Page 18


THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17 ft\\\\T,fiVePriC+A% .. Alan Pogue The people’s lobby in Austin Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, declaring “in my state, we take people at their word,” on April 24 sent a similar salvo to White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, who is now handling the TIES decision. Asking why the White House response is taking so long, the governor pulled on his boots and wrote, “My office has not heard anything from you all.” Describing the delay as “inconceivable,” Bush asked BoWles, “Please do us a favor and decide. Texas deserves an answer, and you ought to give us one.” As of April 30, Them All in Washington had no comment. THE PEOPLE’S LOBBY. Fifteen hundred grassroots lobbyists from the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation’s Network of Organizations gathered in Austin on April 14 to urge a House-Senate conference committee to allocate $5 million per year for the statewide Alliance Schools Initiative and to dedicate $52 million of the $352 million surplus in federal block grant funds to job-training programs that IAF organizations have established in several Texas cities. Graduates of Project QUEST in San Antonio, Workpaths in Dallas, VIDA in the Rio Grande Valley, and Synergy in Fort Worth met with legislators to press them to set aside the federal funding. Project QUEST graduate Thelma Riojaswho was working for poverty wages and living in public housing when she connected with Project QUESTwas one of the program graduates who traveled to Austin to tell their stories to legislators in hopes of winning support for the program. Riojas has recently purchased a home and is earning $30,000 a year working as an occupational therapist. Some fifteen senators and representatives joined the midday rally to express their support for the group’s request for job training and Alliance School funding. “Don’t waste time on us,” Austin Representative Sherri Greenberg said to the crowd of 1,500 on the Capitol steps. “Go inside and talk to the representatives that aren’t coming out here to meet with you.” After the rally, Brenda Shell of Dallas sat in the rotunda waiting for the House to adjourn so that she could meet with Tern Hodge, a freshman Democrat from Dallas. “The message is simple,” Shell said. “Roosevelt High School didn’t know where to turn with all of its problems five years ago. It was one of the first Alliance Schools in the state, and the program has made it a good, safe school. And if the government is serious about moving people off welfare, we have to have good job training programs. The ones we’re supporting are already working.” See “Political Intelligence,” page 28 MAX 9, 1997