Judgment In Civil Rights Case Against Galveston County

Galveston County Observer News. December 17-23, 1996. p.1

Galveston-On December 13, 1996, an agreed judgment was entered into the court records that ended a civil rights law suit filed by Mary Gonzales against Galveston County in May, 1995. Ms. Gonzales filed suit after she was denied county welfare assistance to help her with her rent and utilities. The law suit alleged that Galveston County failed to properly administer its welfare program in violation of the due process clause of the U.S. and Texas Constitution. A judgment was entered in a companion case six months ago.

The Galveston County Social Services Department (GCSSD) has three offices with about fifteen employees and budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist poor residents of Galveston County.

“I am pleased that we are able to sit down with Galveston County and resolve this case before Christmas. GCSSD now operates with a 37-page policies and procedures manual and Ms. Gonzales receive $250,” said Stephen C. McIntyre, staff attorney, Gulf Coast Legal Foundation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said:”All too many of those who live in affluence in America ignore those who exist in poor America; in doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that Eichmann chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the wellbeing of my fellowman? To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.”

“I agree with Dr. King. It is my belief that the upcoming destruction and underfunding of federal and state programs for the poor will force all Texas counties to step up and accept their historic responsibility for supporting their local poor residents,” said McIntyre. “There is no excuse for not living up to that moral and legal obligation,” McIntyre said.

“Each year at budget time Galveston County must carefully review the GCSSD to determine whether it is adequately funded to support our indigent residents and whether any of its policies or practices discriminate or harm the poor,” McIntyre said.

“It seems to me that Galveston County will try to support our poor residents with a two prong policy of a local welfare system and aggressive economic development to create more decent jobs,” said McIntyre.