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about the importance of having a broad range of people serve on these boards or agencies, then I’m pissing in the wind. But I think it’s my duty. I don’t think it’s mine alone. “I think it goes without saying that there is significant underrepresentation on behalf of women and minorities. . . . My primary concern is that citizens generally be actively and properly represented and not just the students because if you acquire that rationale then you could probably justify not having a minority representative on the University of Texas board. The very reason that the students are underrepresented is a reflection of the fact that the boards have not been actively going about the business of recruiting minority students. These institutions and these agencies belong to the taxpayers. They belong to the citizens. I would feel a lot better about paying my share of taxes that goes to the University of Texas and then pumping my share of oil out of the ground if I knew there was somebody who understood the needs of my community. “It’s window-dressing to a certain extent, but it’s necessary window-dressing. I just don’t think that the practice of all those political plums going to the high and mighty is something that necessarily benefits the state overall. I don’t think there will be any dramatic change in the way the University of Texas Board operates and invests the money from the Permanent University Fund. It’s the grand jury syndrome. People are likely to pick people like themselves. You won’t have any welfare mothers black, brown, or white serving on those boards. But I don’t see anything wrong with one of them serving on the Texas Department of Human Resources.” The interview moved on to more mundane Senate matters. Washington said he was surprised by the failure to return Clements nominees Bubba Steen and Sam Barshop. “Barshop is a mixed bag. . . . You know, you decide what you wait to do, then you decide how to justify it. There were people who obviously decided for whatever reason because Barshop was a contributor, somebody pulled the plug on them, somebody yanked their chain or whatever but the rationale they espoused on the floor, which is as much as I know, essentially was that they didn’t have a San Antonio regent. That was what they used to justify the vote for him. I don’t know that they’ll have all those votes when it comes out of committee. . . . I don’t think you can really measure those votes on philosophy. There was a certain kind of partisanship involved. Bui I don’t think you can say that’s the way the Senate breaks out on substantive issues. I think there’s a good deal of cohesiveness on the part of the more progressive members of the Senate. It’s just that our numbers are small. And it takes a coalition with moderates and others to get the necessary votes.” Craig Washington doesn’t seem to have had any difficulty moving from the House to the Senate. Of course, he seemed to have few problems in his first House term. Elected to represent Houston’t 86th District in 1972, he organized the black legislative caucus with Mickey Leland, advocated a corporate profits tax, and backed Bill Clayton for speaker against liberal Rep. Carl Parker: \(“When a conservative gives you his word, you can take it to the bank,” Washington said. “Liberals can always find some reason to justify changnot politicians,” Washington declared that term and was dubbed one of the most promising rookies by the Houston Chronicle. In Washington’s term, Clayton named him chairman of the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence but stripped him of that position the following session, largely because of Washington’s opposition to wiretaps, the use of oral confessions, and capital punishment. “I want to tell people what it looks like when you boil someone’s blood in their brain and it runs out the corners of their eyes, mouth, and nose. . . . It is murder. Until we can create life, we don’t have the right to take it. We’re not god,” Washington declared. On law and order bills, he said, “It is giving people what they think they need rather than what is really needed. People will vote on most of those for political reasons. I don’t believe in that.” Clayton made him the chairman of the Committee on Social Services instead. Washington became known as a champion of Aid to Families with Dependent Children, wringing tears from legislators by illustrating his oratory with ragged children’s clothing. In 1980, Washington assisted in the defense of Bill Clayton in his Brilab case. One week after Clayton’s acquittal, Washington was named speaker pro tempore. He labored on behalf of pari-mutuel betting, homosexual rights, increased welfare payments, an oil tertiary recovery bill, and efforts by businesses to avoid the Deceptive Trades Practices Act. The Austin American-Statesman said Washington was “probably the most effective legislator in the House.” In 1982, he became the first black state senator in Texas since Barbara Jordan moved on to Congress in 1972. Not everybody loves him. State Rep. Paul Ragsdale accused Washington, Leland, and former State Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of “claiming my legislation as their own. I work hard year around on this job. They sit back home on their butts and make money, then come up here and grab my legislation,” said Ragsdale, referring specifically to his bills for a state equal opportunity employment commission. Washington says he looks out for the interests of all his constituents the 60% who are black, the 20% Mexican American, the few who are wealthy. He received sizeable campaign contributions in 1982 from a wide assortment of interests, including political action committees for dentists, lawyers, trucking companies, underwriters, the Blue Cross, contractors, utility employees, and social workers. He received contributions from Allan Shivers, Babe Schwartz, and the Texas Horse Racing Association PAC. Washington is a sponsor of current parimutuel legalization legislation. When asked his reaction to the argument that horseracing exploits the poor \(who, in betting on horses, insure the investments Washington was not as convincing as he had been on the issue of board representation. “That is a concern,” he said, “and continues to be a concern. I think the availability of horseracing is not going to enhance the opportunity or inhibit the opportunity for gamblers.” WITH A REAL possibility for change in state government, it may not be enough just to render inspired oratory. It may be necessary to engage in the trade-offs and compromises made in back rooms -in order to move legislation and in order to stand on principle when speaking on the Senate floor. But it needs to be recognized: something important was said in the midst of deals and transactions conceived in cunning or out of ignorance. It may have been said with one eye on the grandstand and it probably lacked the rhetorical embellishment and ruminative complexity of Bob Eckhardt’s best oratory. But for a moment on the floor of the Senate the trading and power-plays were arrested and the real substantive problems of the outside world came in. The same world Jim Hightower considered in the midst of his inaugural celebration in the capitol rotunda: “the tens of thousands of poor people who wonder if all this hoopla means anything to them.” It wasn’t said as powerfully, but it did creep in. For a moment, amid all the pomp and corn of legislative bluster, something was said that had to be said. 0 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13