their votes Thursday to award the
contract. In all likelihood, it will be a mere formality, with the fix already in to award the deal to Go Rio San Antonio,
whose members have only modest credentials to claim the business.



It´s my understanding from having read the articles that the Chicago based company had the strongest proposal and that the politicians chose a local company for political reasons, but I hope I´m wrong.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri May 26, 2017 5:23 am

That barge looks like a kiddie playroom. :roll:
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Fri May 26, 2017 1:34 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:That barge looks like a kiddie playroom. :roll:


But it got nice light blue plastic seats. :roll: The barge for girls have nice pink plastic seats. :D
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby warren on Fri May 26, 2017 9:33 pm

One name, the only one you need to know to understand this - Tilman Fertitta.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Tue May 30, 2017 4:38 pm

Curious how the complete history of this island on the San Antonio River is not discussed in its relation to La Villita.
In my novel, "One Domingo Morning, The Story Of Alamo Joe" I have Travis' slave Joe crossing the river at this point
on his escape from San Antonio in 1836.

RESOURCES SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
TINY MARRIAGE ISLAND IS BIG WITH COUPLES
S.A. TRICENTENNIAL 1718-2018 River Walk site a popular place for weddings and renewals

By Paula Allen FOR THE EXPRESS-NEWS Tuesday, May 30, 2017
RiverwalkIsland.jpg
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The name sounds like a reality TV show, but Marriage Island on the San Antonio River Walk is one of the most romantic places in
town.

It is tiny — estimated at 25 feet long and 15 feet wide. And although it’s in the middle of the city’s No. 1 tourist attraction, it’s
adorned with lush, tropical-looking foliage. Surrounded by tourists and locals on either side, this quiet strip of land is easy to miss,
but hundreds of couples remember it as one of the most important places in their lives.

There were 201 reservations for this site in 2016, says a spokeswoman for the city’s Center City Development and Operations
Department, which handles the bookings for Marriage Island. While weddings are the most common events there, it’s also a popular
venue for vow renewals and proposals. “It probably can be used for a dedication or other ceremony,” the spokeswoman says, “but
it’s called Marriage Island.”

Whatever the affair, it has to be intimate, since the facility only accommodates 25 people, and quiet — no amplified music or
pyrotechnics allowed. Not disturbing the island — part naturally occurring and part man-made — is a tradition that goes back to
construction of the River Walk during the 1930s.

“That’s always been the widest part of the river, which would have slowed the flow and allowed the island to form and be, no doubt,
preserved by (River Walk architect) Robert Hugman as such,” says Lewis F. Fisher, author of “River Walk: The Epic Story of San
Antonio’s River.”

While the river was being dredged and channeled for flood control and tourist appeal, this land was left alone and has been allowed
to remain in deference to the large cypress tree for which it serves as a root ball. The water-loving tree, which may be at least 100
years old, still is an important part of the island’s shady, secluded atmosphere.

Owned by the city, Marriage Island lies between the Navarro and Presa streets bridges, in front of the Hotel Contessa. Not really an
island, it’s more of a pedestrian-friendly peninsula, connected to the River Walk by a footbridge. Besides its verdant serenity, there
aren’t a lot of amenities on Marriage Island — no running water, no electricity, just a couple of benches and a piece of public art that
ties the location to the beginning of San Antonio’s recorded history.

That’s the wrought-iron sculpture “Padre Damian Massanet’s Table” by San Antonio artist Rolando Briseño, which marks the celebration
of the city’s first Catholic Mass by Father Damian Massanet, a Franciscan friar who accompanied the first Spanish explorers to reach
the river. Massanet named it “San Antonio” after St. Anthony of Padua, as he recorded in his diary, “because it was his day” — June
13, 1691, feast day of the city’s patron saint and the day before the first Mass.

While no one knows exactly where Massanet celebrated the riverside Mass, it’s thought to have been close to Marriage Island, perhaps
within a few hundred yards. With depictions of a communion cup, a cross and a pair of hands, Briseño’s sculpture, dedicated in 1991,
suggests an altar and “gives a sort of churchy feel,” says Fisher. “It’s also, of course, a very romantic spot.”

Neither he nor the city spokeswoman knows when the island wedding tradition began. The “Marriage Island” name seems to be relatively
recent, within the past two or three decades, but the spot has made some lists of Top 10 most romantic wedding destinations. The tradition
may have been given a boost by proximity to the Hotel Contessa, built in 2005 and a popular place to host post-Marriage Island wedding
receptions.

That was the plan for the April 20, 2009, nuptials of Nancy Martinez and Sean Preyor-Johnson. The couple met at the Texas Cavaliers River
Parade the year before. She, then a reporter at the San Antonio Express-News, attended the parade with her son, then 7. “I wanted to beat
the traffic home,” she says. Her son, enjoying his first river parade, didn’t want to leave. He folded his arms and refused to budge.

Martinez saw a police officer and asked him to pretend to be talking to her about her recalcitrant son. “I can’t do that,” he told her. “We
don’t scare children.” At that time, she says, “I didn’t know it was one of (police officers’) pet peeves.” Still, the officer took the time to
talk to her son and convinced him that it was time to go home. The two adults, both single at the time, exchanged business cards; it took
them four months to coordinate their schedules and go on their first date, but from then on, “it moved fast,” she says. Before a year was
up, Preyor-Johnson had proposed, and Martinez accepted.

The couple decided to schedule their wedding for the next River Parade, booking Marriage Island as an ideal viewing spot. “I loved that it
was called that and knowing that so many other couples had been married there,” Nancy Preyor-Johnson says. “It was romantic and such a
San Antonio place.” Just to make sure it would be available, she called the Cavaliers, who loved their story so much, “they asked me if we
wanted to be in the parade.”

Long story short, they got married on a parade float — docked right alongside Marriage Island. By that time, their wedding party had grown:
“I’m not sure we would have (fit) on the island anymore.”

Marriage Island may be little, but it’s also said to be lucky. There’s a legend, repeated by River Walk tour-boat operators, that couples who
wed on Marriage Island have a lower rate of divorce. “We don’t track that information,” the city spokeswoman says.

The Preyor-Johnsons eight years later are still going strong, says the one-time “frazzled single mom” who met her future husband not far
from the island. “He’s my greatest blessing.”

Marriage Island may be booked any day between 8 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. The cost is $200 for 30 minutes. To make reservations, send a
message to downtownreservations@sanantonio.gov or call 210-207-3677.

Paula Allen writes the Sunday Express-News history column. historycolumn@yahoo.com
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Wed May 31, 2017 3:02 am

There’s a legend, repeated by River Walk tour-boat operators, that couples who
wed on Marriage Island have a lower rate of divorce.


No wonder, people wants to get married on the island. :D

“We don’t track that information,” the city spokeswoman says.


It´s probably best not to. It´s clearly a case of "when the legend becomes truth, print the legend." :D
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Wed May 31, 2017 5:36 pm

River Barge Vote and The Trajectory of San Antonio
Mark Ross for The Rivard Report 10 hours ago
RiverBargePrototype.jpg
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The Mayor and the majority of San Antonio City Council took a cringeworthy step backwards and endorsed mediocrity last week by voting 9-1 for Go Rio San Antonio to receive our city’s river barge concession contract.

If you’re reading this, you probably know the river barge story up to this point, so I will not bore you with a recap. I’ve read most every article written about the vote (including Robert Rivard’s spot-on commentary), watched the four-hour session where both teams made their final presentations, and I spoke as a citizen before Council in favor of San Antonio River Cruises, which would have been owned by Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises. Below are points that I planned to make but could not in the interest of time.

City staff, led by City Manager Sheryl Sculley, was going for the right experience to continue the upward momentum of our city.

The Request For Proposals for operators laid out requirements that fit right in line with the other successful initiatives that have been developed and promoted over the last few years, including SA2020, the 2017 Municipal Bond initiative, Hemisfair redevelopment, our downtown Tech District, and the San Pedro Creek Project. These projects all represent a confident stride forward towards a modern, competitive city that is no longer on the rise but has, in fact, arrived. In seeking a river operator, the City was clearly looking for someone with class and innovation. Sculley’s staff knew the stakes for this contract and how the river had the potential to be another component of the San Antonio renaissance. Unfortunately, the Mayor and most of Council have ensured that it will continue to be something that many locals tolerate but are ultimately not proud of and avoid.

The marketing and programming concepts put forth by Go Rio were hackneyed and tone-deaf.

Talk to anyone who knows anything about marketing and they will tell you that Millennials (if you subscribe to such generational groupings) value authenticity. In fact, Millennials represented one of the key groups that Go Rio said it was trying to capture, and the team cited research from its own “in-house” Millennials.

Those must be the most un-Millennial Millennials ever.

In addition to the much-maligned duck mascot, I saw in Go Rio’s presentation a mockup of what appeared to be a Snapchat-like filter that added a duckbill to your face for selfies, undoubtedly added to the pitch in a misguided attempt to appeal to today’s youth. (I rounded up some Millennials myself and did a little impromptu field research on the concept — the results were not positive.)

The zeal to invent a mascot reveals a larger problem: The Go Rio team seemed to not understand that there is already tremendous momentum and funding behind our existing San Antonio branding. There is no need to muddy the water (apologies for the pun) with the addition of a tacky sub-brand.

The nods to San Antonio culinary culture in their presentation were also tired: pan dulce, margaritas, chips and salsa. Can’t we move past the stereotypes? Does anyone doubt that Chef Johnny Hernandez would not have brought his unique style and class to this endeavor? Yes, he would have offered those items, but in his own inimitable, authentic way. My personal feeling is that San Antonio River Cruises’ presentation offered the local expertise and personal support of a chef, while Go Rio’s felt more like a restauranteur’s business plan.

Landry’s is not a good partner for the river barge operation.

Aside from Houston-based Landry’s decidedly pedestrian track record in food service, I was troubled that the Go Rio presentation implied that Landry’s helped pioneer the MagicBand concept at Disney World. Indeed, there is a prominent photo of a MagicBand device in its presentation (you can see the image here from a Google image search), and Go Rio strongly suggested that this technology would be utilized in its service. Given that the cost to create and execute a system like Disney’s MagicBands could realistically eclipse the entire contract’s budget for the 10-year period, it feels misleading for it to have been included in the presentation.

What’s more, what wasn’t included in the presentation was that in 2014 and 2015, Landry’s experienced a credit card breach that affected a large number of its properties. Credit card numbers began being stolen in March 2014 and continued through December 2015. The breach likely occurred because of a lack of end-to-end security, a measure that such a large operator should have invested in. (Landry’s did so after the breach occurred.) I could not find a final tally of people affected, but you can read Landry’s response here.

Our Mayor and most of City Council have chosen a company that put millions of customers at risk because of substandard point-of-sale security systems to handle our river barge transactions. If such a breach were to occur with our river barge system, who do you think will be blamed? I fear this would be a public relations nightmare for our city.

As a final note regarding technology, I found it interesting that Hope Andrade, chair of the VIA Metropolitan Transit board and member of the Go Rio team, spoke at length how each boat would be trackable via GPS in real time, yet that sort of functionality is completely absent from VIA’s bus system despite other bus systems, including Waco‘s, having had it for years. The best we have is a SMS-based tracking system that works miserably. I know this because I tried to use it for several months before giving up.

The success of the river barge enterprise is predicated on its employees.

Specifically, the front-line employees: the barge operators, the food service workers — the crews that do the hardest work. These people are San Antonio’s most precious resource. They have the toughest and often most thankless jobs, and they are the ones that will make or break the customer experience. If a company takes good care of those employees, then that inspires genuine buy-in from those employees, and they will shine as the best ambassadors for your business, and in this case, for our city.

If you take a look at the company reviews of both Landry’s and Entertainment Cruises (the company that would have operated San Antonio River Cruises) on Glassdoor, you will see that there is significantly greater job satisfaction with Entertainment Cruises. If you dive down into the ratings, you’ll see that they are distributed such that employees of Landry’s give it almost universally medium or poor ratings with an occasional above-average, and Entertainment Cruises earns mostly medium to high ratings, with some bad ones thrown in.

Couple this indication of greater job satisfaction with SARC along with the fact that their plan included full benefits for part-time as well as full-time employees, and it’s clear that San Antonio River Cruises would have provided a better opportunity for our citizens whose living depends on the tourism industry.

The invocation of the Small Business Economic Development Advocacy program was completely inappropriate, and the ordinance needs revision.

In his column, Rivard covered this topic, but it bears repeating: Andrade and Lisa Wong of Go Rio are not the business owners for which SBEDA was written. Andrade and Wong are already successful by any measure; by their own admission, they have over $30 million at their disposal. The ordinance was drafted to help new and rising minority-owned and woman-owned small businesses level the playing field, not to be used as a gambit to make up for points unearned in quality of proposal. Especially egregious is the fact that a several-point increase was awarded because of a reclassification of Andrade as a sole proprietor of several businesses that are in fields completely unrelated to this contract.

Several Council members alluded to the fact that the SARC team could have created partnerships with locals, including Hernandez, to obtain the same SBEDA points.

So SBEDA is a series of hoops that can be jumped through to gain an advantage in the bidding process to make up for points lost in quality of product? If so, I pity the time and effort that has gone into its creation and mourn its utter uselessness. I’m sure there are examples of SBEDA at work where deserving, truly “small” businesses have been able to secure contracts with the city. Maybe I will look those up to restore my faith.

What will not be restored is my faith in our Mayor or the majority of our City Council. The Council’s actions have shown me that ugly, back-room dealings still exist in our local government. The exploitation of a program designed to help the disadvantaged by the advantaged Andrade and Wong casts a long shadow on this city. Maybe we haven’t risen as far as we think.

With this decision, San Antonio is sending a clear message to the world – talented enterprises with excellent track records need not apply. As the municipal runoff elections approach, it is imperative that we tell our Mayor and City Council that they – except for Councilman Ron Nirenberg – made the wrong choice for the future of our city. We should tell them with our voices and our letters, but also with our votes.

About Mark Ross
Mark Ross is a member of Tech Bloc and has been a resident of San Antonio’s Alta Vista neighborhood since 2010.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:03 pm

While we will probably all have to get used to this new look of the San Antonio Riverwalk barges, I myself sort of wish they had opted
for a more gondola-like design hearkening back to the 1940's when San Antonio was known as the "Venice Of America". But then you
cannot pack 40 people onto a gondola, and that's what's most important to the City, I guess. "X" amount of butts on a seat equal dollars.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:49 am

NefariousNed wrote:While we will probably all have to get used to this new look of the San Antonio Riverwalk barges, I myself sort of wish they had opted
for a more gondola-like design hearkening back to the 1940's when San Antonio was known as the "Venice Of America". But then you
cannot pack 40 people onto a gondola, and that's what's most important to the City, I guess. "X" amount of butts on a seat equal dollars.


If a gondola-like design looks too much like a gondola it will look silly because gondolas are unique to Venice and you don´t want the Riverwalk to look like a bad copy of Venice and its gondolas. That said, you could easily find another small type of boat if you think cramming 40 people into a barge is a bit too much.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:34 am

I liked the original gondolas and paddle boats they had on the river in 1961 when Dan, Mother and I visited. Much more picturesque. However, you do have a point about copying Venice. However 2, these new boats are just idiotic. They look like a child's playroom.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:38 am

I liked the original gondolas and paddle boats they had on the river in 1961 when Dan, Mother and I visited. Much more picturesque. However, you do have a point about copying Venice.


I love gondolas and I would like a ride in one, but I think the Riverwalk should have its own type of small boats. It should´nt be difficult to design a great looking boat.

However 2, these new boats are just idiotic. They look like a child's playroom.


Right, and with light blue plastic seats too. :roll:
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby SantaClaus on Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:44 pm

The river boats should be made of structural glass. That way, visitors will not confuse the new boats with original historical boats. ;)
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:33 pm

River Barge Contract Winner Go Rio Faces Challenge from Mery Group
Robert Rivard and Iris Dimmick for the Rivard Report 5 hours ago

An appeal to a regional regulatory agency has been filed by Mery & Associates LLC, also known as Buena Vista Barges, challenging the legitimacy
of the Go Rio San Antonio partnership recently selected by City Council to receive the 10-year, $100 million river barge contract.

Mitsuko Ramos, the lobbyist for the Mery/Buena Vista group, filed the challenge on June 1 and a revision on June 4 with the South Central Texas
Regional Certification Agency (SCTRCA) in San Antonio, a relatively obscure 501(c)(3) nonprofit regulatory body whose mission is “enhancing
participation for Disadvantaged, Small, Minority, and Woman owned businesses in public/government contracting and purchasing activities.”

The nonprofit agency exists under authority of the Small Business Administration.

In the appeal, Ramos challenges the legality of the Go Rio partnership’s Small Business Enterprise certification after it restructured its ownership
between the first and second round of scoring conducted by City staff. VIA Metropolitan Transit Board Chair Hope Andrade, listed as an individual
owner along with Lisa Wong, owner of Lisa’s Café & Cantina, partnered with Houston-based Landry’s Seafood Restaurants to bid for the contract
the first time around.

In the second go-around, however, Andrade was presented as a business rather than an individual. That change allowed the team to collect crucial
extra preference points as a small, woman and minority-owned business with a 51% majority interest in Go Rio.

“Since the mayor and the Council overwhelmingly approved Go Rio to bring a new level of service to our river, our focus has been on the transition
and planning for operations. We have scheduled a tour to Wisconsin to see the new barges and are working daily with City staff on many other issues,”
Andrade told the Rivard Report. “The false allegations raised by the lobbyist for the third place team are red herrings and not supported by the facts.”

Ramos argues in her appeal that the SCTRCA never conducted a second evaluation to certify the new structure, and City staff never scrutinized the
reorganization, either.

“Instead of an individual, you have a business in control [of Go Rio],” Ramos told the Rivard Report on Tuesday. “A business could be purchased,”
but an individual can’t. “That is why joint ventures are not eligible for certification.”

Andrade and Wong have no past experience in operating a river cruise business. Andrade’s move, Ramos’ appeal argues, was a subterfuge with Landry’s
still responsible for 100% of the investment in the river barge operation, and with more than 1,000 employees locally and 60,000 worldwide, an entity
that is not eligible for Small Business Enterprise certification.

“[Andrade and Wong’s] control is being basically handed over to Landry’s,” Ramos said. “That’s not a bad thing necessarily – to team up is great … but in
order to qualify [for SBE certification and points] they have to also show the individual owner has control over the local operations.”
Read more: Mayor Taylor: Proposed River Barge Contract is ‘Tainted’

Without the local preference points granted to Go Rio under its reorganization, it would have failed to win the contract. Instead, Chicago-based Entertainment
Cruises would have finished ahead of Go Rio and three other bidders. The Chicago group finished far ahead of other bidders in the original round of scoring
by City staff, but that scoring was negated when Mayor Ivy Taylor objected to the presentation made to staff on behalf of the group by former Mayor Phil
Hardberger.

Each bidder hired lobbyists to represent it through the process, and while Hardberger was not registered as a lobbyist, Taylor and other bidders said he acted
as one. The mayor directed City staff to start over and conduct a second round of presentations and scoring.

That was when Andrade reorganized, in essence, as a new, one-person business, giving her and Wong majority control of Go Rio as local businesses in
partnership.

“City staff will continue to act based on the vote by City Council. However, we will monitor the SCTRCA challenge process,” Assistant City Manager Lori
Houston stated in an email to the Rivard Report. “The City is not involved in the challenge. Consequently, we are not in a position to comment on the
merits of the challenge or to speculate on its potential outcome.”

“Managing the contracting process is City staff’s responsibility,” Taylor said in a separate statement. “I did specifically ask a clarifying question about
certification from the dais and staff responded that Go Rio was properly certified.”

If all the teams were properly certified, Ramos argues, Go Rio would not have qualified for the 10 local preference points.

George Mery, who owns Mery/Buena Vista, is convinced his “100% local” company should have won the contract. Mery & Associates operates Elegant
Transportation Services, which has more than 150 limousines, buses, and other vehicles for hire deployed across Texas. Compared to dealing with the
regulations, maintenance, and other logistics associated with his existing “tourism transportation” business, Mery said, “driving 44 boats five miles
per hour in a circle,” should be easy.

That’s not to diminish the expertise required to safely and effectively navigate the narrow, historic River Walk, Ramos said, but “[Mery] is overqualified
for that.”

But Council never got a chance to hear Mery’s presentation. Even after adding staff with more experience with river barges and the River Walk, Mery/
Buena Vista scored lower on over proposal quality and experience during the second round, but was able to capture local preference points.

“Wouldn’t you assume that you would gain [experience] points? Well, no, we lost points,” Mery said. “It’s obvious that there is an issue [with this process]
… it’s tainted now for sure, and I think it requires a third verse.”

Mery told the Rivard Report that Jim Mery, a distant cousin who works for the City’s Center City Development and Operations, recused himself from
involvement in river barge contract talks years ago.

Ramos’ letter to Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras poses several direct questions about how City staff vetted the five bidders in the second round,
and asks whether staff contacted SCTRCA to confirm new certifications for Go Rio, or whether Go Rio even informed officials at the agency about its
new ownership structure. Ramos also asked City staff if they asked Andrade whether she intends to resign as VIA Chair so she can devote her full-time
attention to the river barge business as CEO of Go Rio.
Read more: The Big Fix: River Barges and Runoffs Make for Ugly Politics

City Council voted 10-1 to approve Go Rio’s selection, with only City Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) opposing the selection. Nirenberg and Taylor are
engaged in a tense home stretch run to the June 10 runoff election for mayor. Early voting concluded Tuesday at 8 p.m. Nirenberg declined comment
on the appeal.

Disadvantaged individuals and companies that bid for public contracts first seek certification from the SCTRCA to establish their eligibility for preferential
consideration from government bodies that award competitive bid contracts. Cities, counties, and other entities routinely rely on the agency to handle
such certification and rarely challenge the findings.

“I really want people to respect the intent of the SCTRCA’s mission and the City’s mission to really help out small businesses and the community,” Ramos
said.

A bidder unable to win SCTRCA certification would be unlikely to qualify as a disadvantaged, small business, woman or minority-owned business. But once
individuals, companies, or partnerships do win such certification they gain a considerable business advantage in the competitive bidding process. In
essence, they are awarded points not for their business performance, but for who they are.
Read more: Burney: Go Rio Is the Most Qualified Bidder for River Barge Contract

“They have a big agency here and they make you go through an extensive process to determine whether you are a minority business,” stated Frank Burney,
a lobbyist working with the Go Rio team. “We provided all the documentations they requested and our client was certified and there has been no change in
the status of Go Rio since then.

“Based on everything I know there is no reason for the agency to change its certification as a small, women, minority-owned business.”

Critics of the system say the City of San Antonio and other government entities use the certification to avoid conducting their own independent analysis of
bidders. In the Go Rio case, for example, Wong acknowledged in its second round presentation to City Council that she and Andrade have a combined net
worth of more than $30 million, yet they were treated as disadvantaged business owners.

Paul Sanett, vice president of Engagement and Innovation at Entertainment Cruises, had not seen the document when the Rivard Report spoke with him
on Tuesday, but said “if there is an opportunity to throw our hat back into the ring we would love to do that, obviously.”

While the Chicago-based team has left San Antonio, Entertainment Cruises continues to explore opportunities with the organizations and partners developed
while working on its river barge operation RFP, Sanett said, including Chef Johnny Hernandez and Sweb Development Founder and CEO Magaly Chocano.
He’s also looking into the possibility of hosting students from St. Philip’s College in Chicago to intern with the company.

“Whatever happens with the river barge, we haven’t given up on San Antonio,” he said. “We built a lot of good relationships in SA and remain committed
to the city”

The City’s process for bidding the lucrative river barge contract has come to be one of the most troubled and controversial contract lettings in many years.
The process that concluded with the vote in late May actually began four years ago.

Now it appears the contract is headed toward regulatory challenge and, depending on the outcome, possible litigation. Ramos asked City staff to refrain
from negotiating the actual contract terms with Go Rio while the appeal with the SCTRCA is under consideration.



This article was originally published on June 6, 2017. It has been updated with clarifications about Ramos’ challenge.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:01 pm

It looks like there´s going to be a legal battle. I must admit it was a bit weird having a second go-around in which Go Rio suddenly scored one point higher than its counterpart and thus won the bid.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:34 pm

S.A. River in global spotlight
Flooding, ecological upgrades earn it the ‘Nobel Prize’ for waterways

By Brendan Gibbons STAFF WRITER
San Antonio Express News
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The San Antonio River is getting some international attention, and not just for its downtown River Walk.

On Tuesday, International RiverFoundation gave the San Antonio River its 2017 Thiess International River-
prize Award at a conference in Brisbane, Australia.

“We affectionately call it the Nobel Prize for rivers,” said Steve Graham, assistant general manager of the
San Antonio River Authority, which applied for the award. “It recognizes communities that are investing in
their river, that value their river and have done things to improve it.”

The organization cited the flood control, recreation and environmental projects, valued at $384.1 million,
that created the Museum Reach and Mission Reach. The river “tells a compelling story of how collaborative
efforts can result in a dramatic improvement in riverine health while providing for robust economic
development,” the organization wrote.

The award places San Antonio’s hometown waterway, which former NBA player and commentator Charles
Barkley once called a “dirty creek,” in league with other river success stories.

Past winners include the Niagara River of New York and Ontario, Canada, the Willamette River in Oregon
and the Danube, Europe’s second-longest river.

Both the river itself and the history of San Antonio begin at the headwaters of San Pedro Springs and the
Blue Hole near downtown. The river then runs 240 miles before joining the neighboring Guadalupe River
and emptying into San Antonio Bay.

Over 300 years, the city’s development and growth led to disruptions in the way water flows across the
landscape and increased pollution. These trends now are being reversed through stronger environmental
regulations and investment in restoration projects.

Despite the recent progress, the upper San Antonio River still is too polluted for swimming, though not
from hazardous chemicals. Bacteria from human and animal waste that collects on hard surfaces and
washes into the river during storms makes the river unsafe for direct contact in Bexar and Wilson
counties, according to state regulators.

“We know that as more citizens come to enjoy the river as a community asset and understand watershed
issues, the more enthusiastic they will be about protecting the river,” SARA General Manager Suzanne
Scott said in a video announcing the award.

The San Antonio River was a finalist for the award in 2014 but was beat out by the River Rhine of Europe,
which also is recovering after centuries of pollution.

This year, the river beat out competition from the Tweed River in the United Kingdom, the Pasig River in
The Philippines and the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers in Alaska.

bgibbons@express-news.net
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby warren on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:32 pm

Stupid me, I thought the Houston Ship Channel would win.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:59 pm

It is fun seeing that the river is 240 miles from source to mouth since I measured it with all its bends on Google Earth and came up with exactly
the same number. What really tickled me is that the straight line mileage between the same points is 123 miles. No wonder there is a legend
that the original name of the Indian village (Yanaguana) supposedly named after the Indian name for the river translated into "Drunken old man
headed for Teepee." :lol:
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:56 pm

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OPINION COLUMNIST
Treviño wants mural to have better context

BRIAN CHASNOFF

A councilman called it “awful” and pledged, “at minimum,” to put it into historical context.

Its defenders cited its “illustrious history” and urged it be spared from political correctness run amok.

I’m not referring to a symbol of the Confederacy.

I’m referring to a tile mural on the downtown River Walk that conflates an actual event — the killing of Benjamin Milam, a hero of the
Texas Revolution, on Dec. 7, 1835, by a Mexican sniper — with an “old legend … of a Mexican sniper who picked off the Texans,” as
words painted on the large, colorful artwork state.

I mentioned the mural at the end of a recent column on the removal of local Confederate symbols. One reader struggled to understand
the “nexus” between the Confederate symbols and the mural. Others saw the connection — and defended the mural.

“I would hope it remains in place,” one wrote. “Unlike the Confederacy monuments, this is a marker which apparently simply illustrates
a snippet of history.”

Susan Toomey Frost, author of “Colors on Clay: The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio,” detailed the mural’s history.

It was created in the late 1930s by artisans employed under the Work Projects Administration, “executed at Mexican Arts and Crafts, a
workshop on the banks of the San Antonio River near the McCullough Bridge at North St. Mary’s Street,” she wrote in an email. (The
mural appears in Frost’s book.)

“I urge you to consider that the scene depicted on the mural is clearly presented as a legend and not as a historical truth,” Frost added.
“In light of the mural’s illustrious history, I feel that it merits being spared from disparagement during our present hysteria of extreme
political correctness.”

Frost also sent this email to Councilman Roberto Treviño, whose downtown district encompasses the location of the mural near East
Commerce and Soledad streets. (Treviño is the councilman who called the mural “awful.”)

“This is not about being politically correct,” said Treviño, who serves as chair of the city council’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee.
“This is about being correct. Quite frankly, enough is enough. If something is shown to be incorrectly displayed or interpreted, then it
should be corrected.”

The mural, Treviño said, is from an era that consistently depicted Hispanics on “the bad side.”

“We’re always told we are on the losing side,” he said. “It’s always the wrong side. It’s kind of hard for a community that’s two-thirds
Hispanic to see.”

Treviño said he’s aware the mural has a rich history.

“I respect that,” he said. “We’re not attempting to destroy things. But my first reaction to seeing that is what any person of Hispanic
heritage would wonder: Is that true? And why is that there? If this comes from the story of Ben Milam, then let’s set that record straight.

“This is about scholarship not politics,” Treviño added. “At minimum, we would put it in better context so people understood where
that statement came from.”

The story of Milam is dramatic.

In 1835, the Kentucky-born soldier joined the movement in Texas for independence. Upon hearing the army had decided not to attack
San Antonio, he uttered the famous plea: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?”

Hundreds volunteered, and the 3-day attack ended with the surrender of the Mexican Army. Milam was killed, though, before the battle
was over.

On the banks of the river, to the left of the tile mural, towers a twin cypress tree: the perch from which a Mexican sniper reportedly
shot Milam in the head, killing him instantly.

If that’s the story that inspired the mural, then the mural embellishes it dramatically, turning Milam’s historical death into a legend
of a massacre.

In this case, adding context would only enhance the mural’s relevance — not to mention ensuring that our city’s history is described
correctly.

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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby ConnieFromHaiti on Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:13 pm

Well, I'm glad that was clarified.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:52 am

How well, from my primary research for the Battle of Bexar, could I place a plaque next to this "legend" that provides "exactly" what happened in the words of those who were next to him. But even those reports are conflicting on (1) where the sniper was located, (2) what Milam was doing the moment he was shot, and (3) who was next to him. :roll:
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby K Hale on Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:24 am

The question here is twofold:

1) does the mural say a sniper shot Ben Milam?
2) does the mural say a sniper picked off multiple Texians?

If the mural says a sniper killed a whole bunch of people, then perhaps that should be corrected.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:32 am

I just think there is a perfect opportunity here to show how time changes "history." The Fordian line that says "When legend becomes fact, print the legend" could be placed above the mosaic and the known facts could be placed to the right of it. Then the exhibit would clearly show how mythical our history was back in the thirties compared to how much more responsible it is to primary material today. So the display could be about the ongoing change in history rather than whether it is right or wrong.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby K Hale on Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:40 am

An interpretive wayside is certainly needed. I would leave the Ford line off... but you know how I feel about that.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:02 am

Actually, I would leave it off too. Just sayin'.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:10 pm

Go Rio Cruises to Take Control of River Walk Barges Sunday
Jeffrey Sullivan for The Rivard Report 10 hours ago
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On Sunday, Go Rio Cruises will begin operating San Antonio’s new multicolored fleet of electrically powered river barges. The company
has 26 boats to start and will have all 44 navigating the channels by Dec. 1.

The new barges were designed by Houston-based firm Metalab and replace the nearly 50-year-old barge design originally created for
HemisFair ’68. Punched aluminum panels surround the boats’ modular shape with designs that reference the city’s historic missions,
military influence, and upcoming Tricentennial celebrations. Neon lights wrap the underside of the boats and color the water under-
neath.

All of the old river barges will be decommissioned Saturday and put into storage. Due to the manufacturing schedule, Go Rio Cruises
will begin operating with just a little over half the amount of boats that are usually in the water at any given moment.

The new barges will sit higher in the water and feature reimagined seating arrangements. Regular tour barges can accommodate 40
passengers and the average dinner ride will seat around 18.

Beginning next year, Go Rio Cruises will begin offering speciality cruises of self-described foodie adventures, ghost tours, yoga and
spin-classes, and early morning ¡Buenos días, San Antonio! tours.

“Historically a lot of our barges, boat tours, and dinner barges are in the evening,” said Lisa Wong, who shares majority control of
Go Rio Cruises alongside Hope Andrade and operating partner Landry’s. Wong and Andrade spoke to the Rivard Report Friday inside
the City’s river boat marina. The duo believe that the new barge programming will appeal to younger, local San Antonians along with
the tourists that the river trips usually attract.

“We want to feature the beauty of our River Walk earlier in the morning or earlier in the day for those locals, conventioneers, and
tourists that have an earlier start to the day,” Wong said.

City Council voted 10-1 in May to award the contract to Wong and Andrade’s company following a contentious competition that led
to several appeals questioning the validity of the selection. Despite attempts to alter the City’s decision, Wong says the company
was focused on taking control of the contract.

“While that was going on, it may have been a distraction, but we were confident that we were going to move on,” Wong said.

“Because there was nothing [we were] accused of that we believe was wrong.”

Additionally, there also were concerns about the future of river barge dining and how that would change under Landry’s growing
footprint on the San Antonio River Walk. Wong said most of the current dinner operations will remain the same, with a few
new speciality dinners on the barges.

“All the River Walk restaurants and hotels up and down the [river] will have the same opportunities of years past to participate,”
Wong said. “[Customer service and hospitality] partnering with our River Walk stakeholders I think is the perfect equation for
success.”

The transition from former barge operator Rio San Antonio has been professional, Wong and Andrade said. Moreover, they
stated that 95% of the current boat captains were re-hired by Go Rio. All employees are starting at more than $14 an hour, a
considerable increase from previous years according to Wong.

Also increasing is the standard ticket price for a boat tour, which Go Rio raised from $10 to $12. However, there are discounts
for local residents, children, seniors, and military members.

Of the first 26 electric barges going into use two will be used for water taxi service, five to six will be used for dinner service,
and the others will be used for tours, according to Wong. She expects lines of riders due to the initial reduction in boats, new
ride excitement, and the holiday season influx.

Tickets can be purchased from the Go Rio Cruises website in advance, to reduce wait times.


About Jeffrey Sullivan
Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby warren on Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:26 pm

“Historically a lot of our barges, boat tours, and dinner barges are in the evening,” said Lisa Wong, who shares majority control of
Go Rio Cruises alongside Hope Andrade and operating partner Landry’s." Like I said before, Tilman Fertitta.

The old ones are going to be put in storage? For what? How much is that going to cost?

And Hope Andrade - wasn't she Texas Secretary of State?

Ugh.
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby Seguin on Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:33 am

The new barges will sit higher in the water and feature reimagined seating arrangements.


I wonder what "reimagined seating arrangements" mean? Is it a hint to "Reimagine the Alamo" or is it the seating arrangements they´ll reimagine (change)?
Recuerden El Alamo!
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:09 pm

https://therivardreport.us5.list-manage ... 91dc39eb2d

San Antonio River, a City’s Pride, Yet Still Impaired
Robert Rivard for the Rivard Report ,13 hours ago

Updated 3 hours ago

It’s fitting that the city’s eighth annual Water Forum will focus on the life, history, and future health of the
San Antonio River, and its no surprise that organizers expect more than 550 to attend the Monday luncheon
program at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center.

People in San Antonio are more educated about water conservation and management than anywhere else I
have lived, and as the city’s Tricentennial approaches in May, people are understandably proud of the $384
million San Antonio River Improvements Project.

The restoration and revitalization of the river was 15 years in the making, beginning in 1998 with a 22-person
San Antonio River Oversight Committee, and reaching fruition in 2013 with the opening of the Mission Reach.
Former Mayor Lila Cockrell and Irby Hightower, founding principal at Alamo Architects, served as co-chairs, a
marathon-long example of civic leadership.

Today the river’s four very different segments include the four miles of the Museum Reach, with its still-to-be-
completed Park Reach; the downtown River Walk and South Channel; the mile-long Eagleland Reach; and the
eight miles of wildscape Mission Reach.

This represents the city’s most comprehensive and transformative investment in city building in modern history.
It was an investment in land and water quality, in urban nature, rather than bricks and mortar, or street and
sidewalks. That investment lies at the heart of the 2015 UNESCO World Heritage designation of the Alamo and
the four Spanish colonial missions. Last month the San Antonio River was awarded the coveted 2017 Thiess
International Riverprize, yet another global recognition.

The river defines our city, and for thousands of years before, our prehistory. Today it’s a reminder that a
healthier river can be our pathway to becoming a healthier city if we stay the course.
Kayakers paddle down the San Antonio River. Photo by Scott Ball.

That brings me to the subject of our Monday panel discussion. It will be my privilege for the eighth consecutive
year to moderate a conversation with local leaders and a visiting expert, all dedicated to public service and river
and watershed management. Panelists include Suzanne Scott, general manager of the San Antonio River Authority
(SARA); Mayor Ron Nirenberg; state Rep. Lyle Larson, arguably the Texas House’s most knowledgable legislator on
statewide water issues; and Nicole Silks, president of the Boulder, Co.-based River Network.
Related: In Speech and Play, a City Reclaims the San Antonio River’s Mission Reach

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and SARA Chairman Mike Lackey will open the program, and Scott, last year’s
winner of the Water for Life Award, will announce this year’s winner.

While the panel will note the river’s rebirth as a great urban linear park, most of the program will focus on water
quality challenges and problems we face in San Antonio.

For all its improvements, the San Antonio River remains an impaired waterway. Outdated development codes
continue to lead to excessive impervious cover in this sprawling city and inadequate stormwater mitigation.

Impervious cover encompasses more than just roadways, parking lots and sidewalks. According to the City’s
Transportation and Capital Improvements definition, it also includes pools, patios, sheds, driveways, and private
sidewalks. Cover the earth so water can no longer recharge into the soil and you have impervious cover.
Related: Flood Models Show Olmos Dam Would Overflow in Harvey-like Storm

You see the problem – and the consequences. Too much impervious cover means worse flooding episodes after
rain storms, while inadequate filtration occurs before contaminated water enters the river, bringing with it all
the chemicals, waste, and litter of the city.

The City has invested millions of dollars in an ultraviolet water treatment system at the San Antonio Zoo, which
used to discharge millions of gallons of untreated water and animal waste into the river. Fecal bacterium counts
remain high in the river below the zoo, but how much of it comes from there or from roosting flocks of birds and
nesting ducks in Brackenridge Park is not clear.

The ability to absorb a superstorm like Hurricane Harvey also is an issue, as demonstrated by the preliminary
release last week of a SARA-generated model. A catastrophic weather episode in San Antonio would result in a
4-foot wall of water overflowing the Olmos Dam. How serious the flooding would be in neighborhoods along the
creeks and river system and in the urban core are still being modeled and will be released in the coming months.

How ready are we as a city to deal with such an emergency? The panel will certainly address that.

The mayor and City Council face hard decisions in the coming months and year as elected officials work to
manage San Antonio’s continuing growth, including one million more people moving here over the next 25
years. Updated codes and regulations leading to more sustainable development and infill development are
essential to the future health of the river and the urban environment, and our collective public health.

A healthier river, city, and populace would seem to be something we can all agree we want, but getting there
will require people to change. It will require elected leaders to make long-term decisions that might result
in lower short-term profit for some and higher fees for others.

If the river is to serve as a model for the future, it will require all of us to think and act in terms of decades
rather than election cycles. It’s up to citizens to get active, to speak up, to become river guardians, to vote,
and to support leaders who lead.

About Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is publisher of the Rivard Report.
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby SantaClaus on Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:57 pm

If the Alamo master plan really follows through with the plan to remove the Alamo Plaza paving stones and dig down to the 1836 dirt level, that would be an example to the rest of San Antonio in an effort to remove impervious cover. Might get a little muddy when the predicted Hurricane Harvey kind of rain storm hits San Antonio.

According to the above Rivard Report article, researchers aren't sure whether the fecal pollution in the river is from the zoo or from wild birds that nest along the river. Maybe it's neither. The real source might be runoff from nearby Alamo master plan meetings.

I also heard that there has been a sudden increase of contaminants entering the, not only the San Antonio River, but also other area rivers, streams, lakes and ground water. Apparently, many locals have been using WD-40 (which contains solvents and other polluting chemicals) in a desperate, if not futile, attempt to clean stains from their ceramic toilets, and then flushing the WD-40 down the drain. You know anything about that, Ned? :lol:
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby NefariousNed on Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:04 pm

Landry’s Growing River Walk Presence Concerns
Some Restaurateurs

Shari Biediger for The Rivard Report
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Updated January 2, 2018
NewRiverWalkBargeScottBallRivardReport.jpg
NewRiverWalkBargeScottBallRivardReport.jpg (83.44 KiB) Viewed 120 times

When City Council awarded Go Rio Cruises the multimillion contract to operate the City’s new fleet
of river barges, the Landry’s footprint on the San Antonio River Walk expanded substantially. And
that was just the beginning.

Although Go Rio is considered a locally owned company, one of its partners is Houston-based Landry’s,
which already operates four River Walk eateries: Morton’s The Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House,
Saltgrass Steak House, and the Rainforest Café. Landry’s also owns the lease to manage and operate
another nearby tourist destination, the City-owned Tower of the Americas and its Chart House restaurant.

Now Landry’s parent company, Fertitta Entertainment, has won a bidding war for the assets of the
company that owns another River Walk restaurant, Joe’s Crab Shack, which filed for bankruptcy protection
in June. There is speculation that it will become a Bubba Gump’s restaurant, another Landry’s brand.

While a consolidation of River Walk restaurant ownership may matter little to most locals who rarely visit
the downtown tourist destination for lunch or dinner, other River Walk restaurant owners are concerned
that Go Rio has yet to inform them of its plans for the long-held San Antonio tradition of river barge dining.

Fertitta Entertainment, a dining, hospitality, and gaming company based in Houston, ranks 126th on Forbes’
list of America’s Largest Private Companies, with $3.4 billion in annual revenues. The company is owned by
Tilman Fertitta, 60, who is considered one of Texas’ wealthiest people.

With the 2006 installation of Saltgrass, the Landry company’s fourth restaurant on the river, former Mayor
Phil Hardberger took notice of changes to the River Walk dining scene, changes he and others called “a
very big concern.”

When Saltgrass took over the space occupied by longtime River Walk establishments Justin’s Ice Cream Co.,
Hunan River Garden, and Italia Ristorante, Hardberger raised the issue with the Zoning Commission.

“I would like to have prohibited chain restaurants on the river,” Hardberger told the Rivard Report last week.
“They cheapen the experience when you eat at a place that you could eat at in 100 other places. The Pearl, for
instance, rules out any chains on their properties.

“After researching the issue, though, I felt the City would probably be unsuccessful in upholding such an ordinance,
so we took no action. The Pearl can do it because they own the property.”

San Antonio River Walk Association Executive Director Maggie Thompson said though there are rules prohibiting
gambling and strip clubs on the River Walk, there are no ordinances governing chain restaurants. There are
currently 37 restaurants on the San Antonio River Walk.

“[Chain restaurants] are good for tourism because a lot of people visit from all around the world, and there are
some who might be more comfortable dining at places they are familiar with, so I haven’t seen it become an
overwhelming problem,” said Elizabeth Lyons Houston, director of marketing at Schilo’s and Casa Rio.

“There’s still a nice mix of local and chain, and to me, all the operators work really well together. But, of course,
I will always advocate for local restaurants because I just think it offers the most authentic experience for a
visitor.”

Houston is, however, concerned about the future of river barge dining. Casa Rio has been serving dinner aboard
private cruises since the 1960s. Her great-grandfather developed river barge dining. But she’s been asked not to
book any river barge catering contracts past October, when the new barge contract starts.

“It’s something locals enjoy doing on the river. It’s something our staff loves doing. It’s special and unique for
our city and I would hate to see [Landry’s] start monopolizing that part of the river experience by utilizing all of
their own catering services or restaurants,” she said. “It’s on the minds of everyone down here.”

Go Rio co-owner Lisa Wong told the Rivard Report that river barge dining will not change, with a few exceptions.

“We will have barges allocated specifically to dinner barges, where all the River Walk stakeholders up and down
the river would have access to supplement any of their dining barge needs,” she said.

Go Rio plans to make an online booking calendar available for consumers to help expedite the reservation process,
she said. “So it’s going to work very similar, but you’ll know instantaneously the available time slots with a little
more ease that will be greatly appreciated, and also help restaurateurs and hoteliers manage their time efficiently.”

Wong, a local restaurateur, and VIA Metropolitan Transit Chair Hope Andrade own 51% of Go Rio. Andrade is also
the former Texas secretary of state (2013-15) and owns several small businesses, including a political/business
consulting firm. Go Rio was able to secure local preference points in the scoring matrix for the 10-year, more than
$100 million contract that allowed it to receive more points than its main competitor, Chicago-based Entertainment
Cruises. Another bidder for the contract, Buena Vista Barges, is challenging the legitimacy of those points.
Go Rio team led by Hope Andrade and Lisa Wong in partnership with Landry's Inc.

Landry’s representatives did not respond to several requests for information or interviews for this article.

Other restaurants that provide river barge dining include Landry’s, Saltgrass, Biga on the Banks, Boudro’s, and others,
as well as the Republic of Texas, which opened on the River Walk in 1975.

“No one wanted to be on the River Walk then,” Republic of Texas owner Rick Grinnan said. “It was a sewer trap. It
was dangerous. It didn’t take off until 1982 with [major hotels] opening.”

Grinnan said it worries him that he can’t book river barges for dining past October, and he’s not sure he ever will again.

“It concerns me that the City is not handling this fairly. It just doesn’t pass the smell test,” Grinnan said. “They never
asked any of us to get on a boat and see if you can load food and liquor. It just got done. [The river barge contract was]
supposed to be an open process, but if you dig into it, it wasn’t an open process.”

City officials said Boudro’s had been invited to host a dinner cruise on the prototype for the new river barge earlier this year.

“For 50 years, the restaurants and hotels have been doing boats,” Grinnan said. “It’s a horrible design. I’m not sure we’re
going to do any boats. And we don’t know the price [for barge dining]. It seems like the [barge dining] value is gone. It
would be nice for a family to come and for it to be affordable, but the cost to ride a boat is crazy.”


Go Rio has deployed some of the 43 barges for unique programming, working with local chefs in town to offer foodie
experiences and wine tastings, Wong said.

Go Rio took over Oct. 1 using some of the new, City-owned fleet of barges. The rest of the new barges arrived in
November, according to city officials.

“We are very excited,” Wong said. “The [barges] are absolutely beautiful and will be a huge complement to our River Walk
experience. The City did an outstanding job designing them.”

In April 2016, Houston-based Metalab’s design won the City’s International River Barge Design Competition, aimed at
replacing the decades-old design that had been in place since Hemisfair ’68. The prototype was unveiled in September 2016.

Amid the uncertainty involved in changing river barge operators, rumors have circulated about the fate of other River Walk
eateries and bars.

“I don’t have a clue on what Landry’s’ intentions are, but I can assure you that they will not be purchasing any of Paesanos
Restaurant Group’s current concepts,” said Steven Bartlett, the restaurant group’s director of operations. “There is no merit
to this rumor” that Paesanos may be sold.

The longtime River Walk bar Dick’s Last Resort – known as “the joint your mom warned you about” – will move from its
current location, but “remain downtown,” according to a manager who referred us to the general manager, who didn’t
respond to calls. Rumors about the watering hole’s fate began circulating after the chain that owns it abruptly closed several
locations across the country late last year.

Carrie Carillo, a manager at The County Line, said the barbecue restaurant has no plans to move.

Grinnan said chain restaurants have an advantage over locally owned establishments because they are better able to absorb
rising rents.

“[Chain restaurants] have the wherewithal to spend a lot of money, and they are buying up the place,” Grinnan said. “I don’t
like it because you can go to those anywhere. The River Walk has a lot of family-owned restaurants that are going away.”

About Shari Biediger
Shari Biediger is a journalist and writer in San Antonio, and a business reporter for The Rivard Report.
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
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Re: The Riverwalk

Postby warren on Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:32 pm

If you look at the Galveston Seawall and the Pleasure Pier, the Kemah Boardwalk, and lot of Houston Galleria prime area restaurants, you will see the way The Riverwalk is going to go, and who will be the majority, if not eventual, sole owner/vendor. The man always gets what he wants (his practically sole defeat was non-Native American casino gambling in Texas).
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