Page 8


OH, THANK GOODNESS, TOM, YOU’VE BROUGHT ALONG SOME PROTECTION UNTIL I CAN GET BACK ON MY FEET… NOTHINGLIKE LOYALTY AMONG US REPUBLICANS 15 THERE? When she tried to organize a union, “thinking about having betterment in working conditions,” as she explained in a recent telephone interview, Sako fired her. As Observer readers will recall, \(see “Stranger Than Paradise,” September 10, Land once famously described the economics of manufacturing in the U.S. commonwealth as “a perfect Petri dish of capitalism … like my own Galapagos Island.” After a whirlwind junket to the Marianas during the 1997-1998 winter holidays, DeLay also declared that he could find “no evidence” of sweatshop conditions in Saipan and challenged critics to produce one person or one story to prove him wrong. Well, ask and ye shall receive. There she was, so many years later, and just across the hall. CONSUMERS GET HOUSED, AGAIN No one personifies the powerful homebuilding industry in Texas better than Bob Perry. The reclusive Houston housing magnate is the owner of Perry Homes, which constructs so many of the look-alike suburban dwellings sprouting up around the state. He’s also Texas’ most prolific contributor to political campaignsto the tune of $6.9 million since 2001, almost exclusively to the GOP. So you have to wonder: Is Bob Perry’s corporate attorney the best person to help run the state agency regulating the homebuilding industry? The Texas Senate sure thinks so. Perry’s corporate attorney is John Krugh. In 2003, he helped write the legislation that created the Texas Residential Construction Commission sumer agency would help settle disputes between builders and homeowners, and would license and regulate the home construction sector. That was pretty much a fantasy. The TRCC is run by and for the politically powerful building industry \(see “The Agency That Bob was appointed one of the agency’s nine commissioners by Gov. Rick Perry \(no relation to Bob Perry, at least genetiIn May, all nine commissioners at the TRCC came up for Senate confirmation. Krugh’s nomination, in particular, drew fierce opposition from state Sen. how Duncan summed up the agency’s work when the TRCC commissioners came before the Senate Nominations Committee on May16: “[TRCC] appear[s] to the public to be a regulatory body, when in fact, the people really being regulated are the consumers, not the builders,” Duncan said. This elicited a sharp response from Commissioner Paulo Flores, who insisted that he is, in fact, not in the “pocket of the building industry.” Duncan saved his harshest rhetoric for Krugh. The Lubbock Republican was upset that his wide-ranging TRCC reform billwhich would have made the commission slightly more consumer friendlynever even received a committee hearing this session. Duncan blamed the homebuilding industry and “members of the commission” \(read: edges that he didn’t like 30 percent of Duncan’s legislation, including a section forcing homebuilders to disclose when new homes haven’t been inspected. Duncan shot back at Krugh: “I’m asking you to take off your builder hat, if you can do that. When you’re sitting on this commission … you have to make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the state of Texas, not just what’s in the best interest of the builders. Now, taking off your builder hat … do you not think it’s a good thing for a consumer to know that their house hasn’t been inspected?” Krugh conceded, “Once you put it that way, I agree with you, yes sir.” Duncan: “But you opposed that provision in the bill?” Krugh: “‘Opposed’ is awfully strong. I had objections to portions of it.” “Seems to be opposed, to me,” Duncan said. When the commissioners’ nominations went before the full Senate on May 26, Duncan, along with Democrats Royce West of Dallas and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, spoke forcefully against Krugh’s confirmation. The Senate did take the unusual step of separating Krugh from the other nominees for an individual confirmation vote. Duncan said before the final vote that the Senate needed to “send a message … the Texas Association of Builders is a good organization, but they don’t run the Texas Senate.” Uh, Senator, we beg to differ. The Senate confirmed Krugh by a vote of 24-7four “no” votes short of blocking his nomination. Krugh’s term runs until 2009. JUNE 10, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5