Surprise For MICRO Bank

A Surprise For MICRO Bank:
The CHD Money comes Through

(Special to The Wanderer)

May 29, 1997

TUCSON - Just days after Campaign for Human Development officials in  Washington declined to respond to the Wanderer's requests for an  explanation of why CHD had not fulfilled its grant commitment to the PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corp. for its loan program to help low-income people start small businesses, a $10,000 check was in the mail.

On May 20th, Frank Ballesteros, executive director of the PPEP MICRO Loan  fund, received a CHD check for $10,000, dated April 14th, in the mail, along  with a letter dated April 30th, stating that CHD "will continue to honor our existing grant commitment to this project until its conclusion, assuming continued acceptable progress.

Apparently, the April 14th check was cut two days before CHD warned PPEP  (Portable Practical Education Preparation, Inc.) directors in an April 16th  letter that future funding was conditional on PPEP's willingness to cooperate  with other CHD- funded organizations in Arizona - specifically, the Pima County Interfaith Council, the Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate, which has become a political force in the region.

"I was surprised to receive it," Ballesteros told The Wanderer. "Apparently someone put some pressure on CHD to give us the money so the Church doesn't look bad. "

PPEP's founder and CEO, Dr. John Arnold, had mixed feelings about receiving  the check.

"Five months have gone by when we could have been helping people on the border. Most of these microbusinesses do most of their business from January to  May, and that's when they really need our loans. I don't know why CHD couldn't have sent the grants when they promised they would."

According to Arnold, CHD was reneging on its financial commitment to PPEP because Arnold had pledged, with 33 other social service organizations in the  Tucson area, to boycott the Pima County Interfaith Council, the CHD funded affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, because of its demand for $10 million in taxpayer money to establish a so-called Family Development Fund.

Just a few days earlier, on May 16th, Ballesteros received a letter from ex-nun Joanne Welter, director of CHD for the Diocese of Tucson, notifying PPEP that it would not receive future funding from the Campaign for Human Development unless the following conditions are met:

  • "A successful attempt to seek the truth concerning CHD and our diocesan and  parish participation in community organizing as a ministry of our Social  Mission."
  • "That a public apology and retraction be made by PPEP to all persons and  organizations that have suffered from this uncalled-for exhibit of verbal  harassment, slanted news articles. letters, misrepresentations, web harassment.  and in some cases. deliberate scare tactics.

"To bring closure to this lengthy demonstration of ill will and untruths, we expect these aspects of reconciliation and restitution as soon as possible.

"We ask that you consider this recommendation made after much dialog and hope  for reconciliation, in fact, 'collaboration' on the part of the funded groups.  In the spirit of CHD we are at a loss to express our concern for the loss that  would go into effect if the border cities lost this opportunity to provide for  their needed employment, business development, and moral support from the  Church."

Welter's letter, Arnold told The Wanderer. illustrates perfectly the tactics of threats and intimidation that have caused so much public concern about PCIC.

"She's trying to use the cause of poor people to blackmail an agency that  helps poor people." he said. "She's not holding us hostage, she's hurting poor  people.

"CHD is trying to shut people up. They're saying, 'If you don't agree with  us, you're going to pay for it.'

"We had heard that PCIC was unhappy with our organization, that PCIC put  pressure on the diocese to put pressure on us, and that probably explained why  our CHD money was held back. So it seems to me that PCIC should be apologizing  to the people on the border. and CHD should be apologizing, too. They're the  ones that are hurting people.

"What all of this goes to show is that you can't work with interfaith  organizations like the IAF.

My hope is that over the next year, the CHD will become aware of the  political agenda of the PCIC and rein it in and force it to make an apology for  the way it has browbeaten and bulldozed organizations that differ from it."