Shouting Match Breaks Out At Arcola Council Meeting Over Home Repair Program
by John Pape
Mar 12, 2008 | 468 views | 3 3 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Frustration over requests for assistance from a Fort Bend Corps home repair program boiled over into a shouting match at the Arcola City Council meeting last night.

Virginia Hernandez accused council members of getting work done on their residences while elderly residents’ applications for help have been ignored. She singled out Council Member Florence Jackson and Mayor Pro Tem Mary Etta Anderson, accusing both of taking advantage of work done by Corps volunteers.

Hernandez took the podium under the public comments portion of the council meeting, demanding to know who was qualified to have work done through Corps programs. Anderson, who volunteers her time to coordinate applications for assistance in the Arcola area, said that elderly, disabled and low-income residents were eligible for help.

Hernandez then accused Jackson of having work done on her home and demanded to know why she was qualified for help while elderly residents remained on a waiting list. She also pointed the finger at Anderson, saying the mayor pro-tem had her home painted and repairs done on her home.

She added that elderly Hispanics like her neighbor were being ignored.

“Why can’t she get things done?” Hernandez shouted. “Because she’s Hispanic?”

Anderson said that the allegation was not true.

“I have not had any work done. I won’t even have my mom apply (to the program) and she’s 83,” Anderson told Hernandez. “The family takes care of repairs to her home because I volunteer to help the Corps. We don’t want anyone accusing us of taking advantage (of the program).”

Jackson accused Hernandez of making irresponsible accusations and said that kind of behavior was why she will not seek another term on the Arcola council.

“I’m not running for council next time because I’m tired of (allegations like) this,” Jackson told Hernandez.

At one point, Police Chief James Bartley stepped between Hernandez and the council table, telling the woman to calm down.

As tempers cooled, Anderson offered to personally take an application Hernandez had for her neighbor to the Corps offices. Hernandez gave the form to Anderson and left the meeting.

City Administrator Arnold Brown explained that Corps funding was limited and not everyone who applies can be assisted. He said that the city was working with the Corps to get more money invested in Arcola.

“We are working with the Corps to see that more funds are made available,” Brown said.

The Fort Bend CORPS is a nonprofit corporation located in Sugar Land that provides home repairs for elderly, disabled or low-income residents of Fort Bend County. All repairs are provided free of charge, made possible by grants, monetary donations, and in-kind donations from local organizations. Work is done by volunteers.

Since its establishment in 1999, Fort Bend Corps has completed repairs on more than 350 homes in the county. The current annual operating budget is approximately $1.3 million, with 90 percent of that amount going directly to program delivery.
Comments
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Muckraker
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March 15, 2008
Thanks Tom for keeping an eye on this and FBN for keeping the public informed on actions like these that seem to be all to common place here in FBC with some of our elected officials.
TexasRose
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March 15, 2008
Intelligence dictates Ms. Jackson apparently approves of her mocking behaviours. Thank you Mr. Hilton for your heartfelt outspoken truths to right wrongs.

It is also of great importance to wish congratulations to Police Chief James Bartley for respecting his own intellect to dignity, relative to the safety of the citizens; thereby calmly settling everyone peacefully. Not all law enforcement namely (you know who) dictate their outlaw to authority with an _iron fist_

Dignity is to be respected. Thank you once again, Mr. Hilton for shining the light to mockery.
hiltonisforarcola
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March 12, 2008
Howdy,

As a member of Arcola City Council, I find it extremely appalling that another Councilmember, Flo Jackson, is using money dedicated for our senior citizens for her own benefit. It is especially disturbing to see Mrs. Jackson openly mocking her illicit taking of this money at last nights' City Council Meeting - she jokingly said that she was "mentally disabled" and laughed about it. This is a slap in the face of our senior citizens that I will NOT tolerate. Other members of Council laughed along with her, but I find this no laughing matter. On the contrary, I intend to see that Mrs. Jackson repays the money spent on painting her house (and other repairs if any), and that money be used for someone in our community who REALLY needs it.

The Fort Bend Corps has some explaining to do as well - why would they give money to a household which does not meet their own requirements for eligibility? Mrs. Jackson is not elderly, she is not disabled, and both she and her husband are gainfully employed, making much more than the $21,000 cap for eligibility. I have contacted Ron Costello of the FBC asking for documentation showing such eligibility by the Jacksons, but have not received an answer - yet. Rest assured that I will demand full accountability from the FBC as well as from Mrs. Jackson on this apparent misuse of funds.

When Ms. Hernandez brought the subject up at Public Comments, Mrs. Jackson openly used profane language to respond to this highly-regarded senior citizen of Arcola. Apparently Mrs. Jackson has no regard whatsoever for our senior citizens, or for the City for that matter.

She has at least done one good thing for the betterment of Arcola - she has decided not to run for another term as City Council Member.

That's the best news this City has had in a LONG, LONG, time!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sincerely,

Tom Hilton

Arcola City Council

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