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b lE TEXAS server APRIL 19, 1991 VOLUME 83, No. 8 FEATURES New World Border By Jennifer Wong No Company is an Island By Scott Henson Postcards from the Edge By John Burnett 12 Man on the Run By Marlene Smith 15 DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Political Intelligence 11 Las Americas 14 Books and the Culture Going Mobile By Purnima Bose 19 Case Closed David MacMichael. 20 Afterword Curtains for the Editor By David Wolbrueck 22 Cover art by Sean French OOPS! In the photo essay in our April 5 issue, one of the pictures was captioned “Macho Sluts work on their tans.” This was not intended as an insult. One of the people in the photo was wearing a button that read “Macho Sluts.” Unfortunately, once the photo was reduced for publication, ,the phrase on the button became unreadable. We sincerely apologize for any unintended offense that marred an otherwise fine photo by a fine photographer, Alan Pogue.. We also beg forgiveness for omitting the name of the artist who created the highway graphic for the stories “The Highwayman” and “Set in Concrete”in the April 5 issue. He is Sean French. The Texas school finance dispute has been long, arduous, and at times even acri monious. Because it involves the most contentious of political issues unfair disparities between the haves and have-nots it has been more than two decades since the filing of the first Rodriguez v. San Antonio ISD case in 1968 to the present debate in the Legislature about how to give all Texas school children equal access to educational quality. Nevertheless, just two months ago, the state seemed finally poised to take the politically difficult steps required to finally bring about a just and equitable system. Supplying motivation were the bold decisions in the Edgewood v. Kirby case by, in succession, former Austin state District Judge Harley Clark \(TO, Justice Oscar Mauzy two years later \(TO 10/ McCown last fall \(TO preme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips last January 22. The other justices of the high court also deserve praise for setting aside their quibbles and voting unanimously to join in Mauzy’s and then Phillips’s Edgewood I and II opinions. As U.S. Supreme Court cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education \(the 1954 opinion that began the demise of legal segreUnited States v. Nixon \(which held that even the President wasn’t above the too divisive for legislatures must be settled by the judiciary, it is imperative that those courts speak with clear, undivided voices, if quarreling factions are to acquiesce, however reluctantly, to those judgments. The doublebarreled unanimous rulings in the Edgewood case promised to force the Legislature to do the right thing and establish, albeit reluctantly, a just and equitable school finance system. Yet, as I write in the first -week of April, the Legislature is mired in conflict between representatives of rich and poor school districts. The two-week grace period granted by ,Judge McCown on April 1 may not be sufficient to allow the Legislature to work out this conundrum. Even if it does, there is a grave possibility that whatever scheme it devises won’t meet constitutional, never mind moral, standards of equal access. What happened? Why did the Legislature resume its historic recalcitrance to equalizes school funding, in spite of the court’s unan imous commands? THE ANSWER LIES in another decision of the high court that has received little media attention and analysis: the February 25 opinion on motion for rehearing in Edgewood H. Such motions are routine, and routinely denied without a written decision. Ostensibly, Phillips’s majority opinion was a response to a motion by the plaintiff-intervenors to clarify the effect of Edgewood II on an earlier case, Love v. Dallas. But Phillips, and the four justices \(all Republicans, except for conservative Democrat motion as a Trojan horse to undermine the powerful clarity of the two earlier Edgewood opinions. Phillips answered the question posed, then went on to answer an entirely different question: whether, after a new system of state funding was in place, the rich districts could continue “local enrichment,” \(the practice of using their greater local property tax revenues to spend more money on their students than poorer districts could of the additional money to the state. That question was one of the most factious in the legislative debate because rich school districts wanted to keep their built-in advantage over poorer ones by raising extra funds locally from their heftier tax bases. But the leading plans being circulated in the Legislature after Edgewood II would have forced those rich districts to pay part of any additional local funds raised into a stateor county-wide pool that would benefit poorer schools as well. The rich districts’ students would benefit from the extra funds but so would poorer students. The first two Edgewood opinions seemed to permit, if not require, such sharing of the wealth. Phillips’s February 25 decree \(which has become known as however, inexplicably and abruptly reversed the tide, and held that the state could not “recapture” additional local tax revenue raised to support public education. That holding provoked one of the angriest rejoinders in memory, in an opinion issued by Justice Lloyd Doggett, and joined by Mauzy and Bob Gammage. Justice Raul Gonzalez also objected, in less-scathing terms, to Phillips’s decision. As Doggett put it, “This self-styled ‘Opinion on Motion for Rehearing’ is a misnomer. It is not a true opinion generated in response to a party’s motion for rehearing; rather, it is an answer to a question that [the parties] never asked. The opinion converts the issue of whether locally raised taxes may be used to fund other school districts elsewhere in the state to whether locally raised taxes may be used lo cally to provide supplemental funds in the same district.” Doggett then cites several le See Edgewood page 18 EDITORIALS The Unasked Question THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3