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MOLLY IVINS Lobbyist Dreams Austin IN THIS RAPIDLY CHANGING and uncertain world, is it not grand to know that we can always count on the Texas Legislature to show us how to really screw things up? A dandy little property-rights bill, patterned after that charmer that the Republicans passed in Washington, is now under consideration by Our Gang. Unfortunately, a closer look at same finds that it would give a property owner the right to sue the county for compensation if zoning laws prevented him from opening an SOB \(That’s gummint-speak for “sexually oriented bidness”and you thought bureauyou you can’t open a topless bar with mud wrestling, you will have the right to sue the gummint and get taxpayer dollars for the damage to your property. Now, under the same law, your neighbors, whose property values will be adversely affected by the SOB, would presumably also have the right to sue the taxpayers for damage to their property. So the taxpayers are going to get it coming and going, but the lawyers will have . a wonderful time. The property-rights bill sponsored by Republican state Representative Susan Combs of Austin would also allow property owners to sue if regulations involving flood plains, subdivision development, sand and gravel excavation and rock concerts cost them any money. Coming and going again. Guy owns land in a flood plain, county says he can’t build there, he sues, he builds, his place gets wiped out in the next flood, and he then applies for gummint compensation for natural disaster. Will this be swell, or what? Fellow Texans, do not think it can’t happen here. Any legislature that would pass a veggie libel law is quite capable of passing this. The property-rights folks are, of course, a variant of the anti-government sentiment that takes its most extreme form in rightwing militias. Senator Max Baucus of Montana found a list of what the militia there defines as governments taking away their freedom: To get married, you have to get a marriage license; to drive, you have to get a driver’s license; to build, you need a building permit; after you build, your building has to pass the electrical code inspection; Molly Ivins, a former Observer editor, is a columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. etc., etc. Friends, this is not government’s taking away your freedom; this is government’s inconveniencing you. This is not tyranny; it’s a pain in the rear. I object to gummint picky-picky-picky stuff myself. We need much more of this one-stop shopping concept that Vice President Al Gore is pushing in his Reinventing Government programs. We need simpler rules and forms and all that goo-goo reform stuff. But if you will notice, whenever we decide to deregulate something, we are reminded forcibly of why it was regulated in the first place. A lot of dead trucking companies, dead airlines and the savings and loan industry will be happy to testify on that very subject. If you won’t keep reminding yourselves, I’ll do it for you: The last time Republicans promised to get the government off your backs by deregulating something, S&Ls cost you $500 billion. This ridiculous “property-rights” law is just one of a package of bills all aimed at Austin, where environmentalists managed to persuade the City Council to forbid a real estate development by Freeport-MoMoRan Inc. Freeport-MoMoRan is now trying to get waivers from Austin’s environmental laws through the Legislature, having had no luck at the local level. Meantime, Freeport-McMoRan has the dubious distinction of having been named the Number 1 polluter in the nation in 1993. The largest Brand-Name Candidates News item: It’s figured that $25 million will be needed by any candidate to have a serious chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination next year. This means that Bob Dole, Phil Gramm and the rest are furiously selling themselves to bigmoney special interests. So here’s my idea: Like NASCAR race drivers or PGA golfers, why not require each of the candidates to cover his clothing, briefcases and staff with the logo patches of his corporate sponsors? For example, as Senator Bob Dole worked the crowd at, say, a New Hampshire bean bake, people could really know Jim Hightower, a former Observer editor and Texas agriculture commissioner, does daily radio commentary and a weekend call-in talk show on the ABC Radio Network releases of toxic chemicals to air, water and land of any U.S. corporation, 194 million pounds of toxic chemicals, more than double the amount released by the secondranking company, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Aren’t we proud to have our Legislature dancing to their tune? Another major backer is FM Properties Inc., a huge developer long at odds with Austin because of the city’s water-quality and development regulations. The irony is that studies show the reason that Austin’s economy is booming and that so many people and companies want to move here is because of the quality of life in the state capital. Also on the polluters’ wish list is a bill that would lower water-quality standards in 60 percent of Texas streams by allowing dramatically higher levels of pollution. No more fishing for us. Another bill would make industry environmental audits secret and would allow immunity from prosecution if polluters voluntarily disclose their violations. If you tell on yourself, we won’t even slap your hand. And much more in this vein, all of it guaranteed to produce dirtier air and water in Texas. Governor George W. Bush’s trademark slogan is “What Texans can dream, Texans can do.” On Tuesday, state Representative Steve Wolens of Dallas observed, “What lobbyists can dream, lobbyists can do.” where he was coming from because: The breast pocket of his suit jacket would glisten with the gold crest of Philip Morris; His shirt cuffs would be monogrammed with the initials AT&T; His belt buckle would shout Shell Oil; Dole’s overcoat would have Met Life branded across the back, maybe with corporate mascot Snoopy the Dog on it, too. All of these are $10,000-and-up bigmoney backers of Dole. Or take Phil Gramm, known as “Dollar Bill Phil” for his nonstop money-grubbing. He could speak all he wants about his “love for the common man,” but folks would see right through him because: His staff would bear the logos of Goldman-Sachs, Morgan Stanley or one of the other Wall Street firms that have put more than a mil in Phil so far; Phil’s tie would be covered with the JIM HIGHTOWER 12 MAY 19, 1995 ..4.054.1~..**,:i.000,moetwoowomimoring