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ART4m;a1 =0,M A A family at home in an Hidalgo County colonia Louis Dubose Antonio, El Paso and Beaumont received much less funding. And Dallas/Fort Worth received far more funding \(45 percent of all of the state’s population and the state’s unemployment population warranted. The report concluded, in part: “Considering that Smart Jobs money is not being concentrated in areas of the state with the greatest workforce related problems, it would appear the Department is providing money where businesses want to spend it, not where it is most needed.” This inequity caught attention of Valley Interfaith. Sister Maria Sanchez asked Representative Oliveira to work with the organization to ensure that Smart Jobs money is used for high-wage jobs in the Valley. Oliveira replied: “No es una promesa es una garantia.” Corpus Christi Senator Carlos Truan promised the same thing. When Comptroller John Sharp, running for Lieutenant Governor, was asked to target state-funded training dollars for high-skill, high-wage jobs, his answer was: “Mi respuesto a su pregunta es Si, Si, Si. For too long in the Valley in Texas we’ve had lowwage, low-skill jobs. Valley families deserve to be families, too, and we’re going to put high-skill, high-wage jobs in the Valley.” \(Sharp’s Republican opponent, Rick Perry, declined an invitation to attend the convention, apparently still running in or recovAnd so it went. Railroad commission hopefuls Tony Garza and Joe Henderson were asked, if they are elected, to set up a meeting between Valley Interfaith and Union Pacific to address railroad accidents and safety in the Valley. Garza said: “Esta situacion demande action imediatamente.” Henderson said he was advocating an emergency response plan for each community, adding, “The Democratic Party has stood by the Hispanic community.” Also under discussion was the INS commitment to speed up the processing of legal residents awaiting naturalization. Currently 25,000 Valley residents are waiting to be interviewed to begin the process to become citizens of the United States. Local school superintendents said they’d support increasing the number of Alliance schools, and state Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville said, “We’re going to do everything we can to get more money [for Al liance schools] in the next session.” Reverend Bart Flaat helped end the session with the reminder: “It is easy for public officials to say yes in front of 7,000 people. It takes hard work to get the yes done from saying this to doing this.” Amen. With the Mariachi Coyote playing as people filed back to their buses, Noelia Espinosa, a Valley Interfaith leader since its inception, considered the group’s first fifteen years. “Now we have a lot more respect,” she said. “It was hard work. The education of our grassroots is the main difference. Where else do you see 7,000 people come together in separate meetings to learn about how much people earn? Seven thousand people came because they learned about this [living wage] issue and they’re tired of low wages. The organization is here to stay. Children of the older leaders are leaders now. I teach government at PSJA [Pharr-San Juan-Alamo] High School. This is a good lesson. We’ve come of age.” Geoff Rips has been covering Valley Interfaith since its inception. APRIL 24, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5