'UPI in Texas' - April 1983



Here is the Texas newsletter -- UPI in Texas -- for April 1983 (which was distributed to UPI clients in the Lone Star State):


WRIGHT INTERVIEW

UPI's new Southwest Region reporter in Washington, Pat Remick, went to the top of the Democratic leadership to find out just who are the up-and-comers in the Southwest's congressional delegations and the top issues for the group.

In an exclusive interview, House Majority Leader Jim Wright listed jobs, energy, defense and agriculture as the top issues this year but said they don't always agree.

"Hardly ever could you find an issue -- with members from such a disparate, heterogeneous mixture of states -- -- on which you could unite," the Democratic leader from Fort Worth said. "But we have a kind of camaraderie."

Wright picked out several up-and-comers, including Martin Frost of Texas, Arkansas' Bill Alexander, Oklahoma's Wes Watkins, Missouri's Dick Gephard and Kansas' Dan Glickman.

As for Oklahoma's Jim Jones, Wright said: "He's already arrived."

Remick also took the opportunity to find out the capital's best barbecue spot. Wright pick his own backyard first and O'Brien's second.

AUSTIN BUREAU STAYS AHEAD

The Austin bureau's attention to some rather obscure meetings in recent months paid off for UPI clients and left the competition red-faced and scrambling to catch up.

The first such instance occurred in mid February when former Public Utility Commissioners George Cowden and Tommie Gene Smith informed the Capitol press corps they would have an "announcement" to make at a downtown civic club meeting.

AP reporters failed to attend the seemingly routine meeting, but Austin bureau manager Bob Lowry did, and as a result beat the competition badly with the commissioners' surprise announcement that they were resigning the powerful positions because of disagreements with Gov. Mark White.

Key Deadlines Met

Lowry phoned in an urgent lead on the announcement and made several key broadcast and newspaper deadlines before the AP was even aware of the news.

The competition was caught empty-handed more recently when Comptroller Bob Bullock told a 7 a.m. breakfast gathering that he would slash his estimate of state revenue by nearly $1 billion.

UPI reporter Tim Sheehy received a tip the previous evening about Bullock's plans and was one of only three reporters on hand to hear the feisty comptroller issue the bad news and at the same time tell the Legislature "to hurry up and get to work" on the state's budget problems.

Sheehy's story moved more than an hour before the competition's and in time for afternoon newspapers to get the announcement in early afternoon editions.

Issues and Profiles

Meanwhile, the Austin bureau has turned out several weekend legislative "issues" pieces and profiles on House and Senate members.

Austin staffer Dwayne Cox did stories on a proposed program that would allow police to take public drunks to a treatment center instead of jail, an update on the triplicate prescription drug program and various pay hike plans for legislators.

Cox also turned out a profile on Sen. John Montford of Lubbock.

Staffer Teresa Anderson took a look at women's issues in the Legislature and profiled Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner of Alice and Speaker Pro Tem Hugo Berlanga of Corpus Christi.

Sheehy had weekenders on the issue of foreign ownership of Texas farmlands and the problem of inmate exposure to pesticides in the state prison system, as well as a profile of Sen. Bob McFarland of Dallas.

Lowry produced an update on the tax increase question and profiled Sen. Bill Sarpalius of Hereford and Rep. Carlyne Smith of Grand Prairie.

VISITS FROM OLD FRIENDS

Several former Texas UPI staffers were in the Dallas bureau this month telling interesting stories about their international assignments with UPI.

Steve Reed, a Dallas native who worked in the Dallas and Houston bureaus for 10 years, was home for the first time since moving from London to Moscow in March 1982.

Reed said he and his wife Donna were hesitant about making the move with a six-month-old baby, but said it's much more livable than they first feared.

"It's interesting," Reed said. "I guess because it's so damn important.

"The main job is to keep up with Soviet politics. Since they don't have news conferences, and they don't have briefings, you're trying to read between the lines of Isvestia, Pravda and Tass.

"You just try to compare it with what they said before. You try to convey the truth in a comparative way," Reed said.

He said the best way to learn what these stories really mean is through Soviet adversaries. Foreign diplomats can also be helpful in finding hidden facts.

Former Austin and Dallas staffer Ray Perez was also in Texas on vacation from his new post as chief correspondent for Colombia and Ecuador.

Perez has been in South America for a year and has found plenty to write about. He has covered several world sports championships, the change from a military to a constitutional government in Bolivia, and received an exclusive interview with the president of Ecuador.

Perez is also the first foreign correspondent to visit Chapre, Bolivia.

"I spent 25 days in Peru and Bolivia tracing a cocaine trail back to Colombia and the U.S.," he said.

He spent five days by himself in Chapre, a primitive village where the Kuecha Indians raise what some consider to be the best cocoa leaves in the world.

He said his worst -- but most fun -- story focused on the week he spent chasing Prince Andrew and Koo Stark through the bushes of Caribbean islands with Charlie Cancellare, a former photostringer for the Dallas bureau.

The Texas staff in April 1983 included:

Darrell Mack, division broadcast editor
Frank Cook, Texas editor
Craig Mailloux, Newspictures editor
Marge Boatright, regional sales executive
Bill Fuller, regional sales executive
Bob Lowry, Austin bureau manager
Bruce Nichols, Houston bureau manager
Mark Langford, San Antonio bureau manager
Ken Flynn, El Paso bureau manager
vacant, Lubbock bureau