Naked City

Off the Desk

George W. Bush might be number two in the polls. But he's No. 1 with NARAL. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Association picked Bush for the top spot on its "Election 2000 Worst Choice" list. NARAL is spending $5 million -- aimed at independent and Republican women in swing states -- in an effort to defeat candidates who represent a threat to women's reproductive rights. By also including Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, NARAL makes this the first Worst Choice list with two "favorite sons" from Texas. Sessions' father, William Sessions, is a former director of the FBI. Not making the list is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, described in this space last week as a "pro-choice" Republican. Hutchison gets some credit for opposing anti-choice language in her party's platform, and standing up at state and national conventions and saying "I support a woman's right to choose." But she gets no credit for votes. Frieda Werden of Women's International News Gathering Service observes that Hutchison made The Washington Times honor roll for her vote against "partial-birth abortions" and voted to prohibit abortions for women at U.S. military bases overseas...

No e-voting. But at www.getheard.org you can find out if you are registered, where your polling place is, and after October 15, which candidates for local district races appear on your ballot. The public service Web site is sponsored by FG2 and Catapult Systems. FG2's Jason Fellman and Catapult's Sam Goodner connected start-up funding and their companies' Web savvy, and hired Richard Arrellano as GetHeard.org's director. Arrellano has worked for City Council Member Jackie Goodman and Congressman Lloyd Doggett. Tate Austin and Dell are providing a server and publicity for GetHeard, which if nothing else will save voter eye strain from poring over hardcopy precinct lists...

Hate government? Then you'll love Carole Keeton Rylander, the former Austin mayor, AISD Board member, state insurance commissioner, and railroad commissioner -- and current state comptroller. Rylander made her standard anti-government pitch to the Austin Rotary Club Tuesday, attacking "big government, environmental extremism," and the Austin Independent School District, which she says gets only 47 cents out of every tax dollar into the classroom. Rylander -- whose stock line is "100 years and 100 pounds ago [margin of error + -- 4%], I started off as a public schoolteacher" -- was particularly hard on her hometown school district, which got low marks in a comptroller's audit last year. She is also pushing "mandatory reconstitution" of low-performing public schools. That is, "put a new principal and new teachers in there" when schools don't meet performance guidelines. In other words, total restaffing: a practice altogether common in the corporate world...

For a different take on Austin schools, AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione holds a town meeting from 7-9pm, Friday, Sept. 29, at Travis High School (1211 E. Oltorf) ...

Mike for Mayor? This issue handicaps the mayor's race that will follow Kirk Watson's inevitable departure. But on another front, will Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy run? Levy has made his millions at TM, cares passionately about the city and its government, and is an advocate of a peoples' agenda that puts police, EMS services, and traffic control first. Levy also invests countless hours in his own public-service e-mail campaign about city politics and the big issues the council is missing...

The Austin Police Association PAC endorsed Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle over Republican challenger Shane Phelps. Bad news for Phelps, who got the APA's support four years ago.

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