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13. We Are Not an Illusion of the Moment

Mary Beth Rogers University of North Texas Press PDF

13

We Are Not an Illusion of the Moment

Houston, 1978

Houston, Texas, is a city true to its past.

It grew out of a land development scheme in a hot, humid,

mosquito-infested marsh in 1836 when two imaginative entrepreneurs-J.K. and A.C. Allen-persuaded Texas hero Sam

Houston to lend his name to the settlement in return for a few acres of free land. Sam Houston also used his influence in 1837 to help the outpost become the capital of the new Republic of

Texas. 1 In the next two years, the city's population tripled from

500 to 1,500, and the Allen brothers began to make a fortune.

With Sam Houston on their side, the developers boasted to their East Coast investors that their city would soon become the

"great commercial emporium of Texas.,,2

For the next 142 years, other imaginative developers, cotton brokers, merchants, railroaders, bankers, oil producers, shippers, and lawyers had a host of public officials on their side as well, and they made deals every bit as clever as the Allen brothers' alliance with Sam Houston. Like the AlIens, their moneymaking schemes helped the city grow.

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14. Is COPS Coming to Your Neighborhood?

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

14

Is COPS Coming to Your Neighborhood?

New York, 1986

Texas Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby Jr. and I share a cab to La Guardia Airport on a crisp fall afternoon. It is one of those interminable rides out of Manhattan, with the mix of high speed, quick stops, and long waits that sends most Texans in New York into orbit. But I am relatively free of anxiety because we have plenty of time before our plane departs and Hobby is calm because . . . Hobby is always calm, sometimes even maddeningly so.

We have been in New York to see the bond rating agencies about the financial condition of the State of Texas, which has not been good since the price of oil slipped from $21 to $11 a barrel. Wall Street is wary of Texas’ ability to meet its obligations, and we have been part of a delegation to reassure investment bankers and bond analysts that state officials will behave responsibly and with fiscal “prudence.” No one in the state can do a better job of reassuring Wall Street than quiet, serious—even shy—Bill Hobby, who since 1972 has stood guard against extremism in Texas government.

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8. The Black Hand Over San Antonio

Mary Beth Rogers University of North Texas Press PDF

8

The Black Hand

Over San Antonio

San Antonio, 1966

It is two weeks before the May Democratic Primary election.

University of Texas graduate student Ernesto Cortes has recruited his aunts and neighbors to join him and other college students to stuff envelopes and go door-to-door for a MexicanAmerican attorney, John Alaniz, who is trying to get elected to the Bexar County Commissioners' Court, the official local government arm of the state of Texas. In San Antonio, the political heat is at the boiling point, particularly for those candidates like

Alaniz who are backed by the emerging progressive coalition of

Hispanics, blacks, teachers, unions, and limousine liberals who have won a few offices in the past but have never come close to seizing real power-a voting majority on any public body in the city or county. Now, with more than 100,000 of Bexar County's

235,000 registered voters living in the coalition's strongest voting precincts, the coalition is threatening to capture the majority vote on the five-member county commission and take over the local Democratic party organization. If Alaniz could win, he would join on the commission Albert Pena, who represents the

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10. When People Act on the Gospel Values

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

10

When People Act on the Gospel Values

Chicago, 1971

When Ernie Cortes came to the Industrial Areas Foundation Training Institute in 1971, Saul Alinsky was conspicuous by his absence. Edward Chambers was fully in charge, struggling to build a program to attract and train professional organizers. When Alinsky died of a heart attack in 1972, it was Chambers who had to scramble to raise money to keep the training institute alive. Alinsky’s speaking fees had supplemented foundation grants to underwrite the program, and now without Alinsky, it was going to be difficult for the IAF to survive financially.

“The first five years I had to sell my soul to raise money. Foundations wouldn’t fund us and I had to figure out a way to make it self-sufficient,” Chambers recalls.

Everything was in a state of flux within the IAF—the money, the ties with local organizations, the concept of organizing, and the development of training programs for organizers and volunteer leaders. Then Ernie Cortes came along and dropped into the brewing stew his interest in theological concerns.

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4. You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

4

You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

San Antonio, 1986

I drive for almost an hour through the suburbs and shopping centers in the rolling hills of northwest San Antonio before I find Mary and Jesse Moreno’s home near the University of Texas Medical School. Jesse has worked for almost four years to remodel the white brick and frame house with bright blue shutters that sits on two acres in the tree-filled neighborhood. The house is spacious and comfortable for Mary and Jesse and their four children who range in age from 6 to 11. Wide windows bring in the pastoral scenes from the backyard where the children’s pony grazes peacefully. While the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons in the den, Mary heats coffee in her microwave and we sit at a huge pine table in the dining room, where books and newspapers are stacked alongside children’s art, school papers, and comfortable family clutter. The washing machine is humming in another room, and we hear Jesse hammering away, making repairs on the carport he recently added. Mary is telling me about her children with an enthusiasm that makes her seem younger than her 38 years. Her jet-black hair is cut stylishly short and she wears a diamond drop around her neck.

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