The Texas Observer, remembered us recently with a gift. Many moons ago, when Hightower was a statewide office-holder, a supporter gave his campaign four acres of Hill Country land west of Austin. No longer a candidate, Hightower recently gave the parcel to the Observer, all contribuWhen all the paperwork was done \(and here we need to thank our pro bono legal team, Lou McCreary found a buyer at a reasonable price in short order. The revenue that resulted is helping the Observer continue to bring its readers the outstanding investigative reporting they need and deserve that is served up nowhere else. Hightower says: Make it a challenge. Other Observer supporters can help with substantial gifts too. So the Observer family thanks Hightower. Join The Hightower Challenge: Give to The Texas Observer today. Give online at: www.texasobserver.org/donate.php or mail your donation to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. CentralTexas Gardener KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, creates innovative television that inspires and educates. KLRU-produced programs that air statewide on klru Texas PBS stations include Central Texas Gardener, Texas tv and beyond Monthly Talks and The Biscuit Brothers. Check your local listings. klru.org “But when he first started learning the facts about the plant’s emissions,” she continued, “he called me and said, ‘Honey, I want to start a protest. How do I do that?” They didn’t say exactly what advice she gave him. But Dr. Stafford did proceed to organize local physicians around Las Brisas. Such activism might just be a harbinger of political stirring to come within Texas’ medical community. Over lunch, Stafford quoted the president of the Dallas County Medical Society: “Our air and our water are not the property of those who would guide our economic development.” Lunching with the Republican doctor and his Observerreading daughter reminded me of something I’d been thinking about ever since landing in Corpus Christi. Las Brisas seemed to have triggered a turning point in the life of this community. Debates about Las Brisas can’t be reduced to those familiar struggles between developers and environmentalistssomething more is happening here, on both sides. Business interests in Corpus seem strangely desperate shores. This desperation is surely, to a profound degree, motivated by money or lack thereof. But there is, perhaps, also the fear of missing one’s last great chance, of ending up an old maid. “If the community says no to Las Brisas … it could affect industries[‘] decisions whether to invest in the area,” fretted refinery industry consultant Renwick DeVille in the Caller-Times. On the other hand, the looming shadow of Las Brisas has brought together a grassroots environmental coalition of strange bedfellows. This alliance has been formed around a fairly universal concern for public health and safety, and a desire to preserve the natural life of a city. But again, there is another basic concern flitting about the conversation’s background: one of collective identity. A place like Corpus Christi, which has attempted for the past 50-odd years to balance the interests of its tourism industry with those of its oil industry, is accustomed to contriving environmental compromises. These compromises may well have created the city’s current public-health problems. But they’ve also created jobs; Corpus’ seven oil refineries employ about 2,500 people. While Las Brisas would produce slightly more air pollution than all seven of those refineries put together, it would permanently employ, at most, only loo. A lot of people in Corpus Christi seem to be realizing that, after a certain point in the negotiation process, all you’ve got left to compromise is who you are. After that, you’ve got nothing left. Contributing writer Robert Leleux is the author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy. His second book, The Living End, will be published next year by St. Martin’s Press. 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 7, 2009
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