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Vol. 71, No. 8 April 27, 1 The Texas BSER 4′ The Texas Observer Publishing Co.. 1979 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Incorporating the State Observer and theEast Texas crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum A den EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDITOR AT LARGE Jim Hightower Linda Rocawich Eric Hartman Ronnie Bugger PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Reid, Beth Epite ASSISTANT EDITORS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sinderrnann Jr STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margot Beutler, Viki Florence, Jeannette Garrett. Helen Jardine, Ann Ktiss, Donna Ng, Anne Norman. Beverly Palmer, Martha Owen, Karen White, Harris Worcester CONTRIBUTORS: Thomas D. Bkich, Ave Bonar, Berke Breathed, Warren Burnett, Bob Clare, Jo Clifton, Bruce Cory, Keith Dannemiller, Jeff Danziger, Chandler Davidson, John Henry Faulk, David Guarino, Roy Hanuic, Doug Harlan, Jack Hopper, Dan Hubig, Molly Ivins, Susan Lee. Tim Mahoney, Maury Maverick Jr., Dave McNeely, Kaye Northcott, Lois Rankin, Ray Reece, Laura Richardson, Ben Sargent, Lisa Spann, John Spragens Jr., Sheila R. Taylor, Stanley Walker, Eje Wray, Ralph Yarborough A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find n and the right as we see it We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer, None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co.. biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year. in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication #541300. ISSN 0040-4519. years, $36. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilmed by MCA, 21 Harristown Road. Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to The Texas Observer at address below. Editorial and Business Offices 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 741132tt.’-ifi Lexte4 \(1041, 5444, A1494. By Ronnie Dugger Since my first letter from San Antonio, the revolution in politics here caused by the establishment of single-member districts in 1977 has become the way things are. Albert Bustamante has been elected the first Mexican-American county judge. Even with the defeat of one of the Mexican-Americans on the council, they and a black ally have five of the 11 seats. The federal anti-poverty program, having gone broke under suspicious circumstances, was taken over by the council on Bustamante’s recommendation. COPS \(Communities Orchallenges at city hall on behalf of the poor. Debate about the city’s participation in the South Texas Nuclear Project near Bay City became more lively after scandalous cost overruns became known. Since the nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, Congressman Henry Gonzalez has raised certain questions that could blow the South Texas project into a radioactive limbo. In short, the city’s politics has a new vitality. Even the city council election April 7 underscored the point that whatever happens, Mexican-Americans are almost certain to have four members and blacks one. When the old-time civic landmark, the municipal auditorium, burnedprobably because a workman was smoking a cigarettethere was a billowing of nostalgic stories about the place, as if citizens were saying goodbye to the past ruled by the anglo society people who year after year used the auditorium for their nearest approaches to resplendence. What’s happening here is only part of the national trend. Americans of Hispanic origin are the nation’s fastest-growing minority; by 1985 they may outnumber blacks. The nation’s 12 million Hispanics have increased since 1970 five or six times as fast as blacks. The reasons are immigration and fertility. The Hispanic group’s average age is 22 \(against 30 for the whole combines with the Catholic pattern of larger families. In Los Angeles alone there are about 1.5 million Mexican-Americans and perhaps another half million illegal immigrants. About one of five Texans is Mexican-Americanat least 2.2 million people. San Antonio’s more than 400,000 Mexican-Americans are the largest concentration of persons of Mexican heritage outside of Mexico City and Los Angeles; San Antonio is the only major American city in which Mexican-Americans are the majority, 55 percent and growing. When county commissioner Bustamante defeated the chosen candidate of the outgoing county judge, A. J. Ploch, in last summer’s primary, Ploch said, “We’ve got to put a stop to this thing of minority groups getting together and electing a man.” Bustamante, the old curmudgeon grumped, was elected by “the West Side” \(the area where Mexican-Americans live in greatest under. As the San Antonio Express said, “The bigotry of the judge’s remarks is painfully clear.” His words seemed to mean Mexican-Americans have no right to be the largest part of a majority. What he really meant was he did not want a Mexican-American running the countywhich is exactly what Cover photo: John Spragens Jr. 2 APRIL 27, 1979 ,reogo.,