Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 tragedy in Oklahoma City and the spirit of Westernism. “Oklahoma and other Westerners do not give in to terrorism. We do not intimidate easily.” Sf TEAGALL’S performance summed up he meaning of cowboy poetry. A proessional country-western singer with Nashvillerecorded hits to his credit, Steagall has the commanding stage presence of a veteran entertainer. He sang songs from his new album, accompanying himself on guitar, and wove in poems that sounded like stories and stories that sounded like poems. They were about the “values of family,” a nice turn on the rock-hard, formulaic “family values.” Many of them dealt with his recent role as grandfather, stories about the grit and pluck of his grandson, a born cowboy it appears, who will follow in Granddad’s bootsteps. In an interlude in his quite enjoyable hour, Steagall remarked on issues dear to the heart of himself and other Westerners. He mentioned the property rights issue, pointing out that “people in government can’t take as good care of the land as its owners can.” The audience applauded wildly. Then, in a personal aside which also drew much applause, he remarked, “I don’t care to live in a socialistic society.” He followed these remarks with a poem about successive generations “born to this land.” Oklahoma City, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the cowboy poetry movement are a long way from Washington, D.C. The old-fashioned virtues celebrated in cowboy poetry offer clues to the rockribbed conservatism of this vast country that a lot of people in the White House still don’t understand. And probably never will, not being born to the land and being, by education and by ideology, disinclined to listen to those who are. ANDERSON COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 7 8 73 1 i’3-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip YELLOW DOGS BARK. Billie Carr, the Democratic National Committee member from Houston and liberal organizer, acknowledged that May 6 probably was not the best day to schedule a conference of liberal Texas Democrats, since many Tejanos were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, it was municipal election day in many communities around the state and Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, the progressive Democrat from Austin, was being honored as governor for the day across the street at the Capitol, but the conference still drew approximately 100 people to the AFL-CIO auditorium to discuss the Democratic Party. Senators John Whitmire and Rodney Ellis, both of Houston, spoke of the challenges of a Senate where Republicans and conservative Democrats have a working majority and Democratic Lieut. Gov . Bob Bullock is just trying to keep things moving. “There’s a tremendous impetus to go along and get along,” said Whitmire. He has drawn some criticism for joining the conservatives on many issues, including the concealed gun bill, which caused some conferees to wear “Conceal Whitmire” buttons, but he said he has not strayed on principles and in the case of the gun bill, not only does he support the “right to carry” after his family was robbed at gunpoint, but he said he would not have been elected from his northeast Harris County district if he did not support gun rights. Also speaking were congressmen Ken Bentsen of Houston, Lloyd Doggett of Austin and John Bryant of Dallas as well as Deputy Energy Secretary Bill White for the Clinton Administration and John Odam, the former Harris County chairman who plans to run for the U.S. Senate against Phil Gramm in 1996. The only statewide elected Democrat who spoke was Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who will lead President Clinton’s re-election campaign in Texas. Mauro plans to revive the grassroots style of campaigning that swept a slate of moderate-to-progressive Democrats into statewide office in 1982 but was missing from the 1992 campaign. “I’ve never forgotten that grassroots Democrats win elections,” he said, adding that “Bill Clinton is looking better and better because we’re no longer comparing him against the perfect President … we’re comparing him with eight Republicans.” V GIANT SUCKING SOUND. Late in the legislative session, legislators sidle up to Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka whenever he enters either chamber. That just could be because, about this time of year Burka and his factotum decide on the Monthly’s Ten Best and Ten Worst members of the Legislature. At a slow moment in floor debate on the eduction bill, Houston Democrat Kevin Bailey, attempting to gauge just how obsequious his colleagues were to Burka, sent messages to Kyle Janek, R-Houston, and Todd Staples, RPalestine. Bailey signed Burka’s name to the message slips, telling Staples and Janek that the Monthly’s .photographer was waiting for them in the lobby. Before he sent the message, Bailey had told a cluster of House members standing near the press table that the two Republicans were about to exit the chamber. “Look at them go,” Bailey said to his collaborator, Fort Worth Democrat Dale Tillery. “They were sucking up to Burka’s assistant all last night. You know, it’s the little moments like this one that, make it all worthwhile.” MODERATE VICTORIES. The Legislative Study Group of moderate-to-progressive lawmakers claimed some successes in the first three months of the session. Through April 6, the group reported, it won nine of 15 contested record votes on which a majority of LSG members were opposed to a majority of Conservative Coalition. There are 47 legislators who formed the core of the progressive coalition by voting together 90 percent or more of the time and 16 others vote with the core 70 to 90 percent of the time, for a total of 63 generally progressive votes. By contrast, while the Conservative Coalition has 86 House members, only 32 representatives constitute its core while 25 were allied with the core, for a total of 57 generally conservative votes. Since the Speaker does not vote, that leaves up for grabs 29 “swing” representatives, many of whom call themselves conservatives but who voted with progressives between one-third and two-thirds of the time. In the floor fights, the LSG won three votes and lost one on juvenile justice; it won six and lost one on welfare reform; it lost two votes on financial credit, one vote on annexation and one on disabled access. Continued on p. 9 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 24 MAY 19, 1995 ::, 4
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