Louis Dubose The killer of health care reform and the Father of Texas are both entitled to final resting spots in, the State Cemetery. misconduct in office, has made a “reservation” for internment there. Drew Nixon, a Republican state senator from East Texas who was busted for solicitation of a hooker and carrying an illegal weapon, can go to the cemetery tomorrow and choose any open space he likes. The ex-senator might choose a plot, for example, near the grave of a certain former chairman of the Texas Pardons and Paroles Board, who capped his long career of public service by trying to give a handjob to an undercover vice cop, in the men’s room of the Austin bus station. A plot in the State Cemetery is, as one former official of the governor’s office described it, “the last little freebie” of state service. Some can’t seem to wait to pick their final resting place. Terry Keel, at the green age of 43 \(and, by all accounts, quite Travis County. He has already picked his spot. In fact, altogether Keel and his family \(including his father Tom, former director of the Legislative Budget Board, and cousin John, at the State Cemetery. Dawnna Dukes, an Austin state representative with even less public experience than Terry Keel, has already laid claim to her final resting place, too. Dukes is only in her fourth term in office but she has already decided that she wants to rest, for eternity, in. The Meadow \(a slightly less fashionable area of the cemetery, down the slope from Committee, will be at her right side, the two black legislators separated only by their respective spouses. United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had her “reservation” at the State Cemetery approved two years ago. On an application form submitted last year, fellow Senator Phil Gramm listed as one of his most important accomplishments in office “led the fight to stop the Clinton Health Care Bill.” Not exactly “died at San Jacinto,” but the bar may be getting lower for today’s great Texans. If you’re not an elected official, entry to the Cemetery is now at the discretion of the Cemetery committee. Long-serving Nate Blakeslee state bureaucrats, federal officeholders like Gramm and Hutchison and, according to the statute creating the Cemetery committee, “persons who have made a significant contribiltion to the history and culture ofTexas” are eligible for burial at the state site. But in practice it may be hard to determine exactly what those contributions are. Jane Hickie, who served as Ann Richards’ administrative aide when Richards was a county ‘ commissioner, and was later Governor Richards’ liaison in Washington, has been selected. Mark Rose, a former Austin city councilman and lobbyist who went on to be manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and is now a political consultant, has also been chosen. Rose’s father was commander of the Texas National Guard and is buried at the cemeterybut family lineage is not one of the criteria for selection. Under the younger Rose’s leadership the Lower Colorado River’ Authority gave money to help renovate the cemeterybut money is not one of the criteria either. Both Hickie and Rose have made no significant contribution to the state at least none that is easily identifiablebut they are well-connected. The Texas cemetery’s pretensions to being “like Arlington” do not hold up well under scrutiny. Arlington National Cemetery is run by the Army, which is not immune to cronyism or influence, but which seems to take a longer view of history than do Texas politicians. Unlike in Austin, no “reservations” are taken at Arlington. Every individual is evaluated at death. Presidents and Supreme Court justices are pretty much continued on page 14 3/16/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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