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closed doors. For an organization dedicated to the principles of openness and accountability, such behavior is disturbing though given Harrington’s proclivity for litigation, perhaps understandable. While most board members insist that the work of the local chapters \(especially the interruption during the imbroglio, Cook admits that it “diverted us from working on civil liberties issues during this period, and you can lay that at Jim Harrington’s feet.” For his part, Harrington said: “Because of their tremendous spite towards me, they hurt so many others. People I represent or people in the Valley. The primary litigation for farmL workers comes out of STP. For three months, that office has been unstaffed. The result is that people don’t have legal support. They don’t have protection from police and sheriffs. I was planning a major piece of litigation against the state a class action that will affect the lives of people s in the Valley. That has been set back by months.” Another casualty of Harrington’s firing was the Central Texas board, which resigned in protest. The state board leadership,. however, denies that there’s been any drop-off in membership renewals or support. “The TCLU is bigger than Jim Harrington,” said Joe Cook. “It’s bigger than all of us.” Straus acknowledges the deep wound left by Harrington’s departure. “You do not cut off such an effective appendage without bleeding,” he said. “The short-term impact is negative. Internal conflict is emotionally devastating. Members and nonmembers take sides, and that is not good. We incurred the displeasure of a close and dear friend organized labor.” LaMarche thinks the donnybrook temporarily derailed the campaign for civil liberties in Texas. “The problem is that this happened in the context of a TCLU that was already falling apart. Many Texans look to us as a voice for articulating the core values of freedom and fairness in a way that other people don’t quite apart from how we did in the Legislature or litigation. The stilling of that voice is the great harm.” Will that voice speak as loudly or as eloquently in the future? The TCLU is currently taking a painful, and long overdue look at itself: itn has entered “voluntary reorganizato ACLU assistant director Barry Steinhardt, “The TCLU board initiated the proposal that they be suspended, in order to reorganize the statewide structure. Texas is a very large state with a large number of geographic and population centers. It’s a hard state to cover for an organization with limited resources. The structure of TCLU had been a loose confederation of chapters. It had outgrown the times.” Steinhardt claims that while some local chapters had functioned well, they were independent of the state organization; other TCLU members say the well-off Houston affiliate, in particular, was stingy with its resources. Harrington said that the Houston chapter sometimes refused to share membership mailing lists and otherwise provided little support to the state office. Another ACLU national board member says that while the organization encountered similar problems recently in Ohio, the Texas chapter was the most fragmented. To address these problems, the ACLU and TCLU appointed a seven-person reorganization commission which will submit a plan for reforming the TCLU. The Plan, which is scheduled to be completed soon, will be reviewed by the ACLU national executive committee and then be considered by the national board, probably this spring. Members. of the current TCLU board predict that the result will be a unified fundraising structure in which all the local chapters will support the state office, which might move to Houston. \(TCLU just opened a new Dallas committee overseeing lawsuits. What will become of the state legal program? Statements by some board members leave it unclear whether the organization will hire a single full-time legal director to replace Harrington. , Cook lauds the cooperating attorney program, by which volunteer lawyers take cases for TCLU on a pro bono basis. But ACLU’s Steinhardt says he “anticipates that TCLU will become a central clearinghouse and provide more guidance and backup for the chapters. With the more complex litigation these days, you can’t just step into a case. You need more backup. You need a lawyer who knows the issues, procedures and law. ACLU’s staff lawyers constitute a civil liberties bar. They no longer just handle legislative and statewide issues.” Harrington agrees. “The cooperating attorney program doesn’t work by itself. You have to have them, but the most important litigation can’t be done by cooperating attorneys. It’s complex, lengthy, and time consuming. That’s why the legal program came into existence in the mid-1970s: to set policy, coordinate lawsuits, and handle the big cases.” Meanwhile, the TCLU has not been dormant. It has taken on the case of the Bastrop schoolchild who because he wears a ponytail has been isolated from his fellow students by administrators. The organization is also litigating a high-school drug-testing case in Winnie, and representing a blind girl who allegedly was discriminated against when not allowed to ride the Texas Cyclone at Astroworld. But these are hardly the complex, high-profile kinds of cases Harrington undertook. After the restructuring, however, Texas could see a much stronger incarnation of the organization. Yet Harrington and Avena contend that without a change in the old guard that has run the TCLU, board for years, the organization will never be diverse \(espeeffective and representative. Not surprisingly, Harrington’s new organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, is pursuing its founder’s vision. Presently the only statewide civil liberties litigation group in Texas, TCRP was chartered under the auspices of Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido, a nonprofit foundation established in 1978 to fund the South Texas Project and which has sponsored various projects to help farmworkers and other groups. “I can do what I really want to do: focus on cases that involve racial and economic justice issues,” said Harrington. “I doubt I’ll take cases that focus on making , a single point, like a manger in a courthouse. Not to say those are unimportant, but it’s just different priorities. Issues of economic justice and race affect people’s lives more intimately and essentially.” Harrington will also have much greater control over the project’s direction than he did in his previous job. “Before, I had to listen to lots of others. Now I have a smaller board, eight instead of 40. It lets me deal with the issues I want, and set priorities. I’d rather be litigating inmates-as-quarry than handling a frat subpoena” \(a reference to a TCLU case in which Harrington says the organization represented UT fraternity Harrington has ‘hired a new attorney and expects to soon open a third project concentrating on prisoners’ rights. “We’re also going to do some legislative work on drug testing, for example and we’re about to file two major class actions against the state,” Harrington promised. And he insisted that “Legally, TCRP will be more effective. We won’t have that ACLU baggage especially with juries.” Along with representing two state prisoners who were used as quarry to train tracking dogs, TCRP is representing the family of a Chicano youth who was shot in the back by Austin police officers. At the Legislature, Harrington will push for a right-to-privacy law that extends beyond the public sector and limits the intrusions business can make on employees. He is also at work seeking money for the new group; last month, Land Commissioner Garry Mauro wrote the cover letter to a mass mailout soliciting financial support from around the state. Before that, Harrington had alreadyi received, he says, $16,000 in unsolicited contributions, mostly from sympathetic lawyers. The Project has picked up some money from benefit concerts featuring Texas musicians. Both groups insist that there’s adequate support for their respective visions in Texas. Harrington and Steinhardt won’t even rule out the possibility of Harrington working with the ACLU in the future. Smith, however, says flatly: “He will never work for us again.” So there will now be two voices for civil liberties in Texas, where there was one. But for awhile, at least, those voices will not sing in harmony. Tbh publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International. Gil c 000-521-3044. Or mail inquiry to: Univenity Microfilm International. 300 North Zoob *cod Am Arbor. MI 441011. 16 JANUARY 25, 1991