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This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. I Mi ,04″7,k : trN . v . 44NIIIir iv 4 \\ .1. A ‘ ‘ t f l 4/A *:01″ .* . , q kfq I: tr . r _ BUT 1 DO NOT -,–g DESPAIR! Ir ., THE TEXAS II OP server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. Send a free, introductory copy to a friend listed above. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 512-477-0746 BUT CRIME is an emotional issue that walks on its own legs in the suburbs. And crime is precisely the issue that Bush’s media consultant, Don Sipple, determined would win an election for a guy like Bush in a place like Texas. Sipple has also decided it will win for Govs. Pete Wilson in California and Jim Edgar in Illinois. \(Besides, Bush couldn’t run against the economy, which, as Texas Comptroller John Sharp told New York Times reporter Sam Howe Verhovek, “is roaring.” Verhovek used Texas as a point of departure for a front-page story on states confronted with budget surpluses NN RIME IS THE dominant issue in the state of Texas,” Sipple told Houston Chronicle reporter R.G. Ratcliffe. “The perception is that it is getting out of hand and that things are not getting any better.” He did say “perception.” Sipple continues in the Chronicle with an argument against a quaint concept that for clarity’s sake almost has to be retrofitted with an adjective and called “empirical truth.” The Governor can attempt to defend her record on crime by citing statistics showing crime has dropped during the past two years, he told the Chronicle, but that will not ease voters’ fears. “You can play a numbers game,” Sipple said. “But I don’t think that you can convince the people of Texas, the average parents concerned about their kids, when you whip about some technical statistical stuff.” Yet the “empirical truth,” the truth based on “technical statistical stuff,” is that since 1991 when Ann Richards was inaugurated, the crime rate in Texas has decreased. Statistics released by the Texas Department of Public Safety show an 8.8percent drop in the overall crime rate in 1983. Only Waco, Amarillo, Abilene and Laredo reported increases, according to a March 24 story in the Houston Post. Murder, robbery, aggravated assault, larcenytheft and vehicle theft all were down, according to DPS numbers. Only rape showed an increase, by 5.3 percent. Overall violent crime was down by 5.5 percent and property crime was down by 9.2 percent. So, though it would be hard to make the case that streets of this country, and more particularly, this state, are safe, there is no denying that they are safer than they were four years ago. And the very voters that the Bush campaign set out to win, middle-class, middleaged suburbanites, are those least likely to be victims of crime, and particularly violent crimewhich as Money magazine reported in June, “is not an equal-opportunity offender.” “The risk of becoming a victim of a se rious violent crime is nearly four times higher if you are 16-19, for example, than 39-45; almost three times higher if you are black instead of white; two times if you are male, not female and again double if you live in a city rather than a suburb.” This, based on the Bureau of Justice statistics, would suggest that a rational, or honest, campaign would set out to find an issue other than crime. George Bush, Don Sipple and Karl Rove pressed on with crime. And last month, a odd but perhaps predictable occurrence proved them if not right at least real smart. The same Texas Poll that found Bush closing in on the Governor also found that crime and gang violence are the top issues in the governor’s race. Twentysix percent of those polled named crime and gang violence as their number one concern, while in April only 12 percent of the Texas Poll’s sample had made that choice. The rate of crime is down, while the fear of crime is up. Like S&L plunderers who created property value when there was none, then stole the money the property created, these guys created an issue there was none and are now poised to steal the election. And in doing so they only make the problem they promise to cure worse. Because, as urban historian Jane Jacobs observed more than 20 years ago, when peoplefor Jacobs the eyes of the cityabandon the streets, the streets become more dangerous. NOT ONLY DO these guys play fast Ell and loose with the truth on crime, they do the same with punishment. In July, Bush attacked the Richards Administration for accelerating the parole of convicts “for political reasons.” “Building more prisons,” he said in a statement released to the press, “not speeding up parole, is the answer to the crisis in our prisons.” In an interview with the Associated Press, Bush was more direct in his criticism of the Governor. “Election-year politics is no reason for Governor Richards to allow the parole board to reconsider the status of inmates already delayed or denied parole. Violent felons should remain behind bars, whether or not that presents a political problem for the Governor,” Bush said. In 1990, the last fiscal year of the administration of Republican Bill Clements, 33,181 paroles were awarded, according to Jack Kyle, chair of the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons. In 1993, under the Richards Administration, 14,252 . paroles had been granted. It was, as Richards’ spokesman Chuck McDonald observed, a two-thirds reduction in paroles and Bush was again “distorting the facts.” And the state of Texas, now embarked 4 SEPTEMBER 16, 1994