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HIS SPRING AUSTIN’S. Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign enlisted 600 vol unteers who gathered 20,000 signa tures on petitions calling for a citywide nuclear freeze referen. dum. Although Mayor Carole McClellan and a majority of the Austin City Council members favor the freeze, they would not spend the $40,000 necessary for a separate freeze referendum and were unable to schedule the vote with the next city election, a bond election on September 11, because the state election code dictates that referenda may be held on only four particular dates during the year -not including September 11. Austin freeze organizers did not want to lose the enthusiasm and momentum begun by the petition drive, so they decided to hold their own election. They recruited Travis County Clerk Doris Shropshire as a volunteer consultant, assembled an election oversight committee that includes Shropshire, University of Texas law professor Barbara Aldave, District Judge Harley Clark, and Constable Margaret Gomez, and began signing on volunteers and raising money. The election will require 500 workers and cost about $4,500. Polling places will be set up out side the city polls in all of Austin’s 112 precincts on September 11. Only registered voters may vote, the ballots will be secret, and the votes will be counted at one place under the supervision of the oversight committee. Running what may be the largest non-government election in history will be a big jOb, but Austin freeze workers are accustomed to big jobs. They initiated the Freeze Campaign in February with the backing of Austin actress Helen Handley and writer/humorist John Henry Faulk. A month later the petition drive began, and in two months 20,000 signatures were col lected and the freeze had been pushed to the foreground in city politics. City Council member Roger Duncan reported that he received more letters and phone calls about the freeze than he has on any other issue since he took office a year ago. The local freeze effort is laborintensive and has spent only $2,000 so far. Its steering committee includes a former Washington lobbyist for SANE, an attorney, a carpenter, and a teacher. At the heart of the campaign is full-time coordinator Tony Switzer, 33, a veteran Austin disarmament activist. Nina Butts “Dear Bob” c OMPTROLLER BOB Bullock is quite right to be sending around copies of a letter his opponent “sent me a mere ten months ago,” as he says. In September, 1981, Bullock had just checked into Care Manor in Orange, California, for treatment of his alcoholism. Bullock has been candid about the fact that he had a problem and had to do something about it. “Dear Bob,” wrote State Senator Mike Richards on September 15 sending the letter to Bullock at Care Manor. “It is my understanding that you have entered a hospital on the West Coast for personal treatment and I wanted to commend you for doing so.” Then comes Senator Richards’ second sentence: “Everyone I know respects and admires you greatly for the job you have done and wishes the best.” Politicians are given to liberal applications of snake-oil, but even coming from a politician, this was plenty greasy. “Everyone I know.” Nor did Richards quit there. “Bob,” he went on, “your contribution to Texas has been significant and I feel it is unfortunate the public’s recognition of this has been somewhat lost due to your health problems. “Get well soon. We need you back here at home.” So, Bob did get well soon, and back here at home, Mike Richards announced against his re-election. Everyone Mike Richards knows must have changed their minds by now, all right but about Richards, not Bullock. R. D. Salvadorans in Texas Austin Angie Berryman, American Friends Service Committee co-representative in Central America for several years, has shared her knowledge of the El Salvadoran refugee situation with the Observer. Few Americans, including Texans, are aware of the position of the refugees in South Texas. More and more El Salvadorans are fleeing their homeland for the United States, via Mexico and Texas. Those refugees who make it past the State Department’s automatic denial of El Salvadorans usually travel to other parts of the U.S. to join family and friends. The rest are held in detention camps until they can be deported to El Salvador, where they will again face violence at the hands of their government. Despite the extensive military conflict between the right-wing government and the left-wing revolutionaries, the United States maintains that El Salvador is not in a state of civil war. The U.S. government also disregards the fact that the Salvadoran army executes civilians in large numbers in an attempt to undermine the guerillas’ support system. The United States claims that the El Salvadorans in this country are economic refugees, therefore not entitled to political asylum or volunteer departure status. According to Berryman, who has been working with the refugees recently, the economic motivation is present, but secondary to the fear of violence and execution. The Immigration and Naturalization Service further reduces the refugees’ chances of legal asylum through its illegal practices. Harassment of refugees into signing volunteer departure forms and confessions of illegal activities is a well-known INS practice, but it has also pressured lawyers and bondsmen, and raised El Salvadoran bonds from the standard $4,000 to $15,000. The INS has recently begun to pick up El Salvadorans and take them across the border into Mexico, along with Mexican illegals. Berryman and her colleagues believe that the INS has an informal agreement with Mexican officials who then bus the El Salvadorans back to their country. The U.S. administration’s failure to recognize the El Salvadorans’ qualification for asylum under U.S. law is, Berryman believes, a deliberate oversight to avoid admitting that it supports an oppressive regime. Various church and volunteer groups are taking steps to aid the El Salvadoran refugees, but they cannot entirely compensate, she says, for a hypocritical government which dispenses with its own laws and professed ideals for the sake of political convenience. Kathy Clark Dartmouth student Kathy Clark has been helping out at the Observer this summer. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3