Uncut: Ivy Taylor and the Poverty Question

NOWCastSA's video from the April 3, 2017 forum on Nonprofit Impact went viral after several media outlets focused on Mayor Ivy Taylor's response to a question about the systemic cause of generational poverty.

Here are links to the other news organization's articles that credited and linked to NOWCastSA video:


Here you can replay the Uncut Video In Context, starting with the question and continuing through Taylor's and Ron Nirneberg's complete answers: (Scroll down for a transcript.)


Question: Megan Legacy, Executive Director, SA Christian Hope Resource Center:  What do you see as the deepest systemic causes of generational poverty in San Antonio? (Direct link to start of the question on video: https://youtu.be/7417pVwzPYc?t=1h7m40s

IVY TAYLOR:  "Since you’re with the Christian Coalition, I’ll go ahead and put it out there that to me, it's broken people, you know, people not being in relationship with their creator, and therefore not being in good relationship with their families and their communities and you know, not being productive members of society. So I think that's the ultimate answer. That's not something that I work on from my position as Mayor of the community, though I try to be an example. 

"But as far as some of the policy issues that we work on from the political angle or the nonprofit angle,  I see education as the great equalizer for a variety of reasons. if you want to talk about school districts or economic segregation, we just have not provided the same opportunities for people to be, to have access to high quality education that puts them on the path for careers in every single part of San Antonio. So I see that as being one of the systemic causes.

"Another that I've worked on, that I'd like ot point out as well, is teen pregnancy. And that kind of goes hand in hand with education, because when people are parenting early, that usually means that they don't have an opportunity to complete their education. So it ends of being a vicious cycle. So those are a couple of the things where I think there's a lot of things we can do. 

"I have tried to bring teen pregnancy forward as an issue. We need to focus on our resources from the city platform, and you know, I've gotten some pushback. I've had people say, 'Oh that's a moral issue, a religious isue, a family issue.'

"I've tried to frame it as an economic development issue. Because when people are parenting early and not connecting to the educational system, completing their education, then that means they are usually going to be underemployed, unemployed, that the cycle will continue. And I do think there are many things we can do, whether it be from city council or from the nonprofit community, to stem that tide."

(Direct link to quote in video https://youtu.be/7417pVwzPYc?t=1h7m52s )

RON NIRENBERG: "Your question is the stuff of philosophical conversations across the country at tables of graduate students. But think it is extremely important one and it makes us think. Certainly it makes me think

"If I had to point to one cause, philosophically, it would be the loss of the public common, the sense that we are all in this together. And that has resulted in people not doing a lot of things, such as participating in local elections, such as reading a newspaper, such as doing whatever it is to help with a neighborhood associations. The loss of the sense of a common ground, a common purpose for people throughout this city and throughout this community is a plague on us all.

"But I think from a public policy standpoint, it manifests itself in several different ways. It is one of the reasons why I have been focused during my tenure on issues of transparency and ethics and accessibility of policy making at city hall. One of the reasons for that, is that, I talk to constituents all the time, that say, ‘We know what you guys are doing, it’s all happening to us, this community continues to grow, and my neighborhood has a greenbelt behind it, I know it is going to be a shopping mall one day because there is nothing we can do to stop it.’ Well that’s not true. We can do better with growing a more sustainable community in a lot of different ways.

"One of the chief policy challenges that I think our city faces, that goes back directly to your question, is figuring out a way, well there is a way, the citizens have directed us to a way through SATomorrow, which is why I have been very aggressive with this plan. The citizens directed us to manage our growth better and in a sustainable way.

"That is important for generational poverty because the more that our city grows every which way without any sense of management, of uniformity, or of even sustainability, the more our infrastructure dollars get stretched. The more challenge it is for us to even deliver on-time bus service on the South and West side, so families can get home in time to do homework with their kids, the more that we are not able to maintain fixing the potholes on the streets that are in the high growth areas.

"It creates a challenge that results in neighborhoods that have seen disinvestment for generations. And what invariably is located within   a neighborhood that has seen  disinvestment? Poorer school districts, poorer outcomes within family environments, worse community health. All of the other social ills we’ve talked about, whether it is family violence issues or it’s simple crime. Those are invariably correlated to this lack of investment in terms of our public resources.

"All of that in my opinion, philosophically, goes back to a sense that we have lost the public common."

(Direct link to quote in video: https://youtu.be/7417pVwzPYc?t=1h10m48s)