As I was perusing the Waco Trib this weekend a couple pieces caught my eye: "Steve Cook, guest columnist: Dialogue can help fight stereotypes of race" and "Despite low turnout, Tailgate Throwdown organizers say event was 'a good start.'"
In those two pieces I was reminded of just how much government we have that seems to accomplish very little. For example, in the Cook opinion piece he talks about a recent "Undoing Racism" workshop that was coordinated by Baylor, the Waco Community Race Relations Coalition and the Texas Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities. Didn't know you and I were footing the bill for the Texas Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities.
In the downtown tailgating piece, both the Public Improvement District and the Downtown Development Corporation are mentioned. Seems to me there would be some overlap there.
All that got me to thinking about another issue facing our community and how it's being handled: poverty. City and community leaders breathlessly tell us how urgent this issue is and how something must be done. Well, they're certainly doing something.
A quick search on the Trib's website revealed just how much has been done in combating poverty over just the past two years. Here's are some of the government groups, coalitions and plans involved:
Waco City Council
The Poverty Solutions Group, a 25-member group that has met twice monthly for a year, hasn’t proposed solutions yet but has agreed on some general goals. They include:
* Children born healthy regardless of their economic status.
* Children are successful in school from the beginning through higher education.
* Good-paying jobs are available so families can support themselves without welfare.
* Neighborhoods and residential areas in Waco are clean, safe and attractive regardless of socioeconomic status.
* Residents in Waco are able to manage the essential resources, including money, housing, education, child care, food, transportation and health care, to maintain a healthy, productive, enjoyable lifestyle within their financial means.
…said the group is not looking to start a new agency but is hoping to coordinate an array of efforts already under way.
…including a proposed $10,000 Baylor University study of the attitudes about poverty from Waco residents of all economic levels and ethnicities.
Caritas of Waco
10-year master plan
Greater Waco Education Alliance
Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce
…a mayor’s task force will work on the master plan
Baylor University School of Social Work
…She said there are plenty of nonprofit groups doing good work to battle poverty, but it’s the city’s place to bring all those efforts into a cohesive whole.
Children’s Health Insurance Program
Baylor Poverty Summit
…work to develop a 10-year plan to reduce poverty
Waco Poverty Solutions Steering Committee
Poverty to Prosperity program
…a federal grant to conduct a $200,000 economic development plan for job-creation, training, transportation and other elements needed to lift people out of poverty. Those findings will help define the work the new outreach director will do.
The task force recommended creating a full-time director who could coordinate existing institutions for a focused attack on poverty.
An aggressive new initiative to fight poverty in Waco, dubbed “Poverty to Prosperity,”
…a new administrative position to tackle local poverty
Texas Council of Governments
…a $120,000 federal grant plus $80,000 in local matching donations that the city plans to use to conduct an economic development plan for job creation, training, transportation and other means necessary to help lift families from poverty
The Waco Foundation
Family Health Center
…approach to poverty influenced by “Bridges Out of Poverty” curriculum (Waco ISD)
That's not to say some of these people and groups, perhaps most, don't have good intentions and truly want to do something in the community. But good intentions when spending other people's tax money doesn't cut it (granted, not all of the above are taxpayer-funded, but many are). The point is how many more times are our leaders and politicians going to say "we have to do something" before someone other than me points out all that we've been doing with little to no tangible outcomes?