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RAY REECE and the passionate friend of the helpless, the poor, and the gifted. Like many others do, I love him. Cliff has been totally faithful to the Observer. From time to time, by not paying himself his own salary, he became homeless, except for a pallet on the floor in the office. If he had been paid for the hours he worked at the going rate for a business manager of a publication in the commercial world the Observer would have been bankrupt in a year. Rather than let it become bankrupt he went bankrupt himself. He hocked his heart for it. He never, never, never quit. He held creditors at bay. He covered for me, for Willie and Bob, and then for all of us. He understood and accepted our different natures. He gave and is giving the gift of his life to what he hopes for and believes in, as that came into his powerful hands in the form of the Texas Observer. He never wants any credit. If I’d asked him before tonight, he’d have said “Don’t do it.” He doesn’t need credit and he doesn’t want it. But he has given the Observer to the future as much as Minnie Fish, or Frankie, or Sarah, or Barney, or I have. Without Cliff the Observer would be dead and gone. He is a Hercules of moral idealism. Cliff, would you stand? [Cliff Olofson stands to prolonged applause.] IN CHOOSING editors for the Observer I always looked for personal in tegrity of social conscience on the humanist side of public-policy issues, and I always looked for the highest journalistic and writing skills, and by extension editing skills, among the applicants. I have always felt that without a continuous commitment to honest and accurate journalism, and to fairness, the Observer would lose its validity, and the moral authority which has underlain its policy positions. Being fully fair to persons in essentially adversarial stories about them earns, and reaps, both respect and access. The greatest weakness from time to time in the Observer has been insufficient investigative reporting. We’ve all known this. It follows from having an editorial staff of two. As Dave DenisOn said in Rebecca Linton’ s interviews with former editors, “You know, you can’t do everything with a staff of two…. You really do get caught up in just getting the thing produced…. You’re not able to work just as a journalist, you have to work as a … managing editor, and copy editor, and the production supervisor…. keeping the thing running, so that the thing can get published.” If we must have heroes, these are the heroes. Let’s spare them pedestalsthe heroes are the faithful underpaid staffers,,the subscribers of ordinary means who gave when, and who gave what, or more than, they could, to keep us going, the wealthy supporters who knew they were too rich and gave believing in a better world. The workers, the active citizens, the givers, the good rich. These are the heroes. Call their names. It will take all night. S SOMEONE ELSE said, it is better to construct the future than to varnish the past. But nothing is so foolish as hope in a dream world. As we did 40 years ago, so we do as the Observer starts anew: Begin with the truth. Part of the truth, I believe, is that “We, the people” have lost. We have lost the Democratic Party and the American system itself to the corporations, to the multinationals. De facto, the corporations govern the United States and are rapidly gaining control of the entire human scape. Time is running out for democracy. The corporate corruption of the Congress, the legislatures, and the Presidency is either irreversible or fast approaching irreversibility. It may be too late. We may be participating in the end of a system. When I started out on the Observer the problems were the neglect of the poor and the powerless; an unbelievably lousy state press; and a state Democratic Party that had been seized and was controlled by what Franklin Jones called “Republicans in Democratic false-face.” Forty years later the problems the new Observer confrontsand all of us confrontare much, much more serious, and are not state, but national and in ternational. The daily newspapers are substan tially better. But so what? We have the neglect of the poor and the powerless; a criminally monopolized system of daily newspapers which are themselves now secondary to the increas ingly corrupt and corrupting television sta tions and networks; the destruction, by cor porate interests, of what there was of the union movement, leaving a much smaller fraction of the workforce capable of self-de fense; the destruction, by corporate interests, of the Democratic Party as a party of the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7