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FEATURE Huntsman’s Odessa Syndrome by Greg Hannan Folks who live on the Southside of Odessa have grown too accustomed to toxins in the air. Now they’re fighting back. 14 James K. Galbraith 11 BOOKS AND THE CULTURE When it comes to the Major Leagues, Dubya ain’t there yet Dateline Camp David 12 Flying the Flags, by Jeff Mandell Poetry by Lynn D. Gilbert DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Head Rolls at A.G.’s Office Molly Ivins 4 What the Governor says about education doesn’t pass the test Jim Hightower 5 The wealth moves upward & the latest in bribery scams EDITORIAL What Good Old Days? 15 by Robert Jensen Of Microphones and Curettes 18 by Steven Kellman A Mind of One’s Own 20 by Chris Garlock Afterword 24 My Neighbor, Governor Bush by Lucius Lomax Cover design by Julia Austin THIS ISSUE Head Rolls at A.G.’s Office 1 n our August 25 issue, we reported ongoing crisis at the Attorney General’s Crime Victims’ Services Division, then headed by Brian Ogawa. Sources within the division, and victims advocates who work closely with it, spoke of mismanagement at the division, which administers grants to victims of crime to cover a variety of related expenses, including medical bills, funeral costs, and lost wages. Records obtained under the Open Records Act strongly suggest that higher than expected overhead costs, partly associated with a recent reorganization at the division, have resulted in a fiscal crisis. The result has been less money flowing to victims, particularly in a new program that offers relocation assistance for battered women. As of the end of the fiscal A.G.’s current figures, only $823,804 of the agency’s fiscal year target of $3.4 million had been disbursed under the program, and the books were being audited. First Assistant Attorney General Andy Taylor would not concede that the division may have “balanced” its budget by withholding funds from victims of crime, but he did say that an internal audit had produced some telling results \(the specifics of which he was not made public in the next few weeks. Taylor promised that victims and advocates would see some “real positive, good things” coming down the pipe in the near future. The first thing down the pipe, apparently, was Ogawa’s head. Ogawa has been demoted to his previous position, as head of the Crime Victim’s Institute, a four-person agency within the division, although the A.G.’s office officially calls it a “return.” Sources told the Observer that Ogawa was also expected to lose the roughly $15,000 raise he had received when becoming divibeen confirmed. On September 11, Attorney General Cornyn announced that Rex Uberman, cur.. rently the Deputy Secretary of Operations for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, has been appointed the new chief of the Crime Victims’ Services Division. \(Richard Nedelkoff, Governor Bush’s director of criminal justice policy, had been from Texas, has an M.A. in urban studies from U.T.Arlington, and has twentyseven years’ experience in human services and criminal justice. Reaction from the advocacy community has been mixed. “I think that General Cornyn thinks that since he demoted Ogawa, everyone will be happy,” said one Austin-area women’s advocate who asked not to be identified. Yet there has been no immediate improvement in the agency’s responsiveness, she said. Claims are still difficult for advocates to track. “If I need to call to check on something, it takes forever to get it done,” the source said. And victims especially ap plicants to the relocation program are still finding the process difficult to navigate. Nedelkoff had given word that no substantial administrative changes would be made until the new permanent director was in place so Uberman definitely has his hands full. That is not a promising prospect for victims and advocates. One advocate said that regulations necessary to the programs have still not been published, and added, “They did not make any changes. They demoted Ogawa, and everything else stayed the same.” Another source, a former employee of the Crime Victims program, said the problem was much bigger than Ogawa. “The C.V.C. has become a dumping ground for politicos you must hire,” she said, noting that the problem began under the Dan Morales administration. “They need to get some people in there who want to work.” N.B./M.K. A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR With regret, I announce that this is the last issue of The Texas Observer under my editorship. I’ve had a good run over these last five years, but now it’s time to go. Thanks to our readers and our writers for their support. Michael King, Editor SEPTEMBER 22, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3