throughout his speeches. Insurance companies bear a responsibility to help achieve affordable national health care, Clinton argued, just as welfare recipients owe it to the country to return to work if they are physically able. As governor of Arkansas, much like his former Texas contemporary Mark White, Clinton experimented with several such forays into the two-way responsibility which is the heart of his “New Covenant.” Arkansas implemented one of the nation’s first “workfare” programs, which the Clinton administration claims has promoted thousands of welfare recipients to the ranks of the working. Critics on the left, however, say it fails several times for every time it succeeds. Clinton also toyed with the notion of accountability in 1983 when he offset a major educational tax increase with a mandatory standardized teacher test that was vehemently opposed by elementary and secondary educators. The test was a political sop to the taxpayers, in exchange for the increases in teacher pay which accompanied his one-cent sales tax increase. The testing program produced extremely caustic relations with teachers, but was popular with voters in a low-tax state. By the late 1980s, Clinton and the teachers had kissed and made up and the governor successfully championed a second one-cent sales tax increase, once again directed toward educational priorities. The Education Governor If there is any single issue to which Clinton most owes his national reputation, it is, of course, education. His 1983 plan led to uniform educational standards, for the first time, for all Arkansas school districts. Many of these were the basis for the model educational programs later adopted by the National Governors Association, which Clinton led as chairman in the late ’80s. Many of these programs were also co-opted by President Bush for inclusion in his “America 2000” educational program. But education is a long-range investment, and it’s still too soon to determine whether the bulk of Clinton’s innovations have actually achieved their desired effect. On the positive side, the high school dropout rate in Arkansas has fallen to among the lowest in the South and statewide test scores have crept up. But, at the same time, the state still suffers from a punishing “brain drain,” in which many of its best and brightest students go to college out of state, never to return. Elementary and secondary education have fared well under Clinton, but higher education is in worse shape than it was when he took over. The second major priority of Clinton’s decade in office was economic developinent. His grasp of this topic has served him well as he’s campaigned in economically depressed states like New Hampshire and Michigan. Here again, Clinton parts ways with party liberals in his steadfast enthusiasm for growth understandable for someone from a state which generally outranks only Mississippi in comparative indices of national progress. We Arkansans have an odd inferiority complex about our educational and economic status corn-: pared to the rest of the nation, and no one better embodies our desire to overcome our historiO poverty than the man who has governed us longer than any other. Clinton can point to an impressive decade of growth in manufacturing. While the nation as a whole suffered a 6 percent reduction in man ufacturing jobs during the 1980s, Arkansas post ed an 11 percent increase. Far less clear is Continued on pg. 17 Battle for Barton Creek BY BREIT CAMPBELL Ulf I have to fight for this country, I will not fight for the flag, or democracy, or private enterprise, or the American ‘way of life,’ or for any other abstractions, which seem cold as kraut to me. But I will fight to the last ditch for Barton Springs, Boggy Creek, cedar covered limestone hills, blazing star and bluebonnets, goldencheeked warblers and black-capped vireos, and so on through a catalogue of the natural environment of Austin, Texas.” Texas naturalist Roy Bedichek, 1951. 0 N THE EVENING of March 18, the seven-member Austin City Council arrived at the council chambers for one of the most important votes in years. More than 30,000 city residents had signed a petition calling for an election on an environmental initiative that would drastically tighten restrictions on development in the Barton Creek watershed just west of Austin, the “contributing zone” for water that flows into what John Henry Faulk called the “jewel of Austin,” Barton Springs swimming pool. The city charter requires the council to sub Former Observer editor Brett Campbell is a freelance writer in Austin. The Observer thanks Daryl Slusher and the Austin Chronicle for providing documents and research assistance for this article. mit such an ordinance to the voters within 90 days of the signatures being certified as valid, as they had been the previous week. Yet four council members had boycotted a meeting called to set the election date. A state judge had then ordered the council to set the election for May 2, 1992, the only approved election date falling within the 90-day period; hours earlier, the state Third Court of Appeals had refused to consider the city’s appeal of that decision. The council chambers were packed with spectators waiting to find out whether the council would obey the court order. Mayor Bruce Todd called the Save our cil member Max Nofziger moved to set the election for May 2. Then, each member of a recalcitrant majority took the floor to justify abstaining from voting on the question and thus preventing the election from being scheduled. To understand why a majority of the city’s governing body would abstain on a vote of such importance to the city, possibly violating state and municipal law and risking contempt of court proceedings, requires some understanding of the bitter and convolutedhistory of the struggle between developers and environmentalists, a contest that environmentalists have been losing for two decades. But the battle over Barton Springs involves far more than a famous swimming pool, Austin water quality, or even the Central Texas environment. The fight, which has involved almost every major power broker in Austin \(city and state government, the media, the University of Texas, business interopment and has exposed an obscure alliance of interest groups that has controlled the capital city for decades. Decades of Dirty Deals For at least 20 years, since the Austin boom began, environmentalists have tried to protect the area west of town, which not only includes the Barton Creek contributing zone but also covers parts of the Edwards Aquifer, a principal source of drinking water. A 1989 Texas Water the Edwards Aquifer more vulnerable to pollution than any other in the state. Over the years, the city council passed several ordinances and bond issues designed to protect the watershed. Nevertheless, swaths of big-money development began scarring the area: Barton Creek Mall, scowling down on Zilker Park from a hill to the west; an extension of the MoPac freeway slicing through the greenbelt to service the sprawling Circle C development put together by real estate developer Gary Bradley; the Southwest Parkway, another road aimed at providing access to Barton Creek Country Club, as well as funnelling traffic to and from developments that were planned but never built after to the real THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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