The Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is expected to make a presentation to Cabinet next week in relation to the controversial amended parking meter By-laws.This was revealed by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan on Wednesday, who said following that presentation, Government will make a final determination about the project going forward.Bulkan said he has always been on record as supporting the initiative of having parking meters, which is intended to help to restore order to the current chaos faced in the city when it comes to parking.“…the contract that is engaged in, has to be one that is not burdensome to the population. The benefits have to be equitably shared between the concessionaireA parking meter in downtown Georgetownand the Council,” he added.Bulkan noted that a lot of those features were not present in the initial contract, and acknowledged that is precisely why the By-laws had to be rescinded by Government.“It is our hope that the amended contract satisfies the concerns that were expressed by the Ministry of Finance and by the Attorney General’s Chambers… this review and assessment will be done by Cabinet at its next meeting following a presentation by the Georgetown municipality,” he added.Based on a unanimous decision taken on April 4, 2018, the M&CC approved the amended parking meter By-laws. However, only two Councillors opposed the By-laws at the time. Khame Prakash Sharma and Bishram Kuppen argued that the By-laws were in support of a contract that still remains unfair to citizens.The amended By-laws were then presented to the Minister in May 2018 for consideration.The amendments proposed that persons pay $150 per hour and $800 for eight hours of parking in Georgetown. Meanwhile, residents of the city would be issued with a restricted residential pass for free parking from 17:00-19:00h Monday to Friday, while parking will be free on Saturdays.Under the modified contract, both parties had agreed to have an oversight committee set up to monitor, review, and manage the project. The committee is expected to have three representatives from M&CC, three from Smart City Solutions (SCS), and one third party also involved in the process.During renegotiations between M&CC and SCS, the subject of shared profit and contractual obligations were discussed, and it was agreed to have it remain the same being the 20/80 for a period of 20 years. It was also disclosed that in the event of arbitration, the proceedings would be held in Miami, instead of here.Rejecting parking metersDespite these new proposals, the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc (GCCI) and the Movement Against Parking Meters (MAPM) have both rejected the project’s return. From the onset, MAPM and the business community have been opposed to the installation of parking metres in the city.The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has also maintained its non-support for this initiative.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo still believes that the metering system is not the best arrangement to assist with the reduction or organisation of traffic within the country’s capital city.Jagdeo said the PPP will continue to oppose the initiative for several reasons, chief of them, the fact that the initial contract was flawed. He had also raised concerns about the persistence and continuous interest to have this project re-implemented even when the company is faced with several known controversies.Jagdeo had pitched a proposal where the M&CC could gain more income and treated the parking of vehicles in a much different way as they did before.“The City Council… all they need is maybe 1000 gallons of paint and go around and mark every area in the city and once per month, sell a sticker for $1000 or $2000 and people pay you and they park anywhere in the city once they have the sticker on the vehicle itself,” he explained.That plan, he claimed, is more affordable and takes away the huge administrative cost that the M&CC would have to incur were they to go ahead with reintroducing the parking meters.
Share If you’re a life-long Texan, you may have heard of a mutualistas. These mutual aid societies were part of a long tradition in Mexico, and found their way into Texas in the late 1800s. The organizations worked to provide low-income families with resources they otherwise might not have access to. While most disappeared in the 30s and 40s, throughout Texas today there are still a small number of in operation, including one thriving community mutualista in Waco that’s been around for more than 90 years. As Louis Fajardo opens the doors to la mutualista sociedad de jornaleros, he walks towards a concrete wall. “Let me turn the lights on so you can see what I’m talking about,” Fajardo says. Hanging on the wall are black-and-white photos, memories of the organization’s earliest days. Fajardo is a member and president of the group. He points to one specific photo.Louis Fajardo is a member and president of la mutualista sociadade de jornaleros. Today, the group continues the work it originally began more than 90 years ago.“In 1924, these gentleman right here, on this particular day, under this tree which still exists, are the ones that decided to make the mutualista.”The Waco mutualista came together under the banner of union, fraternity and progress, with a specific interest in watching over the working-class community it came from. Its name even reflects that mission: In English, jornaleros means laborers. This idea – says University of Texas professor Emilio Zamora – is the main reason Mexicans that settled in Texas established these groups.“They had to develop new methods for survival and advancements,” Zamora says. “And one of them was the formation of organizations – mutual aid societies.”Across Texas, these groups provided services their community members were being denied, things like education and healthcare. Mutualistas also negotiated for better working conditions, and created insurance funds to take care of members. That made a huge difference in quality-of-life, according to Ernesto Fraga. He publishes El Tiempo, Waco’s local Hispanic newspaper, and his grandparents were some of the earliest members of Waco’s mutualista. Fraga says the mutualistas also preserved culture. “And they were the ones that allowed for the voice of the Mexican-American community to pass on to the next generation and the generations after that.” Heading into the 1900s, the popularity of mutualistas swelled, with more than 100 estimated to be in Texas. That boost — Zamora says – happed, because at that time an “increasing number of Mexicans are brought in to fill the low-skilled occupations and low-waged occupations in the developing industries of the American southwest: ranching, farming, the railroads and mining” The mutualista hall hosts quinceaneras, baptisms and receptions. The money made from rental fees goes towards funding community projects.But during the Great Depression, mutualistas faced financial hardships, and many closed their doors. Today, there’s about 6 still operating in Texas. Waco mutualista president Luis Fajardo says finances are still a concern for these groups. But the one in Waco has – in part – been buoyed for decades by the dance hall they own, and rent out for baptisms or quinceañeras.La mutualista’s dance hall can fit about 400 people. On one night in December, it’s packed with teenagers dancing to cumbias, little kids running around and adults trying to talk to each other over the music. Nights like this one translate to money for the mutualista. Which, Fajardo says, they’ll use to pay bills. “Then the other part, we take when we make a certain amount of money and we’ll say OK this is going into the scholarship fund, OK this is gonna go here, this is going there,” Fajardo explains. On a recent afternoon, the Waco mutualista hosted a Christmas gift giveaway. Part of the money Fajardo and the membership made this year went towards buying nearly $3,000 worth of toys – like dolls, trucks, and bikes, all given to neighborhood kids, like two-year-old AraBella Chavez.“She just won a bike and that’s what she’s been wanting” says Misty Chavez, AraBella’s mother. Chavez is a mother of 5 and knows volunteers at the mutualista. “So just having something like this is fun and its exciting for them, “Chavez says. “Especially if we ourselves cant afford to get something they want or need.” Filling that gap is why mutualistas were founded in the first place. Fajarado says, even though the times have changed – la mutualista sociedad de jornaleros mission hasn’t. And he’s dedicated to making the mutualista stronger.“I’ll do whatever it takes, along with the membership, to open up and succeed for the mutualista,” Fajardo says. “Now and in the future.In the New Year, Fajarado says the mutualista will continue with building improvements – they’ve already opened up the dance floor and updated light fixtures. But they’ll also look to encourage others to visit – people not just from their South Waco neighborhood, but the community at large. Copyright 2016 KWBU-FM. To see more, visit KWBU-FM.