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Dialogue CHICKEN REDUX Your article “Getting Plucked” in the 3/18/2005 issue is pathetically onesided and filled with wild conjecture. You glossed over other circumstances in Barry Townsend’s life that may have precipitated his tragic attack on Kevin Crook and Larry Ryals. You provided nothing but supposition and accusations by a woman who has been treated for emotional problems to bolster your assertion that there is arsenic in the poultry products consumed in America. I find it difficult to believe that you could not find one contract grower who felt they were treated fairly by poultry companies. I am not in the poultry business; however, I have several friends and acquaintances who are contract growers for Sanderson Farms, as well as other companies. All have expressed satisfaction with their poultry companies. Some have built additional houses and expanded into other phases of the business. Of course, all my friends in the poultry business would like more money; but wouldn’t we all. If consumers didn’t mind paying $20 a pound for chicken, I’m sure the growers would enjoy higher profits. Your article did not present another common viewpointthat the Martins and Townsends were poor managers. They lost interest in the day-to-day operation of the business and ceased to conduct it in a profitable manner. It happens in the construction business, the automotive business, the convenience store business, and any other business. Some people succeed where others fail. If you wanted to present the story of Mr. Townsend’s shooting rampage or the Martins’ inability to make poultry production an idyllic lifestyle without the associated hard work, you should have done just that. To cast disrepute on an honorable occupation that has benefited so many, and call it journalism is shameful. Stephen Boykin Franklin Thanks for publishing this astonishing account of what is going on in the poultry business. I think it is important that all Americans realize what it takes to raise the chicken before it reaches their plate… that it isn’t just about the chicken. Many hard-working souls have been personally injured raising the chickens. There has been so much publicity about animal rights and cruelty, resulting in much needed changes in the way that animals are treated. Hopefully your article will raise awareness that changes also need to be made in the poultry business so that the rights of the chicken farmers are also respected. How terrible that they become victims when they simply were seeking to make an honest and farmers beware! continued on page 26 THE BLOG IS ONLINE! The blog has arrived! Amidst the chaos of the last 45 days of the regular session of the 79th Legislature, The Texas Observer’s crack team of reporters will be following developing storylines daily at TXL0.corn. Come take a look! CORRECTION APRIL 15, 2005 The Texas Observer FEATURES TEXAS: THE CORPORATE WELFARE STATE 6 How Gov. Rick Perry’s use of the Enterprise Fund is wasting taxpayer dollars by Paul Sweeney SPOKESMODEL MAKES GOOD 10 The Observer talks with ACLU Executive Director Will Harrell by Jake Bernstein DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 Oops. They did it again POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 4 BAD BILLS 13 MOLLY IVINS 14 Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest JIM HIGHTOWER 15 Reporter or Ringer? BOOKS & CULTURE JUST TALK 20 by Steve Satterwhite POETRY 21 by James Presley BACK TO VIETNAM 22 by Steven G. Kellman BORDER BRUJO 24 by Barbara Belejack AFTERWORD 29 Luto en El Cenizo by Maria Eugenia Guerra Cover Photo: Courtesy of the Texas House Photography Department 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 15, 2005