aY al lk? te 4 ALMS FOR THE RICH. Larry Paul Manley has a problem. As the head of the Texas Department of Housing and Community nor George Bush, Manley is charged with setting up housing programs that will benefit low-income residents around the state. Trouble is, the political payoff for those sorts of programs is just about zilch these days, particularly for Republicans. As a result, Manley is busy reshaping TDHCA policies along lines more in keeping with his background as a former bank lawyer. His latest idea: lending money to people who can prove they don’t need it. The Wall Street Journal reported \(Janvate developers to ease the restrictions on families applying for housing aidso that families who make as much as 115 percent of an area’s median income could qualify for housing aid. That means Austin families earning $51,750 a year would be eligible for state-subsidized low interest loans. Manley justified this change with a real estate salesman’s version of the trickle-down theory: allowing middle-class families to move up to more expensive housing will free up more rental housing for the poor. Predictably, a pilot project in Austin’s Fairway Ridge subdivision using the new guidelines has received high praise from the developers involved, who liked having the deal sweetened for many of their prospective customers. Advocates for low-income housing were less enthusiastic. John Henneberger of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service in Austin told the Journal, “I do not believe that the taxpayers of the state of Texas should be subsidizing $85,000 or $90,000 homes.” So far, Manley hasn’t allowed this type of impertinence to deflect his determination to go upmarket with TDHCA funding. Despite the fact that the agency describes improving the living conditions for the poor and homeless as one of its major strategic goals, Manley is not in the mood to coddle the poor. “I’m sorry,” he recently told a reporter, “you don’t give houses to people who don’t have jobs.” DADDY DEAREST. Environmental activists to George Bush: listen to your father. On January 29, a group demonstrating in front of the Governor’s Mansion called on George the Younger to support the stricter air quality standards mandated by George the Elder’s 1990 Clean Air Actwhich requires the EPA to update air-quality standards every five years. The Governor’s office has thus far refused requests for a response to the stricter standards, which would currently push Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and the Tyler/Longview/Marshall area into “non-attainment status”and therefore require those cities to clean up their air. \(Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and Beaumont/Port Arthur already fall into The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, approaching the matter with characteristically obstrtictionist gusto, has been collecting comments to develop a response to the EPA’s proposed standards. The new rules would regulate particulates of 2.5 microns or less in size and lower permissible levels of ground level ozone. The foot-dragging Gov and his noseholding TNRCC appear determined to make certain that the new standards will not require the state of Texas to do anything more about air pollutionapparently under the theory that what we pretend not to know can’t hurt us. Maybe Texans can pretend not to breathe, too. SPEAKING OF GEORGE…The ex-president and old CIA hand hasn’t been entirely without international interests since he left Washington for Houston. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, Bush recently found time to intervene on behalf of an international mining conglomerate trying to muscle in on the Indonesian interests of a smaller company. The December 19 report from Jakarta, “The Battle for Busang,” by John McBeth, is a revealing corporate-eye view of the financial and political struggle for which some believe will eventually surpass the Freeport concession at Irian Jaya for the title of “world’s largest gold mine.” A Canadian company, Bre-X Minerals, was attempting to strike a favorable deal with the larger Barrick Gold company and the Indonesian government for exploitation of the Mine, when President Suharto’s eldest daughter, Siti “Tutut” Hedijanti Rukmana, intervened on behalf of Barrick. Tutut was not alone; Barrick also called in their “board of international advisers,” including former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as well as ,former U.S. President Bush, who sought to persuade Suharto that Barrick was just the firm for the job. George recommended Barrick directly to Suharto himself, describing the company as having “the resources and assets to do a reputable job.” Faced with that prestigious firepower, Bre-X didn’t surrender; the company recruited Tutut’s younger brother, Sigit Harjojudanto, to join in its bidraising the threat of an intra-family crisis. If you’re wondering what the people of Borneo might have to say about all this, you haven’t been paying attention. COLD COMFORT. “There is no use being nervous,” a robe-wearing federal judge told Cesare Vasquez Acufla after striding into Vasquez’s Brownsville hospital room with an entourage of U.S. mar shals, attorneys, and court officials. Vasquez, a Mexican man who had been wounded during a January 24 shootout between three men and a team of Special Forces Soldiers, was then formally charged with trying to shoot a Green Ot t Beret. According to reports in the San Antonio Express -News, the soldiers were “gathering intelligence” on drug traffickers at a remote site along the Rio Grande when they observed three armed men rob eight people who had just come across the river from Mexico. After a sergeant hiding in the bushes revealed himself to one of the alleged robbers, the man fired at the soldier, who returned fire. In the eight years since military personnel have been stationed along the border to assist with anti-drug activities, this is the first time a soldier has shot someone, commented an Army spokeswoman. Joe Garza, chief of the McAllen Sector of the U.S. %Ak, 100
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