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*miRWRAVaaVVVVVV1MIKT ZWW:* Employees Culberson County: 22 FM/FMRP: 514 Highest-paid Employee in 1996 Culberson County: Oscar Espinosa, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, $29,000 FM/FMRP: Jim Bob Moffett, Chairman of the Board, $41 million IMAGINE CRUISING DOWN THE AUTOBAHN WIT!! 256 44P UNDER THE HOOD, TOP DOWN,. EIMI GEAR, ENGINE WIDE OFEK, SCENERY A BLUR. THAT’S THE FEEL OF INTERMT ACCESS THROUGH THE NEW MEN MATRIX., ut y Laitie tee5t itl iv -te. DIAL-VP ISDN ACCESS FOR, j Lost s 1. 8 -50/M \(NTH FULLY DIGITAL FRI PHONE LINES WIDE OPEN CAPACITY TECH SUPPORT WITH A PULSE The Eden Matrix 106 E. SIKH! STREET, SUITE 21.0 AUSTIN, TX 7870 VOICE: 512A78,9900 FAX; 5j ,…47$.99:34 spotlight because, in exchange for a $2 million gift to the school, University of Texas Chancellor William Cunningham asked the U.T. Board of Regents to name a new microbiology building on the U.T.Austin campus for Freeport boss Jim Bob Moffett. Cunningham’s decision to name the building for Moffett has been unpopular in Austin because Moffett’s company has sued the city several times and worked to weaken the city’s ability to control water quality on land within its extraterritorial jurisdiction. While actively undermining the city’s powers, Freeport has spent millions of dollars on TV and print advertisements to improve its public image. The company vigorously touts its philanthropic efforts and has adopted the advertising slogan: “Giving Something Back.” In one advertisement that appeared in Texas Monthly in April 1996, Freeport said that wherever it operates, it works with local groups to “improve education, fight crime, increase opportunities for youths, and otherwise enrich the community.” \(Freeport spokesman Bill Collier, reached in his office in New Orleans, refused to comment THE BIG ONES EAT THE LITTLE ONES On a hot, cloudless, mid-September morning in Van Horn, Reyes and the five other workers awaiting their pink slips milled around the ramshackle tin Quonset but that houses the Culberson County Road and Bridge Department. They drank coffee and spoke in Spanish about what they were going to do. Reyes was not hopeful. “It’s very difficult here to find work,” he said. Some of the men fired had been working for the county for fifteen years. None made more than $10 per hour. When told that Moffett, the chairman of the board of Freeport-McMoRan made $41 million last year, or about $19,000 an hour, Pete Soliz, a heavy equipment operator who was with the county for twelve years and was on the list to be fired, said, “The people they are laying off don’t make that in a year.” Thirty-six-year-old Raul Balcazar worked for the county for five years and was also on the list to be fired. On $8.20 per hour, he supported his wife and three children, ages 17, 11, and 6. “It’s the big dog eating the small dog,” he said. “They are crying . about their taxes and they don’t know how much they are hurting these people.” SETTLE NOW OR FIGHT FOREVER IN COURT At the end of September, Culberson County officials announced a settlement with Freeport. It keeps the 1995 valuation in place and lowers the 1996 valuation by about $3 million. John Jones, a county commissioner who runs a small gas station and diner at the intersection of I-10 and U.S. 90, said that he and other county officials simply wanted to put an end to the dispute. “It’s not a good deal,” said Jones. “We are just glad it’s over.” Jones said the county had to settle, because it could not afford to keep fighting, having already spent more than $70,000 on attorneys. Looking back, Jones wishes Pennzoil had never sold the mine to Freeport. “Pennzoil was a good partner. We hoped the Freeport relationship would be good too. But the first thing we got from them was a summons.” Robert Bryce is a Contributing Editor to the Austin Chronicle, where a version of this story first appeared. Subscribe to the Texas Observer 307 W. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701 email: [email protected] 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 24, 1997