Urges More Cities and Counties to Invest in VIDA
Valley Interfaith leaders Rosalie Tristan and Joe Hinojosa celebrated VIDA's recent fundraising success as the culmination of 28 years of dreams and hard political work. Almost three decades ago, Valley Interfaith established and, over the years, sustained the labor market intermediary to help transform jobs in the Rio Grande Valley.
Valley Interfaith Leaders Proud of VIDA's Success, Rio Grande Guardian
As Skin Rashes Spread Near Milwhite Plant, Valley Interfaith Challenges Brownsville Mayor & Council to Take Action
Valley Interfaith leaders told graphic stories at an assembly they organized to challenge the Mayor of Brownsville to address the health impacts of plant operations by the Milwhite industrial clay plant on South Padre Island Highway. In addition to new skin conditions developing among infants and adults, excessive white dust, noise and truck movement has made life intolerable for nearby residents.
"We’re literally breathing in the dust particles,” said Valley Interfaith leader Adhlemy Sanchez.
The Rio Grande Guardian reports that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has fined Milwhite several times for failing to prevent "nuisance" impacts on neighbors and maintain abatement equipment.
The assembly was held at St. Eugene Mazenod Catholic Church in Brownsville. In attendance were City of Brownsville Mayor John Cowen and Brownsville City Commissioner Linda C. Macias, in addition to city staff.
Video: Valley Interfaith Leader Stories, Rio Grande Guardian
Valley Interfaith to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Milwhite Relocation, Rio Grande Guardian
When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'"
But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.
Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences."
"It was relaxed, it was engaging," said Joe Rubio, national co-director of IAF. "Often you don't see that even with parish priests," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 15, garnering the laughter of other delegates.
Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of Solidarity, US Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service [pdf]
VIDA Only Texas Organization to Secure $3M Nursing Expansion Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor
"As of now, [Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement] VIDA has graduated over 4000 students with an average salary of about $48,000 a year. Lifting our community, our families from poverty, depending on welfare to be self sustaining, to get out of poverty and bringing about dignity and respect to their families and bringing about an opportunity for the next generation to do better than themselves. That's what Valley Interfaith has done."
-Eddie AnayaRead more
Valley Interfaith and EPISO teamed up to successfully oppose two bills that would have undermined the Model Rules for Development that govern real estate development in counties that border the Texas-Mexico border. The Model Rules for Development have been a critical tool that our organizations fought for over 30 years ago and which have limited the development of substandard housing lacking access to sewer and clean water lines, drainage and roads.Read more
Two Years of Texas IAF Opposition Leads to HB 5 Reforms to Limit Giving of School Money for Corporate Tax Breaks
The Texas Senate and House passed a compromised version of HB5 that still fundamentally represents misguided economic development. A 2-year campaign by Texas IAF and allies, however, led to major reforms in HB 5 compared to the now defunct and failed Chapter 313 program. When these tax abatement deals are proposed at local school districts, there will now be a fair fight for taxpayers and public school supporters concerned about corporate welfare. HB 5 Reforms to Chapter 313 include:Read more
Less than a day after a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles unexpectedly passed through Committee, Texas IAF leaders learned that Representative Guillen (from Rio Grande City) appeared to be actively suppressing House Bill 2744 from being heard on the floor. Delayed submission of the Committee report resulted in the bill missing a crucial deadline for it to put on the Calendars schedule for Thursday -- the last day to hear new bills.Read more
A surprising legislative success in 2021 is on track to be undone in 2023, unless a grass roots left-right coalition can block legislation and the forces behind it that are trying to go backward....
In the name of jobs and economic development, a 2012 tax code trick called Chapter 313 essentially funneled state money, via school district property tax breaks, to private companies doing new industrial construction. The school districts that granted tax breaks under Chapter 313 were reimbursed — and many still are being reimbursed — by the state, meaning we as taxpayers reimbursed them. It was the ultimate insider game of channeling public benefit to private companies.Read more
In the attached audio interview, Rosalie Tristan and Joe Hinojosa, both organizers with Valley Interfaith, Joe Higgs from IAF, and Bob Fleming, an organizer with The Metropolitan Organization of Houston, say tax breaks for large corporations should not be paid for with monies that would otherwise go to public education.
[Photos: Rosalie Tristan (left), Joe Hinojosa (holding sign in center) and Bob Fleming (right)]
Valley Interfaith: Don't Suck Money Out of Public Education to Help Large Corporations, Rio Grande Guardian [audio]