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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE DALLAS TIMES HERALD columnist Molly Ivins weighed into the Ann Richards drug-question controversy with a confeSsion of her own. As the March 13 Democratic primary approached, Richards repeatedly refused to say if she had ever used illegal drugs. The controversy helped erode support for Richards, according to at least one pre-election day opinion poll published March 11 in The Dallas Morning News. In a March 6 column, Ivins wrote: “I am assuming based on no evidence or personal knowledge and I could well be wrong that Ann Richards has smoked marijuana. I knew Richards 20 years ago, we moved in approximately the same . . . circles … I honestly cannot recall ever seeing Ann Richards use marijuana, but almost everyone in that crowd did it would be of no surprise if she had.” Ivins added: “For the record, between 1968 and 1977, I. smoked marijuana myself about a dozen times. The only reason I didn’t use it more often is because I didn’t really like it. I preferred beer.” Ivins served as Observer coeditor from 1970 to 1976. RICHARDS APPEARS to have inspired at least one public official to come clean about past drug use. Garry Mauro, seeking his third term as land commissioner, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he smoked pot while he was a law school student. Mauro, who was eldcted land commissioner in 1982, graduated from the UT School of Law in whenever it was I was in law school I tried marijuana, but you know everybody tried it,” Mauro told the Fort Worth paper. Mauro said he believed past drug use wouldn’t be an issue for him or other Democratic candidates. He. said drug questions “take a life of their own when you don’t answer.” MORE CONFESSIONS. Bill Meier, a candidate for the state Senate seat occupied by Bob McFarland, admitted during a voluntary lie detector test that he once took a puff of marijuana and once examined obscene materials. The latter act was committed while Meier was drafting laws to ban obscene materials. The former activity occurred when “one time on a dare I took a puff of a cigarette I believe had illegal drugs in it,” Meier told the Dallas Times Herald. Meier’s opponent, state Rep. Chris Harris, refused to participate in the lie-detector test. THE FINAL DAYS of the race for state treasurer were filled with more highminded allegations. Tom Bowden, a Democrat who at this writing was expected to make it past the primary, accused opponent Nikki Van Hightower of “catering to leftwing extremists.” San Saba County Judge Bowden pointed out that Van Hightower is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Caucus, “a homosexual rights group.” Earlier in the campaign, Van Hightower disclosed that opponent Armando Gutierrez had labeled himself a neo-Marxist. It was a description Gutierrez denied having made despite newspaper stories that suggested otherwise \(TO, whether I should bring this issue to the voters’ attention,” Bowden said in a prepared statement. “I have also listened to Ms. Van VIC HINTERLANG Nikki Van Hightower Hightower explain her repeated attacks against Armando Gutierrez by stating that the voters have the right and need to know the history of a candidate. . . . The Republicans will have no problem whatsoever in alerting the general-election voters to the fact that Ms. Van Hightower . . . has become an activist for gay and lesbian rights.” HARLEY SCHLANGER, an also -ran Democratic candidate for U.S Senate and a follower of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche, had a platform to stand on. According to campaign literature, Schlanger wanted to repeal the “fraudulent” Gramm-Rudman budget-balancing act, to put a moratorium on farm foreclosures, increase funding for the space program, build a U.S. colony on Mars by 2020, and prevent bailouts of Wall Street junk-bond kings. “A real War on Drugs means that we put those bankers and financiers who launder drug money in jail,” said Schlanger, who was expected to lose to Hugh Parmer in the Democratic primary. THE PANTEX nuclear weapons plant near Amarillo may be in trouble. A U.S. Energy Department inspection team has found that the plant violates environmental protection laws, lacks permits to conduct regulated activities, uses unacceptable groundwater monitoring and substandard sampling practices. According to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the plant also has inadequately trained personnel to deal with the radiation hazards of either routine operations or potential contamination accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also sent in an inspection team, and reported over 300 health and safety violations. A TEXAS JUDICIAL selection case is drawing national attention. The conservative Washington Legal Foundation filed an amicus curiae the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The document, filed February 20, attacks Federal District Judge Lucius Bunton’s November decision in LULAC r. Mattox, which found that Texas’s at-large system of electing district judges violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against minority voters \(TO, national significance of the LULAC case; some observers think it might go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it could set a crucial precedent on the question of whether judicial elections are covered by the Voting Rights Act. COURT DECISIONS have already forced the state of Texas to refund over $750 million in franchise taxes and provide grounds for more claims. The Wall Street Journal reports that Texas must let corporations deduct certain pension liabilities in determining 1986 and 1987 taxes. “We are amending returns of companies from all over the country, and their taxes are just wiped out,” a Dallas-based CPA told the Journal. THIRTY DISABLED Texans , participated in a series of demonstrations. at the nation’s Capitol on March 12-14. The events were organized by ADAPT, a national disability rights group, to protest attempts by business interests to water down the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. The Texas delegation is said to be especially susceptible to business-lobby blandishments. The bill has passed the Senate, but its civilrights protections have been weakened in the . House committee process. The ADA might reach the House floor as early as April. 0 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17