Just a Little Attention part of the friendship and individual attention the patients need. Some 200 Austin men and women and University students go out to the hospital once a week, laymen who try to compensate by companionship for the lack of individual psychiatric care and attention each patient needs. I was a volunteer last year. Eighty-five per cent of the people I met were curable. They could have been my friends outside of the hospital if Texas, the land of superlatives, could afford to give its mentally ill the care and treatment they need. But instead I climbed the two flights of rickety iron stairs to the recreation building. I met “Mrs. Morgan.” She has been in’ the hospital ten years. A schizophrenic whose family can afford the psychiatric luxury of a private institution often leaves the hospital within a year. “Mrs. Morgan” may have to be institutionalized for the rest of her life. She was a small Woman, but I noticed her expressive hands, her long tapering fingers. Her hair was dirty and in pigtails. The hem of her faded dress almost reached her shabby sandals. She had not bathed in several days; bathroom facilities are limited. Her eyes were frightened eyes but her hands were beautiful. She asked me after I had known her several months if I enjoyed classical music, and walked over to the antique upright and began with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Her music had a depth and understanding I have seldom heard, but she only played for me once. “Jimmy” wore a hat the first time I met him: he was embarassed because he had not been able to have a haircut. He was a University graduate, a history major interested in ancient Greek and Roman civilization. A brilliant conversationalist. he wanted someone to talk to, someone to listen to him. “Jimmy” wants to do graduate work when he graduates from the hospital. But this might not be until 1965. He told me once, “My mother put dope on my eggs for breakfast; that’s why I’m here, and I’m so afraidI hate her.” This distrust and hostility toward his mother might explain his illness. The explanation would help him to walk out of his fog of hell. But “Jimmy’s” case has not been classified. Few are. I did not find the roots of these people’s problems and confusion, but I am not a psychiatrist. I did find friends. Appraisal Raised, Price Raised Again in York Deal SHEPPERD MENTIONS PRISON, AND ‘HEADS MUST ROLL’ “Well, I’ll say thisthe public confidence in the public morality is at a low ebb. That brings us back to the bad-apple-in-the-barrel theory. I’ve still got confidence in the public officials of Texas and anytime I haven’t I’ll quit.” the land scandal, involving ra -nd promot J \(till often solicited veterans to sell their rights to get cheap-interest loans from the State for the purchase of plots of land, Shepperd said: “I think it’s a disgrace, and a sad commentary on” He buried his head in his hands and went on “It bothers you from the standpoint that the records were gone over by the State Auditor in 1951 and 1953the State Comptroller paid out the money. The records are in order, and regardless of what you may think of Governor Shivers, or of me, had those meetings been held there would have been nothing in the record to show that anything was wrong.” To date, Shepperd, Robert Trotti, his first assistant attorney general; John Osorio, legal adviser to Shivers; Maurice Acers, executive secretary to Shivers; and Dennis Wallace, chief clerk of the Land Office, have branded the official minutes of the Land Board hearings as “false” and “discredited.” Former Land Board executive secretary Laurence Jackson, who has resigned, says that he “doesn’t understand” such testimonythat the records were not falsified. Shepperd had said Friday night that “a monstrous swindle” in the land program was “conceived even before the enactment of the land bill in 1949.” The swindlers waited until the program started and then “launched their nefarious plans,” he said. Asked in the interview if this plan included the omission of any penal provisions from the veterans’ land law, Shepperd replied: “Yes. And some of the companies that pulled these deals were formed between the time the amendment Shepperd said he had conferred with DeWitt, Bexar, and Travis County grand juries and would be conferring with such juries in Uvalde, Zavala, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kleberg, Kinney, and Maverick counties. Criminal indictments will be brought by grand juries. The Attorney General’s office has no criminal jurisdiction except in antitrust actions. Shepperd said his office has been on a 16-hour day and a seven-day week since October 22. “We took a day off for Christmas,” he said. Up to now, 90 group deals have come under investigation, he said. \(There are 156 in the record involvweek Shepperd brought to ten the State’scivil suits for recovery of money paid out by the State to land promoters who are charged with fraudulently petitioning the State on behalf of veterans. There are 25 promoters and $1,604,000 involved in the suits. “We’ve got all sorts of tips,” Shepperd said. “We even got one story about a dentist who got a veteran’s rights under the program in exchange for a set of false teeth. We checked itand it was true.” The leads are “still developing,” he said. He had said three weeks ago that the irregularities were “not as big as we thought,” and that “the end is in sight.” Even in cases where “every veteran is satisfied,” he said, the State will bring at least one test case on the theory that the State paid too much for the land. Pointing his comments at Giles again, Shepperd argued against charges that Trotti, his first assistant, was negligent in not acting on a letter sent him in June charging that the wife of H. Lee Richey, appraiser involved in many of the high valuations, was receiving a part of some real estate commissions. \(Mrs. Richey emphatically Spangler, said the group land dealings would make Duval County troubles look like a “bubble.” Trotti had said he had referred it to Giles. Shepperd said: “Giles denied any such deal was pending. Trotti said to him, ‘Now, Bascom, you know that we want to know about anything like this Melado deal that ever looks like a promotion.’ ” Shepperd, Shivers, and Giles did not approve the 150-veteran Melado deal on Hidalgo County Land in 1954 after conferring with the erstwhile promoters and receiving protests against the deal from veterans in the Valley. Determined to reverse the trend of the headlines before his own political prospects are destroyed, Shepperd summarized his mood Friday night when he told the journalists at College Station: “Some of the former ‘land experts’ will soon get a new idea of Texas land when they are picking cotton on a Texas prison farm.” RD tee, did not see the York file, Martin told this newspaper. Martin in effect took personal responsibility for not developing the information. “They’ve assured me the file is being developed,” he said of Land Board officials, but if it is not, he said, he “certainly will develop it at a later time.” “There was some letter in there it looked like somebody was trying to push this thing,” Martin said. “I didn’t find anything in there that was illegal that I could see,” he said. “I didn’t feel that it was all on my shoulders.” At one point in the discussion with this reporter, Martin exclaimed: “I don’t know whose hands are clean!” Mistrust and suspicion is, in fact, seeping into the personal relationships of many legislators and newsmen in this scandal-racked Capitol. Substantial rumors of other quite unrelated irregularities in the Government are now being investigated. And it is understood on excellent authority that Giles, a key man in the entire land blow-up, may have powerful protection in the Senate and may have already been granted legislative immunity from prosecution in the courts. \(See editorial, Phillips has been questioning Attorney General Shepperd severely for several weeks. He has not called Shivers or Giles. Shivers Letter The Shivers statement that Giles would expedite the deal seems to have been in response to the request of a Corpus Christi political supporter who was one of the veterans involved. There is no information of any kind in the file linking Shivers to the sellers of the land to the State. The veteran, medical doctor A. J. Ashmore of Corpus Christi, was one of 15 doctors, one lawyer, and one dentist who went in together on the “Mitchell Lake Ranch” in Robertson County under the veterans’ land program that permits veterans to buy land through the State at three-per cent interest with 40 years to pay. York said from Victoria that the 17 men wanted the land for hunting and fishing and that a number of them are “quite wealthy.” Ashmore wrote Shivers on Feb. 18, 1953, that “the enclosed list of men and I” had made application for the land. “Would you be kind enough to ask Mr. Giles to give this his earliest attention?” Ashmore asked Shivers. “I have been told that it takes months to complete a transaction of this kind.” Ashmore started his letter thanking Shivers for “the Christmas remembrance,” perhaps a Christmas card, and for “the Inaugural Invitation.” He closed thanking ‘ Shivers for his “many kindnesses in the past.” Shivers referred the matter to the Veterans’ Land Board, writing Ashmore on Executive Department stationery: “I am sure he everything he can application.” A copy of the letter was sent to Giles. It is this copy that is in the Ashmore master file in the Veterans’ Land Board records. Governor Shivers was out of the state over the weekend and could not be reached for comment. Compliments BUIE’S Inc. STAMFORD, TEXAS One week after the Shivers letter. two Land Board appraisers, E. B. McLeroy and Ned Johnson. turned in an appraisal that the land was worth $64,238. Johnson emphatically told the House committee in vestigating the land scandals late last week that he would stand by this appraisal. \(The House committee did not go into the Shivers and Burkett, Kerrville, chairman of the committee, led the questioning of Johnson and York. The Appraisals In their appraisal, McLeroy and Johnson said that the land in question had poor roads and contained swampland unusable for agriculture, and that a “very SLOPPY” bull-dozing job had been done on the land. They capitalized “SLOPPY” and a complete sentence stating that only one tract was being appraised in excess of the asking price. They concluded with the sentence: In a memorandum dated March 4, 1953, McLeroy said the two men had agreed that only one of the 17 tracts was “worth the asking price.” They referred to the whole deal as “such a questionable deal …” and said “we knew it was a bad project.” This particular letter seems to lead up to something else derogatory about the deal, at which point the letter appears to have been cut. Then there is another paragraph. The two parts are pasted onto another sheet of paper. It was stated on reliable authority that some parts of the record on this case are “missing from the files.” Sen. Martin said he did not know about it if such was the case. Two weeks after the March 4th memo, on March 18, 1953, Giles wrote Ashthore, the same man Shivers had assured that the deal would be expedited, that “the appraisal reports covering this inspection have become lost” and were being traced. Subsequently. Giles or Jackson sent out Harry Nolen, another Land Board appraiser, to re-appraise the land. Nolen returned an appraisal of $86,655 on July 9, 1953. This is $22,417 higher than the McLeroyJohnson appraisal. \(The note about the $90,000 offer to Bell was probably written shortly after June 23, Nolen said in his appraisal that some fences had been added and reported that he thought some parts of the land were worth $35 an acre and other parts $100 an acre. There is an unexplained note in the master file that apparently means that “Baldridge, Baldridge and Jones” sold 886.8 acres of the 2,333-acre tract for $27.61 per acre. The final sale price to the State was about $42.50 per acre. I According to a letter signed by Dennis Wallace. chief clerk of the Land Office and acting chairman of ;the Land Board in Giles’s absence, it developed in August, 1953, that one or two of the 17 applicants had not been able to establish their eligibility under the program. “An eligible veteran may file an application on the land covered by Mr. on August 6. John J. Bell On the Bell matter: the present Congressman from Cuero led the legislative campaign for the veterans’ land program in the Texas Senate. It is understood on excellent authority that Bell later became involved in group deals other than the York deal. Witnesses at both House and Senate committees mentioned last week thatBell had been inte ested, but the matter was not pinned down. In the York file, in addition to the Jackson notes about the $90,000 offer to Bell, there are several mentions of Bell’s interest \(see opThe Texas Observer picked up hearsay in Cuero that Bell might be so involved and accordingly wired him asking if he had appeared before the Land Board. He replied by wire that he had complied with requests of “many veteran applicants” to get information “at no retainer.” He was asked by return wire if he had represented any “sellers of blocs of land before the Board.” He did not reply; accordingly, a letter was sent to him once again asking the general question about whether he had represented group land promoters and other questions referring to specific promoters. On Feb. _8 at11_azatbe following telegram was received in Aus tin: “DI238 WM13 “WBUAO61 GOVT PD BU WASHINGTON DC 8 1206PME-RONNIE DUGGER-TEXAS STATE OBSERVER DRAWER F CAPITOL STATION AUSTIN TEX”THE ANSWERS ARE NO-“JOHN J. BRT.L.” OLON ROGERS CH. 2879 RENT-A-TOOL CO, MOBILE PUBLIC ADDRESS EQUIPMENT COMMERCIAL PAINT SPRAYS SALES RENTALS
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.