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. \\,V1 and Associates 1117 West 5th Street Austin, Texas 78703 REALTOR Representing all types of properties In Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty. 477-3651 I It E 5 DIALOGUE Buy Houston An enlightening piece The Warfare State \(TO, dependency of Texas on the defense industry. I note with interest that one Texas city has managed to avoid this dependency. Quite by accident, Houston has no major military installations and benefits little from defense research or weapons manufacturing. In fact, Houston, because of the relative lack of defense investment within its metropolitan area, subsidizes cities such as Dallas and Fort Worth by providing the tax dollars that fund contracts with weapons manufacturers in the Metroplex. If I were an unemployed oil worker in Houston, I’d want to know why my three Republican congressmen were voting to send my tax money to places like California and Massachusetts to buy weapons and not returning it to Houston to help families in need. Geoff Baskir Arlington TSTA Defended I was .astounded to see the Observer join our redneck politicians in the recent round of teacher-bashing \(Geoffrey Rips, “Reading the Writing,” March sounded suspiciously like the spleen left over from some `D’ he got in the third grade \(“noodleheads of the teachers associations,” “Rasputins of the teaching Though his hostility was clear, his perceptions in this matter were not. By lumping together the purported offenses of TFT, TSTA, and some of the ad hoc anti-White teacher groups he muddied these murky waters even further. The Texas Federation of Teachers, by inexplicably cozying up to the power structure this past year has, admittedly, forfeited its claim as a representative of teacher rights. And the ad hoc antiWhite forces are, I suspect, simply Trojan horses for Republican candidates or ultra-right Democrats. But TSTA, by withholding its formal endorsement from White rather than repudiating him outright, is behaving in a rational manner. White pushed the school reform bill only because it was a political debt, not because he has any genuine empathy for teachers, and his incompetent dealings with the legislature almost brought the whole project to nought. The badlyflawed bill that finally was produced has given teachers more new problems than it has resolved old ones. Since they apparently have no friends but themselves, teachers, through their professional organizations, are left with the task of trying to straighten the whole mess out. I can agree with Rips that Hance, Clements, or Loeffler would be even worse than White, but I can find little else of value in his appraisal. If he plans to write more on public schools and the Observer has been remiss in this area I hope he will do his homework next time. Perhaps he might even talk to an actual teacher or two. Since the collapse ,of the Democratic Party as a progressive force, the National Education Association and its state affiliates like TSTA has been the largest and most effective group on the American Left. While not immune to criticism, they do deserve a friendlier forum in the Observer. Patrick D. McLaughlin Copperas Cove Inaccuracies corrected: TFT and TSTA were specifically not lumped together. TFT has acted honorably. I did make a few C’s in penmanship. G. R. Burning the Thicket During the last week of March 1986, a part of the Big Thicket National Preserve was burned. In my judgment, the Big Sandy Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve is not for burning at the hands of the National Park Service. Those entrusted as the official custodians and preservers of the Big Sandy Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve have chosen to intervene, apparently to act for the potential advantage of certain plants and animals to the detriment of others. In short, they have set fire to the plants in an area said to be almost 2000 acres to preserve them, leaving those heat sensitive species, such as amphibians, reptiles and countless invertebrates, to fend off the flames. The NPS can discuss the actions of the firestarters in the BSU in the most non-inflammatory language. They can speak of fire-resistent species, fireinduced succession, environmental management, and so on. They may even refer to lightning setting fire to the forest. Yet, I have more confidence in acts of God to maintain a biological preserve than I do in the NPS playing with fire within its boundaries. Preserving plants and animals by burning some of them is a curious employment for the NPS in the BSU of the Preserve. Furthermore, I can see no justification for burning grass and leaves within some of the inside peripheral boundary of the O.L. Davis Cemetery near Gin Creek. I would not suggest even for a moment that this fire, set and guided by experts, ranged beyond their control into the cemetery. The fire-starters must have a singular explanation for burning inside the cemetery fence. I would have thought that some of my relatives who are buried in this little cemetery would have enough of the flames without those from the NPS. In acting to provide what_ they judge God and Nature have not, the NPS assumes a God-like role. I deplore the flagrant disregard for life in a biological preserve. How peculiar that in the Big Sandy Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve plants and animals cannot live out their lives without the hazards of the NPS. The Big Thicket National Preserve has not existed very long, but it appears that the torch has been passed to those who will fashion its environment to their satisfaction. And so life goes in an apparent biological preserve. I trust that tourists, who will be driving here, say, from Wyoming to view the Big Sandy Unit, will not arrive to witness the NPS setting fire. to it. Perhaps, they would be reminded that the NPS, step by step over the years, has destroyed numerous animals in Yellowstone in an apparent attempt to conserve them; and Yellowstone is only a Park not a Preserve. Some years ago, my father and I were distressed that personnel of the NPS had cut down some pine saplings in the Big Sandy Unit. Even then, we thought preserving the Preserve by destroying it was an inconsiderate endeavor. Now, a part of the Big Sandy Unit has been burned. In fact, some of it was still smoking when I was there on 29 March. Perhaps, the Big Thicket National Preserve is a biological preserve in name only. Joseph Patrick Kennedy Houston THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13