R Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE SENATE RACE MATTERS. Jim Mattox, who led the Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate with 29 percent support in a recent Texas Poll, received the endorsements of the Coalition of Black Democrats and both sects of the Mexican American Democrats to go along with his previous endorsements by the Texas AFL-CIO, the Texas State Teachers Association, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas and the Sierra Club. Supporters of U.S. Rep. Mike Andrews kept the liberal Harris County Democrats from endorsing Mattox, although the former attorney general claimed victory that Andrews also failed to get the endorsement in his hometown. Richard Fisher of Dallas got 11 percent support in the Texas Poll, which was conducted Feb. 4-12, while Andrews got 10 percent; 36 percent were undecided and 14 percent said they would prefer someone else. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison had a 39 percent favorable rating in the poll, which was concluded the day she was acquitted of ethics violations in Fort Worth. In other campaign news, Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez, the ‘state’s first Hispanic statewide elected official who has alienated many Tejanos with his support for the business-oriented conservative bloc on the high court, failed to win endorsements from either of the Mexican American Democrats factions, as Rene Haas got the endorsement of one of the MAD groups while the other withheld its support. And Gene Green is making use of kind words from Henry Cisneros, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who at a Houston fundraiser for Green in October had glowing praise for the first-term Democrat, telling the crowd that the best thing they could do was to give Green another term in Congress, the Houston Chronicle reported. Green’s opponent, Bennie Reyes, is hoping to corner the majority Hispanic vote in District 29. Cisneros, who supported Reyes in 1992, told reporters he was not taking sides in the March 8 primary race, but there was nothing he could do if Green used his words and pictures. V TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. Efforts to limit the terms of state officials got a boost recently when Gov. Ann Richards and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock said they would go along with legislation to impose term limits. Bullock told the Texas Chamber of Commerce he favored a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of statewide officials and legislators, while Richards said she would not actively oppose it. “It’s not something I will spend a whole lot of time on,” she was quoted in the Austin American-Statesman. Richards held a 6-point lead over Republican George W. Bush in the Texas Poll taken Feb. 4-12. The governor had the support of 47 percent of respondents, with a 53 percent job approval rating and she was viewed favorably by 62 percent of those polled. “Shrub” had the support of 41 percent of respondents, with a 51-percent favorable rating. V AIDS PROFITS. Rep. Warren Chisum, the conservative Democrat from Pampa who has been among the most vocal crusaders against homosexuality and public funding for AIDS patients, has invested $200,000 in life insurance policies that pay off when AIDS patients die. So far, one of the policies has paid off. “I probably made like 17 percent,” Chisum was quoted in the Dallas Morning News. “You can’t do the return anywhere else. It beats CD rates that’s for sure. It beats some stock I have, too.” AIDS patients sell the policies for less than face value in order to get benefits before they die. V LOAN STAR ESTATES. Look for a new push by bankers to repeal the centuryold homestead protection in the Texas Constitution, which allows homes to be seized only if the owner defaults on a mortgage or a home-improvement loan or fails to pay taxes. State bankers periodically have argued that Texans should be allowed to put their homes at risk as collateral for other loans, such as to start a business or to pay education expenses; now national bank corporations which have taken over most of the state’s major banks are redoubling the demands. Linda Hooks recently wrote in the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ newsletter that home equity loans have the lowest default rate in the country 0.63 percent, compared with an average default rate of 2.58 percent. Meanwhile, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch is pressing Congress to enhance consumer protections such as truthin-lending and community reinvestment requirements to protect against what legisla tive advocate Susannah B. Goodman called predatory home equity lending. HEALTH CARE. Supporters of universal health coverage are embarking on a petition drive to show grassroots support for a single-payer health care plan such as Canada’s. Universal Health Care Action Network is joining other single-payer advocates in organizwhich aims to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to present at hundreds of Congressional district offices on April 29. For more information contact Vivian O’Neill, the state coordinator, in Austin at 512-3357732. While opponents of health care reform clucked over Congressional Budget Office findings that President Clinton’s managed-care plan would provide universal coverage at a cost to the deficit, they ignored a December CBO report that a single-payer plan would extend coverage to every American while cutting national health care costs by as much as $175 billion annually, with the savings expected to increase over time. V FOOD VS. DRUGS. First the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared that many vitamins, herbs and other dietary supplements should be classified as drugs, to be dispensed by doctors. Then the FDA allowed dairy producers to increase milk production with artificial growth stimulants and said organic dairies cannot declare that their products are free of bovine growth hormones, which occur naturally in cows. Kate Fitzgerald of the Sustainable Food Center in Austin joined representatives of Texas agricultural, consumer and environmental groups in calling for the labeling of dairy products coming from cows injected with the stimulants. She noted that bovine somatotropin never been tested on humans; cows injected with the hormone have higher rates of udder infections, requiring more antibiotics, which show up in the milk; consumers may lose confidence in the wholesomeness of dairy products; taxpayers could pay an extra $300 million to $500 million over the next six years in subsidies to farmers who already are Continued on page 31 32 FEBRUARY 25, 1994
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