Naked City

Greens set up Austin headquarters, Kay Bailey Hutchison supports Bush campaign | Harry Middleton retires as director of LBJ library.

Travis County Green Party and Nader 2000 officially opened their regional office in East Austin on Tuesday. Ray Ramirez, of the East Austin neighborhood group Con Ganas, welcomed the party (www.greens.org/texas/travis) and said its East Sixth Street location reflects its "respect for our community." Ramirez cited the high number of Americans in prison, the disproportionate number of blacks and African-- Americans in prison, and the unfair mandatory deportations the Immigration and Nationalization Service conducts under the 1996 Immigration Reform Act. All these policies, Ramirez said, affect minority communities. Charlotte Flynn of the Gray Panthers, also addressed the state's incarceration boom. In 1978, there were 19 prisons in Texas, Flynn said. Today, there are 100, consuming scarce public funds.

Brian Carnes, of the Students for Nader campus coalition, described the university Greens' role in gathering 74,000 signatures that got Nader on the ballot in Texas. Texas Greens are now counting on some Democrats, who realize that George W. Bush will carry Texas, to vote for Green Presidential candidate Ralph Nader. If Nader wins 5% of the national popular vote, the party qualifies for federal funding in the next presidential election.

In Texas, Green Party candidates have filed for three statewide races the Democratic Party conceded. Gary Dugger and Charlie Mauch are running for the Texas Railroad Commission and Ben Levy is running for a Texas Supreme Court seat. Green candidate Doug Sandage faces incumbent Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Democrat Gene Kelly.

The Green Party is also focusing on the Commission on Presidential Debates -- which excluded Nader and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan from the three presidential debates. Green Party Members urge supporters to contact the commission at 202/872-1020 or www.debates.org -- and urge commissioners to open up the debates.

Sen. Hutchison -- said to be considering a run for governor should George W. Bush win in November or lose and retire in 2002 -- is working to see that George W. moves on to Washington. Representing the Republican National Committee's Victory 2000 organization, Hutchison is flogging Bush's "Blueprint for the Middle Class." Hutchison's potential political base is broad. She has visited and worked to secure federal funds for border colonias. She has built bridges to the black community, attending the funeral of James Byrd Jr., killed in a race-motivated murder in the summer of 1998. And she has held fast to her pro-choice position on abortion.

LBJ Presidential Library Director Harry Middleton is retiring from the position he has held since before the library opened its doors 29 years ago. Middleton, who was once a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson, said that before Johnson died, he made it clear that he did not want the library to protect his reputation. "Good men have been trying to protect my reputation for forty years," Johnson told Middleton shortly after the library opened. "What makes you think that you can do any better?" Middleton said the library on the UT campus has never tried to deify Johnson. "We've been open and accessible," Middleton said. "That's the best thing we could have done for Johnson." Middleton said he is particularly proud of his decision to release Johnson's telephone transcripts ahead of schedule. The release attracted researchers, reporters, and media attention to the library. "A lot of historians have since said that it was the right thing to do," Middleton said. Middleton will remain in his position until next October. He intends to write after he retires. "I have had an interest in fiction." he said. "I hope to return to that."

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