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CORRECTION We goofed. In our haste to publish last issue’s cover story, “Rate of Exchange,” about the breaking campaign finance scandal that has consumed the state Capitol, we let four minor errors slip past our watchful eyes. While all major bills must pass through the House Calendars Committee, not every piece of legislation does so, as we mistakenly reported. Charles McMahen served as vice chairman of Compass Bank in 2002, not vice president. The state faced a $10 billion deficit last session, not $10 million. And it was the Maxxam company that admitted no wrongdoing during various federal investigations, not its chief executive, Charles Hurwitz. We regret the errors and have corrected them on our website, . CONGRATS! The Observer is pleased to announce that we are the recipients of the 2003 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism for “Rise of the Machine” [August 29, 2003]. Other winners of the award, given by Hunter College in New York City, are columnist Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Newsday, The Boston Globe, and cartoonist Mark Fiore. FEATURES DEPARTMENTS BOOKS & THE CULTURE MARCH 26, 2004 Texas Observer CLEANING HOUSE Election night upsets rock the Texas Democratic Party by Felix Gillette DEAN IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE DEAN! What can Texas Democrats learn from the blogs, the meetups, and the grassroots improvising? by Rachel Proctor May DIALOGUE EDITORIAL A Break in the Clouds OPEN FORUM Bush’s Greatest Failure by Robert Bryce POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE LAS AMERICAS El Corrido de Ignacio Chapela by John Ross MOLLY IVINS How to Sink a School System JIM HIGHTOWER Mr. No -Child -Left -Behind POETRY by Sarah Wolbach ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF TURPITUDE by Lou Dubose MY FABULOUS FAWN by James McWilliams LOOKING FOR LAURA by Elisabeth Piedmont -Marton AFTERWORD Waiting for V-Day by Pakita Oitz Cover by Mike Krone DIALOGUE THE LANDLORDS STRIKE BACK I was surprised and disappointed by Renee Willette’s article “Only Citizens Need Apply” in the January 30 issue of The Texas Observer. Contrary to accepted journalistic practice, Ms. Willette never told me that she was writing an article for the Observer when she spoke to me. Rather, she indicated that she was doing a study for the Applied Research Center. Furthermore, I believe that quotes from our conversation were taken out of context and used selectively. The Texas Apartment Association extremely seriously and we have no desire or intent to circumvent it in any way. Housing discrimination against a protected class is indefensible and despicable. TAA places a very high emphasis on educating our members about the fair housing law and helping ensure they are in compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law. In short, we believe fair housing is good business. When we were asked by our members to consider development of the additional rental application for non-United States citizens, we took great pains to make sure the form would be in compliance with the law. TAA has also instructed our members that great care must be taken in using this form so that it is not used in a discriminatory manner. While the TAA form has been in use for more than two years, I am unaware of a single fair housing complaint or violation based upon its use. Before the form was approved by our Board, a copy was submitted to the United States Department for Housing and Urban Development form was in compliance with HUD Fair Housing Regulations. HUD responded in writing \(not verbally, as Ms. Willette’s article incorrectly citizenship would not, on their face, violate the Act, unless it is found that such questions are a part of a wider scheme of national origin discrimination, or where a citizenship test is found to be used as a pretext to disguise what is in fact national origin discrimination.” Furthermore, a guidance developed by HUD, Response to Concerns about Housing Security Following September 11, 2001, declares that asking applicants about their citizenship or continued on page 20 4 6 2 3 8 10 12 14 15 21 22 24 26 31 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/26/04