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C.O.P. sf. owners organized as the San Antonio Small Business Association, who vowed they’d never give the Catholic church another penny as long as it continued to support C.O.P.S. got the council, in 1975, to lower a proposed 30 percent rate hike by the City . Water Board to 19 percent. this year, got the council to end the practice of giving home developers material for their on-site water mains. Also, to rule that, henceforth, CWB development funds will be used to provide “front end” money within city limits only, thereby ending one form of subsidy for development outside city boundaries. also spurred the council to rule that henceforth reimbursements of CWB development funds from the CWB general fund will be on a case-by-case basis, and not in annual lump sums. \(Seems the development funds had been supposed to “revolve,” but never did; it was a case of $3.8 million expended by CWB, versus only $1.2 last December, tactically and temporarily joined forces with Faye Sinkin’s Aquifer Protection Association to deal resounding defeat, by referendum, to a zoning decision that would have permitted the biggest-yet shopping mall to be built smack dab over the aquifer recharge zone. most thrilling of all, shot completely out of the saddle a plan whereby the city would have spent $1.3 million of its community development funds to purchase Pecan Valley golf course. The money was diverted to drainage improvements in southeast San Antonio. And this is not a complete list of C.O.P.S. accomplishments, merely of its most clearcut contributions to political instability. Viewed from the perspective of how much C.O.P.S. has attempted, or how much remains to be done, it seems a modest set of achievements. But it apparently sufficed to rouse real alarm in power circles of the Alamo City. C.O.P.S. has long laundry list of demands and “action” projects, touching every social and economic friction point in town: *capital investment in drainage, parks, and paving, *an end to ill-conceived freeways which serve only to accelerate middle-class flight to the suburbs, *rehabilitation of blighted older areas through moderate and low-income housing loans and enforcement of ordinances or zoning against junkyards and other public nuisances, *no more overcrowded, dilapidated, inadequate schools, *equitable geographic distribution of city public libraries, *establishment of a full-scale junior college branch in the southwest part of the city, *equitable city-county school tax appraisal. The organization is also closely monitoring City Public Service, the electric and gas utility. C.O.P.S. is one force that has helped stiffen spines in the city council against an out-of-court settlement of San Antonio’s suit against Coastal States/Lo-Vaca Gathering Co., to the intense frustration of “practical” types like CPS board chairman Tom Berg. To balance the tale of successes at city hall, one must note that C.O.P.S. made slower headway against the bureaucracy in the public schools. For a year, they got the old administrative run-around from San Antonio I.S.D. on such matters as the adoption of school bus safety standards or the decision to build a new, $1.6 million administration building rather than refurbish decrepit classrooms. So C.O.P.S. held a school board candidates’ accountability night in March, at which eight people seeking two vacant places unanimously pledged themselves to support the organization’s demands. After the election, the new school board was notably more responsive to C.O.P.S. The members began to meet at night and in neighborhood schools and to hear citizens’ presentations first, before voting on the issues concerned. They also revoked, in effect, the midnight contract made by the old board for the new administration building, which got them sued for $1.2 million by the contractor. The case was finally settled out of court for $120,000. And they accepted a C.O.P.S. list of priorities for refurbishing rundown schools. Action chairperson Mrs. Linda Avena says C.O.P.S. has succeeded in reprogramming about $200,000 for this purpose. When did all this get started? It is no accident that C.O.P.S.’ principal achievements float on water. San Antoniothe old town, not the new, northwestward-ho partlies in a bowl. When it rains, water runs in. When it stops, water stands. And stands. Especially in the south and west quadrants, where the majority of C.O.P.S. members live. Most people date the formal birth of Communities Organized for Public Service from the big rains of the summer of 1974, when indignation against long-standing drainage grievances finally overflowed. To attend that nighttime hearing of the city council on how to spend Revenue Sharing money was to hear it all. C.O.P.S. had a turnout in the hundreds. When Andres Sarabia, the C.O.P.S. president, rose to present the general case that RS funds should be used to meet drainage and other capital improvement needs of the older, neglected areas of the city, a dozen C.O.P.S. members stood behind him, waving signs that read: CERALVO STREETA GREAT PLACE FOR FROGS; COME TO CERALVO STREET AND DROWN. Sarabia said the city council should stop spending RS funds on “soft” projects \(Family Services, the San Antonio Ballet Company, and the Salvation Army were also should meet capital expenditures with the regular municipal budget, rather than from windfall money. Mrs. Beatrice Gallego, executive vice president of C.O.P.S., followed his impassioned words with clear, precise, unemotional remarks: C.O.P.S. sought no handouts; it simply wanted the services and programs which citizens in other Texas cities took for granted. But it had yet to see a focused plan of action by the council. After her came a parade of 11 C.O.P.S. geographical area representatives, each asking for specific drainage projects, and reminding the council of unfulfilled past promises. It was a wretched litany of cracking plaster and stagnant, pestilential water, of home improvement loans “red-lined” by lending agencies on grounds of inadequate flood control, of stalled cars and wet-brake accidents preventing breadwinners from getting to work, of children obliged to wade through knee-deep streets to school or swept away and drowned in arroyos. They knew the exact designation numbers: “. . . the sixty-one series projects K, L, M, and N, for which $3.5 million in bond money already exists . . . .” Some of these projects had been put off as long as twenty-five, in some cases forty years. “When a bond issue passes, you’re not really voting for those specific items on that issue,” Andres Sarabia said in an interview. “All you’re voting for is that block of money.” The city is not legally bound to spend it in the way described on the ballot, and the history of such bonds is one of developer pressure “reprogramming” actual capital expenditures. C.O.P.S. has begun a little “reprogramming” of its own. It claims to have shaken loose more than $70 million in drainage, street improvement and parks money from city hall. Not bad, for openers, but a long way from $124 million “alternate budget” C.O.P.S. urged on the council for 1976. Some things C.O.P.S. gets may look like pretty small potatoes to big-time spenders from other towns. Such as the new pedestrian bridge across the Missouri-Pacific tracks at South Zarzamora and Frio City November 12, 1976 3