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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Virile Minority ri In a marvelously botched press release the Young Conservatives of Texas announced March 22 that they had “launched a verile attack” on a gay rights bill in the state Senate. Getting beyond the virility of it all, we read on to discover that the YCT is an Austin-, based group “proudly serving Texas for over five years now” that opposes not only gay rights proposals but the current availability of financial aid: “Our opinion is that complaints stem from purely political motives of liberal students attempting to tarnish the image of our president and his policies.” With so many students getting financial aid, the YCT says, “it appears evident that a significant number are taking advantage of the present system. ” Certainly one of the more virile lines in the YCT attack on SB 1201, Sen. Craig Washington’s measure to prohibit discrimination against gays, was this one: “equating homosexuality with the minority status of race, color, and gender [minority statusl will lead to a degradation of the strong moral and social fabric upon which Texas prides itself.” k Imagine the dismay the owner of a manufacturing plant in Houston felt when he discovered that he had 10,000 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil that had to be gotten rid of. The cost of carting it to the nearest hazardous waste landfill would be about $1 million. But, if the EPA gives it approval, everything could work out happily. It seems the soil is so contaminated \(concentrations 180 times higher than profitably be smelted, like ore. An El Paso company is interested in it, and the owner’s profit could be large enough to cover the total cleanup costs. Houston’s Health Dept. first discovered the problem in 1982 but promptly forgot about it. They were only reminded by accident when a development planned for the area required a new easement across the property. V Quick, how do you feel about Japanese imports, the minimum wage, prayer in the schools, and the role of government? If you’re interested in a Capital Hill internship with representative Richard Armey, R-Denton, be prepared to answer these questions. Two paragraphs on each will do, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find out beforehand where the good Rep. stands on those issues. Although Armey’s administrative assistant Dennis Calabrese claims there are no right or wrong answers, he notes that an intern who agrees with Armey’s conservative philosophy is more likely to work harder for him. Although ideological questioning may seem like overkill for a summer job that consists mainly of opening mail, perhaps it is consistent with the primary purpose of internships: to show students how politics really work. V A controversial rate increase request is in the works at Texas Utilities Electric Company, according to Bruce Millar of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The utility company is looking to get state permission to charge electric customers for financing the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant to the tune of $4.56 billion. Texas Utility officials can’t estimate how much their rate increase request will be, but it should be filed in September after federal permission is given to begin loading fuel in the Peak’s nuclear reactor. It is reported that there is a precedent for this sort of pass-along financing; in other states electric rates have skyrocketed by as much as 75 percent after nuclear plants are finished. The timing of the request may add spice to the debate, for it will occur at just the time Governor Mark White will be looking for political targets for his expected run for re-election. You will remember that in 1982 White’s pledge to control utility rates was an important feature of his campaign. Comanche Peak could be too tempting for White to resist, plagued as it has been by poor management, delays, and tremendous cost overruns. The plant is now scheduled to open in March 1986, but there is speculation about whether that date is realistic. David Boltz, a representative of Citizens Association for Sound Energy, which opposes the plant, predicts that it will not open before .1988. Officially, Texas Utilities representatives say they do not expect politics to play any role in the outcome of the prospective rate request, but Wall Street utility analysts aren’t sitting that easy. One called it “an unfortunate coincidence of events.” The White campaign may, on the other hand, consider it a very fortunate coincidence. MX Vote V Senator Lloyd Bentsen was one of ten Democratic Senators who sided with the President March 19 in voting to approve 21 new MX missiles. Ten Texas Democratic Representatives joined 51 other Democrats to support Reagan in the House. They were: Andrews of Houston, Bustamante of San Antonio and Laredo, de la Garza of Mission, Frost of Dallas, Ralph Hall of Rockwall, Sam Hall of Marshall, Leath of Waco, Ortiz of Corpus Christi, Stenholm of Stamford, and Wilson of Lufkin. All ten Texas Republican Representatives voted for the MX. The seven Democrats who voted against the MX were: Brooks of Beaumont, Bryant of Dallas, Coleman of El Paso, Gonzalez of San Antonio, Leland of Houston, Pickle of Austin, and Wright of Fort Worth. Rep. Jim Wright spoke out strongly against Reagan’s assertion that the missile approval was necessary to insure the success of the arms talks in Geneva. “The time has come to stop showing each other how tough we are,” Wright said. “The time has come to reason together and make an agreement of peace for all mankind.” Wright did not join efforts of House Speaker Tip O’Neill to reverse the missile approval on a second vote a few days later. Rep. John Bryant was lobbied heavily by Reagan’s staff and got a phone call from the President, but held firm against the $1.5 billion plan, as did Rep. Jake Pickle, who voted for the MX last year. V If the folks at the Lower Colorado River Authority don’t think the legislature is serious about putting some clamps on the authority’s free and easy ways, they should have a long talk with Robert Mica. Mica is the Flatonia feed store owner nominated in mid-March by Gov. Mark White to take the place of E. B. “Tex” Mayer from La Grange. Mica is also the man who had to withdraw his name from consideration after Sen. John Sharp withdrew his support because the Fayette Countian refused to back up the senator’s antiLCRA legislative proposals. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21