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Pho to by Ala n Pog ue Frequent flooding causes sewage from outhouses to enter vens used for drinking water. Pho to by Ala n Pog ue Outhouse with make-shift shower in a project believe the fact that President Reagan is running for re-election might bring official action in favor of the Valley Interfaith proposal. Others are less optimistic, believing the Valley’s traditionally Democratic vote will tip the balance the other way. On the day of the project’s unveiling, Katherine Anderson, associate director of the White House Cabinet office, said, “We look forward to receiving the proposal and having Valley Interfaith back in Washington to discuss some of the specifics.” She said the proposed project will be studied, along with other proposed border-area projects in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. What are the chances that Reagan administration officials will approve a project of such magnitude even in an election year? Project proponents point out that the project will result in a reduction in farmworker dependence on strained welfare and public assistance networks. Since the Reagan administration claims to endorse a work-oriented approach, wouldn’t the Valley Interfaith plan offer an alternative to traditional welfare programs? Imagine, in this election year, President Reagan flying all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley to give a speech on his endorsement of the $66.7 million public works proposal and on actions by the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Commerce Department to relinquish part of their 2 % discretionary funds to put unemployed farmworkers back to work. Imagine CBS, ABC, and NBC news teams filming Reagan’s presence in traditionally Democratic country with commentators perhaps suggesting that, finally, Reagan has countered the Demo ing their pesos into the economy. Already unemployment had climbed to 17 and 18 percent in some areas, and sales tax revenue lost to Valley cities had made a dent in future projects. Already hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid have been delivered to the Rio Grande Valley by state officials. Thousands are being fed weekly in Texas Department of Human Resourcesfunded soup lines. What distinguishes Valley Interfaith’s proposal is the jobs aspect and the wages. And wages comprise 73 % of total project costs. The project would employ unemployed farmworkers and others in various labor-intensive public works project categories in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr. and Willacy counties. Project categories include: Drainage canal clean-up to avert future flooding and health hazards through removal of the buildup of dead brash and other vegetation; street and alley clean-up and repairs and repainting of street signs, curbs, hydrants, park and recreational facilities; clean-up of vacant lots; repair of aging municipal buildings and facilities; and, finally, the replanting of the palms and non-indigenous shrubs fatally damaged by the freeze. But these categories could be altered for the benefit of individual cities. For example, Pharr officials envision using the more than $2.6 million designed for their town to expand their sewage treatment facilities, build a Boys Club and expand crowded municipal facilities. Other cities probably have similar projects in mind, at a time when municipal officials are having increasing difficulty obtaining grants for facilities upgrading through the traditional federal routes. Colonias rural, unincorporated communities in the Valley would also Valley colonia near Alamo. crats% charges that he’s unconcerned about unemployment, about the fate of the poor, that he continually sacrifices social spending in favor of national defense. Imagine, if you will, Reagan in an auditorium in Brownsville, Harlingen, or McAllen, speaking to assembled Valley Interfaith delegates. Would this turn the tide for Reagan in the Valley? Such considerations cannot be ignored in an election year. And what would such a project’s impact be on the colonias, cities, and counties, the infrastructure of roads, streets and utilities in an area which has been traditionally ignored? According to Valley Interfaith research figures, the December freeze eliminated 20,000 jobs. In a five-week period, wages lost amounted to $13.4 million. This, in an area still staggering from blows exacted by the Mexican peso devaluations, which all but eliminated the crowds of Mexican shoppers pump THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5