COPS/Metro Parent Leaders Secure Safe Playground for Beacon Hill Academy Children
One year after a 200-person assembly in which COPS/Metro parent and community leaders called for the demolition of a crumbling building that made the Beacon Hill Academy playground unsafe for its students, parents (and children) celebrated a victory.
The San Antonio City Council and Independent School District (SAISD) came to a negotiated agreement in which the building would be torn down in order to secure the playground and a new 'cultural heritage' curriculum developed for students.
“It has been such a long process, and really our kids are even happier than us,” said Beacon Hill Academy parent and COPS/Metro leader Jacklyn Landaverde.
[Credit for Photo of Building: Bonnie Arbittier, Rivard Report]
City, SAISD Reach Deal to Allow Demolition of Historic Beacon Hill Building, Rivard Report
COPS/Metro Calls For Displacement Prevention in San Antonio
COPS/Metro leaders Sister Jane Ann Slater of the Congregation of Divine Providence (and chancellor at the Archdiocese of San Antonio) and Linda Davila of St. Timothy Catholic Church penned an Oped calling on the Mayor to prevent displacement in San Antonio.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the City Council have expressed concern about the Decade of Downtown causing neighborhood displacement. Nirenberg said it best last year, “We should not be resigned to displacement as an acceptable condition in the community.”
COPS/Metro takes the City Council at its word, but actions speak louder than words....
COPS/Metro supports a thriving downtown and the benefits that UTSA’s expansion will offer. We do not support development that pushes people out of their homes and uses public dollars to do the pushing. We are against development happening so fast and furiously that existing residents cannot take advantage of the improvements. Development must be planned so that it benefits everyone, not just developers. As it stands, the city’s decisions benefit developers with little consideration for current residents.
[Photo Credit: William Luther, San Antonio Express-News]
Needed: A Displacement Prevention Plan, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
COPS / Metro Engages Mayor on Housing & Displacement
Arguing that current City of San Antonio incentives are causing displacement, 100 COPS/Metro leaders pressured the mayor of San Antonio to directly prevent it.
Fr. Larry Christian, of St. Ann Catholic Church and COPS/Metro, called for increased public efforts to educate residents about available resources including “property tax freezes for senior citizens... and tax credits for homeowners that improve their homes.”
The mayor affirmed that he is listening to the organization and committed to collaborating with COPS/Metro leaders on this issue.
[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, Rivard Report]
COPS Metro Urges Mayor to Ramp Up Implementation of Affordable Housing, Rivard Report [pdf]
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]
Project QUEST Wins National $1 Million Grant for Training
Project QUEST, the nonprofit workforce development organization created more than a quarter-century ago by the COPS/Metro Alliance, has been awarded a $1 million grant that the organization says will allow it to serve more San Antonians with expanded job training programs.
The award comes from the Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as part of their Communities Thrive Challenge, which awarded $1 million each to 10 organizations across the nation, working to “help low-income and financially insecure people find and retain well-paid, meaningful work, achieve financial security or build economically vibrant neighborhoods.”
San Antonio’s Project QUEST wins national $1 million grant, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
COPS / Metro Fights for Children's Playground at Beacon Hill Academy
Victoria Cavazos, of Communities Organized for Public Service Metro Alliance, has a daughter in kindergarten at Beacon Hill Academy. Cavazos said the old building is not only cutting into the children's green space, but as of April, the children haven't been allowed to use the playground.
"The district had an assessment done of the building, and because of the hazard of the building, they put a fence around, not only the perimeter of the building, but it also includes the playground," Cavazos said.
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district has no need for the building and it would be extremely expensive to restore. In fact, the district has requested a demolition permit from the city.
"We'd really like to demolish the building to give children the space that they deserve," Cavazos said.
"We've worked with a lot of different people and a lot of groups to try and get that money," said Michelle Ricondo, of COPS Metro Alliance. "But no one has come forward with the money to renovate the building."
SAISD, City At Odds Over Fate of Old Elementary School, KSAT [pdf]
COPS / Metro Says "No" to Prop A
This fall, the biggest loser of the amendments proposed by the firefighters union will be local democracy. While much of the rhetoric focuses on the city’s AAA bond rating and its capacity to govern, COPS/Metro is primarily concerned about the loss of San Antonio’s democratic capacity.
COPS/Metro — a coalition of congregations, schools and unions working together on behalf of families — asked the city to drop the lawsuit on the evergreen clause and firefighters to drop the petition drive and return to the negotiating table. Neither side moved, and now the residents and voters of San Antonio are caught in the crossfire between “Go Vote No” and “Vote Yes” on the three charter amendments.
At its core, democracy is about negotiation and compromise...
Proposition A Will Undermine Democracy, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
COPS/Metro Leverages $15 Per Hour Living Wage in San Antonio Draft Budget
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]
COPS/Metro Says City Should Fulfill Promise of 'New Money' for Housing Repairs, San Antonio Express News Agrees
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