“Shrub” Bush CARMEN GARCIA Texas property-rights movement recently cited Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation freeing slaves as an instance of the federal government taking property without recompense, Simpson said, it showed how deeply some of those cultural issues run. “I think Ann Richards is the symbol of a lot of things culturally and from a lot of these people who are normally not participants in political culture … all I hear about in East Texas is guns and gays. ‘The gays are coming to take away our guns,’ and the Republicans are very good at exploiting that,” he said. RICHARDS’ recent experience with environmentalists illustrates the problems she faces. Despite the will ingness of her administration to accommodate polluting industries, Richards had compiled what for most governors would have been a pretty green record during her first term. Among the successful community battles against pollution in which Richards and her appointees played key roles were the prevention or rejection of hazardous waste facilities, injection wells or landfills near Dayton, Liberty County; Fort Stockton, Pecos County; Altair, Colorado County; Justin and Argyle, Denton county; Spofford, Kinney County; Dryden, Terrell County; and Wilmer, Dallas County. The Richards Administration also denied three critical permits for industrial dairies in Erath County; secured a grant to bring clean drinking water to Jonesville, Ector County; prevented the burning of hazardous waste as cement kiln fuel near New Braunfels, Comal County; prevented the burning of PCB wastes in western Bastrop County; saved Austin’s “Save Our Springs” ordinance protecting Barton Creek and Barton Springs; and supported grants and loans to provide water to South Texas colonias. But when she supported an effort to designate five Texas bodies of water as outstanding natural resources, which would make them subject to controls against pollution, George W. Bush and Agriculture Commissioner Rick Perry stumped East Texas to raise the alarm that landowners would not be able to develop their property along these waterways. Richards abandoned her support for the designations and got her appointees at the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission to rescind participation in the program. Bush’s campaign has made some attempts to curry support from environmentalists who are upset with Richards’ retreat on environmental protection, although it was Bush’s demagoguery on property rights at the expense of the environment and endangered species that got Richards crawfishing on outstanding natural resource waters’ designations as well as habitat for golden-cheeked warblers. Bush sided with West Texans who oppose the disposal of sewage sludge from New York City near Sierra Blanca, at least as far as to say the importation of sewage “kind of makes me nervous,” the Austin American-Statesman reported on October 10, but Bush supported Richards’ plans to dispose of low-level radioactive waste from Vermont, Maine and Texas in the same Hudspeth County community under the terms of a proposed interstate compact. “I believe Texas is going to have to go on with the project as long as it’s safe and reasonable,” Bush told Ralph Hau rwitz of the Statesman. Sierra Club State Director Ken Kramer said Richards’ record on environmental matters was “light-years” ahead of Bill Clements, her Republican predecessor, while challenger George W. Bush’s stance was anti-environmental. “Before, Texas had the reputation for never denying a permit for a major type of pollution source,” Kramer said. “Now, Texans have a fighting chance to prove their case before the state agencies that deal with environmental matters.” Another issue that could have an impact is abortion. Richards believes that a woman’s right to chbose an abortion is fundamental. Bush told Lori Stahl of the Dallas Morning News, “I will do everything in my power to restrict abortions.” A Texas Poll conducted August 18-27 found 52 percent were “prochoice” and 39 percent were “pro-life.” The town-hall-type appearance billed as a debate in Dallas on October 21 produced little to change people’s minds about either candidate. Richards opened with the observation that the most important issue facing the state is education and the building of jobs. She criticized Bush’s lack of government experience. Bush replied that he was proud never to have held public officea good line, these days, even if it comes from the son of a former president and grandson of a former senator. He also said the state had to stop blaming “others” for society’s ills and he proposed to hold people accountable for what they say and do, although he remains unaccountable for how he would pay for his proposals to reform crime, education and welfare, while Richards figured Bush’s proposals would cost more than $17 billion over four years. In the end, Bush remembered to link Richards with Clinton and he reminded viewers, “I am the conservative and she’s the liberal.” We’re glad he straightened that out. OME DEMOCRATIC officeholders may have been glad Richard Fisher won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, thinking that the Dallas financier would open his bank account to get out a Democratic vote for the general election in the same way he spent $3.5 million to win the Democratic primary. In June, after Fisher had beaten Jim Mattox in the primary and Hutchison recently had won a directed acquittal in her ethics trial in Fort Worth, the Texas Poll found the Senate race in a dead heat. But instead of hammering Hutchison throughout the summer, Fisher laid low; recent campaign finance reports showed Fisher raised only $480,000 in the last three months and had committed $300,000 of his own money while Hutchison had spent twice as much and still had $1.76 million left for the last month of the campaign. As he laid out the summer Hutchison widened her lead. In a Texas Poll conducted October 6-15 she was supported by 51 percent of respondents, 19 points ahead of Fisher. Compare the Texas race with California, where Michael Huffington brought his Texas oil money to Santa Barbara in the 1980s and won a Congressional seat in 1992, from which he launched a challenge to Senator Dianne Feinstein. Ten million dollars of TV advertising later, Huffington is said to be in a dead heat with the Democratic incumbent. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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