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417.0.e 6;0. , :::;:p! di 1V7i4:1, press, “a charge is not a conviction.” Bullock eventually pled guilty to the charge and received a year-long probation. In 1979, after he had rear-ended a pickup truck, Bullock told Austin police officers he had had “a couple drinks.” The American -Statesman reported that the officer “smelled liquor on Bullock’s breath but added that Bullock did not appear intoxicated.” On September 9, 1981, Austin police officers were called to a house near the Onion Creek Country Club to investigate what they thought was a hostage situation. Press reports said that a man armed with a handgun had been seen entering a taxicab near the house. A few minutes later, police stopped the cab in downtown Austinit contained Bullock, but no gun. Bullock was questioned at the police station but was not arrested. The American -Statesman quoted Austin Police lieutenant Ernie Hinkle as saying, “Bullock had been drinking but was not drunk.” Five days later, Bullock was admitted to Betty Ford’s treatment center in Californiaas he described it later, he had “enrolled in drunk school.” It was literally a sobering moment for the hard-drinking womanizer, who often told friends, “You only get so many hard-ons in life, it’s a shame to waste any of them.” Today, Bullock says he is embarrassed by his past. “Those were some sad times,” he said. “Sad times for my family, for my children…those divorces were very sad. And the excess drinking was a real low point. I hit rock bottom.” The years of drinking and smoking are clearly catching up to Bullock. He walks, talks and moves slowly. He wears a hearing aid in his left ear, and he often cups one or both ears during conversa tions. His breathing has the rapid shallow rhythm that characterizes emphysema patients. But like many lifetime cigarette smokers, despite quitting many times, he can’t quite kick the habit. Yet far from diminishing his aura, Bullock’s maladies have only seemed to add to his heroic mystique. THE NEW REGIME Before last fall’s landmark election, as the head of the Senate and leader of an inevitable Democratic majority, Bullock expected unquestioning allegiance from both sides of the aisle. Until this year, he got it. Last session, he exercised what one observer called “almost absolute control of the Senate.” This session promises to be different, although to what degree is not yet certain. An invigorated Republican Party, which in Bullock’s first session held less than one-third of the Senate’s seats, now has a majority. Bullock has shown signs that he is willing to relinquish some of his power. He has given the prize committee chairs to the GOP Republicans lead the Senate’s Finance, Economic Development, Education, and Natural Resources committees. In all, Republican senators will chair six of the fifteen Senate committees this session. The day after the November 5 election, Bullock put on a conciliatory face when four key Republican senators, Teel Bivins of Amarillo, Buster Brown of Lake Jackson, David Sibley of Waco, and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, met with him in his office. According to published reports, Bullock asked the four GOP leaders what they wanted and they responded. But the next day, in a speech that drew headlines across the state, Bullock told the Texas Civil erne across the str ome ofhis sister, Louisa, and brot law, Will Bond, the man who later con , winced him to run for the Legislature. B ulI ock was sixteen when his father died, and he and his mother moved into the Bonds’ house. Bullock married his first wife shortly after graduating from high school, and in 1951, he joined the Air Force. For the next four years, he was stationed in San Antonio, working as a supply sergeant. He visited Korea briefly, delivering supplies to the troops. When he was discharged, he went to Texas Tech and then to Baylor ek die ‘4117.” VI’ 4 7+7 au Cs State, a job AftetAJ fJ ,,p5noiw: During his texpAre, Bullocl ruled that col lege students should be permitted to vote in the towns where they are attending school. He also tightened campaign finance reporting requirements, a rather ironic move given that one of Bullock’s political tasks was to collect large cash contributions from wealthy donors on the governor’s behalf. A year later, Bullock went after the the comptroller in a new era of post ion..minority politics, Bullock em braced affirmative-action hiring prac tices—after having opposed minority rights for years. “When I was in the Legis lature, I voted for every segregation bill I had a chance to vote for. I voted for twenty of them,” Bullock told the Washington Post in 1975. Yet in his first year on the job as comptroller, he doubled the number of black staff members on his payroll and increased the number of Hispanics by a 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 31, 1997