Explore our Oasis of Earthly Delights! extensive array of natural health and bodycare products comprehensive collection of herbs great gift ideas and much more! www.theherbbor.com KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, creates innovative television that inspires and educates. KLRU-produced programs that air statewide on Texas klru PBS stations include Special Session, Texas Monthly Talks, The Biscuit tv and beyond Brothers and Central Texas Gardener. Check your local listings. klru.org The Herb p ad ir “Best place to cure 4,” g what ails you ,, 200 West Mary 444-6251 43+ M n.-Fri. 10-6:30 Sat. 10-5 THE 80″ LEGISLATURE: BLOOD ON THE FLOOR McCraw or DPShad command and control. The homeland security director didn’t do himself any favors when, on Perry’s stationery, he sent out a letter belittling Noriega. McCraw wrote: “Since it is your position that our border does not pose a terrorist threat, and because of that position you believe it is unnecessary to expand resources in protecting our border, I will make myself available to you or your staff immediately to provide a detailed briefing on why this mistaken position can cost lives.” Noriega happens to be a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army National Guard who has served in Afghanistan and on the border. Swinford found himself fighting to keep his legislation alive while apologizing for McCraw “[He’s] not a good people person,” Swinford said. “[The letter] was a huge error, and I have talked to him about thatf Swinford’s rhetoric and histrionicsat several key moments he broke into tears when he didn’t get his waygrew more heated as his bill faltered. By the end, Swinford was accusing those who disagreed with him of favoring drug traffickers. The rhetoric obscured the real issues. In response to abuses by a governor, the Texas Constitution of 1876 created a weak executive without law enforcement responsibilities. Swinford didn’t want to talk about that. After his bill died on a point of order, he seethed at a press conference. “I am upset because the time we spent on the border, and seeing that they are winning and we are losing;’ Swinford said. “The crime and the drugs are moving, looks like, about 50 to 100 miles inland every year. So two years from now, if this bill doesn’t come about, you can expect them to be taking over a lot more communities.” In the senate, The Woodlands Republican Sen. Tommy Williams rejected Perry’s request for the $100 million border security slush fund. Instead, Williams and his budget subcommittee came back with $274 million for homeland securitymost of it going through DPS. “They are our chief statewide law enforcement agency,” Williams said. The governor invited Williams, Republican Sen. Steve Ogden of Bryan and Democratic Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen to his office and demanded that he be given the money to spend as he liked. \(In addition to Perry’s personal demands, his staff urged local officials to lobby their legislators on his behalf, and activated his campaign organization, the Perry Alliance held their ground. In the final budget, Perry received $43 million for local law enforcement on the border, with tight restrictions on how it is spent, including monitoring by the Legislative Budget Board. The governor’s office had one last gambit. In the session’s final days, another homeland security bill, Senate Bill 11, by San Antonio Republican Rep. Frank Corte, was still alive. Corte shoveled parts of HB 13 into his bill in conference committee. With Dallas Republican Sen. John Carona as his cosponsor, the two convinced Valley Democrats Hinojosa and Rep. Juan Escobar of Kingsville to sign the conference committee report. The bill contained useful legislation on mutual aid and disaster preparedness in addition to expanded wiretapping, a bor 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 15, 2007 der security council run by the governor, and an intelligence data center controlled by the governor. The language moving TDEx to DPS was gone. Corte, the Republican House Caucus chair, ratcheted up the pressure with e-mail blasts accusing bill opponents of fighting legislation “that is quite literally a life and death issue for many Texans:’ Asked about the politicization of the issue, Corte shrugged and said unapologetically, “There is a partisan aspect to this environment:’ The scaremongering helped. Noriega publicly supported SB 11, explaining later that it had improved and that the “implication was that we were being unpatriotic and against border security…. We wanted to question the process without putting members into harm’s way.” After its passage, Corte was jubilant about formalizing Perry’s control over the law enforcement and intelligence aspects of homeland security. “The governor is responsible for public safety,” Corte said. “TDEx is going to be a great tool to look at pending cases.” Noriega said the Mexican American Legislative Caucus will hold hearings in the interim on border and homeland security. Next session, DPS is up for sunset review, and many expect a more thorough discussion about the role of intelligence and homeland security. But as long as there is still crime on the border and the possibility of another terrorist attack, chances are that discussion will be a muted one.