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. \\,1-1 and Associates 502 W. 15th Street REALTOR Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty 477-3651 E Austin, Texas 78701 Lyon Texas Senate Rookie of the Year [TO, 6/24/83], he “relies on an excellent staff that sometimes pushes him to go for more than he might be inclined to do otherwise.” Lyon’s legislative aide Russ Tidwell announced for the state representative who became special assistant to Gov. Mark White. Tidwell will run in both the special election needed to fill the seat before the ever-imminent special session this year and in the general primaries for the 1985 session. In late September of last year, Colette Knisely left Lyon’s employ as legislative aide. She is setting up shop with former Texas Consumer Association director and public-interest lobbyist Rebecca Lightsey as issues analysts and consultants for state candidates running in the 1984 elections. v’ In a study released in December, the Texas Education Agency reported that the Edgewood School District of San Antonio, the state’s poorest school district in terms of per pupil expenditure based on the ad valorem tax, is getting the most educational value for its dollars. “Nowhere in the state,” wrote the TEA, “is a school district achieving such high degrees of excellence .. . given the handicaps under which all concerned are laboring.” According to Kemper Diehl of the San Antonio Express, Edgewood’s success can be traced to the school board elections of 1976 and 1978, in which Pablo Escamilla, current board president Enrique Barrera, and David Garcia were elected to join Marcos Solis in reshaping the district. The board then hired district curriculum supervisor James Vasquez to be superintendent. [See Observer [4/8/83 for Vasquez interview.] Vasquez and the board were convinced that Edgewood students could do as well as any others. Results from basic skills tests for all grade levels have shown marked improvement over the past five years. Average scores on SATs have risen 32 points in the past year. This does not mean that Edgewood does not need more money. According to Diehl, great gaps in equipment, math and science departments, music and the arts persist. The question raised by the TEA report is: what could Edgewood do, given average per pupil funding? v According to a story appearing in the December 11 Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, the owner of the grain storage elevators from which Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower was seeking to liberate corn to feed starving West Texas cattle is also the recipient of low-interest government farm loans totaling nearly $11 million. Gannett New Service reporters Mark Rohner and Dennis Camire, in a story investigating Farmers Home Administration loan recipients and their political ties, took a close look at P. L. Blake of Greenwood, Mississippi, founder of Delta Rice Farms and the president of Dewitt Corp., which controls real estate investment and agribusiness interests, including PLB Grain Storage in the Texas Panhandle. “To the Farmers Home Administration,” report Rohner and Camire, “Blake is the cash-strapped farmer whose agri-business corporations have, since 1975, borrowed almost $11 million in low-cost government loans by convincing the agency they’re too broke to get commercial credit. “Since 1980, the federal Commodity Credit Corp. has been paying a separate Blake company more than $17 million to store surplus government corn in huge Texas elevators formerly owned by Billie Sol Estes. To land the lucrative and unique contract, Blake had to convince Commodity Credit that he was flush.” One reason U.S. Agriculture Secretary John Block may have been so testy in the dispute over the stored corn, which Hightower and the State of Texas eventually won, was the amount the USDA had agreed to pay PLB whether the corn is kept in storage or not. Under a long-term contract signed in 1982, the U.S. must pay PLB $3.6 million per year to store 13’/2 million bushels or less. The government is required to pay more if more is stored. The contract is good through 1986 for at least $14.4 million. In addition, PLB has been storing government corn since 1980 under a short-term agreement, bringing PLB nearly $12 million since 1980. With all that federal money invested, perhaps Block was not too thrilled by the contention by Texas officials that the stored corn was deteriorating badly. Meanwhile, back in Mississippi, Blake still owed $1.2 million on his FmHA loans earlier this year. According to Rohner and Camire, the Dewitt Corp. had never disclosed PLB stock profits to FmHA. This year Blake received a new $850,000 FmHA loan. N THE CHILDREN OF NICARAGUA NEED YOUR HELP The economic hardship caused by the military and financial pressure imposed on the people of Nicaragua by the United States is being felt directly by the children. Nicaraguan children are growing up without vitally needed school materials and play toys. The American Friends Service Committee is shipping toys and educational supplies directly to schools and daycare centers. THE CHILDREN NEED: cars and wheeled toys dolls and doll houses stuffed toys puzzles balls of all kinds paints, crayons, chalk tricycles and wagons notebooks and paper All items should be in good repair and sturdy. Donations of medicines and medical supplies are also accepted. For more information call or write: AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE INC. TEXASARKANSASOKLAHOMA 18 JANUARY 13, 1984