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REFORM TCEQ Thanks to Forrest Wilder for his article on Waste Control Specialists’ waste dump near Andrews \(“Water, expects the radioactive waste dump to go forward even with the TCEQ evidence regarding groundwater pollution. Let’s all remember that the TCEQ is up for sunshine review next session. Let’s gather all the evidence and be prepared. The willful indifference to human safety and ecological health is typical of TCEQ. The arrogance is overwhelming. Let’s reform the agency. It will not change on its own. Fran Sage Posted at BUSINESS, AS USUAL Texas is growing commercially because it is “friendly to business” make political contributions \(guess to few complaints and are replaceable. You don’t have to like it; that’s how it is. Bob Walton Posted at Shortest book in the world: Texas Workers’ Rights. Sam Davis Posted at WELL READ David Theis has “done it well;’ both for Don Barthelme and for Tracy This is a wonderful book review. I want to run out and buy the book immediately. Sally Lehr Posted at HOMESICK BLUES I’ve been gone from Austin for 40 years, and I miss it every day \(“Better before to go into the Army, and when I came back it was even better. When I finally had to go away for what looks like forever, I got lost heading out of town. How psychological is that? Now I get an e-mail every Monday from an Austin Realtor; it allows me to ponder the possibilities. Thanks for a good article. John Irsfeld Posted at I only met Bud Shrake on one occasion. It was a fine experience. This was a fine article about a fine writer and a fine time. Bob Moncrief Posted at LIVE AND EARN Big Blue is a corporate entity, doing what corporate entities do: organizing people who seek to maximize profits such, the company is neither stupid nor traitorous, both of which are decidedly human attributes. If IBM violated a contract with New York, the state might sueor at least learn from its experience. Thanks to Jim Hightower’s reporting, others might learn, too. Ian Reid Posted at LEAVE THE TRINITY BE Since this article, more bad news for the Trinity toll road \(“If They Build It,” to spend $29 million to test the levees. This will delay the toll road at least 20 more months. The current cost of the Trinity toll road is $20o million a mile. For the same $1.8 billion, DART is building 20 miles of light rail that parallels the road project. The Trinity toll road should die just like any other government project that’s over-budget and impractical. The business community will pay the price, because now they will have to get flood insurance for all the buildings adjacent to the levees along the river. The Army Corps of Engineers has determined that the levees cannot protect against a loo-year flood. My advice: Leave the river alone and remember that it floods whenever it rains a great deal in a short period of time. Stan Aten Posted at TheTexas Observer JUNE 26, 2009 FEATURES THE PEOPLE’S FRIENDS & FOES 6 Legislators who worked forand against the people’s interests. THE BADDEST BILLS 9 This year’s worst of the worst. UN-COVERED 10 What happened to Capitol reporting? by Bill Minutaglio OUT OF THE BOX 12 Texas needs a full-time Legislature. by Sen. Dan Patrick SNUFFED 14 How Big Tobacco killed the smoking ban. By Melissa del Bosque RECONSTRUCTION 16 Can legislative reform fix the DPS? by Victoria Rossi REPUPLICAN FROM LA MANCHA 17 The Don Quixote of the Texas Senate. by Reeve Hamilton STATE SCHOOLED 19 A fix for troubled institutions for the mentally disabled? by Dave Mann FIVE DAYS OF CHUB 21 Your Legislature at work. by Reeve Hamilton NO GREEN SWEEP 24 How high hopes for environmental progress were dashed. by Susan Peterson and Forrest Wilder STATUS WOE 26 Two big agency reforms are tabled. by Melissa del Bosque and Dave Mann DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 BOOKS & THE CULTURE BACK OF THE BOOK 28 Confessions of a jerky boy. by Brad Tyer DATELINE: ARLINGTON 30 Dodging the ditches at GM. by Michael Hoinski Cover illustration by Ben Sargent DIALOGUE 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 26, 2009