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Bar fight A mutiny that’s been brewing for two years among rank-and-file members of the State Bar of Texas \(Obs., underway. On June 23, 200 attorneys styling themselves Lawyers for Bar Reform filed suit in federal district court in Austin to resist imposition of a dues surcharge earmarked to pay off the embarrassing $3.9 million mortgage that encumbers the Bar’s headquarters building Bar leaders had hoped that approval of the surcharge by a three-to-one margin in April balloting by more than 20,000 of the state’s 30,000 lawyers would put a convenient end to the much-publicized Texas Law Center controversy. But Lawyers for Bar Reform president Laird Palmer of Austin dismisses the argument that the membership vote mooted objections to the financial mischief wrought by officers and directors of the statesanctioned guild. Palmer and the other plaintiffs \(among them Warren Burnett of Odessa, El Paso State Rep. Paul Moreno, and University these officials violated state law governing their agency’s financial affairs by taking on a debt in excess of the Bar’s annual revenues. The insurgent group also alleges that the debt is unenforceable under a provision of the Texas Constitution that forbids mortgages on property owned by state agencies. Their lawsuit therefore asks U.S. District Judge Jack Roberts to declare the dues assessment invalid and enjoin the Bar from taking away the right to practice law of those who refuse to pay it. But that’s not all the rebellious lawyers want. Palmer and company see the leadership’s handling of the Law Center issue as symptomatic of what’s been ailing the Bar since its inception 39 years ago as a closed shop dominated by members of the state’s large, corporateoriented law firms. The Austin attorney claims that the Bar has been “run like a private club” for the benefit of these Establishment types, who control the agency’s stance on bills before the Legislature as well as its internal policies. So Lawyers for Bar Reform has also asked Judge Roberts to declare that the Bar’s mandatory membership requirement infringes the First Amendment rights of Texas lawyers who are forced to subsidize the expression of views with which they disagree. A preliminary ruling is expected by September. Manning the pumps The dwindling corps of indepen dent, full-service gasoline retailers \(Ohs., needed help last month from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. The high court upheld a Maryland divestiture law that prohibits oil companies from operating their own cut-rate, self-service outlets in direct competition with the stations they lease to independent dealers. And Congress passed the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act \(known popuwhich forbids arbitrary lease terminations no matter what the oil companies’ typically one-sided rental contracts might allow. Texas dealers welcomed both measures but held out little hope for enactment here of a Maryland-style law. Instead, they favor national divestiture Locking them up With more than 22,000 people be hind bars, Texas has the largest state prison system in the nation according to Corrections Magazine’s annual survey of the number of inmates in state and federal institutions. And that makes the state’s system, the second largest in the world \(or at least in the part of the world where they publish records of this Prisons, with about 29,000 inmates, is bigger. New York and California, states with substantially larger populations than Texas, imprison about 3,000 fewer people. In fact, only seven states Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada and the Carolinaslock up larger proportions of their populations. legislation, though some among them doubt that such a bill could pass. Says Rusty Uresti, a Houston Texaco dealer and former president of the Lone Star Service Stations Association: “I don’t believe they’ll get it to pass at the federal level. The oil companies would put more money up against that than anything they have before.” According to Uresti, the big oil concerns backed the Dealer Day in Court bill. Their aim, he suspects, was to diminish dealer sentiment for divestiture by supporting the modest procedural gains the new federal law provides. Now, he reports, oil company representatives are making the rounds with films and literature and calling dealers together for seminars to explain that the big guys and the little guys have a common stake in the status quo. Matthew Lyon Schlitz takes the cure agreed to stop doing what it says it didn’t domaking payoffs to bar owners and retailers to stock the company’s beer \(Obs., of an order from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which stepped in after a federal grand jury indicted the Wisconsin brewer in March on 743 counts of illegal “inducement” payments totaling more than $480,000. The decree takes the form of a permanent federal court injunction that forbids such kickback schemes in the future and, just in case, provides for independent auditing of Schlitz accounts. Matthew Lyon The Schlitz Brewing Company has THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13