'CRIME LINE' PUTS MORE OFFICERS ON THE STREETS

by Michica N. Guillory

Daily Cougar Staff

According to statistics gathered from UHPD daily crime bulletins, 47.5 percent of reported crimes this semester have been 'simple' thefts.

"Each of these calls takes 30 to 60 minutes for a UHPD officer to respond to," said UHPD Lt. Brad Wigtil.

Reacting to this strain on UHPD's resources, the department created the Tele-Serv Line,which allows such reports to be taken by an operator and evaluated for further action.

"This program grew out of a concern to keep the officers on the streets," Wigtil said.

When a person calls UHPD to report a crime, dispatch answers and determines whether the nature of the call demands immediate police attention.

If so, an officer is sent to the scene. If a call is about stolen property, it is transferred to the Tele-Serv Line.

The Tele-Serv system responds to calls about theft of backpacks, hubcaps, briefcases, purses, books, bicycles and license plates.

The largest group of reported stolen items consists of cameras, watches, calculators, keys, cash and clothes.

"If the items reported missing are not UH property, have no serial numbers, don't involve injury and there are no witnesses, leads or suspects, Tele-Serv operators will take those reports," Wigtil said. "They also respond to walk-ins."

The program, which began October 19, does not increase costs to UHPD or students. Nor does the system require new resources such as computers and personnel.

"The record specialists (who answer Tele-Serv) are existing employees who were given this extra responsibility," Wigtil said. "They work with reports on a daily basis."

So far, the program is an improvement in saving UHPD valuable man-hours. "Tele-Serv receives an average of one to two calls a day," Wigtil said. "Each call that comes in saves us a half hour to an hour and is more efficient for the community."

One way Tele-Serv operators assist those who use the service is by notifying bookstores of stolen books in case someone attempts to sell them back.

Operators also suggest creditors be notified if credit cards are stolen.

"It seems like the program is working but we want to take a long-term look at it within the department and within the community," said Wigtil.

The Tele-Serv Line, 743-0600, is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Any after-hours, incoming calls will be responded to by officers, Wigtil said.

 

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ABORTION ISSUE: A DECIDING FACTOR

by Rachael Gewirtz

News Reporter

Non-partisan women's groups who are endorsing judicial candidates for the Nov. 3 race are siding with one party as a result of one issue -- abortion.

If the Supreme Court should overturn Roe vs. Wade, it will be up to state judges to decide its constitutionality, said Frances Poppy Northcutt, candidate for the 178th District Court.

"If a teenager wants to get an abortion without her parents' permission, she will have to go to a state judge," said Northcutt, "so it is important to know who you are voting for right down to the state and court levels."

The director of Texas National Organization for Women's Political Action Committee, Marie Leslie, said, "We normally endorse any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who takes a positive stand on women's issues. Right now the most important issue is pro-choice.

"We ended up endorsing only Democrats for judge because no Republican candidates would take a strong pro-choice stand."

Fifteen of the 21 candidates endorsed by the non-partisan League of Women Attorneys are pro-choice and Democratic. Only three of the candidates are Republican.

"We do look at the social activities of candidates. We also look at how the incumbents have treated women attorneys in the past, but this year it seems as if many of the women were mainly concerned with the abortion issue," said Elizabeth Asher, spokesperson for the Association of Women Attorneys.

"People running for judges are not allowed to say what kind of decisions they would make in court, but many have taken previous stands on the issue," she said.

Republican women's groups did not make abortion one of their priorities. "Abortion is not an issue for us. Education is much more important. We spend our time promoting Republican philosophy and promoting all Republican candidates," said Michelle Baine, president of the Greater Houston Council of Republican Women.

Ellen Schoenfeld, president of Magic Circle Republican Women, agreed with Baine and said, "We've never thought about the abortion issue, it's too personal."

Five of the 16 judicial candidates who claim to be pro-choice are male. "The choice issue is not just a female problem. When one part of society loses their right to choose, all people are affected," said Tracy Kirchenbauer, political director of Texas Abortion Rights Organization.

 

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LOCAL ATTORNEY'S JUDICIAL POLL RAISES HOPES AND EYEBROWS

by Jeanne Jones

News Reporter

Voters will elect nearly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to judicial benches Tuesday if they follow the Houston Bar Association's Judicial Preference Poll.

"In the 1986, 1988 and 1990 elections, the poll accurately predicted the outcome of the elections in all but four of approximately 75 races," said Mike Wood, husband and campaign manager for Judge Sharolyn Wood, who is running for re-election this year.

"The information is very useful to voters and the information is relied upon," said Wood. "But I don't know if it's the chicken or the egg -- the reason HBA approves a candidate may be the reason people vote for the candidate."

June Middlebrooks, Clinton-Gore campaign coordinator, said the HBA Poll is a very powerful vote-getter. "I think it has an impact," Middlebrooks said. "Most people don't know the judges; if they're lucky, they don't go to court. Every time a candidate gets the 'recommendation,' we definitely use it. I think it's real important."

HBA Communication Dir-ector Tara Shockley said the poll is considered 'real important.' About 40 percent of the association's nearly 10,000 members responded to the poll.

"I have no doubt law firms send around memos recommending candidates, but each individual member returns their own ballot. On their ballot is a signed signature stub," said Shockley. That precaution keeps firms from bundling their votes, she added.

There are clear-cut differences between judicial candidates that lawyers are aware of because they work with the candidates, said Wood. But the public is often unaware of them because Texas' code of judicial ethics keeps candidates from talking about any legal issues that might come before the bench, she added.

"Judges can't talk about much," said Wood. "They can say 'I'm going to do a better job' but they can't say 'Awards by juries are outrageous.' They can't say, 'Slip-and-fall cases are ridiculous.'"

Candidates' opinions can be gleaned from their past speeches and rulings. For instance, the Harris County Women's Political Caucus endorses a slate of pro-choice candidates.

Shockley disputes the complaint by some judicial candidates that the poll amounts to a popularity contest. "The Board feels it's an important public service," she said. "When election time rolls around, voters can make an informed decision on judicial candidates."

 

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NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING, MEDIA COVERAGE NOT NEW

by Tom Anderson

Daily Cougar Staff

Presidential candidates may be belly-aching about negative campaigning and the media, but this election is not much different from others.

"We've seen more mud slinging because of the media coverage," said History Professor Stanley Siegle, "but this is nothing new."

"Media coverage throughout the campaign has helped and hurt each candidate at some point," said Richard Murray, political science professor. "Right now it's worse for Bush."

"For the most part, the polls indicating a tightening gap between the popularity of Bush and Clinton are not from Bush gaining popularity, but because Perot is peeling away Clinton's support," Murray said.

However, History Professor James Martin said, "The media have been completely irresponsible in covering the election. If there's mud to be thrown, they're there to help sling it around. The media show an obvious pro-Clinton bias." Martin believes if the media had continued to pursue Clinton's shortcomings in the early stages of the campaign, the Democrats would have chosen a different nominee.

The media also give Clinton's camp more opportunities to repair damaging media coverage, Martin said. Last Thursday's <i>Today<p> show reported a revised Gallup Poll that indicated a tightening between Bush and Clinton support, he said. The show immediately gave Clinton's pollster an opportunity to explain the poll, and no Bush pollster appeared, Martin added.

One unique twist in this year's presidential election is Independent candidate H. Ross Perot. "We haven't had anyone who has been terrifically wealthy and willing to spend millions of dollars day after day," said Murray. "Typically a third-party candidate runs out of money before the end."

"The media has given more attention to Ross Perot than he deserves, both good and bad," said Political Science Professor Bruce Oppenheimer.

"These wild and reckless allegations that Perot has engaged in are not good for his image," said Murray.

Murray said Perot would have benefited from remaining quiet, but, "As in many other ways, Perot is unique in this also -- he seems to throw away his advantages."

In some ways, this election is similar to the election of 1912, Siegel said. Candidates Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson ran a close race, with Wilson winning with a plurality rather than a majority of the popular vote, Siegel said.

Roosevelt, the Bull Moose Party candidate, split the Republican Party and garnered enough votes to prevent Taft from remaining president, said Siegel. Taft, the incumbent, claimed only eight electoral college votes, he said.

Murray said the campaign of 1976 had some similarity to the upcoming election because Jimmy Carter, a relatively unknown Democratic governor of a Southern state, unseated the Republican incumbent, President Gerald Ford.

One thing three of the four professors agreed upon was that Bush's chances of winning are slim, but possible. "It is unusual to have an incumbent trailing the whole campaign," said Murray.

 

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UH PROFESSORS SAY PEROT VOTE UNLIKELY TO SHIFT PREZ DECISION TO CAPITOL HILL

by John Varriale

News Reporter

Neither Bush, Clinton nor Perot is likely to get 50 percent of the popular vote. However, it's highly probable one of the candidates will gain the majority needed to win the presidency in the Electoral College.

The Electoral College usually ensures a winner in close elections. It also forces candidates to run a national campaign because they can't ignore small states, said UH History Professor Steven Mintz.

"It's a winner take all system," he said. The Electoral College increases the power of small groups, such as minority and religious groups that vote as a block, added Mintz.

When voters go to the polls today, they will be voting, not for a presidential candidate, but instead, for a slate of electors. Each candidate designates a group of electors. If Clinton wins Arkansas, for example, the electors he designated will vote in the Electoral College.

To win the presidency, a candidate must gain at least 270 of a possible 538 votes in the Electoral College -- that's slightly more than 50 percent.

A candidate needs a plurality -- not a majority -- of votes to win a state. That means a candidate could get fewer than 50 percent of the popular vote in a state and still claim the state's electoral votes.

Third party candidates can throw a monkey wrench into the process of electing a president. If no candidate wins a majority of votes in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives elects the president and the Senate elects the vice president.

It is unlikely Perot will keep either Bush or Clinton from gaining a majority because the Independent may not carry any state, said UH Political Science Professor Richard Murray.

Murray said Perot has a shot at winning Alaska, but the state only carries three electoral votes.

Third-party candidates play a critical role in political realignments, Mintz said. People usually vote either Democrat or Republican, but a third-party candidate can help shift voters from one party to another, said Mintz.

That may happen this year, said Mintz. Many traditional Republicans wanted to vote for Perot but will now likely vote for Clinton, said Mintz.

If Clinton wins the election, which Murray believes is likely, Clinton will have to make some decisions about Perot. "I think (the winner) may want to solicit his advice, at a minimum, and maybe do what the Texas governors have done twice," Murray said. "And that is, appoint him to head-up some kind of committee."

If the Republicans lose the election today, Murray said they will probably do a lot of fighting among themselves.

"Moderate Republicans who have a better chance of appealing to a broad spectrum of American voters have to re-assert themselves inside the party," Murray said. "That fight will start tomorrow."

 

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WHERE THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER

by Shane Patrick Boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

There's a new store in Houston that sells products difficult to find anywhere else. Legal Marijuana -- The Hemp Store is located at 1304 W. Alabama.

Legal Marijuana sells products made from the hemp (also called cannabis and marijuana) plant. Viable seed, buds, and the growing of the plant are illegal in the United States, but some parts of the plant and products are legal.

What kind of products? Shirts, lip balm, rope, paper, massage oil, and ties, just to name a few.

They also sell High Times magazine and books about hemp such as <i>The Emperor Wears No Clothes<p> by Jack Herer, a book that exposes myths and uncovers suppressed facts about marijuana. Recipe books and books about growing hemp are also stocked.

From medicines to manufactured goods, "nothing does what hemp does," said the store's proprietor, Richard Lee.

According to Lee, the plants potential applications range from "cellophane to TNT.

"Henry Ford even made a car from hemp which ran on hemp fuel," he said, pointing to a picture of the 'biomass' car in <i>The Emperor<p> which documents the source as a 1941 issue of Popular Mechanics.

Lee also pointed out a dictionary entry which attributes the etymology of the word canvas to cannabis, the Arabic word for hemp. This, he explained, is because originally canvas was made from hemp.

At one time, hemp was widely used for many products including paper, textiles, rope and even sails.

In the mid-30s, Lee explained, a new machine was invented which eased the process of separating the fiber from the rest of the stalk -- a process which was very difficult when done by hand.

A February 1938 Popular Mechanics article, reprinted in <i>The Emperor,<p> discussed the unlimited manufacturing potential of 25,000 products which could arise from this invention, calling hemp the "new billion dollar crop." The article also speculated that hemp would "displace imports of raw materials" and "provide thousands of jobs for American workers."

This invention, however, posed a threat to the timber industry since hemp can yield four times more paper per acre than trees can, Lee said.

Around this time restrictive hemp laws, supported by timber industry lobbies, came into existence, Lee said.

According to the taped reproduction of the <i>Hemp for Victory<p> World War II era documentary Lee shows on the store's VCR, the wide use of hemp was revived to combat shortages during World War II.

The documentary claims the nation's goal for 1943 was 300,000 acres of hemp.

"This used to be a hemp planet," but today you can't even grow it, Lee said.

To save the planet, we need to start growing hemp again, according to <i>The Emperor<p> author Jack Herer.

"Every drop of polyester stays on Earth," he said in a videotaped speech during the store's grand opening last month, so "we must use biodegradable material."

Herer also pointed out that we need our trees "to suck all the CO2 from automobiles," and said growing hemp would save the trees.

As far as the drug-use issue is concerned, marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, according to Herer's book, and has even been prescribed as a therapeutic drug for some patients -- including Lee who suffers from a spinal cord injury.

 

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STEREOTYPES EXPLORES RACIAL THEMES AT UH

by Dena Fontno

Special to the Cougar

The battles between the races, religions and gender groups continue to rage, but during November, UH will be exposed to a more positive aspect of race relations.

Cultural Diversity Month, sponsored by the Council of Ethnic Organizations (CEO), will hold lectures, programs, performances and seminars to promote understanding of the diversity at UH. Various ethnic groups are participating, including a new theater organization, Darker Shades of Expression.

DSE, a student group formed in the African American Studies Program last spring, will produce its second play, <i>Stereotypes<p> on Wednesday, November 4, in the UC, Houston Room at 7 p.m.

"Stereotypes," a play written and performed by Lamar High School senior, Tony Dreannan, looks at the aftermath of a race riot on a fictional high school campus.

"The whole idea for the play came about through racial conflicts and riot situations that had occurred at my own high school campus a few years ago. I thought that writing a play about the issue and the feelings that are attached to such an issue would be my way of addressing the problem," said Dreannan.

Since his sophomore year, two years ago when the play was actually written, Dreannan, along with seven other schoolmates have been performing the play throughout Houston.

"One reason we decided to offer <i>Stereotypes<p> to CEO for Cultural Diversity Month is because it truly symbolizes what the purpose of the month is about -- to look at and understand others cultures and races," said Loria Ewing, founder of DSE.

The cast of <i>Stereotypes<p> consists of one member from various ethnic and gender groups and includes African-American, Hispanic-American and Native-American students. The cast also includes a female principal, a rich spoiled girl and a smart girl that tries to encourage understanding among the group.

The students meet in the principal's office after each one has been called in to talk about the riot that had occurred earlier that morning on campus. Each character has a chance to voice his or her opinions on the riot as well as explore the tensions each group feels within their own culture and what they feel while trying to get along and live with others.

A "Rap Session," will follow the production. Guest speakers include leading community activist, Ada Edwards, Mexican American Studies Director, Dr. Tatch Mindiola, RTV Assistant Professor, Dr. Beth Olson, and Psychology Professor, Dr. Yolanda Niemann. Students from the production will also serve as panelists for the questions and answer session with audience members.

The purpose for the rap session is to continue the lines of communication with which the play begins. "The use of knowledge and experience on the issues of racism, prejudice and stereotypes, coupled with concerns from the audience, will provide a new avenue toward addressing solutions to a seemingly never-ending problem," Ewing said.

DSE and the CEO welcome the entire UH community and surrounding communities to the program. Admission is free for everyone.

"The production and the rap session involve students from every ethnic group, and these issues face all of us everyday," said Ewing. "We think everyone will benefit from its message, but if not, come out and just enjoy a great show," Ewing added.

 

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