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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Adapt or Die WARMING TRENDS On November 14, Camille Parmesan, a University of Texas at Austin biologist, announced that a comprehensive review of more than 800 scientific studies indicates a worldwide shift in the global environment. Human-induced climate change is forcing wild species to either adapt quickly or, as is happening in record numbers, go extinct. In Texas, it’s clear the trend has yet to catch up with state Republican officials. As Parmesan announced her findings, blocks away state Rep. Phil King, a Republican from Weatherford and chairman of the Committee on Regulated Industries, told a gathering hosted by the business-oriented Texas Public Policy Foundation: “I think the global warming issues are highly speculative at best.” King went on to endorse the building of new coal-fired power plants, a major source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, in Texas. Even without the new plants, Texas already produces more carbon dioxide than any other state in the nation. If Texas were a countryand we are clearly a whole ‘nother countrythe state would be the seventh-largest contributor to global warming. Nonetheless, Gov. Rick Perry is also on record scoffing at global warming. And when 12 states sued the Bush administration for inaction on climate change, not surprisingly, Texas was on the wrong side of the evolutionary curve. The landmark case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where on November 29, plaintiffs demanded that the feds deal with global warming by regulating greenhouse gases. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, self-identified as “the lawyer for the people of Texas,” signed onto a brief with eight other states supporting the Bush administration. The brief argued that global warming is “beyond the control of the United States” and therefore nothing can be done about it. It appears that for the state’s Republican officials, adaptation is a nonstarter. BOOSTING BONILLA Texas Republicans must really be desperate for Latino politicians. Why else would they work so hard to keep Henry Bonilla in Congress? Bonilla’s support in the Latino community has dropped precipitously over the years. He needed more Anglo voters if he wanted to keep his seat. So Texas Republicans used their controversial 2003 mid-decade redistricting to draw Bonilla a district he could win. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the specially drawn district reconfigured and restored as a MexicanAmerican “opportunity district.” In the special election that coincided with the general election, Bonilla didn’t garner enough votes to avoid a runoff against former Democratic Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. To help give Bonilla an edge in the runoff, Gov. Rick Perry called the election for December 12, which happens to fall on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The governor’s office claims it was the first available day. A spokesman for the secretary of state said that if it happened any later, it would cut into Hanukkah, even though there are few Jews in the Latino-majority district. The League of United Latin American Citizens protested to no avail. Then the secretary of state determined that early voting wouldn’t include a weekend, when most Latinos were likely to vote. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed suit in U.S. District Court. Eventually, precincts in the Bexar County part of the district added a Saturday to early voting. In the runoff, as in the special election, Republicans have made sure that Bonilla maintains financial superiority over his Democratic challengers. Bonilla raised about $3.6 million, while Rodriguez’s totals were under a million. Yet despite all of the GOP’s affirmative action on behalf of Bonilla, as the Observer went to press early voting totals appeared to favor his opponent, Rodriguez. COMMISSIONER KINKY? Less than a week after he finished a distant fourth in his bid for Texas governor, the irrepressible Kinky Friedman apparently had a lead on another job. The way Kinky was talking in a November 13 interview on Don Imus’ morning talk show, it sounded like a gubernatorial appointment was imminent. “Rick Perry’s been saying some very nice things about the Kinkster,” he told Imus. “We’re ready for some bridge building. In fact, I think I’m going to hear from him as early as later this afternoon.” Sliding back into the self-referential third person, Kinky continued, “He thinks that Kinky has a good heart and a lot of great ideas, and he’s the kind of guy [Perry would] like to have to reach the people [Perry] can’t reach. So it could be a win-win for the State of Texas… Maybe we’ll all be working for the government of Texas.” Later, Kinky added, “When I get my big appointment, I’ll let you know.” Excited that Kinky might be able to serve the people of Texas after all, we quickly sifted through the governor’s Web site to see which available positions might fit the writer-musician-merchandise-hawking wannabe politician. In the days after the election, Gov. Perry had open spots on numerous state bodies, including the state Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and everybody’s favorite, the Canadian River Compact Commission. But the Kinkster needs to make a living, and the positions are almost all unpaid. So we checked out the State of Texas job board. A surprising number of postings require a law degree or some previous public policy experience. However, the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners is looking for a marketing 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 15, 2004