"DEMOCRACY DENIED" Lenwood E. Johnson (cont'd): [Regarding the residents' Allen Parkway Community Campus concept, approved for federal funding by the Secretary of H.U.D.] -- I don't have a lot of time to tell you about it, but one of the things it does is to give our kids computers in their homes, each apartment would have a computer, with Internet connection, where accessing the library information or anything else will not be [a problem] and it won't be difficult at all with it right there in the home, that would be supplied under the federal program until that family becomes self-sufficient and can move out on its own; and we estimate that within about 3-6 years, most families, the vast majority, those that have the ability (but they're going to be a few that have a mental problem that's not going to be able to function well) can become self-sufficient, move out, and then another family moves in, and we begin a cycle of training them. The other thing it will do, it will have a sustainable living environment, where we would generate our own electricity and train people in those areas. The other thing it would do, we plan to recycle our water, because one of the things that's happening is our economy is declining, and there is less and less money, because of the global economic changes going on. We don't have `national' companies anymore; they're either international companies or multi-national companies. And there's a reason for that: there's more money to be made overseas. If you look at the United States market, 280 million people, I'd say, well, look at China alone--that's a billion-people market. If you're going to develop a market, it makes sense, as a business person, to want to develop the Chinese market as opposed to the United States. Plus you can get cheaper labor over there. And if you can get cheaper labor, you can sell the prices/goods back in the United States for the same price, and make a higher margin of profit-- made with cheap labor, sold in the United States, based on the American price market--you'll make a heck of a lot more money. So with these kinds of things going on, we are going to have to do some adjustment in our society. And the Allen Parkway Community Campus plan, I'm told by some people, is just a plan before its time, before communities are going to be able survive in the future with the contracting of the economy, all of them are going to have to develop their own community campus, and that's going to be the focus of living. And it's not unheard of. You know the story about the Aztecs, about the Mayans, their society, how their societies change? They changed as a society, they quit/continue to develop; and we are going to have to change ours in order to continue to survive. So we wish this group, through its committees, through its women's group, through its, if it has a children's group, let us come and do--either me or some member of our Advisory Board, as one of my Advisory Board members was supposed to be here today, but something happened, I don't know what happened (the Resident Council Advisory Board)-- come and talk to you, as we have some good people on that Advisory Board, a few good people, let us come and talk to you about the program and try to get you to pass your resolution in support [of] that program, and then we would like to have you act on that resolution, by contacting various officials, telling them they need to fully support the Allen Parkway Community Campus. Without your help, they will not permit this plan to spring up in Houston, because eventually it leads to the loss of control of $58 million, that money being under the control of the poor people, and they don't want poor people to have any money. ----------------- Questions from the Audience -------- Lenwood Johnson: Go ahead, thank you. William Ware: I have a couple of questions. The first one is ... if the housing authority is actually paying law firms, paying good money to attack the Resident's Council, in fact to attack the residents, it seems, doesn't that strike you as ... hypocritical ... that if public funds, intended for public housing and the residents of public housing, should be used to... Tim MacGregor: ... contrary to ... William Ware: ... at cross-purposes with itself? Lenwood Johnson: Yes, it is. It's probably a direct violation of law, but in our system-- William Ware: But how does the control of these funds get [into the hands of] Bob Lanier's "developer buddies", are you saying that the public housing board is actually packed with, with the-- Lenwood Johnson: It's the mayor's people. And the mayor's people make sure the mayor and his friends get the contract. William Ware: ... but to actually be working in direct hostility to the actual purpose of the public housing ... don't you think there's somebody you can talk to in Washington about this? Lenwood Johnson: No. No, there may be one here and there. In the past ... one of our biggest supporters, when he was the Chairman of the Banking Committee and when he was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development, was Henry B. Gonzalez out of San Antonio. Now that has changed, it has caused the city to be able to undermine us in many of the areas... -- transcribed by Emily T. Nghiem, edited by Lenwood E. Johnson, who welcomes your comments and contributions, and involvement in the Allen Parkway Community Campus: (281)-709-3001 Lenwood Johnson, Former President APV Resident Council Free Man's Neighborhood Association e-mail: apv123@gmail.com

This speech was recorded January 12, 1997, at the Unitarian Fellowship. Transcribed from audio cassette by Emily Nghiem: P.O. Box 981101, Houston, TX 77098 (713)867-5998

If you are interested in helping to document oral histories as part of a historical educational project in Freedmen's Town/Fourth Ward, you may also contact Emily Nghiem Eastboro Center for Constitutional Ethics

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