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voloolu i , ea Horse Inn % Kitchclictic I-\\. \(;/, 11\(111\(1 o r , \\ I r pri\\ ;. II C l% I 11 C Pa lk fr \(‘hoar/ Pets Welcome 0, seeing it.” A year later, Fisher, who worked for TDA for 12 years and had been a sheriff in Delta County for 12 years prior to that, was fired. TDA officials insist it had nothing to do with the VPG investigation. But records show that at least three other TDA employees who aggressively pursued the VPG investigation were subsequently firedshortly after Perry took office. Cordelia Martinez, the TDA attorney assigned to the VPG case, was released after she was told her attitude and background \(work on behalf of farmworkers before goals of the new administration. Martinez said the administration of Republican Commissioner Rick Perry was hostile to agency employees who were aggressive in investigating suspected wrongoing by large pesticide companies. N LATE 1993, TWC OFFICIALS claimed they knew nothing of the Ridge way site, that information on the site had only recently become availabledespite piles of records which show that wasn’t true. VPG officials refused to comment for this story, though a statement was issued through their press agent which states, “Voluntary Purchasing Groups, Inc. be lieves the actions taken by the Texas De partment of Agriculture under Commis sioner Jim Hightower were unfounded, unfair and an effort at bureaucratic intimida tion. Following a change of administrations, VPG has worked diligently with state officials to resolve the outstanding issues in Bonham. We believe progress is being made in these negotiations which are being conducted in good faith by both parties.” Some of those involved in the VPG investigation wonder whether or not the TDA intentionally sabotaged the pending litigation by releasing confidential files to the public in 1991files the agency was adamant about not releasing to VPG. Those files included all of Fisher’s field notes detailing his investigation. The notes included the names and addresses of every witness he spoke to. TDA also released the sworn statements from the ex-employees, although a number of TDA memorandums recommended that the information not be released. The author of one memo discussed “concerns about the intimidation of witnesses and tampering with evidence,” and warned that “I am concerned that the high potential for direct or indirect witness intimidation is high.” Also included in information released to the public was a 1991 Open Records request from VPG attorneys seeking information on Benny Fisher, including all personnel records, phone logs, mileage logs, etc. In the left margin of the request, TDA officials made a handwritten note: “Date of marriage, Social Security number, medical question, as in AIDS, life insurance, and information re: adopted son.” When Fisher was shown the memo he angrily asked why the date of his marriage, his medical his tory, or information about his son was being released by the stateto a company he had investigated. The Observer also found a five-page chronology of Fisher’s Bonham/VPG investigation attached to the front inside cover of the TNRCC Hi-Yield Superfund filea case Fisher had nothing to do with. The TNRCC chronology detailed Fisher’s investigation, and described him as a slanderer and liar and made other personal accusations. The Observer was first told by the TNRCC that Allen Hayes, the former TWC investigator, had placed the chronology in the file. TNRCC officials later recanted, saying that Michael Smith, president of VPG, had submitted it for TNRCC viewing only. They did not know how it came to be placed in the public files. Four attorneys investigating the Commerce case said that they were very familiar with all the files in that case, but none had ever seen the document. Fisher, although angry, raised questions about the larger story, beyond what the agency he worked for did with his personal information. “What I want is for the public to know that the very agencies that are supposed to protect them are the ones turning their backs,” Fisher said. “If the state has known since the 1960s about the contamination and dumping, why didn’t they do something about it then? Why wait 25 years, and then make the public pay for the cleanup?” Continued from pg. 24 overrode a recommendation of its hearing examiner, Linda Sorrels, who had complained that supervisors pressured her to recommend approval of the landfill expansion in Ferris. [See “Talking Trash in Ferris,” TO 2/10/95. DEFENDING ARTS FUNDING. Arts leaders are trying to rally grassroots support for the National Endowment for the Arts in the face of attacks led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Irving. Ann Ciccolella, executive director of the Austin Circle of Theaters, noted that in 1994 the NEA sent 128 grants totalling $4,367,385 to Texas. Ciccolella hosted the national conference of the Association of Performing Acts Service Organizations, which drew 27 people representing 1,500 organizations to Austin in January. “I think there are going to be cuts and I think they are going to be deep cuts,” Ciccolella said. A few controversial cases have given conservative lawmakers the ammunition to take down the entire fund, she said, but she said lawmakers have a different standard for the arts than they do for, say, the military. “When the Depart ment of Defense was spending $4,000 for toilet seats, nobody said let’s get rid of the Defense Department,” she said. While the Republicans have been aiming to “zero out” public funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and have been meeting in private with network executives about the prospects of selling off the Public Broadcasting System, Alvin Perlmutter, a former vice president of NBC News, in an op-ed piece for the New York Times reprinted in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, proposed that Congress instead start charging commercial TV and radio broadcasters who “have long been given a free ride on public frequencies and have profited handsomely while their responsibilities to the public have been disappearing from the screen.” Just 1 percent of the estimated gross annual revenues of commercial TV stations would yield $260 million, almost matching the $285 million that public broadcasting now gets from Washington, wrote Perlmutter, now an independent producer for public TV. James Ledbetter of the Village Voice noted that Republican leaders have made virtually no noise about cutting “the Cold War Broadcasting System \(ie: Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, Voice of America and yearalmost twice the amount that goes to CPB. 1423 11th Street 4110 ” Port Aransas, TX 78373 ‘ S ca” I? n Ristsrvil 1 imi-, J Iry …,% A iplIkti,, …GNI’ -.44,0 Ir c , ……” Ior El 12 FEBRUARY 24, 1995