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Officeholder Does Her Job, Does It In

From Associated Press

Some politicians will promise anything to get elected, but few vow to put themselves out of work.

Texas Treasurer Martha Whitehead did. And she kept her word Friday, eliminating the 150-year-old state Treasury.

Wielding a metal scraper with both hands, Whitehead removed her name from the glass front of the building, white paint dust flecking her red suit.

“This action marks the first time that a statewide elected official has eliminated her own office,” she said. “I have kept my promise to the people of Texas.”

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Over the years, the Treasury served as a springboard to higher office for such figures as former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards and Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Richards, in fact, claimed to have found shoe boxes of checks sitting around the Treasury after her 1982 election to the post, and was widely credited with modernizing agency operations and increasing earnings.

Whitehead, a Democrat, was the state’s 24th treasurer, appointed by Richards in 1993 after Hutchison was elected to the Senate.

In 1994, Whitehead was elected to the office on a promise to get the whole agency dissolved to save Texans $20 million by the turn of the century.

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Voters approved the necessary constitutional amendment last year.

Treasury operations, including being the state’s banker and investing public funds, will remain in the same office building but become the state comptroller’s responsibility.

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The Treasury, which had 255 positions when Whitehead took office, was down to 169 employees before it closed. Only Mrs. Whitehead and nine others will lose their jobs.

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Some employees wore T-shirts marking the Treasury’s passing with the motto “150 Years of Faithful Service.”

Christopher Moore, 28, packed up his desk after nine years with the agency.

“I have mixed feelings. Some people are losing their jobs. But also, it’s an opportunity for me personally to grow and to move on,” said Moore, who has a job lined up in financial consulting.


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