Off the Desk
Former City Council member Max Nofziger has been working as an anti-light rail lobbyist, representing South Congress merchants’ concerns that light rail will harm their small shops and restaurants. It won’t happen, says City Council Member Daryl Slusher, who has challenged Nofziger to a debate on light rail. The two former allies go head-to-head at 7pm, Wednesday, Nov. 1. The debate will be televised on cable Channel 6.
George W. Bush didn’t get it right during the final presidential debate when he bragged about the support of Democratic House committee chair Hugo Berlanga. Hugo was a Democratic legislator; he’s now a lobbyist.
State Reps. Elliott Naishtat, Glen Maxey, and Garnet Coleman – all Democrats – were also in St. Louis, and things quickly heated up in the spin room outside the auditorium when Coleman, a Bush campaign press release in hand , rushed Berlanga. The “setting the record straight” press release quoted Berlanga saying “As a Democrat and former chair of the House Public Health Committee, I know that George W. Bush has done more to improve health care in Texas than any other governor in recent memory.” Berlanga was identified in print as a Democrat and state representative – not a former state rep (or former Democrat).
While Coleman, Naishtat, and Maxey spent the 1999 session fighting for 200,000 kids Bush wanted eliminated from the CHIP program, Berlanga was building his client base in the lobby. “I hope you make a lot of money on this, Hugo.” Coleman said, as Naishtat pulled him away from an angry Berlanga…
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are using their star power to attract attention to the Ralph Nader presidential campaign. The actress-director team is flogging an ad campaign funded by New York businessman and documentary film producer Greg MacArthur. “I’ve decided to run ads in states that are a slam dunk for Gore or Bush,” MacArthur said in a telephone interview. The purpose of the campaign – which includes a full page in the national edition of The New York Times – and The Houston Chronicle and The Austin Chronicle – is to convince voters not to throw their votes away on Gore or Bush in states where those candidates hold a big lead.
Should Nader get 5% of the popular vote nationwide, his party gets $7 million in federal funds in the next election (plus $1.4 million for each point above 5%). Ads run in New York, Texas, Colorado, and Massachusetts. MacArthur is targeting pockets of progressives, in places like Austin and Boulder. When the presidential race tightened up in California, he pulled ads from The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Herald, and The San Francisco Examiner. He said he does not want to influence votes in swing states.
Sarandon is not so cautious. In a telephone interview, she said she would vote for Nader – no matter which state she lived in. “It’s time for change. And the only way to get change is to vote for someone who stands for what I believe in. I’ve been voting for watered-down Republicans who claim to be Democrats for too long …”
Robbins complained that all that remains of most Democratic candidates is rhetoric. “At the Democratic convention, Al Gore sounded like a populist. Then next day, Joe Lieberman assured The Wall Street Journal that the ticket is pro-business … Why should people vote for someone who has abandoned them?” Robbins asked…
It’s the lead item in the Periscope section of Newsweek this week, but recent developments in the SCI funeral company scandal that involves George W. Bush were buried on page B7 of the Oct. 28 Austin American-Statesman (see “It’s His Funeral” in this issue’s “Naked City”).
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