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Gomez made “desperate love” and conceived Lupe. A beautiful child, grown men often stopped to admire Lupe and call her an angel. Deeply religious and romantic to the core of her soul, Lupe must leave the mountain valley she loves when it is invaded by revolutionaries run amok. The family gathers enough gold dust from the mine’s tailings and the paving stones of the village square to keep them alive on the journey north. Within a couple of years, they are migrant farm workers living in California. But Lupe only gets more beautiful, no matter how much back breaking labor he does, and eventually is chosen as one of the first Mexican-American beauty queens. When her path finally crosses that of the notorious bootlegger Salvador Villasetior, it is love at first sight. Ironically, Salvador is not the first Villasetior to touch Lupe’s heart. At age 6 she was captivated by a Carrancista captain named Villasetior who, it turns out, was a distant cousin of Salvador. This link, unexplored in the book, is the kind of quiet irony that the author wisely allows to simply lie there in the readers mind. Rain of Gold is a remarkable book, a two-fisted bar fight with the Americari Dream, an epic adventure played out by characters so fully realized that it is difficult not to judge the book by the standards of great fiction. The book’s rich tapestry of cultural details reminds one of Josefina Niggli’s best plays, but with a harder edge. The border scenes are comparable in raw power to Aristeo Brito’ s El diablo en Texas. And there are a few references, oblique homage one might say, to the central classic of Chicanoliterature, Tomas Rivera’s …y no se lo trago la tierra. In other words, Victor Villasefior’s Rain of Gold is a full-blooded American classic. Continued from pg. 12 the May 2 date \(and prompted the quadruple that the district judge’s order had been premature, and that, regardless of the council’s motives, the law allowed the election to be held later in the summer. Why did the RULE want to put off the vote? Larson says a later date would allow him and other supporters of the current CWO to put it or a similar, less restrictive alternative on the ballot, giving citizens a choice between laws rather than an up-or-down vote on protecting Barton Springs a vote that pollsters for both sides say SOS would win easily. SOS sponsors were eager to have a vote as soon as possible, before Moffett could invest millions in a campaign opposing the initiative. Opponents might also have realized that Austin’s thousands of university students, who are likely to support . SOS, will be out of town in late summer and turnout could be low due to August’s searing temperatures. Larson says his opposition to SOS is based on fear that the law is unconstitutional, that developers would “sue the butt off the city” and collect a huge judgment. Furthermore, “We have an ordinance in place that’s designed to save the Springs,” he said. “I think the [SOS leaders’] motive is to shut down growth and to shut down our economy.” SOS director Brigid Shea disagrees. “Our ordinance specifically allows responsible development in the watershed,” she said, noting that radical environmentalists in Earth First! had refused to endorse it because they believe no development should be allowed there. “Our vision is a pragmatic and conservative one in that we are acting to preserve an irreplaceable natural treasure that has been the magnet that’s drawn people and businesses to this community,” said Shea. SOS also has a safety-valve provision designed to prevent costly legal judgments; it permits the council to adjust the ordinance requirements if it’s found to be in irreconcilable conflict with state or federal laws. Acknowledging that their abstention which effectively told voters that the council didn’t trust them to vote on the issue probably hurt the RULE politically, Larson blames the “biased media” and said that, unlike Todd, he and the others were putting the best interests of the city before politics. Since last fall, another set of petitions has been circulating around town, this one calling for the recall of Epstein and Larson. Last month, two Austin citizens filed suit against the RULE, Moffett and Bradley, alleging a conspiracy to deprive the citizens of Austin of the right to vote on the petition. The suit \(and between developers and their apparent vassals on the council. As evidence in the suit, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project, alleges that there were conversations among conspirators in the form of legal advice provided to RULE members by lawyers for Bradley and Moffett, and meetings between developer lawyers and the city staff in which developer attorneys advised city lawyers on how to combat the the SOS petition and lawsuit. City legal bills from the RULE’s fight to keep taxpayers from voting on the petition had already exceeded $100,000 at press time. Last month, Moffett’s Barton Creek Properties filed a preliminary plan for the Barton Creek Estates project, calling for 5,000 residences and 2.5 million square feet of commercial development. “I think [the project] will be devastating,” Bunch said. “It’s physically impossible to cram that much development in there without seriously degrading water quality in Barton Creek.” While many speculated that Moffett had filed the plan in order to beat the SOS vote, company spokesmen denied it. If the SOS ordinance passes, Bunch claims, it would still apply to the PUD, even though the plan was filed prior to the election. And if SOS passes, it’s assumed that developers will take it to court. Failing there, they will go to the Legislature to attempt to pass a law that will override the local ordinance. They’ve already filed a case with the water commission to invalidate portions of the present clean water ordinance, which Bunch has also challenged at the water commission but from the other side, claiming it’s too weak. Though Larson exaggerates when he claims the SOS leaders want to stop development entire ly, it’s probably true that many of those opposing the PUD are really fighting for the kind of city that confines most building to the central city area and, as much as possible, keeps the beautiful lands west of town green. Environmentalists fear that the traditional growth model will result in an Austin surrounded by strip shopping centers, malls, cookie-cutter white-flight suburbs and sprawl and, not incidentally, tremendous profits for the builders and landowners. Those competing visions may not be reconcilable. In the end, the Barton Springs conflict is really about power. SOS is a populist response to two decades of liberal deceit and failure to protect the environment. In the past, environmentalists have failed to mobilize the people for support in negotiations with developers and politicians. SOS organizers have recently politicized the environment in a way never before seen here, and attracted hundreds of citizens never before involved in electoral politics. If they prevail, the unprecedented cooperation between environmentalists and other progressives is likely to continue on other issues that don’t directly affect the springs or even Barton Creek. “I think if we’re successful, it will send a strong message to elected officials that the citizenry can and will unite and take back power if elected officials are acting irresponsibly,” said Shea. “And we have started to put in place the structure of a movement that could be activated at election time. We have lists of registered voters who are extremely unhappy with the performance of their elected officials and that can translate into real political power.” But if the SOS coalition fails, at the polls or in court, it could mean the public will consider the environment and other progressive issues as causes that will never be won. Like the water of Barton Springs itself in recent years, the ultimate consequences of this contest aren’t yet entirely clear. ProBar is looking for attorneys willing to volunteer their time to help represent immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. The telephone number of the ProBar office in Harlingen THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19