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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE BROWN TOWN. On January 2, Lee Brown became the first African-American mayor of Houston. In his inaugural speech, Brown said, “Today, all children, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic can point to City Hall and say, ‘I too can be mayor.'” The ceremony was marked first by the U.S. national anthem, followed by a spontaneous and moving rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” begun by a single voice in the balcony, and then joined by much of the audience \(the song is known in the African-American community as “the City Hall may require a crash course in black culture at the Houston Chronicle; its inauguration cover story referred to the song as “Lift Up Your Voice and Sing.” To win the election, Brown defeated Rob Mosbacher in a runoff, 53 to 47 percent. The usual pundits pointed out that Brown was carried to victory by a record turnout of black voters, who supported the former police chief and drug czar overwhelmingly. More than 95 percent of the went to Brown; but he also garnered nearly 30 percent of the white and 47 percent of the Mexican-American vote. Significantly, accordingly to a voting breakdown published by the Chronicle, lower-income The Houston mayoral race had attracted national attention in its last weeks, as national Democratic and Republican figures took sides in what was nominally a nonpartisan local election. Brown was endorsed by President Bill Clinton and VicePresident Al Gore, who campaigned briefly on his behalf, while Mosbacher received a late boost from Republican New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who called Houston reporters to criticize Brown’s work as the New York City police commissioner. \(Giuliani’s own mayoral campaign, reported The New York Times, had received “at least $22,000 from Mosbacher family members and an official in the familydent Bush, now a Houston resident, also endorsed Mosbacher. Mosbacher has now lost races for U.S. Senate, lieutenant governor, and Houston mayor, and says he will likely run no more. BLUMS DAY AT U.T. In the first round of the Houston election, black voters had also turned out to defeat an anti-affirmative-action ballot initiative, sponsored by Houstonian Ed Blum’s Campaign for a ColorBlind America, which would have ended affirmative action in city contracting. It was defeated by 10 percent, strongly opposed as expected by black and Hispanic voters. White support was significantly related to class higher-income whites voted to end affirmative action in much higher percentages than lower income whites. Blum himself, still stinging from the loss, visited U.T.Austin in late November as part of a forum jointly sponsored by the Student African-American Brotherhood and the Students for Equal Opportunity \(the organizations take opposite positions people heard Blum and several U.T. faculty members on the question, “Is Lino Graglia Right?” Graglia did not take part, but the nominal topic of the evening was the law professor’s notorious assertion that minority students “have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement.” \(How Graglia had won the right to define the terms of the affirmative-action debate was never made clear. What’s next on the campus debate circuit: “Is It True Italians are Gangsters?”; Blum was quick to admit Graglia was “incorrect” in his original judgment, but said the Nutty Professor’s later explanation \(i.e., the press made me say it, Sicilians are ignorant too, but those Jews certainly hit Blum attacked affirmative action as unnecessary because blacks have made plenty of progress since segregation; he was joined by Daniel Bonevac, chair of the U.T. philosophy department, who argued that affirmative action hurts minority students, who would be better off at “less competitive” schools than U.T. The several faculty defenders of affirmative action included Terry Wilson of U.T.’s Office of Public Affairs, who pointed out that higher education beCame curiously preoccupied with “objective test scores” for admission at the precise historical moment when the civil rights movement had forced desegregation of the universities. Wilson argued that affirmative action is still a necessary academic program, although he said it should be more precisely aimed at economically disadvantaged minority students. Meanwhile, the U.T. administration continues to fumble the ball in its much-advertised intent to “maintain diversity.” The Faculty Council recently appointed psychology professor and Graglia-ally Joseph Horn to chair its undergraduate admissions committee. Like Graglia, Horn is a longtime, activist opponent of affirmative action, and stood with Graglia at the podium on the day he delivered his inflammatory remarks. Student and faculty groups are calling for Horn’s ouster from the chairmanship. XMAS LIST. ‘Twas the season for giving, and outgoing Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and his little helpers waited until the final city council meeting of 1997 to hand out millions of dollars in tax breaks to select developers in the form of six special taxing districts. These districts will result in the removal of nearly 2,000 acres of land from the city tax rolls, and will benefit struggling inner-city companies such as Federal Express, which wants to build a new trucking terminal near the airport. Among others who decided it was better to receive than to give was shopping center magnate and long-time Lanier associate Ed Wulfe, who started off the new year after finding a $25 million tax break and a $1.6 million city loan in his stocking. Another beneficiary of the public giftgiving season this year was St. John’s School, an exclusive private school favored by the country club crowd, where the tuition runs around $10,000 a year. Despite the fact that the school boasts net assets of more than $71 million, including a $42 million endowment, Houston city council members guaranteed a $10-million tax-exempt loan to St. John’s for a new fine arts building, soccer field, and tennis courts. For those still laboring under the misapprehension that public funds ought to be spent for public purposes, Lanier told the Houston Chronicle that providing tennis courts for wealthy private schools “serve the greater good of improving education in the city overall.” This will no doubt provide a bit of holiday cheer for children attending public schools on Houston’s mostly low-income southeast 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 16, 1998