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recession. But Welch can’t seem to pin all of the blame for the declining price of oil on the mayor. And, as president of the chamber, he shares in the hometown responsibility for Houston’s sluggish economy. Nor was he helped by early speculation in Houston Magazine that he is being muscled out at the chamber, that he just doesn’t fit in with plans that include a new economic development council. Another issue is Whitmire herself. She is perceived as being cold and aloof. One community organizer, who says that he will vote for Whitmire, voiced similar sentiments. “Dealing with her is such a grind. We meet with her and her people, and get much of what we ask for. It’s so unpleasant. But, with McConn [former mayor Jim McConn], we always left feeling good, he was agreeable, promised everything, and you got nothing:” It is a common complaint about Whitmire. So there it is. With Welch, affairs political will be enjoyable. The firm handshake, the arm draped over the shoulder, that old biting and acerbic wit at press conferences. Much of what this race is about is nostalgia. A charming Rotarian prince returning to resurrect prosperity. Will this souffl rise twice? I doubt it. Adieu, sweet prince. Say goodnight, Louie. Austin MANY OF US working against capital punishment have come to recognize that the death penalty will be with us for some time to come. Public opinion in favor of the death penalty is at its highest point in many years. The pace of executions has increased almost geometrically, and killings by the state are on the verge of becoming routine. Virtually all the novel legal issues that might have affected significant numbers of those on death row have been eliminated, and the Supreme Court expresses annoyance at legal maneuvers to stem the tide of executions. A shift in the Supreme Court’s attitude would require the addition of several new members who believe the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The earliest that could happen is the end of this decade, and even then it might take years for the right case to work its way up to the Court’s attention. Changes in public and legislative opinion will also be long in coming. It will probably take the execution of several innocent people, combined with enough years of experience with executions to demonstrate to the public what death penalty opponents have always known that no one is any safer when the state kills one of its citizens. Over the long term, our goal remains the complete abolition of the death penalty. We oppose the death penalty because it is barbaric a form of Gara LaMarche is Executive Director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union. punishment that places us in the undesirable company of Iran, South Africa, and the Soviet Union. We oppose it because it is racist over half the inmates on death row in Texas are black or Hispanic, but the more telling statistic involves the race of the murder victim. A black who kills a white in Texas is twelve times more likely to get the death sentence than a white who kills a black. We oppose it because it is arbitrary a kind of lottery system in which Texas can execute Doyle Skillern, a murder accomplice, while his partner, the triggerman, approaches eligibility for parole. These arguments are by now familiar, but we must keep making them, and they gain new force with every execution. To keep these concerns before the public, we must revive and broaden antideath penalty coalitions. With the help of two Mennonite volunteers from Wisconsin, the Dallas Coalition Against the Death Penalty organized a meeting last month of a dozen civic, church and legal groups to take steps toward reconstituting a statewide coalition. Its Houston counterpart has been able in recent months to increase attendance at Huntsville execution vigils an important effort to insure that public officials are not spared the reality and the agony of their acts. But what do we do in the long years until capital punishment ends? I think the time has come for activists to shift course. This requires no diminution of our passionate opposition to statesanctioned murder, or any lessening of efforts to abolish the death penalty. But it does require a frank recognition that abolition is a long-term goal. While we continue seeking to change hearts and minds and ultimately, the law through public education, litigation, and lobbying, we must develop a short-term strategy, too. For the short term; we may be able to enlist the support of some of the prodeath penalty majority in pushing for a series of steps to mitigate the most egregious aspects of capital punishment as it has come to be practiced. Too many people even those who committed crimes as juveniles are now being included in the group of potential deathrow victims. That is one immediate focus for our protests. Too many convicts on death row are now going to the chamber without having had adequate legal representation. That is another crisis that calls for immediate and energetic action. Executions Without Counsel U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall raised an issue at a Pennsylvania judicial conference in August that ought to give everyone pause especially those who support the death penalty. He brought into public view a problem that has been recognized for some time by anti-death penalty litigation groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: the representation. crisis. Marshall told of “stories of counsel who presented no evidence in mitigation of their client’s [death] sentences because they did not know what to offer or how to offer it, or had not read the state’s sentencing statute.” Because most criminal defendants are poor, those facing the prospect of the death penalty “frequently suffer the consequences of having trial counsel who are ill-equipped to handle capital cases.” Some defense lawyers, Marshall asserted, “are unaware that certain death penalty issues are pending before the appellate courts . . . that certain findings by a jury might preclude imposition of the death penalty; or that a separate sentencing phase will follow a conviction.” Certainly incompetent lawyers are nothing new, but won’t trial errors lead to a reversal on appeal? Not necessarily, according to Marshall. Because the A New Strategy Against The Death Penalty By Gara LaMarche 10 OCTOBER 25, 1985