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...
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]
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]
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.”
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
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."
[Image Credit: NOWCastSA footage]
Archbishop Gustavo Urges Action on Immigration at COPS / Metro Assembly, Today's Catholic
As part of an ongoing campaign to increase funding for owner-occupied housing rehab and affordable housing, COPS/Metro has gotten involved in the City of San Antonio's Affordable Housing Taskforce.
Andy Sarabia, a founding member of COPS/Metro Alliance, encouraged attendees Saturday to rally support for recommendations by sharing their sentiments with their local elected leaders and City Manager Sheryl Sculley.
“I urge you to contact your Council person to get behind this,” he said. “We’ve got the mayor, who seems to be behind this, but do not forget the city manager. The city manager has a big say in all this. Together, we can put this over the top.”
[In photo, Sr. Gabriela Lohan speaks with Mayor. Photo Credit: Edmond Ortiz, Rivard Report]
Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force Reveals Recommendations, Rivard Report
St. Leonard Catholic Church organized a "Human and Spiritual Development" Assembly in which seventy-five (75) parishioners attended and participated in small group conversations about the role of the church in their lives.
With three months to decide how to spend $21 Million in HUD funding for affordable housing, several San Antonio Councilmembers are getting direct reminders from COPS / Metro leaders about their campaign promises to invest $6.5 Million in the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing in older neighborhoods.
In spite of dispute over whether the commitment referred to new money or previous allocations, leaders are pressing on.
“We ask that you consider $6.5 million for new applications in the 2019 budget, and that those funds be allocated specifically for owner occupied housing rehab,” clarified Maria Tijerina, a leader of COPS/Metro.
Express News Calls on County Commissioners to Keep its Promise to Highland Oaks Residents & 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.
Editors credited COPS / Metro Alliance with helping persuade the Commissioners to allocate funds for the project.
Close to 200 parent, teacher and community leaders packed the cafeteria of Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy to challenge elected officials to work with them to improve the school.
On stage, in response to direct questions from COPS / Metro leaders, SAISD Trustee Christina Martinez committed to securing the resources to expand Beacon Hill’s dual language program, to identifying solutions to traffic issues currently leading students to wait outside in the rain during dismissals, and to securing the funding to demolish the old school (if funding for building renovation cannot be secured).
In response to leaders’ challenge, City Councilman Roberto Treviño committed to securing funding to renovate the old school building and to ensuring that the City of San Antonio would do its part to ensure the traffic-related safety of children. State Representative Diego Bernal pledged to expand state funding for dual language programs and to work with Trustee Martinez to address issues with a Union Pacific property.
COPS / Metro leaders committed to working with each other to expand the dual language program and train for leadership development to strengthen the constituency that supports Beacon Hill Academy.
To Demolish or Renovate: Beacon Hill’s 1915 Campus Building in Limbo, Rivard Report [pdf]