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David Sedaris June 17 at BookPeople Join us on June 17 at 7 pm for the event of the year. David Sedaris will be here with his anxiously anticipated new collection, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Go to for details. Books Gifts Coffee 9 am 11 pm everyday 603 N. Lamar 472-5050 shop online at: Book People A Community Bound By Books. Hi11Co, continued from page 17 the contribution is from that person,” says Karen Lundquist, the commission’s executive director. The exact nature of the relationship between Perry and HillCo PAC might remain partially obscured, but it’s still worth asking the question: What might Bob Perry want from a friendly state Supreme Court? One person who has some insight into possible answers to that question is Craig McDonald, who heads Texans for Public Justice. The group has long been an insistent voice for judicial campaign reformusually by shining a bright light on who is paying for campaigns. ” [Perry] gives most often when he has a special interest at stake,” says McDonald. The state Supreme Court is just such a case, he believes. “The Texas courts have been on a path to protect homebuilders like Perry;’ says McDonald. He points to several issues that will likely face the court where a favorable ruling could save tens of millions of dollars for homebuilders like Perry and Dick Weekley, who heads up another big GOP giver, Texans for Lawsuit As of 2003, Perry Homes had been sued more than 60 times in the past 15 years, according to a search of court records. Now imagine if, instead of homeowners being allowed to sue builders like Perry for defective housing, they were forced into arbitration. Consumer advocates believe arbitration can sometimes be easier to tilt in the homebuilder’s favor than a trial ever would be. Binding arbitration has been a consistent issue in the state Supreme Court of late. The question of third party liability whether the homebuilder is responsible to pay damages for the harmful actions of its subcontractorsis another issue often before the court. Then there is the matter of lawsuit award limits. “These are real issues that are near and dear to the bottom line,” says McDonald. These days the argument can be made that contributions to Texas Supreme Court candidates don’t matter. In a Republican state, with a solid GOP court, an occasional lopsided primary battle or the need for a costly first-introduction to voters are about the only reasons money might be needed, according to this analysis. But it won’t always be that way. Eventuallysooner in some places than in othersthe appellate courts will become competitive again as Democratic voters increase with changing demographics. That is why reform is urgent now, says Campaigns for People’s Fred Lewis. “[When competition increases] the incentive to cheat rises,” he says. The most important reform available on the contribution side would be an aggregate limit on individual donations, Lewis believes. Under this scenario, a big donor like Bob Perry would only be allowed to give a fixed sum, say $25,000 the median income of your average Texanin political contributions. What kind of scandal it would take to shake such a reform out of the Legislature remains to be seen. Observer intern Jeremy Brown contributed to this story. 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 6/4/04