Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V CAN’T BUY ME LOVE. Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm won the Iowa Straw Poll and the electronic media all but declared him president. Buried in Richard Berke’s New York Times article headlined “Rivals Stack the Deck in Iowa’s Straw Poll” was the analysis of Jack Rife, the Republican leader of the Iowa State Senate. Rife “lamented that the poll has degenerated into `a superficial beauty contest of candidates where the judges have been bought and paid for.’ Gramm invested heavily in the event, bringing in fellow NRA darling Charlton Heston and former Chicago Bear player and coach Mike Ditka to co-host a barbecue for his supporters. Gramm even admitted that giant, was busing workers in from eight of its plants. Wendy Gramm, the Senator’s wife, is on the IPB board of directors, and a Wall Street Journal story that appeared during the week before the event reported that IPB supervisors were pressuring employees to attend the event. Back home in Texas, however, Gramm’s numbers seemed to be declining along with his national ratings, which weren’t measured at the straw poll. A Texas Poll taken in the first week of August showed Gramm leading President Clinton in a head to head race for the presidencybut only by 43-39 percent. Asked if Gramm should run for the presidency and the U.S. Senate at the same time, as Texas election law allows him to do, sixty-seven percent of the four hundred and thirty-five Texans questioned in telephone interviews said no, while only seventeen percent approved. When a Dole-ClinDole fared better than Gramm, outpolling the President by 46-33 percent. A second Texas Poll of 1,001 Texans found that Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, the state’s junior U.S. Senator, got better ratings than Gramm. Forty-six percent of those polled responded that Gramm was doing either good or excellent, while forty percent described his performance as fair or poor. Fifty-three percent of the polling sample rated Hutchison’s performance as good or excellent, while thirty-three percent rated her performance as fair or good. In a nationwide poll of Republicans, Kansas Senator Bob Dole had a large lead over second-place Gramm, 48-21. And only Pat Buchanan, at twenty-one percent, had a negative rating higher than Gramm’s fourteen. On to New Hampshire. V IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN IN CENTRAL TEXAS. The Waco Tribune-Herald of raids on “illegal aliens” found working for companies in Belton, Copperas Cove, Killeen and Temple. Marc R. Masferrer reported that the Immigration and Naturalization Service rounded up one hundred and eighty-eight aliens working for fourteen Central Texas employers, including FabKnit Manufacturing, Fleetwood Homes, Plantation Foods, and other laundry, restaurant and construction businesses in the various cities. The INS said it was responding to numerous complaints of illegal employees, citing tips offered by “business competitors, former employees and ex-lovers.” During a news conference at the Temple Police Department, Gary Renick, chief INS investigator for the San Antonio district, implied that at least one motive for the widespread raids was his hope for INS expansion into the Waco area. He has proposed a Waco office for the INS, but federal funds have not been forthcoming. Ray Dudley, employee relations and public affairs officer for the INS, described the “burden” placed on U.S. citizens by illegal aliens: “Before you know it, they are on food stamps…Medicaid…AFDC.” Dudley did not explain how taxpaying workers who are trying to avoid the immigration authorities are likely to become a “burden” on other taxpayers. Perhaps if the INS receives its Waco funding, Dudley can use some of it to improve his grasp of political economyat taxpayer expense, of course. V MEDAL OF FREEDOM FOR VELASQUEZ. This fall the late Willie Velasquez will become the second Hispanic to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the U.S. in peacetime, and first received by farmworkers’ organizer Cesar Chavez. Velasquez, who died of cancer in 1988, spent his adult life in civil rights and political work. In 1974, he founded the Southwest Voter Education Project, which has registered more than two million voters. In an article by Maria F. Durand in the San Antonio Express-News, former colleagues of Velasquez recalled him and his work, which began in the ’60s when Ernesto Cortes Jr., now the state director of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, hired Velasquez \(then in graduate school at St. farmworkers. Juan Septilveda, a former student of Velasquez and now his biographer, said Velasquez’ experiences among impoverished South Texas farmworkers changed him forever, and that he dedicated his life to organizing on behalf of “La Raza Unida” and the Mexican American people. Speaking of his work in establishing Southwest Voter, Cortes said “Willie took the issue of voter .registration and was able to make a difference by the force of his personality.” Another colleague, Ignacio Perez, added that “To [Velasquez], being a Mexicano in office was not enough. You had to keep your promises to the people.” 24 SEPTEMBER 1, 1995 “–
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