Axios San Antonio

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🌸 Hello to the first Monday in March! Make it a good one.

Today's weather: Chance of rain, high near 79.

👽 What we're watching: "Nope," one of the best new alien movies.

Today's newsletter is 932 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The Texas GOP's primary revenge tour

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

In tomorrow's Texas primaries, the GOP is going after its own — a microcosm of the infighting across the Republican Party in the age of Trump.

Why it matters: Primaries are traditionally when incumbents work to protect their colleagues, but this year has become an intra-party revenge tour for Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

  • It all mirrors how Trump has targeted Republicans around the country who have crossed him.

Zoom in: Abbott has spent more than $6 million between late January and late February against Texas House Republicans who defied him on school vouchers.

"This is the nastiest, most negative campaign I've seen in Texas legislative history," said Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan last month, per the Express-News.

  • He supported the Paxton impeachment and allowed his members to torpedo Abbott's voucher proposal.
  • Paxton has campaigned for Phelan's opponent, and Abbott has declined to back his fellow Republican state leader.
  • Paxton, Abbott and Phelan have not responded to Axios' requests for comment.

What they're saying: "Infighting is common in a state like Texas with one-party domination," Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, tells Axios.

  • "But in the past, the divide among Texas Republicans was about policy. At present, it's about personality, and that's Trump-driven."

The bottom line: These races have made many incumbents miserable.

  • "It's not fun having statewide elected officials disparage your character," state Rep. DeWayne Burns, a Cleburne Republican who voted against Abbott's school choice bill, said at a campaign event in February.
  • "But I tell you what, you got to stand up for what you believe in and I'd do it again knowing all of that, every bit of that."

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2. 🔊 Feedback opens for city government changes

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of the city of San Antonio

A group of high-profile San Antonians have been hashing out possible changes to city government for two months, and residents have their first chance to give feedback starting today.

Why it matters: The potential changes to San Antonio's city charter must go before voters to take effect, so public opinion is crucial to success.

Catch up quick: Mayor Ron Nirenberg last fall assembled a charter review commission to explore, among other issues:

  • Whether City Council members should serve longer terms and collect higher pay;
  • Removing the cap on the city manager's pay and tenure;
  • Expanding the number of council districts;
  • And drawing council district boundaries more independently.

State of play: San Antonio's city charter dictates how the city government operates. It can only be amended every two years by a public vote.

How it works: The charter review commission, which includes some of the city's most influential names in politics and business, began meeting in January.

  • Its meetings are slated to wrap up in May, and the City Council could hear its recommendations in June.
  • The council could then call an election for November, placing city government changes on the ballot alongside the presidential contest.

What's next: In-person public comment meetings will be hosted at 5:30pm at the Central Library on the following dates:

  • March 4
  • March 21
  • April 11
  • April 25

Plus, residents can also leave a comment online or call 311 to leave comments by phone.

More context

3. Inside the Loop

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🐘 Former President Trump said he is considering Gov. Greg Abbott as a possible running mate on the 2024 GOP ticket. (Axios)

💰 San Antonio ISD will cut more than 200 positions this fall as federal COVID-19 relief funds expire and enrollment continues to decline. (SA Report)

🩱 The city's splash pads opened for the season over the weekend, just in time for spring break. (KSAT)

4. Stats du jour: Eclipse rental bookings

Shadows cast during last year's annular solar eclipse in the Texas Hill Country. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Hill Country has emerged as one of the most-booked destinations in the U.S. for the solar eclipse weekend, per new data from Airbnb.

Why it matters: Looks like a lot of people are headed to our region.

The big picture: Searches for short-term rentals along the solar eclipse path in the U.S. for the period of April 5-8 have increased 1,000% compared to the same period in 2023, per Airbnb.

  • Texas is among the most-booked states across all of North America on Airbnb.

By the numbers: As of Thursday, over 35% of listings in San Antonio were still available to book.

What they're saying: The mayor of Llano, about 100 miles north of San Antonio, advised residents to stock up on supplies.

  • "Be prepared to hunker down and stay home for a couple of days as the traffic in the area may prevent easy movement," Mayor Marion Bishop wrote on Facebook.

Threat level: Preparing for a tourist surge, Bell County preemptively issued a disaster declaration.

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5. 👽 1 map to go: UFO sightings

👽 Reported UFO sightings per 100k residents
Data: National UFO Reporting Center, U.S. Census; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Despite rising public acceptance of UFO chatter, there's still no proof that we're being visited by extraterrestrials.

  • But the truth, as they say, is out there.

By the numbers: Bexar County had 17 UFO sightings per 100,000 people between 2000 and 2023, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Erin Davis report from National UFO Reporting Center data.

  • That's 341 sightings total.
  • Nationally, there were about 34 sightings per 100,000 people in the same time period.

Zoom out: Jeff Davis County in West Texas is your best bet for a UFO sighting in the Lone Star State, with 502 sightings per 100,000 people — or 10 sightings total.

  • Nevada's Lincoln County had the most reported UFO sightings across the country, at 821 per 100,000 residents.

Road trip, anyone?

Thanks to our editor Chloe Gonzales and copy editors Kathie Bozanich and Yasmeen Altaji.

Congratulations to Jan B., the winner of our Friday news quiz and an Axios San Antonio tote bag!

😋 Madalyn is excited to check out Maíz tonight.

🥦 Megan is loving this recipe. She added Brussels sprouts and roasted the veggies.