The Judge and the Mayor San Antonio The 30-minute spook TV show that helped defeat Cty. Judge Charles Grace for renomination here was based in part, Grace charges, on a remark attributed to him that he never said. The show quoted Grace as having said he was going to stick his thumb into every pie in Bexar County \(see that,” Grace said: “Last March there was the military ball, and a cocktail-supper was held beforehand, with dignitaries to be in the grand march. I went back to the bar, and Mayor W. W. McAllister stopped me. There was another person, a lady, there. He said, ‘Well Hi, Charlie. You know I really like you. You’re a really fine guy. There’s only one thing I don’t like, and that’s you’re always putting your finger in my political pie.’ “I said, ‘Mayor, that’s where you and I differ,’ and I winked at the lady with us. ‘It’s not your political pie, it’s not my political pie, it’s the people’s pie’.” That is the only place the quote wrongly attributed to him could have come from, Grace charged. McAllister is a Republican ; Grace, a liberal Democrat. Grace said that in addition to the 30minute TV program, a presentation was made, using slides, to many groups of businessmen and professional people in the auditorium of the San Antonio Savings and Loan Assn. The theme, he said, was “The Pena-PASO-Grace Power Grab.” Grace said a businessman who attended one of these sessions, Joe Masterpool, told him that at one point, Mayor McAllister said to the group, “We North Side whites have got to get together, or the Negroes, Mexicans, and other minorities are going to take over this town if Grace is re-elected’.” El what’s going on, and what they can do. If say, a gang member who is a fall guy in a crime is about to be let take the rap, his gang might decide that he will have to suffer much more than the guy who did the deed, so they agree the real culprit should turn himself in, and he does. isn’t there a danger to this work for Valdez? “Oh yes. You might get in a crossfire between gangs, some summer at night, the groups moving together, you feel something has to be done . . . you know all the boys. Some of them might be under the influence of alcohol.” That hasn’t happened to him, but once or twice questions have been raised, and they have been cleared up. He said he has never been threatened. He feels the boys regard him “as somebody they can come to that would understand them. Oh, they hit you for a nickle . . .” They come in their natural groups, 18 or 20 boys at a time, to the center, for recreation, a business meeting, election of officers. Valdez lives next door to the agency and is on call seven days and nights a week. One time a boy asked him for a lift and he caught on that the boy was using the ride to get a gun; he gave him what-for. “I went to a dance one time with five guys carrying knives. The boys themselves through the Teen-Age Council and the Captains Committee,” a committee of athletic team captains, “have decided that everybody must be searched at a dance, because they don’t trust each other.” So Valdez asked the five boys he was with to leave their knives in the car, and they did. They might not realize it, Valdez said, but being out with him nights gives them status. Once he and some of the boys were driving at night, and a police car followed them. The boys asked Valdez not to stop unless he was stopped. The policeman stopped them and demanded to know who they were; when Valdez identified himself, the policeman recognized him and told them to go on; they got a bang out of this. “They’re temperamental. Their way to work things out is by force. This is probably all they have known,” Valdez said. “I work on this ideayou gotta live with your reputation. You just don’t go and shoot somebody or hit somebody and the whole thing dies there. Your past catches up with you. A married man was knifed at a dance he didn’t know who did it, but they said his name as they knifed him. He told me, ‘Yeah, I gotta hell of a past. Now I’m sorry.’ “Many of these guys who get out of prison know it’s not a bed of roses. But the kids look up to him, and he eats this up. I ask him if he wants his younger brother to go through it. ‘Heck, no.”Well, why don’t you tell ’em the truth? Tell ’em what it’s like to work in the fields without water all day, about that time in the hole.’ From them it means more.” Out of about 2,000 boys he works with, there are just five who are “college material,” he said, but there’s at least one boy in every group who could make it under the right circumstances. “Their idea of the value of education is practically nil because their parents finished maybe three grades. In countless houses you don’t see a sign of a book.’ Although the public library in the area closes at five, sometimes a teacher manages to get a promising student some material. The majority, though, drop out at the seventh or eighth grade as the teachers tighten up on academic standards. Valdez \(and other social workers in San “kick-outs,” because the schools kick them out, ask them not to come back, or accept failure with them. “I find, not necessarily prejudice, but a tremendous lack of understanding between cultures and classes,” Valdez said. “We really are so separate. They don’t know the background of the home. Either the kid fits into the curriculum, or he’s out. Language is a barrier. Many do excellently in shop.” A majority of the Mexican-Americans in junior high don’t really read or write English or Spanish, he said. The scholarships available are out of the question for them, since the scholarships go to A and B students. In a public dispute with the schools, Valdez was concerned that students were being suspended because of dyed hair or lice in their hair ; once, he said, 42 kids were suspended because it was thought they’d been speaking Spanish. When he goes to school officials, he said, they may be glad that he is working with the gangs and glad to have him get their auditorium or playing field for them, but he tells them what help is that ?these are the same boys you kicked out. He proposes that instead of kicking them out, they be let meet together in afternoon sessions and hear from their older brothers who know the value of education. Special classes could be held for them, too, asking them what their problems are, using, with them, tutors who are available among students at San Antonio College or Our Lady of the Lake, Valdez said. nothing else but build up their own leadership. . . . It does little good to bring qualified people into the community. They leave and it’s back where it was. Coming from the same community, I see the lack of leadership.” He was pleased to be able to work 13 of his boys into leadership roles in projects of SANYO, the San Antonio Neighborhood Youth Organization. He tries to help them get into league sports and to carry on with their own younger brothers “so they won’t fall back to where they were. It’s slow, but you can see them becoming typical teenagers. They find out the doors are there. Now they know how to go in.” WE DROVE THEN to a public housing unit, where elementary school-age children were adding and subtracting on blackboards in the center’s extension study hall there. The Anglo manager of the housing project, a woman, began telling him, in a tiredly inflamed way, what had been going on since last they’d talked. Call him Joe, her real burdenhe had beaten kids up, he went across the way there and broke out ten windows. He was involved in a killing, Valdez put in for the reporter’s knowledge. A gang from here had gone over and roughed up another territory, she went on; eleven windshields were shot out with .22’s. “I heard about 13 shots of a rapid-action .22,” he said. She spoke of a bomb that had been lobbed into a house two weeks before. The boy it was meant for wasn’t home. They had come after him, she said, “because he’d been over there shooting at them and breaking their windows for.so long.” She’d seen a piece of the stolen bombshe held her hands to indicate a piece as big as a large grapefruit. Perhaps it had come from a military base. “This is my ideal,” he said, “that if I do June 10, 1966 5
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