GALLERY 600 1 4 Contemporary Paintings, Sculpture, Prints THE FINEST TRADITIONAL FRAMING Custom Plexiglass and Custom Welded Frames 600 West 28th at Nueces . . . phone 477-3229 the department. The Enforcement Division is budgeted for $6,240,546, the second highest division allocation in the department. Almost three quarters of that sum will go to salaries and travel expenses of Game Management Officers, whose prime responsibility is the enforcement of game and fish laws and water safety regulations. The GMO’s are the rising class among Parks and Wildlife employees “prima donnas,” an unfriendly observer called them. For several years there has been a c `professionalization” drive in enforcement, designed to upgrade the status of GMO’s on the theory that they performed services like those of department biologists. The new name \(you might know them as game the change. But of course there’s a lot of difference between a warden-by-any-other-name and a wildlife biologist. For one thing, a GMO is only required to hold a high school diploma, while most field biologists have master’s degrees in their area of specialization. And the duties of an enforcement officer remain enforcement duties. That’s also the special concern of Kenneth G. Thompson in the Enforcement Division office in Austin. Thompson told the Observer that the increased emphasis on enforcement results from an increase in “violation activity” in the fields of game, fish and water safety laws. He said that any department employee commissioned as a peace officer \(there are approximately 340 enforcement power, including the authority to make arrests, in any case under Parks and Wildlife jurisdiction, including violations of park rules. Those rules were codified by the department and approved by the commission recentry. Various offenses against park preservation are prohibited. Other rules provide for arrests for public nudity, drunkenness, disturbing the peace \(with a musical instrument or radio after abusive language or fighting. You may also be run in for public assemblies or demonstrations not authorized in writing, for interfering with a peace officer and for riot. As part of their continuing training, commissioned enforcement personnel receive riot control training. This part of the training program is about a year old. Other parts cover breaches of the peace, study of the penal code and the handling of firearms. GMO’s are regularly armed with .357 magnum pistols. Finally, a Parks and Wildlife watcher wonders who is behind it all. If it is a power struggle, who’s involved and who’s winning? If the department is moving in some coherent, purposive direction, is somebody guiding it? If anybody is about to put the department in his hip pocket, it’s Pearce Johnson. You can stack rumors and stories about Johnson from here to there: he recruited Cross and then turned on him when he got uppity about personnel, he used Ron Jones as acting director for a few weeks to purge the department, he got Jack Stone appointed to the commission, he runs the Del Valle school district the same way he runs Parks and Wildlife, he’s the power behind the Enforcement Division, and on and on. Those might be just rumors, the kind collect around active officials. And Johnson is decidedly more interested in action than in anything else. But you can sit in the commission hearing room and sense the first-among-equals status that he has. It’s Jack Stone who comes over before the meeting gets started, introduces himself, offers to help you out any way he can. But there’s a kind of attention paid to Johnson when he speaks that you can’t miss. And that’s the kind of thing a Parks and Wildlife watcher watches. More on MUD Austin Apacer and apacer: House Speaker Rayford Price has decided on seven, members of that committee to investigate legislative creation of water districts in the last three years. Rep. John Traeger of Seguin is to serve as chairman. The other six members will be Reps. Terry Doyle of Port Arthur, Grant Jones of Abilene, Bill Clayton of Springlake, Tim Von Dohlen of Goliad, Chris Semos of Dallas and Bill Presnal of Bryan. The committee will report to the 63rd Legislature in January. It is specifically charged with investigating whether water district legislation has been in the public interest and whether controls over such legislation should be established. It has power of subpoena. Price expressed confidence in the committee and said he had chosen its members with an eye to avoiding conflicts of interest. He has done more than that: none of the seven members have evidenced any interest at all in water districts in the past. None were co-sponsors of House Simple Resolution 45, though there is a general “courtesy precedent” for making signers of such resolutions chairmen, or at least members, of the investigating committees they create. None are from Harris County, the area most infested with water districts, though it’s not at all clear that anybody from Harris County would want to be on the committee. And, it goes without saying, none are liberals of the flaming variety, though Doyle, for one, does not flinch when called a moderate. There are no lame ducks on the committee: Traeger and Jones probably will be in the Senate next term, and the others will return to the House. Doyle and Von Dohlen were freshmen this term. Clayton is the leading advocate of the Texas Water Plan in the Legislature, both as a legislator and as executive director of Water, Inc., a West Texas water lobbying organization. Meanwhile, Sen. Chet Brooks is planning to introduce a resolution calling for a moratorium on water district creation pending investigation. There have been Bookkeeping & Tax Service CU 503 WEST 15TH, AUSTIN 78701 0 OFFICE HOURS: 9 A.M. TO 1 P.M. O. AND BY APPOINTMENT ANYTIME 10 The Texas Observer
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