Richards, Hightower, Mauro in San Antonio, Labor Day, 1982. 0 0 0 0 O 0 CL post. Richards herself admits having gained much of her knowledge on the campaign trail. The inexperience still shows at times, as in meetings of the Advisory Committee on the Treasury. These are big guns representatives of the major bank holding companies, independent banks, corporations, politicians. They confidently examine the ichor of money brokerage, the repos and munies and Tbills. Richards helps guide discussion but does-not lecture. She asks questions and listens, cramming for an exam that she is in the middle of. When asked a question out of her current range she demurs, turning to experts for answers. The moment passes, and the treasurer has pled ignorance instead of trying to bluff. She pulls it off. Next time she will know that answer \(though next time there will be men-bankers at the meeting do not hold it against her. The bankers also seem to sense that, deep down inside, Ann Richards hasn’t really caused a revolution and won’t. Her changes at Treasury are not so much revolution as repair. She has given the Treasury a tune-up. Texas still makes plenty of money for the banks; the money the state charges the banks to hold our money is less than the amount the banks charge for their money. Essentially, the old system of “bank welfare” remains. It’s just not as generous as before. There are more revolutionary treasury policies, and many of them are being tried in other states. Illinois has a “keep the money at home” policy that goes one step further: the money comes with strings attached in order to make sure that money deposited at home is put to work at home. Excluding the major Chicago banks, which deal in international markets, Illinois earmarks some deposits to go to banks that follow certain criteria. Preference goes to those banks that have a history of community involvement and which assist in funding public housing projects, hospital construction, agriculture development, student loans and the like. Some deposits are even tied to specific projects, like natural disaster recovery operations. Such “linkeddeposit” programs are also in use in Missouri, Connecticut, Hawaii, West Virginia, and Utah. Even more radical is the notion that the state can make the most money for itself by starting its own bank and bypassing Essentially, the old system of “bank welfare” remains. It’s just not as generous as before. the private banks. There is only one such bank in the United States the State Bank of North Dakota. That bank is one of the largest in the western plains area, and has a strong bottom line: resources of $989,594,000 and profits of $139 million since its inception. The bank began as an outgrowth of North Dakota’s progressive movement, and was intended to protect North Dakotans from abuse by big out-of-state banks. It does not compete with private banks, but will assist those banks in making loans. The state bank has also been an enthusiastic participant in federally insured loan pro grams for farmers, home builders and students. The bank’s president, H. L. Thorndal, calls the bank’s policy “public money for public good.” Rep. Ralph Wallace of Houston submitted a state bank bill during the last legislative session. Bankers, who would lose the two billion dollars in state deposits, don’t like the plan. Neither does the Treasurer. Richards dismisses the state bank out of hand: “I don’t think the state of Texas is ready for it as a viable notion, I don’t think the legislature is ready for it, and I can guarantee you we here at the Treasury are not ready for it.” The Treasurer will continue to improve operations within that large but finite scope of her Treasury revolution. And that will continue to make her popular, both with the voters \(because she is making money for Texas without bankers \(the one group that can always be counted on to be interested in the state WILL SHE run for higher office? Richards is a good politician, a talented administrator and hot property, too. She’s the first woman since Ma Ferguson to be elected to statewide office but it’s not one of the famous offices. Would Texas vote for a woman for governor, or lieutenant governor? Would they vote for Ann Richards? The problem with midlife career changes is that they give you so little time. Richards is 50 this year. A second term in the Treasury would leave her pushing 60 in an increasingly ageconscious state. She says she has no plans. But she’ll get some. Richards believes she has brought more than just efficiency into the treasurer’s office. She says, “I think we bring an approach of compassion that gives a more human dimension to mere statistics on paper.” With those virtues come problems; the other side of the coin. Richards expresses frustrations and fears that many professional women share. She talks about what she sees as her faults: “I’m not tough enough .. . I’m too emotionally involved in what I do. Far too into this job, and have virtually given up any semblance of private life.” Though that describes many good politicans, it doesn’t satisfy her. “Then I may not want to be in this profession. I think a lot about that; the price may be too high. And yet obviously I get something out of it, else I wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t work this hard unless you get something out of it. . . . THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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