reported by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The committee has also favorably reported a bill by Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, to create a Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer goundwater conservation district in the Austin area. One bill we won’t see enacted was introduced by Austin Rep. Lena Guerrero, a progressive legislative voice on groundwater-protection issues. Under the Guerrero bill the appropriate state regulatory agency would be compelled to restrict the activity and prevent further contamination by regulated facilities or activities when they are linked to groundwater contamination by any organic chemical covered under the federal safe drinking water law. The bill is dying in the House Natural Resources Committee. The Guerrero bill embodies the principle of enforcing ” nondegradation” standards for groundwater. One supporter of such standards is Catherine Perrine, the League of Women Voters of Texas’ water-policy specialist and a champion of groundwater policy reform. “With man-made chemical contaminants not found naturally in groundwater, such as dioxin, shouldn’t the acceptable level just be set at zero?” Perrine asks. Testifying against the bill in the committee’s public hearing was Paul Seals, representing the Texas Water Alliance, a coalition of real estate, construction, and financial interests. “What is contamination?” asks Seals. “The technology is there to find very low levels of concentration. The chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment now. They have been used in industry for decades. Every groundwater body close to the surface has them.” In other words, he says it’s too late to keep traces of toxic chemicals out of the groundwater, and public policy will have to work around this reality. A possible legislative compromise for this year: a bill by Santiesteban, originally the companion bill to Guerrero’s bill, has been completely revised to provide for creating a high-level com mittee made up of legislators, water law experts, and industry and environmental-protection representatives, to make recommendations to the next session of the Legislature regarding a groundwater protection strategy for Texas, including the issue of water quality standards. The governor would appoint the committee chair. In the meantime, state agencies will have issued a report summarizing each new documented case of groundwater contamination under their jurisdiction, and what, if anything, they are doing about it. This bill has been favorably reported by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. More studies, more reports it’s not the decisive action we need, but then this is a big, complicated, and sensitive issue, with a good deal of built-in resistance to change, and Texans are apparently ready to tackle it only in small steps for now. Maybe this will lead to better answers down the road. One thing seems clear enough the groundwater problem is not going to go away anytime soon. POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 1/’ Public school administrators in the small West Texas town of Tornillo have rescinded a requirement that teachers speak only English in district classrooms and Superintendent Francis Brooks publicly apologized for a letter in which he had requested that parents punish children for speaking Spanish at school. Forty percent of the district’s students speak only Spanish and 95 percent of the student body. is Hispanic. Letters requesting that parents punish children for speaking Spanish had been translated into Spanish. 1/ Campaign bankrollers are bewildered. Austin city council candidate Max Nofziger, spending less than one dollar per vote, defeated Gilbert Martinez, a highly favored big spending candidate in the city’s May 2 runoff election. Martinez, the favorite of city developers, spent $153,000 to Nofziger’s $29,000 in a race for an open city-wide seat. On his meager budget Nofziger won 31,890 votes for the 51 percent by which he defeated Martinez. Incumbents George Humphrey and Sally Shipman were also re-elected in the runoff despite big spending by a cabal of bankers, realtors, and developers who had underwritten the campaigns of Shipman’s and Humphrey’s opponents and Martinez. Each of the losing candidates was endorsed by the Austin American-Statesman, the Cox combine’s daily that Austin newsletter editor Daryl Slusher has tagged the Austin American Real Estatesman. Nofziger, a liberal, hitchiked into Austin in 1974 after graduating from a small Michigan liberal arts college and spent several years selling flowers and offering up political commentary from a South Congress street corner. Before this election he had run for council three times and for mayor once. Max 1/ Little has been said about an Austin luncheon meeting of presidential frontrunner Gary Hart with Ben Barnes and Lloyd Doggett. \(The meeting occurred before the Miami Herald staked out observers in Austin are beginning to speculate about Doggett’s political ambitions as he becomes more visible at political gatherings. Some see him looking at the attorney general’s race should Jim Mattox make good on his promise to run for governor. Others claim that he is still waiting for Austin Democratic Congressman Jake Pickle to retire. v San Antonio Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez offered some encouragement to members of the National Impeachment Coalition, a Washington-based organization with designs on impeaching the President, Vice-President and Attorney General. Gonzalez described Reagan as the most impeachable of the nation’s 39 presidents. Gonzalez said that he intends to add three additional articles to the six articles of impeachment that he introduced in the House in early March. v In Houston, pre-election rites of spring began with big developer Joe Russo unveiling a grassroots program based on the solicitation of $200,000 in one dollar contributions. Russo figured to make up the extra million or so dollars required to unseat incumbent Mayor Kathy Whitmire by soliciting larger contributions from Houston’s big givers. According to a member of Russo’s staff, Russo met with some 150 of the city’s leaders to discuss issues and gauge his 12 MAY 15, 1987
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