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We welcome comments from our readers. Please keep letters short and snappy 100 to 250 words is ideal. Note our new address: The Texas Observer 307 W. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701 A HEa r E E . ‘ rgo I ,,, ‘11111.4 i , I ms 61. —–1 -7Al i t.} 1 1114 ‘IP =.N . r 446 . THE TEXAS 101 server 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 powerful 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. Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Dave Denison Associate Editor: Louis Dubose Editorial Assistant: Kathleen Fitzgerald Editorial Intern: Shannon Stavinoha Calendar: Kathleen Fitzgerald Washington Correspondent: Richard Ryan Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk, Terry FitzPatrick, Gregg Franzwa, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Gary Pomerantz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh 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, Austin; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris. Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana; Susan Reid, Austin; Geoffrey Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg; Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. Layout and Design: Layne Jackson Typesetter: Becky Willard Contributing Photographers: Vic Hinterlang, Bill Leissner, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Publishing Consultant: Frances Barton Development Consultant: Hanno T. Beck for a three-week interval between issues in January and July \(25 issues per postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to P.O. Box 49019, Austin, Texas 78765 SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $27. two years $48. three years $69. Fulltime students $15 per year. Back issues S3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Any current subscriber who finds the price a burden should say so at renewal time; no one need forgo reading the Observer simply because of the cost. Address all correspondence to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin. Texas 78701. Mattox on Prisons In an editorial headlined “Boom Time” in the January 29 issue, you wrote that no major state leaders have stood up and spoken about the long-range solutions to our prison problems. I must take issue with that. I have been speaking out strongly for a need to reform our entire criminal justice system in the State of Texas. I’ve testified before the legislature that the “quick fix” solutions won’t do the trick. I’ve encouraged such organizations as the Greater Dallas Crime Council and the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas to push for such an agenda with their legislators. Charles and Pauline Sullivan are long-time friends of mine, and we continue to work together for a better solution to our criminal justice problems. For too long, we have ignored the need for a statewide standardized system of such important aspects such as training for prosecutors, sentencing, and alternative punishments. Your editorial was exactly right that we’re not taking the correct approach to this devastating problem. You were incorrect, however, to include me in the group of officials who haven’t spoken up. Jim Mattox Attorney General Austin Prisons and Safer Living The Observer remains the one honest, consistent voice in speaking of the Texas prison system. We are led to believe by our officials that more prisons lead to safer living. Some day there may be more inside than outside at our increased rate of imprisonment for nonviolent crimes. The faces of the prisoners remain the same poor white, poor black, poor brown. Most are uneducated, unemployed, perhaps unemployable, and hopeless. The causes are evident, yet our only answer is punishment. Thanks for your January 29 issue. Hope some of the right people get copies. Yvonne Pugh Waco From Pillory to Post In Michael King’s generally perceptive January 29 article, “The Return of Joe Bob Briggs,” he says either Houston newspaper “would be greatly improved by ripping out its editorial and op-ed pages and replacing them with the musings of Joe Bob, beside regular snaps of Sybil Danning. Instead, we get the lunatic ravings of fanatics like Pat Buchanan, George Will, William Buckley, James Kilpatrick.” I share his misgivings about those fellows, but I hope that paragraph isn’t indicative of the caliber of his research on the article in general. All of the syndicated columnists he derides appear exclusively in the Chronicle, not the Post. We develop thick hides in this business and don’t mind being pilloried. But we’d rather it be over our own sins, if any, and not those of our competitors. We think, not unnaturally, that we have a good stable of columnists. If our editorial and op-ed pages were ripped out we’d be depriving Houstonians of, among others, Molly Ivins a name that may ring a bell with Observer readers. Charles Reinken Associate Editor Houston Post Pollution Awareness I recently read the December 18, 1987, issue of The Texas Observer that reported several aspects of pollution. I truly believe the pollution of our air, water, soil, and food should take top priority with all politicians and the voters should elect those that try to protect our environment. Our environment is precious. With your help, more people can be made aware of hazardous waste in our state. Enclosed is my subscription for two years looking forward to my first issue. Ida Lou Ames Texarkana DIALOGUE 2 FEBRUARY 26, 1988 ,