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ment by Representative Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, was added. Rhonda McCollough, a spokesperson for Hochberg, said the amendments should allow Internet to continue offering services. “The way things are treated now is the way they will be treated after the bill is passed,” she said. Looking back over the past two years, Roger Kintzel, publisher of the Austin American-Statesman and the chair of TDNA’s telecommunications committee, says the 1993 effort to overhaul the phone business was destined to fail. “The timing is right for the bill now,” Kintzel said. His paper and publishers of several others are satisfied with the bill because it will prohibit Southwestern Bell from competing directly against them in the information services business. Later this year, the Austin daily will begin an experiment in electronic distribution. Like the Houston Chronicle, which has similar plans, the Statesman will be available on Prodigy, the nationwide computer service. Last month, Cox Enterprises, which owns the Austin daily, announced a venture that will allow the Atlanta-based conglomerate to join with the Hearst Corporation \(owner of the Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News Gannett \(owner of the Knight-Ridder and Times Mirror, to put their publications on the Internet. The newspapers got what they wanted, and while the bill didn’t help the cable companies, it didn’t hurt them either. Time Warner and Tele Communications Inc., the two biggest cable providers in the state, each have about a million cable customers. Under the Seidlits bill, they may be able to provide local phone service if they are willing to build switching equipment and other infrastructure. BUT CABLE LOBBYIST and former House member Bill Arnold still thinks the bill is stacked in Bell’s favor. “The local phone business in Texas is worth about $8 billion per year,” Arnold said. “Cable TV in Texas is a $1-billion business. That gives you an idea of the sheer size of the folks that are involved here.” While cable operators and are ready to sign off on HB 2128, consumer groups and AT&T are keeping up the fight, much to the financial prosperity of lobbyists and political consultants. Some appear to be working both sides of the issue. Lobbyist Billy Clayton, a former House Speaker, lobbies for AT&T Consultants and LDDS, a long distance company that wants to get into the local exchange business. Clayton also represents Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems. Clayton isn’t the only powerful lobbyist making money from both sides. Rusty Kel ley, who like Clayton made the list of the Ten Most Influential Lobbyists in Texas, [TO 2/24/95] represents Sprint as well as the TDNA. Bill Cryer, who was press boss for former Gov. Ann Richards, is working with George Shipley & Associates to help AT&T fight the good fight. Marta Greytok, the former PUC commissioner who failed to unseat Land Commissioner Garry Mauro last November, is working for Metropolitan Fiber Systems, the fiber-optic company that has been battling Southwestern Bell for months. MFS provides highspeed digital fiber lines and local phone service to businesses in Houston and Dallas. And MFS wants to expand its operations in Texas, but Greytok says HB 2128 could prevent any expansion by her client. “It’s not a good bill,” she said. Thus, niche companies like MFS, consumer groups and long distance carriers are the only ones left fighting against HB 2128. The battle may last into the final days of the session as AT&T and its allies work to add provisions that will allow more competition for local phone service. If they fail, some observers are already predicting that the issue will come back to the Lege in a few years. When that happens, you can be certain that the lobbyists will be waiting, cellular phones at the ready. CLASSIFIEDS ORGANIZATIONS WORK for single-payer National Health Care. Join GRAY PANTHERS, intergenerational advocates against ageism and for progressive policies promoting social and economic justice. $20 individual, $35 family. 3710 Cedar, Austin, TEXAS AIDS NETWORK dedicated to improving HIV/AIDS policy and funding in Texas. Individual membership $25, P.O. Box 2395, Austin, TX LESBIAN/GAY DEMOCRATS of Texas Our Voice in the Party. Membership $15, P.O. Box 190933, Dallas, 75219. SICK OF KILLING? Join the Amnesty International Campaign Against the WORK FOR OPEN, responsible government in Texas. Join Common Cause/Texas, 1615 Guadalupe, #204, TEXAS TENANTS’ UNION. Membership $18/year, $10/six months, $30 or more/sponsor. Receive handbook on tenants’ rights, newsletter, and more. 5405 East Grand, Dallas, TX 75223. CENTRAL TEXAS CHAPTER of the ACLU invites you to our noon Forum, the last Friday of every month, at Luby’s, 2233 North Loop, Austin. 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Alan Pogue, 1701 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas 78701, MARY NELL MATHIS, CPA, 20 years experience in tax, litigation support, and other analyses. 400 West 15th, REALESTATE HOUSEBUYERS The Consumer’s Agent. Our allegiance is to the residential buyer. 201 Jefferson Square, Austin, CALL GARY DUGGER with REALTEX when you are ready to buy or sell your home or property. Office 512/2883170; D.P. 397-8580. Six estate lots in Lewis Mountain Ranch. Twenty acres. Two creeks. Two dams. CLASSIFIED RATES: Minimum ten words. One time, 50 cents per word; three times, 45 cents per word; six times, 40 cents per word; 12 times, 35 cents per word; 25 times, 30 cents per word. Telephone and box numbers count as two words, abbreviations and zip codes as one. Payment must accompany order for all classified ads. Deadline is three weeks before cover date. Address orders and inquiries to Advertising Director, The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th, Austin, TX BOOKS 8 MAY 5, 1995