From the Archives: COPS Launched Efforts in 1974 to Improve Basic City Services
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]
Valley Interfaith Fights for Drainage Bond to Prevent Future Flood Damage in Las Milpas
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.
Valley Interfaith Endorses Drainage Proposition, The Monitor [pdf]
Community Groups Urge 'Yes' Vote on $190 Million Bond Election, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
AMOS-Initiated Skate Park Breaks Ground in Des Moines
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.
14 Years in the Making, Construction on Des Moines' Skate Park is Officially Underway, Des Moines Register
Skatepark Breaks Ground, Donor Backs $250K Sculpture, Business Record
AMOS Seeks Welfare of the City: Extended Library Hours, Park Lighting and Infrastructure in Lower Income Zip Codes
Leaders packed a church hall to engage Des Moines candidates around including AMOS priorities in key investments in lower income areas of the city. Candidates who participated and agreed to support the agenda included: Scott Sanders (Des Moines City Manager), Frank Cownie (Des Moines Mayor), Chris Coleman (Des Moines City Councilmember), Josh Mandelbaum (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 3), and Linda Westergaard (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 4).
The City Manager committed to including AMOS priorities in a one-cent local option sales tax increase planned for March 2019. AMOS priorities included: expansion of library hours to at least 6 days per week, lighting in two inner city parks, addressing the growing number of dilapidated/abandoned homes in 50314 and 50316 zip codes, doubling the number of rental housing inspectors, startup funds for a children's mental health crisis unit / observation center, and basic infrastructure improvements (i.e. streets, sidewalks, sewers, and snow removal).
Leaders plan to follow up with public officials who made commitments in early 2019 to ensure their fulfill their pledges.
Group Pushes Des Moines to Use Sales Tax Money to Extend Library Hours, Des Moines Register
Valley Interfaith Fights for Flood Relief for McAllen Colonias
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]
Frustrated South McAllen Residents Plead for Relief from June Rains, The Monitor [pdf]
Hardest Hit Flood Areas Say Not Enough Projects Being Proposed, KVEO [pdf]
San Antonio Express News Calls on County Commissioners to Keep its Promise to Highland Oaks Residents and COPS/Metro
Citing the public safety hazard to children that current road conditions pose, the San Antonio Express-News urged the Bexar County Commissioners court to keep the momentum going on stalled road renovations.Read more
EPISO & Border Interfaith Extend Water Lines into Colonia Island
Over 20 years ago, a developer in the City of El Paso bought acreage in an undeveloped plot of land, an "island" landlocked by, but not included within, El Paso's municipal boundaries. The developer recorded the purchase with the County, but then â€” unbeknownst to anyone â€” illegally partitioned the land and sold the reduced-sized lots to low-income families without providing certificates of occupancy.Read more
EPISO, Successful in Tackling Water & Sewage, Fights for Infrastructure as Funds Dry Up
In radio coverage about the Texas governor zeroing out the Colonia Initiative Program's nearly $860,000 budget, a story about the success of the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Committee (EPISO) emerged.Read more
Together Louisiana & IAF Secure Vote on $500M Federal Flood Recovery 'Down Payment'
Days before Congress adjourns for October recess, the word among lobbyists was that a proposal for flood recovery funding for Louisiana would not even get a vote for inclusion in the continuing resolution (short term budget).
Then, according to Together Baton Rouge, sister IAF organizations across the country began contacting their congressional representatives and senators urging them to support the funding package -- even across partisan lines. Together Baton Rouge posted a video that, in less than one day, was viewed 55,000 times as leaders quickly spread its message urging people to contact their congressional representatives. TBR additionally credits the Louisiana Governor and congressional delegation for "working tirelessly across party lines to make the case for flood recovery."
48 hours after the funding was declared dead on arrival, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, threw his full support behind the funding and announced it would receive a vote.
At stake is tens of thousands of homes and potential foreclosures.
U.S. Senate Leaders Propose $500M 'Down Payment' on Louisiana Flood Relief, The Advocate
Great Flood of 2016 and What We Need to Rebuild, Together Baton Rouge
Together Louisiana Takes Local Water Fight to the Capitol
Though the state has allocated $7 Million for clean water, local mayors have the power to block such initiatives. The committee chair, impacted by Together Louisiana testimony, talked of issuing a subpoena if the Mayor does not respond to calls to appear before the committee. Governor Bel Edwards has committed to work with Together Louisiana leaders to resolve this issue. Leaders are calling for the appointment of an administrator that would use the $250,000 emergency fund to replace the most egregious pipe, passage of HB83 to recognize secondary water quality standards of the EPA, and increased prioritization of the $7 Million state fund appropriation so that the town's pipes and filtration system can be replaced, and release of those funds once an administrator has been appointed.Read more