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Houston Breakthrough 1980-09
Pages 22 and 23
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Houston Breakthrough 1980-09 - Pages 22 and 23. September 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 30, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6082/show/6075.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(September 1980). Houston Breakthrough 1980-09 - Pages 22 and 23. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6082/show/6075

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1980-09 - Pages 22 and 23, September 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 30, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6082/show/6075.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1980-09
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date September 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 30 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Pages 22 and 23
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_563q.jpg
Transcript TMO asks: Shall we gather at the bayou? URBAN REVIEWAL TMO wants Houstonians to have a say in decisions that affect their lives. BY CHARLOTTE MOSER When the 70 residents of Houston's northside crowded into Harris County Commissioners Court on August 8, they didn't look like political activists. Like Beatrice Quintero, they were solid citizens, property owners, mothers and fathers and good church goers. Every day folks who cared about their neighborhoods and worked hard to make happy lives for their families, these people had other things to worry about besides political abstractions. But, one hour later, they left the court chambers with a political victory that stunned both them and Houston's powers that be. Protesting plans to build a new toll freeway that would rupture north Houston neighborhoods from downtown to FM-1960, the group, organized by an entity called The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), faced heavy endorsement of the Hardy Toll Road by the Houston Chamber of Commerce and by Harris County Judge Jon Lindsay. They came to the courthouse armed with tons of facts. They argued that the freeway would contribute to environmental pollution, that it wouldn't solve long- term transportation problems in north Houston, that a rail transit system was more logical and that a railroad right-of- way already existed. E. A. "Squatty" Lyons, commissioner of Harris County Precinct 4 where the toll road would be located Charlotte Moser, editor of north Houston's The Leader Newspapers, was a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellow at Yale University this summer. She is former art critic for the Houston Chronicle. never liked the idea of the freeway. When he called for a court vote to "go on record" about the toll road, he received unanimous support from the commissioners to oppose the plan. The vote, taken in the absence of Judge Lindsay, was a blow to the city fathers. Roger Horn, director of the Chamber of Commerce's Transportation Division, was quoted in the Houston Post as saying he was "astonished" and "appalled" by the court's action. Another observor told the Houston Chronicle that the vote was the "death knell" for the toll road plan. Beatrice Quintero and her cohorts were also surprised, but they were jubilant. "I prayed a lot that they would come out for us," says Quintero, a physical therapist in the Texas Medical Center. "It took guts for the commissioners to take a stand." It took more than prayer to win the favor of the commissioners court. Since January, TMO had held 39 briefing sessions about the proposed toll road with members of northside churches from Lin- dale to Aldine. Members of the Hardy Toll Road Task Force had met with officials from U.S. Rep. Bob Eckhardt and City Councilman Dale Gorczynski, who also opposed the toll road, to Texas Turnpike Authority officials who were drawing up the initial toll road studies. Their request to meet with the Chamber of Commerce was ignored. By the time the group met with commissioners court, they knew intimately the pros and cons of the toll road. They were aware of the political issues it entailed and their rights as property owners. They also came with the backing of the TMO organization city-wide# a coalition of 80 churches representing upward of 5,000 upstanding Houston citizens. The Hardy Toll Road victory was the latest in a growing number of successful challenges TMO has made to the Houston status quo since the group's formation in June 1979. It was responsible last spring for pushing through recommendations from Harris County Flood Control to limit development in southeast Houston to prevent a repeat of the massive flooding these communities experienced last year. In April, a TMO group in the Manchester area near the Houston ship channel called Stauffer Chemical Co. on the carpet for emitting dangerous fumes from a nearby plant, causing the company to alter its policy. Houston has never seen a group quite like TMO. Its goal is not political action, but "accountability" to the people for Houston area policy and planning. Its objective is not to change the system, but to have a say in decisions that affect the quality of life for Houston families. "We're not a lobbying group trying to develop power," says George Zukero, a life-long resident of the Airline area who has been active in the Hardy Toll Road issue. "We're here for accountability. We address specific problems and want to keep officials from adopting the most expedient solution." Some in Houston, however, view TMO as an insidious threat. Louie Welch, former Houston mayor and now head of the powerful Houston Chamber of Commerce, has publicly denounced TMO as a radical group with what he sees as Communist overtones. Houston's daily newspapers, the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle, have done their share to sensationalize TMO's motives. In the last two years, the Chronicle has run no less than three major news stories—from the religion page to the front page-largely casting a negative light on TMO. What strikes fear in Welch's heart, apparently, is the spectre of community protest inspired in cities like Chicago and San Antonio by groups similar to TMO. TMO derives much of its philosophy from Saul Alinsky, the Chicago community organizer of the 1930s and 40s. Known for his work in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood depicted in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Alinsky was a sociologist who formed an institute for community study called the Industrial Arts Foundation (IAF). Though Alinsky died in the late 60s, the IAF still runs an active and highly regarded training program in Chicago for community organizers, administrators and policy makers. One of lAF's top consultants and a member of its national board is Ernie Cortes, a San Antonio native who is now director of Houston's three-member TMO staff. Cortes has a degree in economics sfrom the University of Texas at Austin, where as an undergraduate in the early 60s, he was active in University YMCA affairs. His interest in community-based work led him to IAF in Chicago where he eventually became a member of its consulting staff. In 1974, Cortes returned to San Antonio and was instrumental in establishing the highly effective COPS (Community Organized for Public Service) program. That group, also organized through a sponsoring committee of primarily Mexican-American churches, has now become a vital part of San Antonio's political process. Cortes later went on to Los Angeles to start up a similar group there called UNO. According to Cortes, Alinksy defined himself as a radical but with a distinct definition of the term. In IAF terminology, "radical" is defined as one who goes to the root of a social problem and takes action consistent with it. "We're not liberals," says Cortes, a short and intense bulk of a man. "Liberals talk a good game but they're the first ones to walk out of a room when there's confrontation. Radicals in Alin- sky's definition are people who think you only get out what you put in. Our commitment is with people." Liberals also discourage participation, says Cortes, whereas IAF advocates pluralism and a diversity of special interests. "The idea that we're all the same in one big happy family is a fantasy," he says. "It's oppressive. It's liberating when the structure allows the conflict of different interests." The beginning of TMO in Houston came in 1975 when the judicatory forum of Houston Metropolitan Ministries, composed of area ministers, invited a member of the IAF consulting staff to meet with them about forming a local group similar to San Antonio's COPS. The ministers were told that the first step was to establish a committee of churches to sponsor community action in Houston. As a result, Houston Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, generally known as Interfaith, was begun. The formation of Interfaith was almost short-circuited when the visit of the IAF consultant was "leaked" to the Houston Post. For three days, the Metropolitan Ministries action was emblazoned across the front page with Louie Welch making his first statements about the Alinsky "radicals." After a number of years of retreat, Interfaith emerged again, hired Cortes in 1978 and spun off The Metropolitan Organization in 1979. Some observers feel that Welch's current wrath against TMO is vengeance because he thought he'd killed the group in 1975. 22 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH