COPS/Metro Leverages $15 Per Hour Living Wage in San Antonio Draft Budget

[Excerpt below]

For the first time in city history, the lowest-paid municipal workers are set to begin earning $15 an hour — a major victory for COPS/Metro Alliance, which has been advocating for a living wage for several years.

Scully to Present $2.8 Billion Budget with Flat Tax Rate, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


COPS / Metro Says, "Let the Children Play"

Early this year, 200 COPS/Metro leaders assembled to fight for the future of Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy.  One issue raised by leaders was the restriction of children from access to a playground that had been fenced off because debris from a vacant, crumbling building could potentially hit children.  Though the SAISD building had lain vacant for 20 years, with no plans in place for renovation or replacement, COPS / Metro leaders accepted a commitment from a sitting Council Member to identify funding for its renovation. 

With a new school year approaching, and no money in sight, leaders are insisting that the building must be removed so that children can be granted access to their playground.  The San Antonio Express News agrees, stating:

The desire to preserve what once was is commendable, but in this case it obscures the present...

It’s time to move forward, and let the kids play.

[Photo Credit: Josh Brodesky, Express News]

City Should Let SAISD Tear Down School, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


TMO Leverages Commitment of First City in Texas for 'Do Not Stand Idly By' Strategy

At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety. 

The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy.  Rabbi Mosbacher described the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign as a market-based approach to entice gun manufacturers to develop safe(r) gun technologies that make it more difficult for stolen guns to  be used and / or sold on the black market.  Cortes described the importance of building lasting power through relationships and community organizing.  Chief Acevedo expressed his support for the strategy, and agreed to sign on.

This win makes Houston the second major US city to sign on to the campaign, Los Angeles being the first due to efforts by One LA.

HPD Joins Do Not Stand Idly By Campaign, Which Aims to Bring Down Gun Violence by Upping Gun Industry Standards, CW39 Houston

Houston Might Join Campaign for Gun Safety Focusing on Manufacturer, Houston Public Media

Lanzan Una Campaña Enfocada en Prevenir la Violencia con Armas de Fuego en Houston, Univisión


EPISO, Border Interfaith Call for Humane Immigration Policy

[Excerpt below]

"In light of ...sacred traditions and in light of our immigrant story as a nation, EPISO and Border Interfaith call upon the federal government to negotiate a fair and humane immigration reform policy that serves the common good of both our country and those who seek a better life here, fleeing from fear and violence in their countries..."

Read Statement below:

EPISO, Border Interfaith Call for Human Immigration Policy, El Paso Times [pdf]

[Photo Credit: Mark Lambie, El Paso Times]


COPS/Metro Says City Should Fulfill Promise of 'New Money' for Housing Repairs, San Antonio Express News Agrees

[Excerpts below]

It was celebrated as millions in new funding for housing renovation.

Last August, at a time when federal funds for home repairs and renovations for low-income homeowners appeared to be dwindling, the city had “found” $4.7 million to bolster those efforts, tapping unspent federal housing grants. This would be in addition to $1.8 million in new funding. Together, the $6.5 million would repair 81 homes.

But it turns out much of that $4.7 million was already allocated to home repair projects. It might not have been spent, but it also wasn’t available.

“The money was not there,” said Maria Tijerina of COPS/Metro Alliance. “It wasn’t new money. It was old money.”

....“This wasn’t some misunderstanding,” said Walker Moore, interim lead organizer for COPS/Metro.

To the degree possible, the city should apply new funds to home repairs for the upcoming budget — funds that can be spent and honor what COPS/Metro and others thought was happening in August.

[Photo Credit: Carolyn Van Houten / San Antonio Express News]

Read more

San Antonio Catholic Archbishop Calls for Action on Immigration

[Excerpts below]

Immigration was the urgent topic when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS took the stage at COPS/Metro's "A Cry for Justice and a Call to Action" assembly at Our Lady of the Lake University on June 18, 2018. "We live in very challenging times. Basic institutions of justice are being attacked. People are suffering needlessly," the archbishop declared to a packed auditorium. "This is a time of crisis. We have to make a decision. Do we go along with or challenge these trends?"

The assembly, which had been months in the planning, took on an air of urgency and drew a standing-room-only crowd as it coincided with a particularly tense week in the nation's debate on immigration policy. News had just broken of the Trump administration's policy of separating detained children from their parents - a policy Archbishop Gustavo strongly condemned in his speech as "immoral," "evil," and sinful," echoing similar sentiments expressed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops....

After [hearing a challenge by the Bishop and a DACA participant], faith communities caucused in small groups, then they answered... by pledging to collect 11,500 postcards to be mailed to Texas' congressional representatives in Washington. Archbishop Gustavo took the symbolic first step of signing his name on the first postcards, which will be mailed to Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn."

Archbishop Gustavo Urges Action on Immigration at COPS / Metro Assembly, Today's Catholic

San Antonio Archbishop Calls Separation of Families Immoral, Evil and Sinful, NOWCastSA


Bastrop Interfaith: Sheriff Maurice Targeted Latino Neighborhood

"....on June 23, five deputies from the Sheriff's office appeared to be stationed at or near the Stoney Point community. People were stopped for speeding and DUI, which is appropriate. But they were also stopped for allegedly failing to use turn indicators, once for allegedly failing to use turn indicators within 500 feet of the intersection; for a broken or burnt out tail light; and for having mud on their license plate. These were very minor traffic infractions. To many, this appeared to be a targeted effort to locate and detain undocumented people. As previously reported, 23 Hispanics were arrested of which 13 were taken and moved into deportation proceedings.

By this action, which appears to have been against immigrants, the Sheriff has not increased people's confidence in law enforcement, which is what we had sought and strived to obtain in our prior dialogue with the Sheriff. This causes us serious concern and raises question of credibility in that dialogue...."

[Photo Credit: Ralph Barrera, Austin American Statesman]

Full Statement Here

'Zero Tolerance' Arrests Put 13 in ICE Custody, 'Had Nothing to Do With Immigration', Texas Sheriff Says, Miami Herald

El Aguacil del Condado Bastrop Rompe el Silencio Sobre el Operativo de Tránsito Donde Fueron Detenidos Varios Inmigrantes Indocumentados, Univision Austin

Bastrop Sheriff: Traffic Stop Had 'Nothing to Do with Immigration', Austin American Statesman

Faith Group Blasts Sheriff for Traffic Crackdown, Deportations, Austin American Statesman

Residents Concerned After Traffic Arrests Lead to ICE Detentions, Spectrum News

Del Valle Neighborhood On Edge After Drivers Caught in Traffic Sting Are Turned Over to ICE, KUT 90.5

Líderes Religiosos de Bastrop Cuestionan Detenciones de Inmigrantes en Operativo de Tránsito, Univision

Bastrop Interfaith Leader Speaks Out Against Deportations Stemming from Traffic Operation, KVUE

Bastrop Interfaith Exige Un Fin a la Política de Cero Tolerancia en su Condado, Telemundo

Bastrop County Sheriff Defends Traffic Enforcement Sting, KXAN


COPA Clergy Demand Local Action in Support of Immigrants

“Are we truly welcoming to immigrants if they don’t have decent housing, equitable healthcare and mental health access, and are being preyed upon by unjust lenders or landlords?” asks Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos (Central California).

The COPA Immigration Campaign team organized a press conference to announce theirfocus on securing commitments from local officials to collaborate with COPA on issues affecting immigrant families: housing, healthcare, education, safety and economic development. COPA leaders plan to further recognize these commitments at its 15th Anniversary Convention on September 30th.

[Photo Credit: Jack Herbig]

Photo Album Here

COPA to Hold Prayer Service in Salinas to Help Immigrants, Monterey Herald

Oped by Beatriz Trujillo


Valley Interfaith Tells Senators Cornyn & Cruz: Reunite the Children Quickly & Stop Detaining Families

In the hubbub surrounding a meeting with US Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Valley Interfaith leaders spoke up forcefully to press the issue of the reunification of children with their parents.

[Excerpt from Rio Grande Guardian report below]

"Valley Interfaith urged Congress, to reunite the 2,300-plus children who are currently in custody with their parents and electronically monitor, rather than detain theses families.

Also, it urged that pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and pediatric nurses be sent to the centers, especially those centers specializing in infants and to take swift action because under the so-called Flores Settlement, the detention of minors with or without the parents can only last up to 20 days.

“The president was the one who created this problem, through the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ policy. If you cross illegally, they will arrest you for a crime and by law they will separate you from the children, that is the problem,” Anaya said.

“We are telling them (Texas’ two senators), now we need them to pass legislation to resolve the problem, because we believe this problem will be resolved by legislation, not by executive orders; not by the president, but by their leadership.”"

[Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool, Dallas Morning News]

Senators: We Don't Know When Immigrant Families Will Be Reunited, Rio Grande Guardian

Pause At the Border? Friday Marks First Day in a Month That No Parents, Children Separated in McAllen, Dallas Morning News

Trump Caves, Plenty of Reaction, Rio Grande Guardian

Cruz, Cornyn Joining Another Wave of Congressional Visits Amid Family Separations Outrage, The Monitor

Sister Norma, the Border's Fiercest Fighter, is 'Astute as a Serpent, and Gentle as a Dove', Dallas Morning News


Together Baton Rouge Wins Pay Hike for Teachers, Bus Drivers

After a hard fight, Together Baton Rouge and allies won a salary increase for every teacher, para-professional, bus operator or other East Baton Rouge school district employee with two or more years at the district.

According to The Advocate:

"As they have at several previous meetings, employee groups — Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union and the East Baton Rouge Bus Driver’s Association — pressed once again for raises for all the district employees. The groups have joined forces with the faith-based group Together Baton Rouge to press the issue as well as to push the school system to reject all future requests from manufacturers for property tax breaks via the state’s 80-year-old Industrial Tax Exemption Program. They want the school system to use any ITEP savings to increase employees pay."

Leaders commended the school board and Superintendent Drake for this action, while acknowledging that more work remains to be done to secure salaries. In their words: "this was a big, big step."

[Photo Credit: The Advocate]

EBR School Board OK's $473M Budget, The Advocate [pdf]



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