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AV Carver Community Cultural Center 226 N. Hackbeby San Antonio, Texas A Regional Summit on The Edwards Aquifer and the Rill Country MARCH 4-6, 2005 Please join us in exploring the past, present, and future of the Edwards Aquifer. Participate in discusions with a wide range of experts and stakeholders and gain the knowledge and skills needed to save the source of water for 2 million Texans. Greswer Rivard, Aquifer Mow For more information call: Fabelo, continued from page 20 tify where these guys fall, in what group, and the judges use it and try to divert people that way. TO: Well, the governor, when asked about Texas’ lack of capacity, says that we can just outsource to private facilities and county jails. But is that really a cost-effective solution for the state? TF: Well, it might be cost-effective in the sense that it might cost a little bit less than housing them in the prison system. It might reduce some of the prison construction cost. If some of the privates construct their own prisons, I guess, or the counties pay them for holding them there. But the operational cost will still be large. You still have to pay for housing those people. And at one point, the question becomes, “Where’s the end of this thing? How large is this going to get?” We have 160,000 prisoners. Are we going to do this every four, five years? Buy 6,000 more prisoners? Somebody is going to have to really answer questions. And I have asked that question before. What it requires is a strong commitment to enhance other parts of this system that we have not enhanced very well. TO: What questions should legislators be asking of the folks at the Legislative Budget Board who are doing some of what you used to do? What information will be missing that legislators should know? TF: Let me tell you a part that was invisible. What we did a lot was serve as a neutral facilitator among the agencies to agree on what was the problem. Agree on some potential options for the problems. Agree on how we were going to approach this to provide the best information for the Legislature and the governor on what to do next. And then agree on accountability measures that the agencies will participate in to move the agenda forward. That was kind of invisible in the sense that what they tended to see were reports, projections, and so forth. But now that I’m traveling all over the country, ironically, I’m doing this role [in other states]. In this state you have all these agen cies and the legislative board types and so forth, you need a mechanism for somebody that is perceived as neu tral, coming in and facilitating all this work with the agencies to pro vide a consistent and cohesive view of what needs to get done and how you’re going to hold everybody accountable for doing it and have everybody working together. I did a lot of that so, a ques tion that you need to ask somebody is whether, that part, that function, has been done or somebody’s doing it. I honestly do not know. I don’t want to speculate because it sounds pretty self-serving. TO: In your final years there, did you ever feel I’m not saying that you gave in to itbut did you ever feel pressured to reach any kind of conclusion? TF: No. I mean there were a lot of pressures during the last session. But everybody that knew me, knew that I would listen, try to figure out what was reasonable given the base of numbers, of information, and give them my best judgment, and that’s what they always praised me for doing. And any attempts to put pressures that were blatantly political, [they know] I will not do it, and [instead] pay the consequences. TO: That’s pretty much what happened! TF: I don’t know, [laughs]. But, that was my job, that’s what they paid me to be. They needed to have somebody that they saw not playing any games with the judgment calls. And many times, Republicans and Democratsand believe me I have good friends on both sides, very good friends[would] tell me, “maybe we don’t like what you say sometimes, but we know it’s your judgment call based on the best information that we have. And if we don’t like it, we’re going to tell you and then try to work on it. But that’s what we like, because there’s a lot of people who come here, and you know they have all kinds of agendas.” And so at a certain point they don’t believe anything and this is the problem. It becomes a game of opportunityusing information to create opportunity as opposed to using information to create options that most people think are reasonable [to provide] alternatives to whatever problem they’re facing. It’s fascinating. The use of information in a power structure is something that fascinates me and I love to watch it. TO: One last question: Why do you think the agency was terminated? TF: [Laughs]. I just take it as a big compliment what [they] said. We did such a good job in helping the state get out of the crisis in the early ’90s, that we were no longer needed! [Laughs]. So we worked ourselves out of a job! The only agency that has done that. And I appreciate the compliment. 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 18, 2005