I can open my index.html file to edit and publish, but when I try to create a new file (either by linking it or not linking it) it does not have the publish button. Also, the publish in File > Actions is not active. Any ideas???
Which version of Contribute do you have? If the version is greater than Contribute CS3 and if your role is a writer, then on creating/Editing a page you will not find the Publish button.
Or try clearing the preference and check, whether it solves your problem.
To Clear the preference, quit Contribute, and then delete the Contribute CS5(or CS4 or CS3) folder in C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\ and also run the following command " reg delete "HKCU\Software\Adobe\Contribute 6 (or 5 or 4.1)" /f " if you are using Contribute CS5 (or CS4 or CS3). Reconnect to the site and try the same scenario.
Note that, if you clear the preferences then no connection will be listed in Contribute, you need to recreate the connections. It will be like a fresh installation.
Hope this helps you.