July 1999 Issue

On the Cover

High Plains Drifting

How to get your kicks on Route 66 and other less celebrated roads: three leisurely drives through a part of the state where the sights are cool and the nights are cooler.


Mr. Councilman—Jon Lindsay

Republican, Houston, 63. Long before Jon Lindsay came to the Senate, Houston-area legislators had an unfortunate penchant for wanting to settle local disputes—or unsettle them—in the Capitol, much to the dismay of every lawmaker from outside Harris County. Once, when former lieutenant governor Bill Hobby concluded a particularly torturous Senate

Volunteer—Charlie Howard

Republican, Sugar Land, 57. During the fourteen sessions that we have been choosing the Best and the Worst Legislators, many a lawmaker has tried to lobby himself onto the Best list. A few have tried to lobby themselves off the Worst list. But never, before Charlie Howard came along, had

Very Bad Wizard—Troy Fraser

Republican, Horseshoe Bay, 49. For the first two months of its 140-day session, the Texas Legislature does little but pass resolutions honoring visitors like the Kilgore Rangerettes and eat barbecue on the Capitol lawn with various chambers of commerce. There are few opportunities for a lawmaker to stand out in

Losing at Ping-Pong—Norma Chavez

Democrat, El Paso, 39. In a word: clueless. She doesn’t know the first lesson of legislative survival: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. She can’t lead, won’t follow, and absolutely refuses to get out of the way. She set the tone for her career in 1997, her freshman

Spin, Spin, Spin—Kevin Bailey

Democrat, Houston, 48. A lot of lawmakers would give up their cherished parking spaces to have what Kevin Bailey has going for him: fire in the belly, cleverness, a loyal following, a knack for phrasing a political point, and a booming voice to deliver it. What a waste of talent.

Intellectual Gladiator—Steve Wolens

Democrat, Dallas, 49. If Steve Wolens were the sort of person who keeps a motivational sign on his desk—which he is not, an encouragement to action being the last thing he needs—it would read, “The difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a little longer.” Indeed, the chairman of

In the Club—Royce West

Democrat, Dallas, 46. The Texas Senate operates under the clubby rules of a fraternity. As far as outsiders can tell, hierarchy is determined by a member’s influence, or maybe it is the reverse. About all that is really known is who is in and who is out. Before this year,

Heavy Lifter—David Sibley

Republican, Waco, 51. This was not supposed to be one of David Sibley’s better sessions. Long before lawmakers arrived in Austin, rumors flew that he was not a favorite of incoming lieutenant governor Rick Perry’s and might be stripped of his prestigious Economic Development Committee chairmanship. Indeed, Sibley was one

Captain of His Own Brinkmanship—Paul Sadler

Democrat, Henderson, 44. Obstinate, autocratic, sanctimonious, uncollegial, unforthcoming, infuriating: No, this isn’t a Ten Worst write-up—but it almost was. As the chair of the House Public Education Committee, Sadler held in his hands the fate of the pay raise for teachers and Governor Bush’s top-priority proposals for cutting school property

The Peacekeeper—Ken Marchant

Republican, Coppell, 48. He didn’t sponsor any of the session’s most important bills, seldom engaged in floor debate, and didn’t chair a committee, yet Ken Marchant did something far more important. As the chairman of the Republican caucus in a House where Democrats held a narrow majority and partisan warfare

The Susan Lucci Award—Scott Hochberg

Democrat, Houston, 45. Too much coffee? Can’t sleep? Tossing and turning all night? Log on to the Legislature’s Web site (www.capitol.state.tx.us) and listen to an audio clip of the House Public Education Committee engaged in a discussion of school finance. It’s mind-numbing jargon: tier one, tier two, tier three, basic

What Is the Panhandle?

This much is plain: the Texas Panhandle is part of the High Plains. But what, exactly, is the Texas Panhandle? Folks have debated the issue for years. Historian Frederick Rathjen says the Panhandle is the state’s 26 northernmost counties. Others, such as author A. C. Greene, deem it rectangular,

Engineering the Budget —Rob Junell and Bill Ratliff

Rob Junell—Democrat, San Angelo, 52 Bill Ratliff—Republican, Mount Pleasant, 62 From different parties but of like minds, the chairmen of the two budget-writing committees have taken state spending off the table as an issue for other lawmakers to worry about or fight over. House Appropriations chair Junell and Senate Finance

The Pariah—Drew Nixon

Republican, Carthage, 39. When Drew Nixon picks up his microphone on the Senate floor, his colleagues pay close attention—but not out of respect. They’re hoping for a little comic relief, and they’re seldom disappointed. During the debate on an important education bill, Nixon observed that the state’s school-finance system was

Friendly Fire—Patricia Gray

Democrat, Galveston, 52. If Patty Gray had done nothing more than negotiate a compromise between the optometrists and the ophthalmologists, she would have been on every legislator’s Ten Best list. Lawmakers long ago grew weary of these Hatfields and McCoys bringing their feud over the human eye to the Legislature;

Big Enough—Pete Gallego

Democrat, Alpine, 37. Out in the wild, and in the wild and woolly House of Representatives, life is a struggle for turf. Find a piece of ground to call your own—a committee chairmanship, perhaps, or a field of expertise—and you are well on your way to power and influence. Pete

Special Awards

Rookie of the YearPhil King, Republican, Weatherford. It’s increasingly difficult for a freshman to have any effect on major legislation, but King made a breakthrough: He showed a sharp understanding of the law, a respect for opponents’ arguments, and a veteran’s negotiating savvy as the GOP’s point man in dealing

To What End?—Sylvester Turner

Democrat, Houston, 44. It should never have come to this: Sylvester Turner on the Worst list. He is too smart, too public-spirited, and too effective to end up here. But the Best and Worst lists are based on more than personal qualities; how those qualities are put to use—for good

Daytime Drama—Florence Shapiro

Republican, Plano, 51. Seeing Florence Shapiro at work is like watching a soap opera. The heroine is attractive and articulate but so eager to step on her neighbors on her way to the top that she turns into a villain. What will that woman do next? Whom will she feud

Head-on Collision—Rene Oliveira

Democrat, Brownsville, 44. Rene Oliveira ran the Ways and Means Committee like an accident looking for a place to happen. And he found it—on the House floor. He put himself on a collision course with Governor Bush over tax cuts, and the wreck was spectacular. Oliveira’s reputation and authority did


Back to the Future

Forget the critically panned Instinct, which was “suggested by” his novel Ishmael. Houston’s Daniel Quinn wants you to know what he really thinks about the modern world.

Blues Brothers

Long John Hunter and his guitar-slinging friends sharpened their axes in and around Port Arthur, so their recent return was truly a homecoming.


Jake Andrews

A seven-year-old guitarist who makes his stage debut alongside blues legend Albert King is a novelty, even after he has jammed with Buddy Guy, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and Albert Collins. But what happens when the kid grows up? He becomes a seasoned veteran—more of a contender than less experienced peers

CD and Book Reviews

MUSICTownes Van ZandtA Far Cry From DeadAristaA Townes joke: what has a front cover, a back cover, and “Pancho and Lefty”? The new Townes Van Zandt album! That song, and others like “To Live’s to Fly,” “For the Sake of the Song,” and “Waitin’ ‘Round to Die” filled the various



Crispy Duck With Figs

Butternut Squash and Onion Garnishes1 small butternut squash 1 red onion, sliced in rings 1/4 inch thick 1/4 cup canned beet juice 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to tasteBake squash 45 minutes or microwave about 5 minutes. Remove seeds, thinly slice, and set


Butternut Squash and Onion Garnishes

1 small butternut squash 1 red onion, sliced in rings 1/4 inch thick 1/4 cup canned beet juice 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to tasteBake squash 45 minutes or microwave about 5 minutes. Remove seeds, thinly slice, and set aside. Marinate onion in


Around the State

Around the State

From Canyon to Corpus Christi, we celebrate a Lone Star–spangled Fourth. Plus: Brushing up on contemporary art (San Antonio); doing Lunch one last time (Austin); fighting for the crown (Fort Worth); and getting to know the man who knew too much (Houston).

Our Three Best

WHEN BOB DAEMMRICH starts snapping pictures in the state capitol, lawmakers snap to attention. They know the 44-year-old photographer is after candid shots for Texas Monthly’s biennial rating of the state’s lawmakers (see “The Best and the Worst Legislators,”). Daemmrich, whose pictures frequently appear in Newsweek and Time, has

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