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Help bring our technology out of the Stone Age! If you can help the Observer find a used Macintosh-compat ible laser printer free or cheap \(perhaps through a tax-deduct Support The Texas Observer Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE LAST WORD ON THE LEGE. What better authority can there be to sum up the Texas Legislature than rock iconoclast, Tipper-Gore nemesis, and culture pundit Frank Zappa? In a June interview with the Austin Chronicle, the dancin’fool father of Dweezil and Moon Unit had this to say about our state: “I’ve been to Texas several times, and I love the people of Texas. They are a unique species. What I cannot understand is how such a wonderful people can allow such a stupid legislature to exist in their state. For people who claim to be independent and independent-minded …. it’s the most paradoxical situation I can imagine.” Zappa later said that Gov. Ann Richards “looks a little like an armadillo.” U.S. SEN. PHIL GRAMM is just one step away from becoming the ranking Republican on the influential Banking Committee after only seven years in the Senate. The ranking Republican, Sen. Jake Garn of Utah, has announced his retirement. The late Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania would have been next in line. Only Sen. Aphonse 1 D’Amato of New York has served more years on the committee. But D’Amato faces ethics charges that have left him vulnerable in his upcoming reelection bid. The committee is chaired by Michigan Democrat Don Riegle. The House Banking Committee is chaired by San Antonio Congressman Henry’B. Gonzalez. Their home state, however, is about the only thing Gramm and Gonzalez have in common. Last year, Gramm led all senators with $95,425 in campaign contributions from banking political action committees, according to figures released by the Southern Finance Project. THAT SAME REPORT revealed that campaign contributions between 1988 and 1990 by NCNB Corp. leapt from 18th to fourth place among big bank holding company PACs. The report said that NCNB’s PAC contributions had soared by more than 300 percent since 1986 the same period during which the regional bank became “the most ambitious and creative feeder at the federal banking trough…. Political spending by big banks with the most to gain fom an industry bailout soared over the past three federal election cycles, growing 15 times faster than federal PAC spending overall,” project spokesmen said. NCNB, which became one of the biggest acquirers of insolvent S&Ls from the federal government, paid out over $1 million t6 political candidates during the last five years, of which $10,000 went to Gramm. Dallas Democratic Congressmen Martin Frost and John Bryant, members of the House Banking Committee, received even more money from NCNB than Gramm did: $13,700 and $11,250, respectively.. Meanwhile, a Texas group that established a toll-free telephone line advocating a boycott of NCNB Corp. found that over 500 calls to the number came from the bank. According to the group Consumers for Ethical Financial Institutions, on the last day the line was in service, more than 50 of the 94 calls were traced to the same number at an NCNB in Dallas. An additional 117 earlier calls came from NCNB security offices in Charlotte, N.C. The group’s founder, Roger Dennis, told the Charlotte Observer he was “stunned” to learn the origin of the calls. Dick Stilley, an NCNB spokesperson said there was no organized effort to tie up the group’s phone lines or disrupt their business. According to phone records supplied by Dennis, of the 2,668 calls to the number, 591 were placed from NCNB phones. Dennis is being sued by NCNB for stopping payment on a loan which he turned over to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in early 1989, just after NCNB bought what was left of failed First Republic Bank Corp. where he’d obtained the loan. Dennis says he missed no payments and is countersuing NCNB. Dennis disconnected CEFI’s phone line when he noticed’ an increasing number of callers hanging up after the recorded message. After verifying the telephone records, he found that nearly every repeat call came from NCNB telephones. MARIO ZUMBADO, a Costa Rican who believes exposure to a U.S.-made pesticide rendered him sterile, told a U.S. Senate panel last month that he handled the chemical after his employers at a banana plantation assured him it was safe. The Environmental Protection Agency prohibited the use of the pesticide, DBCP, in 1979 because of evidence it causes sterility and cancer. Even so, the manufacturers, Dow Chemical Co. and a U.S. subsidiary of Shell Oil, continued exporting DBCP to Central America for use on banana plantations. Zumbado and his wife are among several hundred Costa Ricans who filed suit in Houston against the two chemical companies and Standard Fruit Co., U.S. owner of the plantation near the village of Rio Frio, over sterility and impotence allegedly caused by the pesticide. The plaintiffs are hoping for a trial this year.The Costa Rican farmworkers’ plight was the subject of a major Texas Supreme Court decision \(“First World Justice,” TO, battle \(“Vicious Circle,” TO, issue of whether the workers could sue the Texasbased manufacturers in Texas. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has introduced a bill to prevent the “Circle of Poison” the exportation of chemicals banned in the United States to other countries which sometimes return on imported produce. 24 JULY 12, 1991