The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) is an organization of institutions dedicated to developing power and leadership among citizens in order to transform the city. We work to create relational power that can build and strengthen each member institution as well as shape public policy for the common good. TMO was formed in 1980 to give a voice to people who are usually excluded from major decisions that affect their lives. TMO is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history. TMO is also part of the West / Southwest IAF regional network and the Industrial Areas Foundation national network.

TMO believes that a truly democratic society requires the active participation of ordinary citizens. When people lack the means to connect to power and participate effectively in public life, social relationships disintegrate. Our model of relational organizing helps build real community. It generates social capital through a tight web of relationships across lines of race, ethnicity, class, faith, and geography. This social capital enables us to participate fully in public life and to become more effective actors in our communities.

TMO Asks Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick & TCEQ to Overturn Permit for Concrete Plant in Houston

Just this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wrote to TCEQ Chairman Jon Niermann to voice his opposition to the construction of a concrete batch plant in Grayson County - a largely rural county located 60 miles north of Dallas.

"There is simply too much risk to the county and its citizens," Patrick said while requesting an immediate pause to the permitting process until the legislature can weigh in.  Patrick wrote “[b]usiness leaders, clergy, elected officials, community leaders, and an overwhelming majority of the public have all voiced their objections to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granting a permit…”

This is exactly the same situation in Harris County where over 2,600 people have opposed a proposed concrete crushing plant to be built next to the LBJ Hospital campus in Northeast Houston in the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood.

Last fall, 72% of Harris County voters voted to invest over $2 Billion to build a new hospital, an in-patient mental health facility and level 1 Trauma Center at the LBJ campus. And, just like the business community in Grayson County, we're equally concerned with how a plant like this will affect our investment and the health and well-being of the surrounding community. 

Letter to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Lt. Governor of Texas Dan Patrick

So why are pollutant-heavy plants like these okay for Harris County but not okay for Grayson County? 

Call or email Lt Governor Patrick with a message like this:

Lt. Governor Patrick, thank you for asking TCEQ to stop issuing permits to build concrete plants until after the Legislature reviews the  permissive standards TCEQ uses to grant these permits in our communities. A few days before you wrote them, TCEQ granted a permit to build a concrete crusher plant next to the LBJ Hospital campus. Please tell TCEQ to retract that permit and take a long look at the valid concerns raised by dozens of organizations and thousands of residents.

You went to Grayson County and heard that community's strong opposition to a plant. Now come to Harris County and hear ours. Ask TCEQ to reverse their decision until the Legislature can develop better standards that protect our churches, schools, hospitals and businesses.


CALL: (512) 463-0001

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Catholic Herald: 'People of God' Should Thrive in Environment 'That Promotes Common Good'

In photo: Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, Archdiocesan Director of Social Concerns, speaks at the podium in front of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Houston with other congregational and community leaders, including Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS.


The historically African-American neighborhood inside Houston’s northern 610 Loop has held townhall meetings and protests since last year to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But its Director approved a permit this past January for Texas Coastal Materials to build a concrete and rock crusher across the street mere yards away from the busy public hospital.

Now residents, state representatives and Church leaders hope a letter-writing campaign gathering thousands of signatures to Gov. Greg Abbott will help him to overturn the Standard Air Quality Permit 173296 given to the company.

Father Martin Eke, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in that neighborhood, said, “The company tells us it will not be a problem. But my parishioners and I live here in the community. The crushed gravel with its particulates will only add to the air pollution here.”

....[Sister Maureen O’Connell] added, “The letters reflect the commitment of the people of God and their desire to live and thrive in an environment that promotes the common good.”

Kashmere Gardens Community, Churches Protest Another Polluting CompanyThe Catholic Herald [pdf]

[Update: TCEQ's own Office of Public Interest Counsel (OPIC) finds that "good cause to overturn the ED’s decision exists, based on substantial evidence provided by the Movants that the entirety of the facility will not be located further than 440 yards from a school or place of worship."]

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TMO Calls on Governor Abbott to Overturn Concrete Crusher Permit

On Friday February 16th, TMO leaders publicly called on Governor Greg Abbott to overturn the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) permit that would allow construction of a concrete crushing facility next to the LBJ Hospital.  Concrete crushers can have dire consequences for the communities that surround them including particle and noise pollution, damaged roads, and cracked windshields.  Houston Public Media warns that the risks of fine particle exposure can include "elevated levels of heart disease, stroke, asthma, cancer and other respiratory issues."

“This just doesn't make sense,” Sister Maureen O'Connell of the archdiocese told Chron. “Why are we going to do this to people who are already at risk?”

To sign the petition and voice your support, click here.

Press Conference [video]

Community Leaders Urge Greg Abbott to Reverse Permit for Concrete Crushing Plant Near LBJ HospitalHouston Public Media [pdf]

Community Organizers Ask Governor to Pump the Breaks on Concrete-Crushing FacilityHouston Press [pdf]

Houston Religious Leaders Protest Concrete Crushing Plant near Hospital, [pdf]

Religious Leaders Join Opposition Against Proposed Concrete Plant by LBJ Hospital, Houston Chronicle [pdf]

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TMO Drives Tenfold Surge in Community Input at TCEQ Hearing

TMO leaders from Kashmere Gardens crashed a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) hearing to voice their concerns and opposition to the construction of a concrete processing center slated for a low-income neighborhood within mere steps of the LBJ Hospital.  The proposed location is also near walking trails, parks, and residential neighborhoods. 

Leaders asserted that concrete crushing facilities pose medical risks to vulnerable hospital patients and residents in surrounding communities -- primarily through expected increases in air pollution (soot, dust, and silica) which could trigger asthma attacks or other heart conditions.  Expected increases in noise and light pollution also has the potential to interfere with family and community life.

During the last 13 days that TCEQ allowed comments to be made, TMO drove a tenfold increase in comments submitted online -- from 66 before they began engaging their members, to 733 comments submitted by the Monday afternoon deadline. 

Polémica por Solicitud de Permiso Para Construir Otra Cementera en Houston: "No Estamos de Acuerdo"Univision Houston

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TMO Packs Gymnasium for Mayoral Accountability Assembly

Over 500 TMO Leaders from 30 institutions gathered on Sunday, Oct 22, 2023 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church to hear where the four leading candidates for Houston Mayor stood on the TMO Agenda of Issues. Issues include Community Policing, Housing, Environmental Sustainability, Workforce Development, the City of Houston Budget, and Harris County Hospital District Proposition A bond.

TMO leaders committed to Get Out the Vote in favor of the Harris Health $2.5 Billion bond on the November ballot.

Houston Mayor Front Runners Take Stage at Mayoral Accountability ForumKHOU-11 [video]

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Pope Meets West/Southwest IAF Leaders Building 'Culture of Solidarity'


When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'"

But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.

Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences."

Elizabeth Valdez, an IAF organizer in Texas, said the delegates told the pope about their work to promote a living wage, to welcome immigrants, to protect the environment, to improve schools and to get more people access to mental health services -- all efforts that grew out of listening to people in their communities talk about what they needed and then building partnerships with churches, synagogues or mosques, unions, local nonprofits and community service providers.

Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of SolidarityUS Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service [pdf]

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TMO Recognizes Harris County for Unanimous Support of Health Bond Election

After five leaders of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) spoke in support of placing Harris Health’s $2.5 Billion bond proposal on the November ballot in November, Harris County Commissioners unanimously voted in support of the proposal. 

“This bond election represents a critical investment in the future of our community. It is not a burden, but an opportunity to invest in our future. We all benefit from a strong and expanded Harris Health.” said Linda Hollins of Trinity United Methodist and TMO.

“Ben Taub and LBJ Hospitals are the backbone of our health care system in Harris County. Over half of our current physicians have been trained there,” said Ron Cookston of First Unitarian Universalist and TMO.

Over the previous week, TMO leaders met with the Commissioners to express support for placing the bond proposal on the November ballot. “We applaud the County Commissioners for their unanimous vote today,” said Minister Jaqueline Hailey of New Hope Baptist Church and TMO.  “Now we all have to go out and educate our family, friends and neighbors about why they should vote YES on the bond to improve our critical healthcare facilities.”

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Texas IAF: Allow Gun 'Raise the Age' Bill to Be Heard on House Floor

Less than a day after a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles unexpectedly passed through Committee, Texas IAF leaders learned that Representative Guillen (from Rio Grande City) appeared to be actively suppressing House Bill 2744 from being heard on the floor.  Delayed submission of the Committee report resulted in the bill missing a crucial deadline for it to put on the Calendars schedule for Thursday -- the last day to hear new bills. 

Leaders from across the state held an emergency press conference calling on Guillen and the Texas House Speaker to allow the bill to be heard, and for Calendars.    

“Guillen and Burrows should...let the representatives vote their conscience on the House floor. Overwhelmingly, Texans support increasing the age limit of when people can buy assault weapons,” Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith from Central Texas Interfaith asserted. 

“We’re very, very angry at what’s going on, with them holding this bill hostage,” Valley Interfaith leader Rosalie Tristan of Raymondville told the Rio Grande Guardian

"How many more children have to die before we act?" demanded TMO leader Bishop John Ogletree. 

[Photo Credit: Blaine Young, Texas Tribune]

'Raise-the-Age' Gun Bill Misses Crucial Deadline, Texas Tribune [pdf]

Valley Interfaith: Guillen is 'Actively Suppressing' Assault Rifle Age Bill from Reaching House FloorRio Grande Guardian [pdf]

Raise the Age Gun Bill in Peril as Texas House Deadline LoomsKXAN [pdf]

Lubbock and Valley Legislators Block Assault Rifle Age Limit Bill, HB 2744, from Reaching the Floor of Texas HouseTexas IAF [pdf]

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Houston Chronicle Opposes Texas Chapter 313 Legislation


 economic development evangelists speak of this program – once known as Chapter 313 but now House Bill 5 – with almost biblical reverence. It may not turn water into wine, but they argue it will at least turn our school property tax dollars into new jobs for years to come.

We truly wish that were true. Tax incentives done smartly can be a good deal for Texans but not when there are few protections against abuse and waste. That, after all, is why lawmakers killed Chapter 313 last session.   

Sadly, the current, revised version of the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, simply repeats the sins of the past and, in some ways, commits new ones.

[Photo Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle]

Why Texas' New Chapter 313 Tax Break Is Even Worse than BeforeHouston Chronicle [pdf]

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Texas IAF Rally Takes On "Vampire" Chapter 313 Legislation


A surprising legislative success in 2021 is on track to be undone in 2023, unless a grass roots left-right coalition can block legislation and the forces behind it that are trying to go backward....

In the name of jobs and economic development, a 2012 tax code trick called Chapter 313 essentially funneled state money, via school district property tax breaks, to private companies doing new industrial construction. The school districts that granted tax breaks under Chapter 313 were reimbursed — and many still are being reimbursed — by the state, meaning we as taxpayers reimbursed them. It was the ultimate insider game of channeling public benefit to private companies.

The [Texas] Industrial Areas Foundation cleverly brought a man dressed as Dracula to its rally to dramatize how Chapter 313 unfairly drained school districts of funds and that reviving this bad economic development deal would be akin to raising the undead.

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