ALS 0 00 Inn 0 Kitchenettes Cable TV Heated Pool e heAide the Gulf of Mexico on /Witching IS”/\(mil o il Available for private parties Unique European Charm ,_: ,Aunasphere v .0,noinical spring and smnincr Rate, 00. Pets Welcome it 1423 11th Street 110 , 0 Port Aransas, TX 78373 ‘$ S call f or Reservations / ..21.% ,46 %, …121w.4. %u p Irs …….. or , ‘%4 Sea Horse liance Schools program, providing new state funding for new education strategies. So was this simply a celebration of 20 years of achievement? A celebration of the replacement of local oligarchy with democracy? Was anyone standing up in front of 5,000-plus delegates saying, as we do on Passover, “Dayenu \(It would have been “Congratulations, but don’t rest on your laurels,” Old Testament scholar’ Ernie Cortes shouted to the convention not long after it began. “You’ve got a lot of work to do… Make sure they can hear you in Austin and Washington, D.C. Make sure this convention stands for something.” Am I getting older or is COPS getting younger? One thing this convention clearly stood for was a generational change. While the first presidents of COPS sat or stood at the back of the stage, COPS leader Martha Tovar declared: “We are a new generation following in the footsteps of our courageous first leaders.” In contrast to COPS’s 10th anniversary convention, dominated by past presidents and COPS veterans, this convention was led by a few of the original leaders who were joined by a host of younger leaders, including Lydia Ibarra, a Flanders Elementary Alliance School parent; Betty Jean Huerta, a single parent who was able to buy a home through a COPS initiative; John Acosta, a father of two who had been laid off after 15 years on the job and is now at Palo Alto Community College in the second year of the Project QUEST job training program; Teri Morado, co-chair of COPS’s education committee and Rita Cardenas-Gamez, a leader of Our Lady of Guadalupe COPS. If you are talking about drainage or streets or garbage dumps, it makes more sense that a long-time resident or homeowner in an affected neighborhood becomes the family member most engaged by the organization. If you organize in churches, again the older adults in a family would in many cases be the most likely to become involved in an organization. But if you begin to talk about schools, first-time home buying and job training, you are suddenly talking directly to the interests of people in their 20s and 30s. And so, COPS’ agenda for change is centered around housing, job training and schools. At the convention, representatives from Frost National Bank, Broadway National Bank, USAA, Texas Commerce Bank and NationsBank pledged $110 million to back a COPS initiative to provide loans to families purchasing or rehabilitating inner-city homes. Broadway Bank President Charles Cheever told those assembled: “Twenty years ago, I was one of those business men who was quaking in his boots when I heard Mr. Ernie Cortes and the IAF was coming to town. We all subscribed to Rules for Radicals [by IAF founder Saul Alinsky].” Cheever now chairs the IAF Project QUEST job training projectnow a target for Rush Limbaugh, a clear indication that QUEST must be on the right track. COPS and the Metro Alliance worked with the City of San Antonio to provide after-school tutoring and recreational programs in 60 schools, serving 15,000 children. Mayor Nelson Wolff was on hand to pledge support for an additional 75 elementary and middle schools. Comptroller John Sharp agreed to work with the Texas IAF Network to increase funding and flexibility for the restructured Alliance schools created by the IAF organizations. Sharp told the gathering that, while the state’s past economic well-being was based in agriculture and oil, “the future is people, people, people.” Eseuche us “Every success you’ve had has demonstrated that something can be done, that problems of the community can be solved by the community,” Governor Richards told the convention, while pledging to put up $500,000 in discretionary funding to be matched by COPS from other funding for Project QUEST. The governor punctuated her speech with the refrain: Escacheme [listen to me]. \(Her pronunciation of the “me” with an English long “e” sound instead of the Spanish long “a” brought laughter from the delegates and accentuated her emphasis “Escacheme,” she said. “The reason these programs are working is because you the people are making it happen…and you must continue the fight to keep it or they will take it away.” We all seemed to know who “they” are. As she spoke, it dawned on me, that what is occurring in San Antonio and in varying degrees around the state is the creation of a new agenda for economic development and education in the statean agenda created in house meetings and parish halls, percolating into the consciousness of a state bereft of solutions to large problems. In the late 1970s, COPS restructured the federal grant process for the city’s infrastructure by developing a counter-budget based in real community needs and a political will to see that grassroots budget to fruition. The same may be happening on a state levelas Project QUEST restructures the job training process to meet the real needs of the unemployed and industry, as the Alliance Schools provide a mechanism for communities to restructure their public schools for the 21st century. Here they are, 20 years later, with new, young leaders, a history longer than that of almost every politician now in office, and an agenda for change. Escache them. This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. BUT DO NOT DESPAIR! roll , THE TEXAS li OP server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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