The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Did He Just Say What I Think He Said?

Following the ProjectQuest saga, they've asked the county for $1 million. A request that was promptly revised:

In the course of the annual Bexar County budget process, Tuesday was the day for outside agencies to line up and make their cases for a little help.

While requested amounts ranged from $1,000 for Solar San Antonio to $181,000 for Family Service Association, the boldest request came from Project Quest at $1 million.

"Were you aware that we only have $500,000 for all of the outside agencies when you made your request?" Commissioner Lyle Larson asked Mary Peña, executive director of the program, which centers on long-term job training.

"Yes," Peña said.

"Are you willing to modify your request?"

"Yes," she replied.

Peña later said she did not expect the county to grant the full amount. The request came after meetings that members of the Project Quest board and COPS/Metro Alliance, a staunch supporter, had with commissioners.

"I don't know that there was a commitment, but I know that there was a conversation about the million dollars, which is why we submitted a proposal for a million dollars," she said later. "I appreciate the opportunity that the commissioners have given us to come back with a counter offer, if you will."

Project Quest has also asked San Antonio to double its allocation to $3 million. City staff has recommended one-third of that amount.

During Tuesday's meeting, Commissioner Paul Elizondo said he supports Project Quest, but noted that it hasn't been able to spend the $150,000 that the county gave it last year, with the restrictions that the money be spent on people who live outside San Antonio or are involved in the justice system.

So far, Project Quest has billed the county for $16,000, although Peña said with new fall enrollment it should spend about $100,000 before the county's fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Peña also had asked the county to considerably loosen the restrictions, but said she doesn't see winning that one, either.

Elizondo said Project Quest should work more closely with state-funded job training programs, and get its more-powerful supporters to lobby the state.

Otherwise, they're left with the city and Bexar County, where Larson always says no, Elizondo said, ribbing his Republican colleague. And as for County Judge Nelson Wolff, an original Quest supporter, "If he was a woman, he'd be pregnant all the time. He doesn't know how to say no."

Wolff later said that he and Elizondo will work with Project Quest, which recruits likely candidates, helps them get into classes and provides tuition and counseling through the process.

Wolff said that is the best way to get people off public assistance in the long run.

"You can't take care of your kids, work and go to school all at the same time" without help, he said.

It looks like some signals were crossed somewhere. I'd venture to say that it's gonna be really tough to get more than the $150,000 they were allocated last year, considering they'll have only spent $116,000 of it by the end of the fiscal year. The question has to be then, why hasn't ProjectQuest spent more than $16,000 up to now? I agree with Elizondo that ProjectQuest must continue to broaden their base of fiscal support. I don't see either the city or county coming into a lot of money very soon, so it'd be very poor management for them to continue asking these two sources for larger and larger chunks of money.

But did anyone else raise an eyebrow with what Paul Elizondo said here:

Otherwise, they're left with the city and Bexar County, where Larson always says no, Elizondo said, ribbing his Republican colleague. And as for County Judge Nelson Wolff, an original Quest supporter, "If he was a woman, he'd be pregnant all the time. He doesn't know how to say no."

Did Paul Elizondo just call our County Judge a social services slut? A careless, non-protection using slut at that. Seriously?

I hope that Wolff had a retort for that. Something like, "If you were a man, I'd punch you in the face."

Stay classy Commissioner's Court. Stay classy.