Brendan Gibbons, who covers the environment and energy for the Rivard Report, is making a big difference in San Antonio and across the region. His Sept. 25 story revealed a Houston pipeline company’s plan to build a crude oil pipeline over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

Enterprise Product Partners’ four major oil spills over the prior decade only underscored the threat to the drinking water supply for more than two million people. Hill Country landowners along the proposed pipeline route were stunned to learn the company had the legal right to seize their land by eminent domain.

The ensuing protests of some politically well-connected landowners and the impact of the widely shared news article forced the company to retreat and propose an alternative route that avoids the recharge zone.

Fast forward to Nov. 10 when Gibbons broke another important story, documenting how unscrupulous real estate investors are using public information laws to target financially troubled homeowners who suffer a cutoff of water and sewage service from the San Antonio Water System for nonpayment. The vulture investors approach the cash-strapped residents and offer below-market cash deals. 

Last week’s investigative piece by Gibbons, I predict, will lead to permanent relief for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Elected officials tell me there already is talk of seeking legislative relief or finding other ways to stop the practice. 

Gibbons’ public service journalism leaves citizens better informed, better protected, and our city and region a better place to live and work. Imagine if the pipeline and the investor scam never came to light.

Gibbons isn’t alone at the Rivard Report. My name is out there, but it’s the talented and dedicated individuals working here who deliver the real value. Their mission-driven journalism is complemented by the growing calendar of civic engagement events organized by our equally skilled business team, culminating in last week’s CityFest.

I could write multiple columns highlighting the work of each of the members of the Rivard Report newsroom team: Iris Dimmick, our longest serving reporter, who covers local government and development; Emily Donaldson and her coverage of schools and education; Scott Ball, our photo editor, and photographer Bonnie Arbittier, whose striking images of people and places in this city bring our work to life; Roseanna Garza, our health reporter; Nicholas Frank, who covers arts and culture; Shari Biediger, our business reporter; Jackie Wang, general assignment reporter; and JJ Velasquez, our technology reporter who is about to become an editor here.

After 40 years as a journalist I still look forward to each workday because of the people I work with and the difference they are making.

Please invest in the Rivard Report and its people. We aim to sign up 300 new members during our year-end membership campaign, which concludes Dec. 31. NewsMatch, the national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit newsrooms across the country, has selected the Rivard Report as one of its recipient news organizations. All new members will see donations from $25 to $1,000, which are fully tax-deductible, matched by NewsMatch.

Members represent long-term sustainability for the Rivard Report. If you have never worked in a fundraising role for a nonprofit, you might think growing our membership base by 300 individuals and businesses in a city of more than 1.5 million people would be easy. It isn’t.

San Antonio has the highest poverty rate of the top 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. There are thousands of nonprofits out there working to better schools, families, and mental health services and to address hunger and homelessness, support the arts, find homes for stray animals, and more. Winning hearts and minds – and donations – is hard work.

We ask you to join now and help us achieve our goal and finish the year strongly. If you already are a member, please renew before your membership expires, and please consider increasing your support as we increase the work we do for you.

The year 2019 has been a good one at the Rivard Report. We are bullish on 2020. We see daily readership, newsletter subscribers, social media following, event audiences, and yes, the membership base, all growing robustly.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and thanks in advance to all our new members who decide to join now.

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.