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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V FORMER GOVERNOR Mark White didn’t exactly dazzle the crowd during a recent address at the University of Texas. White, who is considering another run for the Democratic nomination, gave his mostly student audience some pointers on how to avoid tough questions. Asked about UT funding, White conceded he didn’t know enough to talk about the issue. Asked about funding for public schools, he suggested that the money is there, but didn’t specify where it would come from. In an interview after his talk, White kept true to his previous form, saying he had “commitments” for about $2.5 million in campaign funds. Confronted with the obvious follow up, White conceded that his millions aren’t exactly in the bank. “I haven’t been asking for that . . . just commitments,” he said when asked how much he had actually raised. //if IT TOOK HIM a while to say it, once asked, and it was preceded by several convoluted descriptions of the issue, but those UT students who stuck it out learned that White is, well, in favor of a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. In fairness to White, he did spend some of the time explaining that abortion is a solemn and complex issue. “But in the end, that decision has to be made by the woman,” White said. He also said that he will announce whether or not he intends to run for governor “at the end of this [October] month or early next month.” V’ ATTORNEY GENERAL Jim Mattox doesn’t touch caffeine products, as he declared proudly at his Austin campaign announcement, but he seems to enjoy a good whirl in a cop car. City officials in San Antonio couldn’t refuse the state’s top prosecutor and now gubernatorial candidate a ride in one of their squad cars. After all, Mattox is the attorney general. The ride happened to take place the same day Mattox made his official announcement that he was running for governor, and that timing didn’t appear to please San Antonio officials. City Manager Lou Fox said the city had researched means to keep Mattox out but couldn’t find a way. Now the city is offering rides to other candidates who request them. Officials want to appear nonpartisan, or as one local official was quoted as saying, We are not going to make a show out of this.” V PERHAPS the bumper stickers should read “Texas Tough and Caffeine Free.” When he officially announced his candidacy in Austin, after a 24-hour flying tour around the state, Attorney General Jim Mattox said that he does not touch caffeine products or alcohol. On a downtown Austin jogging trail, Mattox said that he loves the children of Texas and that they need adults who will provide good role models for them. The subtext to the press conference, in which the word “alcohol” surely was mentioned some 30 times, was that Ann Richards, a recovered alcoholic, is not the proper exemplar for the state’s children. A week earlier, Mattox had provoked a storm of controversy by suggesting that Richards’s history of alcoholism made her less fit to serve as governor. ,. . V REPUBLICANS seem to have their own peculiar addictive predispositions. At a recent Bexar County Republican Women’s gathering, Republican gubernatorial candidate/telecommunications magnate Clayton Williams sponsored a booth in which donors were placed in a wire cage and given one minute to scramble for all the fake money they could grab as it spewed out of a large blower fan. The more bucks a participant grabbed, the bigger prize he won, in a contest that seemed ‘a metaphor for the Williams campaign.’ g/ AT A DEMOCRATIC Party party in Austin, it seemed that at least every third participant was a candidate for the House seat occupied by former Democrat Bob Richardson. Richardson, who last session made Texas Monthly’s Ten Worst list, where he was described as “a Zero,” has already attracted his share of Democrats, eager to win a primary and have a go at him. Observer softball team second baseman Elliott Naishtat was the first to announce. Naishtat, a lawyer, has served as staff counsel for Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, where he was involved in drafting legislation. He has also been involved in community affairs in Austin. Naishtat is citing some 30 bills he drafted while on Barrientos’s staff as evidence of his understanding of the legislative process. M.C. Tyer, who lost to Richardson in the last general election, has also announced. Tyer is running a goodgovernment campaign and has taken Richardson to task for a number of votes last session. Fernando Dubove has worked around the Legislature for the past three sessions, first as a staff member for Kingsville Rep. Irma Rangel, then as a legislative aide for the House Judiciary Committee, and last session as a legislative liaison for the state bar association. He is an attorney who will also be running, a good-government grassroots campaign. Erwin McGee is an Austin lawyer who worked in Washington for 10 years before going into private practice in Austin. In Washington, he worked as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for John White and later followed White when White worked for the Democratic party. McGee also held several positions in the Texas Senate, serving on the staffs of Lloyd Doggett, Ken Caperton, and Bill Hobby. He had not officially announced his candidacy as the Observer went to press. V DEMOCRATS are also positioning to announce for another House seat in Austin, where Republican Terral Smith has announced that he will not run in 1990. Pam Reed could be the candidate with the best chance of winning in the conservative, white, West Austin district where Smith served. But Reed would have to challenge a state constitutional provision that prevents elected county officials from running in any general, special, or primary election unless they resign. As Travis County commisthe name recognition. She also has the private resources to run a race. Other potential candidates are Annette Lo Voi of the Texas Consumers Association, Sheri Greenberg, a local businesswoman, and Kirk Watson, an Austin attorney and chairman of the Austin Democratic Forum. V GRAPE BOYCOTTERS won another small victory, this time at the InterAmerican book fair in San Antonio. At a reception for author Alice Walker, among the items served with the standard broccoli, cauliflower, and sour cream were large bunches of table grapes. Esmeralda Cardenas, who has been involved with the grape boycott in Austin, scrambled around the Universidad Nacional de Mexico building looking for support among the literary luminaries participating in the conference. “I knew I could get the grapes off the table,” Cardenas said. “But I needed some backing.” She found none until she tracked down poet/novelist Sandra Cisneros. “I told Sandra that they were serving grapes in there,” Cardenas said, “at a book fair for Chicana writers. And she said ‘Let’s go get them,’ ” Cardenas, Cisneros, and several others removed the grapes, walked through the lobby with several bunches held above their heads, and unceremoniously tossed them into a garbage can in the Plaza of the Americas. It only took six hours for the book fair organizers to get the message. “Are you sure that these trays are kosher?” one of the event’s coordinators asked the food handlers at a reception held late in the evening. Cisneros said that both she and Cardenas tried talking to officials and “going through the channels” before they removed the grapes. She speculated that the grapes were there because the Universidad Nacional organizers didn’t know or understand what the grape boycott was about. 0 16 OCTOBER 27, 1989