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EDITORIAL UndemoCraddick INTI he Texas Public Policy become the in-house think tank of the state’s current Republican leadership. The TPPF’s legislative conference this past Januaryfunded by business interests and lobbyists with issues before the Legefeatured talks by the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the House. Speaker Tom Craddick used his early morning slot to lay out his strategy for tackling the most difficult challenge facing the Lege this session: school finance. “We are not going to put together 100 votes,” he told the breakfast crowd. “We are going to go with 76 votes.” Craddick should have no problem conjuring a simple majority of 76 votes. And although many members will protest, he will likely succeed in ramming through his legislation with this bare minimum of support. But is that really the right way to guide the Texas House to create laws for the state? When Craddick was elected to his second term as speaker on January 11, the first day of the 79th Legislature, forsaking consensus and utilizing power-play tactics were not the traits that nominators lauded. “Tom Craddick: a man who chooses moderation over ideology,” extolled Houston Democratic Rep. Har old Dutton. He continued, “Tom Graddick: a man who chooses compromise over confrontation.” And, “Tom Graddick: a man who chooses cooperation over defiance.” Somehow, everyone in the chamber that day managed to keep a straight face. Love him or hate him, Craddick is most certainly a creature of ideology. As for Dutton’s other descriptions, there are Marine drill sergeants more compromising and cooperative than the selfdescribed drilling mud salesman from Midland. \(Dutton might want to ask former colleague Steve Wolens about Graddick’s moderation, after the speaker literally switched off Wolens’ microphone in a floor debate during last spring’s speAfter opening day, Craddick quickly moved away from the portrait his nominators painted, when he announced new committee assignments. The choices showed a remarkable amount of vindictiveness although the speaker has denied that was his motive. He bustAustin Democrat Elliott Naishtat from the chairmanship and vice chairmanship, respectively, of the Human Services Committee. Former speaker Pete Laney Transportation Committee, where his knowledge and experience might get in the way of the TransTexas Corridor. And the Agriculture and Livestock Committee, loaded with urban Democrats who didn’t support Craddick, has become a kind of hovel for the legislatively damned. The speaker’s retribution is not without a certain sense of humor. And what kind of school finance plan will emerge from such mob-rule legislating? Ideally, a school-finance proposal would spring from broad consensus, with input from all parts of Texas: rich and poor, Black, Latino, Asian, and Anglo, rural and urban, Democrat and Republican. That approach isn’t easy. It requires actual compromise, cooperation and moderation. It may be more expedient to punch through a narrow, ideologically based Republican plan, loaded with gambling and school voucher proposals that are giveaways to lobbyists and ideological cronies. Worse, Craddick’s willingness to ignore nearly half the representatives of the people of Texas and impose on the populace his own backroom plan for financing schools simply isn’t democratic government. As speaker, it’s Craddick’s right to muscle his short-sighted legislation through the House in this manner, if he chooses. But the taxpayers and the school kids of this state will be the worse for it. DM & JB THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 97, NO. 4 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Associate Publisher Jim Ball Circulation Manager Lara George Art Direction Buds Design Kitchen Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Roxanne Bogucka, Laurie Baker Webmaster Adrian Quesada Editorial Interns Kris Bronstad, Megan Giller, Star Silva, Forrest Wilder Lege Interns Elayne Esterline, Monica Gutierrez, Chris Mahon, Lauren Reinlie, Rachna Sheth, Jonathan York Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Ronnie Dugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocarias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson,1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040 copyrighted 2005, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues dation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. FEBRUARY 18, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3