Mother of three arrested after police say she abandoned children in West Side park
A couple experiencing homelessness is hoping their good deed inspires people to help others in any circumstance. This comes after they spent 12 hours watching over three young children who San Antonio police say were abandoned by their mother.
CPS Energy weather bills ‘seriously past due’ two weeks before deadly winter storm, records show
Two weeks before a deadly winter storm hit San Antonio, killing a still untold number of people, CPS Energy had become ‘seriously past due’ on bills for its customized weather platform, records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm.
Mother charged with killing her daughter may have access to other child, attorney claims
A San Antonio mother accused of killing one of her children could have access to the other one if a local judge grants permanent custody to the father, according to an attorney representing the second child, who is 11 months old.
As Bexar County foster care system plunges deeper into turmoil, what happens next?
As a flurry of bills were being discussed at the Texas Legislature last week, even state representatives were forced to acknowledge our current foster care quandary: how do you continue to streamline and privatize the system while also increasing oversight of it?
San Antonio's CPS Energy sues BP, Chevron and other natural gas suppliers over winter storm prices
click to enlarge Sanford NowlinMillions of Texans went without power last month as the state's electrical grid buckled under the strain from the prolonged cold front. CPS Energy has sued at least nine natural-gas suppliers, including giants BP Energy and Chevron, alleging they charged excessive rates as it struggled to keep the power on during February's winter storm.The suits, filed Monday in Bexar County District Court, allege the suppliers overcharged the city-owned utility tens of millions of dollars, imposing "commercially unreasonable, unconscionable and unlawful prices" during the catastrophic freeze.BP's prices, for example, swung upward by 6,729% during the storm, CPS argues in its filing against that company.The flurry of suits is an effort by CPS to slash the $1 billion in charges it incurred last month as it fought to keep customers' lights and heat working as the state's power grid teetered on the brink of collapse.CPS says its owes $670 million to natural-gas suppliers plus an additional $350 million for electricity purchased from the state's grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The utility sued ERCOT earlier this month , alleging it charged “excessive, illegitimate and illegal prices.”sacurrent.com
CPS Energy uses a college student for weather forecasting. That’s not how other major Texas utilities operate.
Multiple representatives from CPS Energy have pushed back on the notion that they were ill-equipped to forecast storms. AdMoreno said last week the utility also uses public sources like the National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio and local newscasts. RELATED: CPS Energy faces $1 billion bill for winter weather power crisisA CPS Energy vehicle. (KSAT)DTN’s vice president of weather operations, Renny Vandewege, told the Defenders via telephone Friday CPS uses a customized version of the company’s weather platform, WeatherSentry. And while DTN employs a significant number of meteorologists, Vandewege did not know if communication between DTN and CPS increased as the storm approached Texas.
CPS Energy faces $1 billion bill for winter weather power crisis
SAN ANTONIO – CPS Energy and its customers could be facing a $1 billion bill for February’s weather-related power crisis, though utility officials say they are doing what they can to protect customers. Gold-Williams said CPS would pursue regulatory assistance and help from elected officials to avoid customers shouldering that load. And then we will use every other tool in our toolbox to work to get this cost down,” Gold-Williams said. AdGold-Williams has previously said CPS would look to spread the cost to customers out over 10 years or more. AdTrustees also voted Monday to order an independent review of CPS’s preparedness, communication, and response regarding the power crisis.
Frustrated CPS Energy customers criticize utility’s handling of winter energy crisis
San Antonio – Dozens of irate CPS Energy customers gave the utility’s top brass a piece of their minds during the first CPS Board of Trustees meeting since last week’s controlled outages. At the peak of the utility’s controlled outages strategy, there were about 372,000 customers without power. Among other complaints, they also criticized the utility’s forced outages that left some people without any power for multiple days. The amount CPS pays for fuel is typically rolled into customers’ bills over a 45 to 60-day period. “I do very much understand how customers don’t want to pay anything associated with the storm,” Gold-Williams said during the meeting.
CPS Energy trustees to meet Monday for first time since winter storms
CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams is scheduled to give a report on the “New Unprecedented Texas/San Antonio Energy Market Event” at the 1 p.m. Monday meeting. AdThe amount CPS pays for fuel is typically rolled into customers’ bills over a 45 to 60-day period, Gold-Williams told reporters on Friday. CPS officials have said that at the peak of the forced outages, which were meant to preserve the larger Texas power grid, there were about 372,000 CPS customers without power. Greg Abbott also held a phone conference with state leaders Saturday to discuss how the state could help reduce the burden of high energy bills following the power crisis. MEETING INFORMATIONThe CPS Energy Board of Trustees meeting will be held 1 p.m. Monday by telephone and live-streamed online.
TxDOT announces roads now open across San Antonio
Update 7:45 a.m. SundayTxDOT San Antonio announced on Twitter that all interchanges and roadways previously closed due to the winter storm are now open. Update 1:30 p.m. SaturdayTxDOT San Antonio announced on their twitter that they are focusing on reopening multiple roadway closures across the city. The finesilver curve in downtown San Antonio is also closed, according to the Texas Department of Transportation in San Antonio. The temperature at 10:51 a.m. was 37 degrees reported at the San Antonio International Airport. Locals immediately lit up their social media feeds with joyful proclamations of surprise and photos of the rare San Antonio weather event.mysanantonio.com
CPS asks S.A. residents to stop harassing, threatening employees
Rebecca Slezak /Staff photographerCPS is asking the public to let employees restore power safely, without threats of violence or harassment. "Our crews have been working 24/7 to restore power while bearing the severe winter weather conditions," a Facebook post reads. "We understand the community is frustrated but please remember that our workers and our families live here too and are a part of this community."mysanantonio.com
Power back for most, but not all, CPS customers
KIRBY, Texas – EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated residents in the Kirby area hadn’t had power since Thursday. As snow came down again Thursday morning, most - but not all- CPS customers had their power restored. With the forced outage strategy CPS had been following to keep the Texas grid stable suspended, close to 99% of customers had power again. In an area near Binz-Engleman and Ackerman Roads in Kirby, a CPS outage map showed nearly 1,300 customers without power since Tuesday night - though several residents told KSAT they hadn’t had power since Tuesday morning. “We were yelling and screaming and saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ We offered to go get them some coffee.
Some San Antonians facing life or death situations due to lack of electricity, water
We need the electricity, but we need the water too, and there’s no way for us to dialyze,” Allen said. AdThe effects of the winter storm on the electrical grid this week have CPS Energy and other Texas energy providers overwhelmed. CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams said the energy supply during the winter storm couldn’t meet the demand. She said a third of the system would not be taking down as it’s a critical circuit. Concerns about SAWS pumps taken off the critical circuit have dialysis patients like Allen in distress with no access to water.
SA residents angered by ‘misinformation’ from CPS Energy on power restoration following winter storm
SAN ANTONIO – As Lea Ann Tinney shivered through a Monday without power inside her home in the Government Hill neighborhood, she consulted a CPS Energy power outage map that stated only six customers in her 78208 zip code were affected. Tinney then walked outside and counted at least five other homes that were without power at that very moment. Gold-Williams and a utility spokesman defended CPS’s response to the winter storm, pointing out that it was a significant weather event followed by a prolonged period of freezing temperatures. “CPS Energy is going to continue to analyze its performance, how we did, what else we could do, but there are just natural limitations to the system that normally works extremely well 360 days a year,” Gold-Williams said. A utility spokesman said Tuesday afternoon that it had advised customers to begin conserving energy usage as early as last Wednesday, ahead of the storm that hit Sunday night.
Chicago Teachers Union authorizes collective action to remain remote, but some students may return to school Feb. 1 as negotiations continue
“Here’s what I’m hearing from residents all around the city and from parents in particular: If we don’t have stability in the public school system, why should we stay in Chicago? If we have to worry about lockouts and strikes, particularly after a historic contract where everyone thought we had bought labor peace for five years, people vote with their feet,” Lightfoot said. “And what I worry about is with young families, one of the first questions they ask is, ‘How is the school system?’ And if the answer is, ‘completely rife with strife and uncertainty,’ that sends a real message: Don’t stay in Chicago.”chicagotribune.com
One in 5 eligible CPS students attended in-person classes the first week schools reopened
Among 11,612 students expected to attend virtually, about 87% did so, and close to 13% were absent on average, according to CPS. About one-half of one percent of those students ended up attending in-person. Though CPS has been saying that students can’t switch to in-person learning at will, district officials said that it was allowed on a case-by-case basis last week if a principal felt staffing was sufficient. Most students in the first wave are attending five days a week, rather than upper elementary grades that will use hybrid models when they return.chicagotribune.com
Chicago Public Schools announces COVID-19 vaccination for teachers will begin in February, but union is still prepping for a possible walkout
Vaccine eligibility is expanding to front-line essential workers, including educators, beginning Monday. Teachers and other school staff members can then start getting vaccines through pharmacies or health care providers if they are able, city Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. But the city is reliant on the federal government to provide the vaccine, and the amount Chicago has been receiving is “minuscule” compared with the number of people who need to be vaccinated in the next phase, Arwady said.chicagotribune.com
Would a Chicago teachers action to stay remote be an ‘illegal strike?’ What you need to know about the fight over reopening CPS schools
“It will matter what’s considered legal and what’s not because it has some ramifications in the long run, but like everything else between CTU and CPS, it really is in question whether it’s legal or whether it’s not, and we shouldn’t get confused by that or distracted by it,” Bruno said. “It’s really about, what are the most important issues at play, and what is it that the parties are doing that makes it impossible to get to an agreement, or what does it take for them to get to an agreement?”chicagotribune.com
Struggling kids, fed-up parents: Chicago families who want CPS schools open say they’re being drowned out by ongoing teachers union pushback
Other community groups that include CPS parents have mostly been more aligned with CTU’s interests regarding school reopening plans, which have been delayed several times amid ongoing union opposition. Raise Your Hand, a group of parents and other residents, has criticized CPS’ push to reopen and so has the new Chicago’s Grassroots Education Movement, which bills itself as an organization of parents, community members, teacher organizations and unions. And dozens of Local School Councils have sent out letters decrying the reopening plan. A majority of aldermen have also come out against it.chicagotribune.com
With possible teacher strike vote looming, CPS chief says union talks need to focus on how, not whether, to reopen schools
“We want to make sure it’s accurate. The importance is we have an option for everybody,” she said. “I think that we keep getting into these percentages around whether it’s opt-in or attendance, there is no right answer and because more people choose one thing over the other doesn’t make it right. And so I think the goal which we’ve tried to articulate is a path toward in-person instruction for every student in CPS.”chicagotribune.com
CPS head says she wants to compromise with teachers but in-person classes must remain an option. CTU says time is running out for an agreement.
On Jan. 4, when the first group of returning teachers were due to report in person, about 60% were marked present, according to CPS data. But the figure was up to more than 70% by Monday, the day the first students — preschoolers and children in some special education programs — returned. That still left more than 500 teachers not in attendance; of those, 145 were deemed absent, and on Tuesday, they were locked out of their Google Classroom accounts and their pay was withheld. That figure dropped to 100 later in the week. By Friday, the number of AWOL teachers was down to 87, but the percentage of total staff members who showed up was the lowest since Monday.chicagotribune.com
Rahm Emanuel donates $100,000 to a City Colleges of Chicago scholarship he created as mayor, pledging to give annually
To be eligible for the program, graduates from CPS and select high schools must have a 3.0 GPA and test near the college level for English and math. Participants receive financial waivers for up to three years and can transfer to a partner school, where they receive $1,000 to $60,000 of financial assistance per year, depending on the particular arrangement, plus advising and transition supports.chicagotribune.com
As new COVID-19 cases emerge in Chicago Public Schools, families plead for reinstatement of locked-out teachers
The first employee was last at school Jan. 7 and notified the district of a positive COVID-19 test the next day, according to CPS. Over the weekend, contact tracers identified and notified close contacts, asking six staff members to quarantine, CPS said. The second case, confirmed Wednesday, involved one of those close contacts, who did not report to school Monday. Contact tracers identified two close contacts of the second case who were not also contacts of the first case and asked them to quarantine as well.chicagotribune.com
Some CPS teachers who refused to work at school say they were punished — even though none of their students chose to return for in-person learning
CPS has said it approved 100% of accommodation or leave requests from staff members with underlying medical conditions who applied under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But as of late last year, less than 20% of requests had been approved from those who said they live with someone with a serious medical condition, and less than half of the total requests had been granted.chicagotribune.com
As Chicago Teachers Union members refuse to return to classrooms, CPS mum on possible consequences for those who decline to give lessons in person
“My child is staying home and I am really hoping we are going to be able to convince CPS to negotiate in good faith with the union,” said Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, 33rd, one of 35 City Council members who have signed a letter opposing the current reopening plan. I am in awe of these teachers that have come here today to teach outside in 27-degree weather. It’s really cold and this is what teachers do, right? This is what we see them do consistently, is sacrifice themselves.”chicagotribune.com
Defying CPS, some Chicago Teachers Union members won’t return to schools Monday, say they will teach remotely ‘until buildings are safe’
CPS and city officials have pushed back reopening plans multiple times but have said their phased-in plan, which would have the bulk of kindergarten through eighth graders returning on Feb. 1 for parents who choose that option, is a cautious approach with many health safeguards in place. They also say remote learning has disproportionately hurt Black and Latino students, though the union has countered that communities of color have also been affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic.chicagotribune.com
Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan uncertain as hearing on teachers union injunction request looms
The Chicago Department of Public Health last month declared schools could likely reopen if the time it takes for new coronavirus cases to double reached 18 days, about 50% longer than it was at the time. By the end of the month, the doubling time was nearly 41 days, according to CPS. Over the summer, city officials had pointed to an 8% positivity rate or a seven-day average of 400 new cases per day as benchmarks that could indicate the virus was too uncontrolled for in-person learning.chicagotribune.com
Defeating foster child stigmas to close race gap, pave way for successful futures
SAN ANTONIO – False stereotypes about foster kids being troubled or difficult are keeping children from the futures they deserve. As KSAT has reported, research shows it’s even harder for foster children of color. Hispanic, Black children wait longer to be adopted in Bexar County, experts sayThose stereotypes are even worse for foster children of color. To extinguish that fear, Keyes holds workshops every quarter with other churches, welfare organizations, foster kids, future foster families and advocates like Hernandez. “I want you to know, you’re going through so many placements, so many homes, so much right now.
Hispanic, Black children wait longer to be adopted in Bexar County, experts say
SAN ANTONIO – Throughout the child welfare sector, experts say children of color have worse outcomes in the system when it comes to placement and adoption. Simmons, who sits on the Texas Advisory Committee on Promoting Adoption of Minority Children, said in Bexar County, Hispanic children wait the longest for adoption, followed closely by Black children. The extreme disparities have experts like Simmons reviewing parts of the system in desperate need of change. “Right now, the State of Texas has done a really great job of engaging with kinship programs reducing disparities for Black and Hispanic children,” Simmons said. Their adopted boys are Hispanic and Black, the two specific types of children that have historically and currently need adoption the most.
Foster children not forgotten despite losing ‘fairy godmother’
Since 1989, real estate agent Zenobia Coverson was a fairy godmother for children in the foster care system that she called “the forgotten children.”Throughout the year, Coverson would fill about 700 gift baskets and wrapped gifts for distribution to children in the CPS foster care program. CPS caseworker Mary Lou Rodriguez was there as the doors to The Forgotten Child storage unit were opened. Rodriguez was able to pick out gifts for children under her guidance. Eleanor Salazar, a CPS caseworker, said foster children generally don’t have high expectations for the holidays. CPS is looking for brand new gifts for children ages infant to older teenagers.
As CPS parents face decision day on sending their kids back to school, CTU seeks legal action to stop ‘arbitrary’ reopening plan
“With disparate rates of attendance and participation in remote learning, our Black and brown students are facing an unprecedented educational crisis that has the potential to reverberate for decades,” CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement. Given the learning loss and missed opportunities for our children, the discussion can no longer be focused on whether or not to reopen but how to do so safely. Numerous studies and data from schools in Chicago and throughout the country have shown that classrooms can safely reopen with proper mitigation strategies, and we must open our doors in order to counter the dire educational consequences for students who need support the most.”chicagotribune.com
CPS reopening plan so far: What you need to know about when and how Chicago schools will welcome students back
In addition to grouping children in pods, as well as providing face masks to students and staff and requiring their use with minimal exceptions, such as eating, drinking and medical exemptions, CPS has taken steps to comply with public health guidance and mitigate coronavirus outbreaks. Those include symptom and temperature screening; supplies of soap, sanitizer, wipes and disinfectant sprays for each school; and the installation of air filters, sneeze guards and distancing signs. CPS has also hired dedicated contact tracers and plans to bring in an additional 400 custodians. The district will also “facilitate access” to free COVID-19 testing for students and staff who show symptoms or have had close contact with an infected person, and is planning surveillance testing of school-based staff.chicagotribune.com
Divisive North Lawndale school consolidation proposal is now on hold: ‘We took a stand as a community’
“As we pause this proposal at this juncture in the process, we are filled with mixed emotions but are committed to work in partnership with you, your staff and members of the Chicago Board of Education to bring this proposal to the fruition for the students and families in our community,” they wrote. “We will resubmit our proposal at a later date and will continue to include many voices from North Lawndale to ensure that this school is built for our beloved community.”chicagotribune.com
CPS apologizes for inappropriate messages sent from school accounts
“While this issue did not pose an information security risk or permit access to anyone outside the CPS network, we understand it may have been concerning for you and your children,” DiBartolo said. “We apologize for any issues this error may have created, and we have taken measures to ensure it does not happen again.”chicagotribune.com
Despite ruling that CPS violated employees' contract over COVID-19 safety measures, district won’t expand remote work for clerks, tech aides
Unless CPS provides the union with information needed to confirm a school’s compliance, the remedy requires CPS to determine which duties absolutely can’t be performed remotely and how much time they take, and to make a work schedule within three days “keeping in mind the duty to maximize remote work as a protective measure during the pandemic." The schedules would become effective within seven business days. If an employee takes issue with their schedule, the matter would go before the arbitrator.chicagotribune.com
CTU seeks mediation in CPS reopening talks, says most voters want remote learning to continue for now
“While the law does not require the district to bargain over the decision to reopen, the district has received the Union’s request, and we are reviewing it," CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement. "We continue to meet and work with CTU, as we have all year, in the hopes they will become a productive partner in getting students safely back to in-person learning.”chicagotribune.com
CPS releases ventilation and air quality assessments, says most classrooms are cleared for students to return
According to CPS, which assessed the ventilation, 94% of the more than 36,000 spaces in school buildings — including classrooms, administrative offices, gyms, libraries and nurse offices — are cleared for the return of students. Ninety-nine percent of the classrooms assessed were cleared. A space must have a functioning mechanical ventilation system or a working window with at least one air purifier, depending on the size of the room.chicagotribune.com
Daywatch: Pritzker and Lightfoot clash over Chicago COVID-19 restrictions, special education parents' tough choice and meet the maker of city’s best apple fritters
Although their families don’t yet have the option to send their children back to school before the end of the calendar year, for thousands of other CPS families with special education students, decision day is Wednesday. Along with pre-kindergartners, about 5,000 students in moderate and intensive special education programs have been identified as the first who could resume in-person learning. But for many parents, the decision is not simple.chicagotribune.com
Most CPS students will continue remote learning 2nd quarter but pre-kindergarten and some special ed students will return to schools; teachers union calls plan ‘dangerous’
On a call Thursday night hosted by CPS’s Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services, district representatives did not have many answers for parents asking about a return to school and said they had been in an “assessment phase.” One CPS parent on the call said given what parents had been hearing from principals and what had been reported in major news outlets, she found it hard to believe officials on the call didn’t know anything about cluster programs going back.chicagotribune.com
CPS says clerks must report to work in person, despite labor ruling that questions COVID-19 protections in schools. CTU says the action ‘threatens jobs.’
While students and teachers continue remote learning at least through Nov. 5, clerks and other employees have been working in school buildings since before the start of the new year. But an independent arbitrator on Friday ruled that CPS violated its contract with the teachers union by making some employees work in person under what may not have been “safe and healthful” conditions.chicagotribune.com
Will Chicago Public Schools reopen next month? A disputed ruling that buildings could pose COVID-19 risk raises new doubts.
“Conditions in some schools are deplorable, particularly on the South and West sides,” said Sabrina Woods, a clerk at Foreman College and Career Academy. “This is a risk that CPS is asking us to take. Why does CPS feel that our lives are not important? Where is the respect for hundreds of dedicated, hardworking school clerks? Where is the planning for real safety for our students and their families once we do return to buildings?”chicagotribune.com
Daywatch: Lightfoot eases COVID-19 restrictions, domestic violence may be underreported in pandemic and 11 books to read during National Hispanic Heritage Month
Meanwhile, here in the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that she wouldn’t commit to allow in-person learning this fall. The mayor said that the decision on whether or not CPS will return in classrooms for its second quarter will come in the next few weeks.chicagotribune.com
CPS Energy bucket truck stolen from a gas station found
LEON VALLEY, Texas – A CPS Energy bucket truck that was stolen from a Leon Valley gas station on Bandera Road Friday morning has been recovered, CPS officials said. CPS Energy officials said the company is working closely with the San Antonio Police Department on the investigation.
With financial impact of COVID-19 uncertain, Chicago Public Schools tries to boost its neediest schools with equity grants
Im struck by the lack of detail on how the extra burden of the global COVID-19 pandemic will be addressed in the mayors CPS budget, Sharkey said in a statement. CPS says its providing $13 million in additional funding to increase nurse, social worker and case manager staffing levels to an all-time high. To be clear, that high remains incredibly deficient without a nurse and a social worker in every school the minute our schools reopen.chicagotribune.com
Chicago principals demand more masks, hand sanitizers, distancing barriers for workers who remain in schools
A statement provided to the Tribune noted that PPE, typically for medical workers and first responders, has not been recommended for CPS employees based on public health guidance. When the district found out that cloth face coverings were likely to become an official recommendation starting May 1, they will be required in public in Illinois CPS officials said they quickly ordered some, which theyve started distributing to essential workers, including principals. More than 10,000 had been given to employees by Thursday, according to the district.chicagotribune.com
CPS tries to connect with kids who arent participating in remote learning. We need to find out why ... and we need to find that out quickly
The district has also ordered another 53,000 devices, including 31,300 Chromebooks, 16,700 iPads and 5,000 Windows laptops. About 43,000 of those have come in, and about 10,000 have already been doled out to schools, according to CPS. In total, the district has said an initial wave of 155 schools will get new devices to supplement those they already had.chicagotribune.com
New Report Says San Antonio's CPS Energy Would Save $1 Billion by Shutting Coal Plants and Switching to Renewables
Deely coal plant has closed, but environmental groups are urging the utility to close its two remaining fossil-fuel facilities. CPS Energy could save $1 billion from 2026 through 2040 by shuttering its J.K. "Across the country, including Texas, meaningful public input has resulted in plans to replace coal with clean energy, all at financial savings to the utilities. The company also said that it closed the Deely Plant dubbed "Dirty Deely" by environmental groups ahead of schedule as part of its commitment to clean air. Our net income was $168 million, driven chiefly by the performance of all the plants.sacurrent.com