In August 1974, the same month that President Richard M. Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal, COPS members marched on City Hall and demanded better drainage.
Some areas of the city lacked paved streets, running water, sanitary sewer service, adequate police protection and other basics.
The group won the support of Mayor Charles Becker, who worked to pass a $46.8 million bond issue to fund long-neglected drainage projects on the West Side.
With a power base that was rooted in Catholic parishes, COPS members focused their anger in a positive way, remaining vocal but never violent, and brought lasting change.
[In photo: Candidates for District 6 listen to a question in a 1983 COPS “accountability session.” Staff File Photo, San Antonio Express-News]
Grassroots Group Energized Hispanics: COPS Launched Efforts in 1974 to Improve Basic City Services, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
After summer floods in Hidalgo County left countless homes destroyed and neighborhoods damaged, Valley Interfaith leaders researched a $190 million bond proposal to upgrade Hidalgo County’s drainage system. Leaders were soon angered to discover that almost no funding was planned to be allocated for the poorest neighborhoods of Hidalgo. “Never before has Las Milpas received money to improve the drainage in this community from Hidalgo County,” said Valley Interfaith leader Eddie Anaya.
Valley Interfaith quickly mobilized, reaching out to their elected officials and ultimately negotiating upwards of $15 million in drainage work in South Pharr and $1 million dollars for South McAllen -- not originally in the bond proposal.
Community Groups Urge 'Yes' Vote on $190 Million Bond Election, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
At a fateful meeting with the youth of Grace United Methodist Church in 2004, AMOS organizers and leaders learned that young people not involved in organized sports needed more recreational opportunities. Although several “skate zones" or "plazas” were located in neighborhood parks outside the city, there was no large dedicated skate park in the City of Des Moines.
AMOS leaders conducted research actions, including site visits to skate parks around the country, and began to build the political will for the park. At an AMOS assembly with over 200 people, leaders challenged Councilmembers Christine Hensley and Chris Coleman to support the building of a dedicated park for skateboarding. Both agreed.
Since then, AMOS leaders were at the center of action to promote the park, conducting meetings with Parks & Recreation staff and succeeding in persuading the City to build its first skate park: the Four Mile Skatepark in Northeast Des Moines as a short-term measure.
When efforts to identify funding for the larger park stalled, leaders persisted -- helping develop a plan to raise $3.5 million in private funds. Fundraising was supercharged in 2015 when The Leadership Circle of the Community Foundation awarded a challenge grant of $500,000 in the hopes of encouraging other contributions. Since then, Nix and Virginia Laurisden, for whom the park will be named, donated $1 million. Other individual donors and community foundations invested monies towards the effort.
On October 15th, a groundbreaking ceremony was organized to celebrate the culmination of this AMOS-initiated effort. The park, to be completed in 2019, will be the largest open-air skate park in the United States, with additional designs to meet Olympic-level qualifying competitions.
Skatepark Breaks Ground, Donor Backs $250K Sculpture, Business Record
Valley Interfaith leaders from South McAllen colonias -- specifically from Balboa, Hermosa and Idela -- organized a press conference calling on the City to allocate funding for neighborhoods most in need of flood assistance. With over $50 million to be invested in flooding infrastructure over the next five years, Valley Interfaith says that neighborhoods on the Southside are getting shortchanged.
Said Pastor Alejandro Flores of San Juan Diego Catholic Church, "I know McAllen is a large area, but we want the response to be proportionate to the need where ever it may be." Flores says the city itself has admitted that the southwest was one of the hardest hit areas during the floods.
[Photo Credit: Joel Martinez, The Monitor]
San Antonio Express News Calls on County Commissioners to Keep its Promise to Highland Oaks Residents and COPS/Metro
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With 21 accidents occurring at one intersection in the previous 36 months, Valley Interfaith leaders made an issue of that intersection's lack of light signal, demanding that the City of Brownsville install one to prevent further collisions. One complicating factor was the state's reluctance to pay for the improvement on the road, which is a state highway. On March 1st, the City Commissioners voted to appropriate local funds for the signal. Commissioner Jessica Tetreau credited Valley Interfaith for bringing it up.Read more