violate existing statutes in 1980. They claim that the whole auditing procedure is just smoke to screen attention from Reagan’s own actions \(a suit filed by the old LSC Board in 1981 challenging Reagan’s practice of controlling a board and to justify those actions. “He’s got a witch hunt going here and he’d better find a witch,” said one Legal Aid lawyer. Another way to make Legal Aid lawyers less effective, besides taking their files, is to keep them out of court and at their desks. Robert Rhundy, executive director of the Coalition for Legal Services said, “Directors have told me they’re spending 10% more of their time informing staff of policy changes, implementing these changes, and responding to unprecedented demands for information about the program from the board.” One regulation now requires that staff members not presume that people who are receiving food stamps, unemployment, welfare, or Medicare benefits are eligible for of these government programs have eligibility guidelines at least as stringent as those of Legal Aid. Past boards have recognized the redundancy of duplicating paperwork through the repetition of eligibility tests. But no more. Another set of regulations reflects the desire to transfer power away from local offices to the board. Regional offices no longer act as managers of field programs, nor do they act as liaison to the community and press. Their duties have been restricted to monitoring grant programs in their regions. The purpose of their vigil is not to identify and reward program strengths but to catch people in violation of the rules. Needless to say, the relationship between the lawyers and their regional supervisors becomes more and more adversarial. “It’s all very negative,” said a member of one of the regional offices. It’s also perplexing. Here is a President who publicly and repeatedly advocates the decentralization of government on every level; but when those local decisions offend him, he’s all too willing to command, control, and conquer. If Reagan succeeds in gutting the Legal Services program, what does he propose in its stead? He’s never said. One of the results, however, of a series of new regulations does reflect an inclination. The percentage of funds used to pay for private bar involvement rose to 12.5 % this year. \(Reagan’s move in the direction of a system of judicare, whereby practicing attorneys are paid nominal fees to represent poor people in court. It’s hard to imagine the private bar absorbing all of the 1,300,000 cases that Legal Aid closed last year. \(That’s 1,300,000 and rising. “We’ve closed more cases in 1983 than ever before,” said Donald Bogard, president of the Legal Services Corporation, Washington headquarters. The rise is at least partly due to the increasing number of poor and unemployed in private lawyers handled the divorce, tenant/landlord, prison, adoption, and consumer cases that form the bulk of the Legal Services caseload, what would happen to the large class action suits? “There would be very few attorneys,” said Marshall, “who would take on controversial cases.” And for those few attorneys with the time, the money, and the inclination to fight poverty on the high plains of Hereford and elsewhere the fight will be long and lonely. Bugs May Not Be the Only Home Pesticide Victims By Shelley Silbert Austin ALINGERING CHEMICAL odor and continuing serious health problems convinced Iona Moravek to move from her house near Houston two-and-a-half years after an exterminator treated it for termites. Dottie Averbach of Austin, three months pregnant at the time her landlord hired a pest control company, chose to move when her doctor advised her to stay away from the strong smell of the insecticide chlordane in her yard and house. In Dallas, Helen and Charles Auten left their home when they suddenly developed diarrhea, nausea, weakness, vomiting, and other acute symptoms following pesticide treatment for Shelly Silbert is the coordinator of the Pesticide Project of the Texas Center for Rural Studies. carpet beetles that had infested an oriental rug. These incidents highlight the growing concern in Texas about a constellation of pesticides used in homes, workplaces, schools, parks, and throughout the urban environment which can have the potential to cause both short term health problems and cancer, birth defects, or other chronic effects. On the average, homeowners use five times more pesticides per acre than farmers. A comparison of soil residues in urban areas and nearby croplands showed higher pesticide concentrations in cities in 8 out of the 14 tests. Some pesticides banned for agricultural uses, such as the suspected carcinogen chlordane, are still very much in use in urban areas. Poor ventilation, frequent application of excessive or inappropriate pesticides, and the round-the-clock exposure of pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the ill combine to make pesticide use in the home particularly risky. Urban pesticide problems were recognized as long as twenty years ago when a director of environmental sanitation in California commented, ” . . of all the sites where pesticides are applied, the home reveals at the same time, the greatest variety, the most susceptible members of the population, the least skill in application, the greatest and most sublime ignorance of the hazards, and the poorest system of protective controls.” Since 1964, pesticide use has doubled in the United States. Some of the common pesticides used for indoor pest control include the organophosphates chlorpyrifos THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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