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DEPARTMENT OF BACK-PATTING We’re proud to announce that Dave Mann’s September 23, 2005, story about nursing home abuse, “A Death in McAllen,” was awarded the first prize for Investigative Reporting by the Association of Alternative Newsweeldies at the AAN annual convention earlier this month. Dave also received an Honorable Mention in the category “News Story Long Form” for his March 18, 2005, story “Getting Plucked” about the poultry farm business. Contributing writer Andrew Wheat received third place for political columns \(“A Homeowner Nails Bob Perry,” May 13, 2005; “Muckraker Katrina;’ Also, congratulations to longtime Observer contributor Steven G. Kellman, who received first prize in Arts Criticism for film reviews in The San Antonio Current. A SITE TO BEHOLD It’s here! We’ve officially launched our new Web site at . The address is the same, but we’ve improved our online ordering system and added new “Events” and “About Us” sections. Our revamped site is accessible to people with visual and mobility impairmentssomething that few publications are able to say. The Observer blog is still a work in progress. But meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the additional Molly Ivins columns available on our Web site Our continued thanks to Bryan Robison of GSD&M in Austin for his ongoing help with the new site Dialogue FEAR AND LOATHING The fear and loathing in San Antonio article [“Fear and Loathing in San Antonio: Republicans get riled up over immigration and taxes at their state convention,” June 16] appeared to originate more from the author of the article, rather than from those Americans about whom he wrote, who are interested in seeing the laws of the United States and the laws of Texas upheld. I thought we had all the left-wing wackos out here on the left coast. I’m encouraged to know that there’s diversity in Texas. Yee Haw! Len Turner San Jose, CA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Our apologies to poet Ute Carson, whose poetry was published in our June 2 issue. In her biographical note, we incorrectly identified the title of her novel, Colt Tailing. Colt Tailing is available at BookPeople in Austin. JUNE 30, 2006 TheTexas Observer FEATURES OVERRATED 6 Deregulation was supposed to lower Texans’ electric bills. Instead, rates are through the roof by Forrest Wilder THE FIGHT FOR RELEVANCE 10 Democrats look for signs of hope at their state convention. by Dave Mann FRAGMENTS OF ENGLISH 18 Texas has never been monolingual, and it never will be. by Michael Erard DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 Ah -ha! POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 4 LAS AMERICAS 12 Dj vu in the D.F. by John Ross MOLLY IVINS 14 Eye Don’t Think So JIM HIGHTOWER 15 Spy Kids Too BOOKS & CULTURE POETRY 21 by Emily Winakur THE METAMORPHOSIS OF 22 IRWIN TANG by Sofia Resnick OLD KING COAL 24 by James E. McWilliams AFTERWORD 31 Save Family Farms, Save America by Willie Nelson Cover design by Matt Omohundro; cover photo by Roberto Adrian 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 30, 2006