New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 15, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
Saturday, November 15, 2003 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 3A
; Contractor stalls Austin abortion ■ clinic construction with boycott j
By Jim Vbrtuno
Associated Press Writer
o AUSTIN —Weeks into the project, the contractor hired to build an abortion clinic hit a brick wall: Plumbers and lo carpenters would not work for him. Drywall installers and heating subcontractors | would not do business with him. Cement suppliers for miles around would not touch the job.
He had been hit with a boy-- cott organized by abortion foe and construction-indus-try executive Chris Danze.
The builder finally quit the job this month, stopping the I clinic project in its tracks, in what national Planned Par-v enthood officials said was the first such boycott they have ever seen.
Danze, a 48-year-old who has protested outside clinics, compares the building of an abortion clinic to construction of a concentration camp ? during the Holocaust.
“We can't just look the oth-b er way,” he said. “We can’t just -I take the blood money and • run.”
The decision by Browning Construction Co., one of the state’s largest contractors, to pull out of the project stunned Planned Parenthood, which denounced the boycott and said it will press on with construction to discourage similar tactics elsewhere.
The privately funded $6.2 million clinic was set to open
next fall. It would be Planned Parenthood’s first Austin clinic to offer abortions, and the fourth licensed abortion provider in Texas’ capital city. The clinic also would provide health care for women and men, including gynecological services, AIDS testing, vasectomies, cancer screening and contraceptives, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Danielle Tierney said
Danze, an ownfer of Maldonado & Danze Inc., a con-crete-foundation contractor, oversaw a telephone and letter-writing campaign urging more than 750 Austin- and San Antonio-area businesses not to provide supplies or services for the project. He recruited contractors to join what he called the Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life Association.
Soon, contractors were flooded with phone calls from the public warning them to stay away from the clinic project or face losing business.
Texas Right to Life, which claims 75,000 members, called contractors to thank them for not working on the project and to offer to share the companies’ names with the anti-abortion group’s members, spokeswoman Elizabeth Graham said.
Churches got involved, too. "When churches started asking me for lists of people who were working on the project, that’s when we turned the
comer,” Danze said.
Danze said hundreds of subcontractors agreed to boycott the project, though not all of them said whether they were anti-abortion. Some simply did not want to get involved in a controversial project, he said.
Planned Parenthood said the boycott was waged through “intimidation and harassment.”
Tiemey said one subcontractor, whom she would not identify, received more than 1,200 calls from around the country—many to his home — warning him not to participate. “This is not a simple demonstration of free speech rights,” she said.
James Browning, who runs San Antonio-based Browning Construction, said he got a polite call from Danze warning him about the boy-as
cott. Groundbreaking on the clinic was held in September, and over the next six weeks, the project ground to a halt.
“I never thought so many different trades would join in,” Browning said.
Among those boycotting were contractors in lumber, cement supply, foundation building, plumbers, heating and air-conditioning, windows, hardwood floors, roofing, insulation, landscaping and fencing, Danze said.
By the time Browning pulled out, clearing and excavation and some of the underground plumbing had been done, but the foundation had not been put in.
Planned Parenthood expects resistance whenever it builds an abortion clinic, but most of the hurdles come during the permit-issuing process.SERVICE
CONTINUED FROM Page 1A'It has a lot of social benefits’
the group has tried to find the right balance between the modern woman’s family, social, professional and civic obligations, Brandt said.
"It is kind of a struggle to keep all those things going,” she said.
Since the league was founded, more of its members than ever work.
That fact has challenged the women but has also been a blessing as a pool of professional talent and connections, members said.
“It’s hard, but the job still has to be done,” Mayo said.
The league has responded by meeting fewer times each year and meeting at night to accommodate working members.
"Under the new format,
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women also get a (sense of) camaraderie," she said.
In past years, members have worked mostly individually on service hours. Each member would work with a single organization.
"We’re trying to get folks to do it in groups,” Gray said. “Now, we’re volunteering in -groups of three to 20 members.
“It’s fun,” Gray added. "It's fun to go there with six of your friends.”
Some of the women who have been involved for some time know each other well and have become good friends.
“It has a lot of social benefits,” Gray said.
While the league is not a social club, it does allow women to meet and work side by side with similar values.
“We all have a similar goal,” Gray said, "and that is to benefit New Braunfels and make New Braunfels a better place for our families.”
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CONTINUED FROM Page 1A
State says no funds available
Drivers cut one another off, don’t allow incoming traffic onto the highway and sometimes show displeasure in ways that could escalate to violence, Scheel said.
“We’ve got to find a way to
Set 46 widened — at least om 1863 to Loop 337 — to address that,” Scheel said.
County Engineer Tom Homseth said the county had similar issues on Texas 46 between Smithson Valley Road and U.S. 281.
“We’ve got places on either end that are becoming seri-|j ous,” Homseth said.
Scheel noted that he and !' Homseth had asked TxDOT
!for years to address the “Y” intersection at Texas 46 and FM 311 without avail.
* Scheel said he’s been told that project would wait until Texas 46 improvements are scheduled. A new subdivision soon to build on FM 311 would compound problems,
I Scheel said.
i Commissioner Jay Millikin £ said: “If some of this work L doesn’t get done, all of these - places are becoming choke f points.”
Homseth noted that the list | of needed projects is far longer than the list of projects under 1 way, which includes Interstate 35 in New Braunfels, purchas-j ingofright-of-wayforU.S.281 j improvements and shoulder ; improvements on FM 1863 I from Lewis Creek to U.S. 281.
The state has been telling local authorities that no money exists for many local construction projects.
In this year’s Legislature, new law allowed for creation of a body called a Regional Mobility Authority. RMAs would provide counties with a mechanism for paying for needed road improvements by assessing tolls, fees or taxes.
Bexar County is considering establishing one. Locally, officials are studying the idea, but have made no movement in that direction.
Find out each morning with the Herald-Zeitung.
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