WARNING NO TRESPASSING VIOLATERS WILL BE PROCECUTED. Mayor Calvin Tillman outside a natural-gas facility PHOTO COURTESY TILLMAN TERLINGUA Randall Terrell, Equality Texas political director, commenting on the kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault of a male 18-year-old high school student in Terlingua. If determined that the victim was targeted for his sexual orientation, the case may be the nation’s first investigation under the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed in October. “Our investigation is to either establish or deny whether it was [a hate crime], but there seems to have been some indication that that was a possible a motive.” Matt Espenshade of the FBI’s Midland field office, quoted in the Dallas Voice on Dec. 17 “I have never encountered a case as violent as this.” John Waters, publisher of The Big Bend Gazette “This is a blow both to the West Texas community at large and a blow to our sense of safety and security.” Andy Towle, on his GLBT news blog “Towleroad” FOR THE LATEST political analysis, read Bob Moser’s Purple Texas at www.texasobserver.org/purpletexas called for in Texas. The result has been disastrous. California’s budget is consistently starved of funds, and its lawmakers can almost never muster the twothirds vote necessary to raise taxes. Perry might want to study the recent history of California a little more closely. DAVE MANN TYRANT’S FOE Calvin Tillman, Mayor of DISH UNTIL RECENTLY, THE NORTH TEXAS TOWN OF DISH all-for changing its name from Clark in 2005 to score free satellite TV. The rebranding provoked ridicule from The Daily Show and complaints that corporate marketing had gotten out of control. But around that time, Calvin Tillman-then a town councilman and now mayor-began his crusade against a more pow erful, and potentially destructive, corporate interest swarming his town: natural gas companies. In five years, the gas producers have turned DISH into the epicenter of the Barnett Shale, seizing citizens’ land for pipelines, and building pollution-belching compressor stations and processing facilities on the edge of town. Gas companies also turned Tillman, a conservative, into perhaps the industry’s bluntest, and most effective, critic. “We sold the name of our town to a corporation, essentially, but we’re not bought off by corporate America, and we’re not going to sell out and do something that would hurt our citizens,” Tillman says. Backed by townspeople who believe that gas pollution is killing horses, withering trees, and making people sick, the mayor has called on the industry to either clean up its act or leave. Tillman has managed to get the industry-friendly Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to do something rare: take complaints about toxic air pollution from gas facilities seriously. Last year Tillman convinced the town council to pay for an air-quality study by outside experts. Released in September, the study was a bombshell. It showed the air in residential areas near compressor stations contained levels of benzene and other carcinogens and neurotoxins much higher than TCEQ limits. The results attracted national attention and forced the state agency to step up inspections and begin extensive air-quality studies of its own. “This tiny little town spent 10 percent of their budget, and they did it so it would help everybody,” says Sharon Wilson, a North Texas activist who runs the blog Bluedaze: Drilling Reform for Texas. “That has been a major game-changer.” Tillman’s outspokenness has not been greeted so warmly by the industry. Devon Energy Corp., a major gas driller, is threatening to cap all its wells in DISH, depriving the town of tax revenues, Tillman says. High-powered gas industry attorneys, he says, have not so subtly said they will sue. This small-town mayor is not deterred. Someday, Tillman says, “I won’t be able to see, smell or hear these facilities. I may not get that tomorrow, I may not get that next year, but I feel very comfortable that I’m going to get it.” FORREST WILDER 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG
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