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101111111.6 1.7 I I 111 MIN I 1! 111 I 11111111q I NV :HI I 11, TE-rx0BSERvER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1985 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 77, No. 9 May 3, 1985 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat ; which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR Geoffrey Rips ASSOCIATE EDITOR Dave Denison EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger CALENDAR EDITOR Chula Sims EDITORIAL INTERNS: Hanno T. Beck, Kathleen Fitzgerald, Terri Langford, Wendy Parker, Roger Williams WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Al Watkins LAYOUT AND DESIGN: Alicia Daniel EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin,; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Dallas; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Fred Schmidt. Tehachapi, Cal., Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee. Fla. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Nina Butts, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk. Ed Garcia, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Amy Johnson, Laurence Jolidon, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Rick Piltz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Alicia Daniel. CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Mark Antonuccio, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Miles Mathis, Joe McDermott, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerfill or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Managing Publisher Advertising & Development Director Subscription Manager Circulation Assistant Consultant Cliff Olofson Dana Loy Alicia Daniel Stefan Wanstrom Frances Barton Editorial and Business Office 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 The Texas Observer Observer Publishing postage paid at Austin, Texas. Subscription rates, including 5 1/8% sales tax: one year $23, two years $42, three years $59. One year rate for full-time students, $15. Back issues $2 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106. Copyright 1985 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. EDITORIAL Great White Way Austin WHILE TRYING to be all things to as many people as possible, Governor Mark White has steered a political course that, on the surface at least, has been largely determined by his reading of the prevailing political winds. At the same time, however, there were always those conservative, corporate tendencies that we suspected were cruising the deep waters of his agenda. But in the wake of the 1982 populist rebellion, these deeper purposes only rarely came to light. It is only now, with the 1984 election returns in his pocket, that Mark White has begun to reveal a few of his priorities. Back in 1982, White was all consumerist, campaigning against the utilities and his predecessor’s appointments to the Public Utility Commission. Prior to the 1984 election, he appointed a black woman albeit a corporate lawyer as Secretary of State, a Mexican American albeit conservative as a justice of the state supreme court, and his vaunted “housewife” to the Public Utilities Commission. No sooner had the 1984 election returns been counted than White set a leeward course, sending him to the right. He has backed a Reaganomic state budget, cutting social services rather than instituting equitable revenue-making plans. He climbed into a camouflage uniform and marched around Honduras. And Bum Bright, former Texas A&M regent and right-wing ideologue, has reported that White told him not to worry about what Bright called the “bomb-throwing” PUC Commissioner Peggy Rosson. “I’ve got her outvoted two to one,” Bright reported being told by White. While White never directly answered press questions regarding his alleged statement about Commissioner Rosson, a look at the record of the PUC in the last six months will lend credence to Bright’s claim. In all major cases heard by the PUC from September 1, 1984, through March 31, 1985, the only dissenting votes were cast by Rosson. These most often involved philosophical differences with the willingness of the other two commissioners to include utility payments for public relations costs or other forms of self-aggrandizement among expenses allowed to be passed on to ratepayers. There was, for instance, her dissent in a Gulf States Utilities rate case in September 1984, in which she thought a contribution by Gulf States to the U.S. Committee on Energy Awareness \(an industry group promoting the not be passed on to consumers. More recently, a PUC accountant revealed that a miscalculation resulted in Southwestern Bell’s receiving $49 million more than it deserved in its last rate increase. According to Virgina Ellis of the Dallas Times Herald, the “miscalculation” was the result of a private meeting the accountant held with Bell executives. They provided figures that persuaded the PUC employee to increase his recommendation for a rate increase, an increase he now says was not deserved. It is common practice for PUC accountants and staff to work closely with their counterparts in the utilities they are supposed to be regulating in determining rate recommendations made to the PUC commissioners. It is also common practice for them to 2 MAY 3, 1985