Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hornets big men appreciative of learning from Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter - Project Spurs

Written by Jeff Garcia on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 08:30.

As we reported, a few New Orleans Hornets players were in San Antonio to get in some volunteer workout sessions in anticipation of the coming season.

Hornet players such as Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, and Jason Smith were able to go toe-to-toe and learn from a few players such as San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter and Anderson soaked in every moment learning from the two big men.

"Obviously, Tim was around, and there’s not a better guy to learn from,’’ said Anderson, a 6-foot-10 forward whom the Hornets acquired in a sign-and-trade deal from the Orlando Magic in July. "He is such a great leader and just talking with him was a positive experience in San Antonio.’’

Of course learning from the best power forward in NBA history would be vastly beneficial for any post player but dig deeper. This just shows how much Duncan goes above and beyond to help other players develop like Anderson and rookie Davis.

Hornets' Jason Smith also chimed in saying all big men from New Orleans in attendance were able to get time in learning from Splitter as well and went on to say about the workouts.

"I think it was really good for us to go against somebody different,’’ Smith said. `"To let us come over to their gym to workout was an honor.’’

What more can one say about the Spurs? An organization with players who are willing to open up their home court and teach opponents speaks volumes about their character.

However, let's hope all the lessons Duncan and Splitter gave the Hornets' post players don't come back to haunt them in the regular season or playoffs.

Turnovers turning into TDs - San Antonio Express

If opportunity calls, the UTSA Roadrunners usually answer with a touchdown.

Undefeated UTSA has scored nearly half its points this season on drives following a turnover.

“That's an attitude thing and something we are stressing along with tempo for our offense,” Roadrunners coach Larry Coker said.

As UTSA prepares to take on Northwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday at the Alamodome, the Roadrunners have come to understand that such “attitude” is one of the key elements of their 3-0 record.

It all starts with a swarming defense that has helped to force 10 turnovers.

From there, the offense has seized on the momentum and scored on seven of those drives â€" twice on field goals and five times with touchdowns.

In all, UTSA has scored 41 of the team's 98 total points in those bang-bang moments of a game that seem to take the life out of the opposing team.

“It starts in practice,” UTSA cornerback Erik Brown said. “My position coach (Nathaniel Jones), he gets on me to try to get in there and try to create a turnover, force a fumble â€" something. It's just basically how we practice.”

Against South Alabama, the Roadrunners scored 20 points off Jaguars turnovers.

They added seven points against Texas A&M-Commerce two weeks ago and 14 against Georgia State with the same formula, capitalizing when a momentum-changing play goes their way.

Against Georgia State, two UTSA takeaways resulted in 14 straight points in a span of four minutes in the third quarter.

The first turnover came off a hustle play by Brown, who chased down tailback Donald Russell after a 28-yard run and poked out the ball. Darrien Starling recovered.

“In practice, we have a drill where we get the left arm over (the runner) and then punch out the ball from the back,” Brown said. “That's exactly what I did. It was just like practice.”

The second came on an interception by Brian King, one of six on the season for the Roadrunners. King returned it 30 yards to the 11.

After that, UTSA scored to make it 38-7. The Roadrunners went on to win 38-14.

Brown said he enjoys watching the offense operate after the defense forces an opponent to cough up a possession.

“The offense is quick,” Brown said. “They're moving and getting the ball down the field like they ought to.”

On the flip side, opponents have yet to really take advantage of UTSA in those situations.

The Roadrunners have given up only seven points this season on a drive following a turnover.

Mainly, that's because they've turned it over only twice.

Such efficiency on offense goes back to quarterback Eric Soza, who has been masterful in running a near error-free attack.

In addition, Soza knows how to run the show when the defense presents him with a chance.

“If the defense gives us a great play,” he said, “then we want to reward them with a touchdown.”

Twitter: @ JerryBriggs

Sneed turns self in - Herald Zeitung

NEW BRAUNFELS â€" After being wanted by police several days for allegedly having had a sexual relationship with one of his female players, a former New Braunfels Christian Academy basketball coach turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

According to a New Braunfels Police Department news release, Leon Eugene Sneed, 44, of San Antonio, showed up about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday at Bexar County Jail in San Antonio to be arrested on a warrant out of New Braunfels.

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Hill Country power fight amps up again - San Antonio Express

New objections are being raised to a major transmission project in the Hill Country that state regulators approved nearly two years ago and now is being built.

The controversy continues over what's known as the McCamey-Kendall project, a 345-kilovolt transmission line that will link substations in Kendall and Schleicher counties.

The Kerrville City Council last month passed a resolution asking the Public Utility Commission to suspend work on the 140-mile line, which is part of the state's Competitive Renewable Energy Zone initiative. The CREZ calls for 2,400 miles of new lines.

The resolution notes that Congress hasn't voted to extend the federal production tax credit that lets wind farm owners cut their tax liability by producing electricity.

“We've got to move on this before they get too far on the CREZ line and it can't be stopped,” said state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville.

Hilderbran is leading the fight against the lines, which will run largely along Interstate 10 from Comfort to west of Junction.

“It is not practical to invest in the infrastructure of new lines for an industry that could shrink so dramatically in less than a year,” he said.

Texas now has excess capacity in its power grid, he said, and wind development is likely to slow if the tax credit expires at year's end as he predicts.

“Texans should not have to fund new transmission lines when the future of the wind industry in Texas is uncertain and when we are not even using current lines to their capacity,” Hilderbran wrote in a letter to the PUC. “Additionally, property owners should not be forced to give up their land for transmission lines that are unnecessary, and the Texas Hill Country should not be scarred by a line that will be underutilized.”

The PUC hired the Lower Colorado River Authority's Transmission Services Corp. to build the line, and LCRA spokeswoman Clara Tuma said: “We will continue doing that unless and until the PUC tells us to do otherwise.”

PUC officials saw more sense in putting the towers in existing rights of way rather than destroying undisturbed land, but critics complain the towers will ruin a scenic route and devalue land along I-10.

“It's disturbing that they go in and open a right of way that's so large,” Junction Mayor Larry Maddux said of work near his city and farther west.

Kerrville officials are particularly opposed to lines near the city's “gateway” at I-10 and Texas 16, which features a large sign. Mayor Jack Pratt said Texas Department of Transportation officials recently agreed to relocate the nearest pole about 300 feet farther west.

That would be good, he said, but even better would be the cancellation of the power line.

“If the tax credits are going to stop, why spend further citizens' dollars on a line that's not going to be useable?” Pratt told Kerr County Commissioners last week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Indictments target human smuggling - San Antonio Express

Federal agents have busted a Zetas-linked ring that smuggled up to 200 immigrants a month into the U.S. and stashed some of them in San Antonio.

The ring of at least 28 smugglers charged the immigrants $2,500 each and hid them in houses and motels. The staging grounds were in San Antonio, Austin and in rural locations.

The feds revealed the bust Tuesday in an indictment unsealed in San Antonio. Twenty people were charged in San Antonio, with eight more indicted separately in Laredo.

The immigrants came primarily from Mexico and Central and South America and had been smuggled through the Laredo area since November 2011.

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol spent more than a year investigating the cell, and raided four locations in San Antonio and two in Austin that they say were used as staging grounds by the group.

Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio, said the smugglers used vehicles stolen in San Antonio and Austin to transport their loads, often fleeing from authorities with no regard for lives or property.

Some 30 stolen vehicles were recovered, as well as $30,000, weapons and ledgers.

During the investigation, 150 immigrants were arrested, including several apprehended as agents sought the primary 20 targets Monday and Tuesday.

“In this situation, we were able to target the Mexican side of the organization,” Robinette said.

The indictment lists as the ringleader Fernando Martinez-Magana, 40 â€" also known as “Zeta 16,” “Dieciséis” and “Don Fernando” â€" a member of the Zetas cartel.

Mexican news reports show Martinez-Magana was arrested by Mexican troops in June 2011 in Nuevo Laredo.

But his detention was short-lived because he is “free and doing business” in Mexico, Robinette said.

He “controls all aliens coming through the Laredo sector,” Robinette said. “If you're coming through there, you're going to be dealing with him.”

“He's what I would consider to be a little bit less than a mid-level player within the Zetas,” said Mike Vigil, a retired head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“He is an assassin. He's a smuggler, not only of drugs but illegal aliens. He's engaged in weapons,” Vigil said. “So he is kind of third-tier, fourth-tier Zeta member, but still a key player in terms of dealing with logistics in weapons, smuggling, and also involved in the horrific violence caused by his organization.”

Five of the suspects indicted in San Antonio appeared in federal court Tuesday on charges that include conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal immigrants, transporting immigrants or smuggling felons for financial gain and placing immigrants in jeopardy.

Among them were two purported principals of the group, April Gaitan, 26, also known as “Gorda,” of San Antonio, and Carlos Rocha Leos, 35, also known as “La Chona,” of Del Valle, near Austin.

If convicted, the suspects face up to 20 years on prison on at least four charges in the nine-count indictment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo ordered Leos, Gaitan and three others â€" Armando Gaitan, 29, Sergio Israel Leos, 19, and Sonia Campos-Delgado, 34 â€" held pending bail hearings set for Friday and Sept. 28.

Of the 20 charged in San Antonio, eight others also were ordered detained later Tuesday, while seven remain fugitives.

Campos-Delgado's mother said outside the courtroom that she was unaware whether her daughter was involved in smuggling immigrants but denied that the daughter has any ties to the Zetas.

“That's not true,” she said, declining to give her name.

Jason Buch contributed to this report.

Twitter: @gmaninfedland

Public ridership up in San Antonio - San Antonio Express

Public transit ridership is up for the second quarter in a row in San Antonio and across the country, according to an American Public Transportation Association report released Tuesday.

VIA Metropolitan Transit experienced a 2.4 percent increase in ridership on its regular bus service between April and June of this year, compared to the same time period last year, while use of its paratransit service dropped 2 percent. Year to date, VIA has recorded 5.1 percent more regular bus trips than in 2011.

Nationally, public transit ridership increased 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012 compared to last year.

Most of the national gains were in rail ridership: in Austin, 14.8 percent more trips were taken on its commuter rail service from April to June this year than in 2011. Overall, the number of trips people took on buses increased just less than 1 percent nationally.

VIA remains a bus-only system, though a streetcar system is planned.

City council to consider limiting pay day loans - WOAI

SAN ANTONIO - There's a big city council vote expected this week, keeping car title and pay day loan companies from ripping you off with huge interest rates.

Right now they can jack up rates as high - or higher - than 500%. But that could change Thursday when council members are expected to vote on an ordinance that would drastically reduce the amount of interest these companies can charge people.

Dallas has an ordinance like this, and so does Austin. A lot of people we talked with say it's time San Antonio does too.

Like a lot of people, Rebecca English relies on payday loans to make ends meet.

“I'm a single mom and it's hard,” explains English. “I live check by check, and it's hard for me to make some of the bills sometimes.”

Consumer experts say the average Texan pays $840 for a $300 payday loan -- and $1600 on a $700 car title loan. People that need the loans sometimes can't pay that high of an interest back.

So this ordinance would limit the interest on pay day loans to 20% of the borrower's gross monthly income; it would limit auto title loans to the lesser of 3% of the borrower's gross annual income or 70% of the vehicle value; it would limit loans to no more than four installments or three rollovers or renewals; and it would require the proceeds from each installment or renewal to reduce principal on the loan by 25%.

If you would like to attend the council meeting Thursday, bus service has been organized…

WEST SIDE Pick Up Times:
9am - Frak Garrett Community Center 1226 NW 18th St.
9:30am - Sacred Heart Church 2123 W. Commerce St.
SOUTH SIDE Pick Up Times:
9am - South San Senior Center 503 Lovett
9am - Elvira Cisneros Senior Community Center 517 SW Military Dr.
EAST SIDE Pick Up Times:
9am - Ella Austin Community Center 1023 North Pine
9:30am - Holy Spirit Convent 301 Yucca
9:45am - Claude W. Black Community Center 2805 East Commerce
NORTH SIDE Pick Up Times:
9am - Kenwood Community Center 305 Dora