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Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE SENATE MANEUVERS. That Jim Mattox won the AFL-CIO endorsement for the U.S. Senate was no surprise. His more conservative rivals, Mike Andrews of Houston and Richard Fisher of Dallas, had conceded that the unions would side with the liberal former attorney general. But the March 8 primary will prove yet another test of how organized labor is, with 200,000 increasingly independent members in Texas. The AFLCIO endorsement gives Mattox, who reportedly has been strapped for cash, access to union PAC money as well as volunteers to offset the TV campaigns of his opponents: Andrews can raise money as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Fisher is a wealthy financier. The next big test will be trying to reconcile the two factions of the Mexican American Democrats, who will hold competing conventions in Dallas and McAllen the first week in February. Mattox can expect questions about his proposal to place federal troops along the border to stop drug traffic and illegal immigration. He says he has been misconstrued and that he actually was suggesting decommissioning soldiers and retraining them to become police officers, but his hopes of winning the March 8 Democratic primary rest in large part on his ability to attract Hispanic voters and the first impression of his plan will not help him in South Texas, where Tejanos know they would get hassled. Fisher, who speaks Spanish fluently, has been targeting South and East ‘ Texas. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison goes on trial on ethics charges Feb. 7 in Fort Worth. UNION LABELS. The AFL-CIO also endorsed Gov. Ann Richards, who did not apologize for her support of NAFTA but noted she has been a friend of labor over 30 years; Lieut. Gov . Bob Bullock, who reminded the federation that workers will need strong Democratic state leaders to implement NAFTA; and Railroad Commissioner Mary Scott Nabers and Treasurer Martha Whitehead, who have nominal opposition and Railroad Commissioner Jim Nugent a blow to challenger Robert Earley. Others who got the federation’s nod include Supreme Court candidates Jimmy Carroll for the place given up by Lloyd Doggett, Alice Oliver Parrot for the place held by Republican Nathan Hecht and Rene Haas for the place held by conservative Democrat Raul Gonzalez. Charles Baird, a progressive judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals who is challenging Presiding Judge Mike McCormack, got the labor endorsement, while a dual endorsement went to Frances M. “Poppy” Northcutt and Betty Marshall, who are seeking the place Chuck Miller is giving up. ROBIN HOOD MUGGED. The Republican National Committee poured $400,000 into the campaign to scuttle the constitutional amendment last May that aimed at equalizing funding among school districts. Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News Jan. 12 reported that the money which amounted to more than 60 percent of the opposition group’s finances went largely to get out the vote for the election, which embarrassed Gov. Ann Richards and also placed Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in the runoff for the U.S. Senate. Bill Ratliff, the Republican state senator who sponsored the ill-fated school finance plan, told the Houston Post he was surprised and dismayed to find out he was campaigning against his own party. ON THEIR WAY. Unrest in Chiapas is not causing much concern at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Carlos Guerra of the San Antonio Express -News reported Jan. 12. “They’re a long ways away,” INS spokesman Duke Austin was quoted, “and they have to get to the border before they can request asylum.” Mexicans rarely requested political asylum until charges of fraud in the 1988 presidential elections resulted in violent repression by the government. The number of applicants grew to 600 in 1992 and 6,205 in 1993, after a series of state elections resulted in more violent episodes. But asylum seekers have little chance, particularly since U.S. officials have praised the Mexican government for developing greater economic opportunities. Only one of the 490 asylum applications from Mexicans that were decided last year was granted, Guerra noted. SUNDOWN FOR SUNSET? The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission survived an attempt by the governor, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker to kill it last year, but changes in the commission’s leadership may yet weaken it, with the departure of Bill Wells, who has directed the commission since it was created in 1977. The sunset process requires agencies to justify their existence every 12 years. The panel has reviewed nearly 230 agencies, recommended abolishing or combining 44 at a savings of $508 million, but Wells told Jen Sansbury of the Austin American -Statesman he was tired of seeing the recommendations being picked apart by special interests. As the Statesman’ s Dave McNeely noted in a separate column, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock’s appointees for the Sunset commission include conservative senators Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, and David Sibley, R-Waco, and Bullock’s executive assistant, Chuck Bailey, to join Carl Parker, D-Port Arthur, and Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth, as the panel heads into a review of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, among others. Although Parker, a trial lawyer with union ties, was in line for chairman, Bullock elevated Armbrister instead. Speaker Pete Laney appointed representatives Barry Telford, DDeKaib, and Patricia Gray, D-Galveston, and former Laney aide Mike Sims, a Houston lawyer, to join Layton Black, D-Goldthwaite, and David Counts, D-Knox City, two Laney team members, on the sunset panel. FOR WHOM THE ROAD TOLLS. A group of South Texas landowners hopes to build a private toll road connecting an international bridge northwest of Laredo and bypassing the city to Interstate 35. Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote on the project soon, according to James Garcia of the Austin American -Statesman. The new head of the Federal Highway Administration, Rodney E. Slater, is also proposing to allow private businesses to take over portions of the 42,500mile interstate highway system and turn them into self-sustaining tollways. The proposal has the general support of Transportation Secretary Federico Perla, the New York Times reported recently. Slater believes private investment is needed to pay for $290 billion in needed road and bridge repairs. Perhaps in these NAFTA days, the model is the Mexican tollway system where, for example, motorists have the choice of paying $22 for the 90-mile expressway from Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey or they can pay $200 to have their car repaired after travelling the free but pocked two-lane highway. Turning the highways over to private companies would require Congressional and state approval. ACCOUNTING FOR ALIENS. The Governor’s Office on Immigration and Refugee Affairs recently estimated that Continued on page 21 24 JANUARY 28, 1994