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MARCH 12, 2004 Texas Observer FEATURES RATE OF EXCHANGE 4 What might $1.5 million get you in the Texas Legislature? by Jake Bernstein and Dave Mann MEET THE ATTACK DOGS 8 The Virginia-based Americans for Job Security loves to get involved in Texas politics. by Jake Bernstein DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 Rule of Law OPEN FORUM 10 Taking Back the Owner’s Box by Fred Lewis POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 12 MOLLY IVINS 14 Redefine Your Troubles Away JIM HIGHTOWER 15 When Bush Budgets LAS AMERICAS 16 Happy Birthday Death! by John Ross BOOKS 6 THE CULTURE POETRY by Dario R. Beniquez A MAN AND HIS PARROT by Jose Rabinovich Reprinted with permission from University of New Mexico Press SERENE AT 40? by Marian Haddad WAR STORIES by Susan Briante AFTERWORD The Threat by Brett Campbell Cover by Doug Potter DIALOGUE NO RELATION The February 13 issue of your publication has reached my desk, and I want to point your attention to an error that I am hoping you can find a way to correct to help prevent other media from repeating the mistake. The article, “Bush’s Bounty Hunters,” uses a mistaken assumption to include negative references to Boone Pickens and his initiative to help address the state’s looming water supply issues. Specifically, the article states that one of the “Pioneers,” J. Bryan Pickens is a “relative” of Boone’s. Not so. While they share the same last name and live in the same city, there is no family relationship. Jay Rosser Communications Director B.P. Capital The Observer regrets the error and has corrected it on our website. SPEAKER’S OFFICE RESPONDS I read your “Scandal in the Speaker’s Office.” [February 27, 2004] I try not to take issue with things of which I know nothing, so I’ll limit my remarks. You guys made a big deal of the press conference invitation, so I think it’s worth some clarification from this side. You said: “The invitation to the press conference told the story,” and pointed out that it had “Paid for by Texans for a Republican Majority” at the bottom. That could be a damning link, if Craddick had anything to do with that invitationbut he didn’t. The “invitation” was to “Interested parties.” It was from TRM, which was understandably happy that Republicans had won 88 House seats and that Craddick would probably be announcing he had the votes to be elected speaker. That was no big secret. That was what all of us in the media suspected. But TRM wasn’t working cheek by jowl with Craddick on the press conference. The facts are that Craddick’s legislative office booked the space in the Speaker’s Committee Room for the press conference. There is written record of that. Bill Miller helped him with a statement and notified the media the day before that Craddick was having the press conference. At the press conference, Miller distributed the statement. Ask Miller. I recall all of this because I was there and wrote a story about it for the San Antonio Express-News. I was not invited by TRM although I suspect that some of the many folks in that Committee Room were. One lady even kept telling me what to write down. I said up top that I don’t take issue with things I know nothing about, but I don’t believe you can make the claim that that invitation told any story, let alone a working relationship between TRM and Craddick. Craddick is guilty of being a Republican and a close friend of Tom DeLay’s and he is guilty of working for a long time to elect Republicansbut if you’re trying to make a criminal link between that press conference invitation and an alleged Sharpstown II, you’re going to have to try harder. Bob Richter Press Secretary Rep. Tom Craddick Texas House Speaker IF BUSH IS E-LECTED The Dallas Morning News did it; I figgered that figgers. The New York Times continued on page 29 CONGRATULATIONS! Observer intern Emily Rapp, a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin, has won The Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Prize for non-fiction for her essay, “Surving the Body.” Congratulations, Emily! 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/12/04 21 22 24 26 31