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Tly aexas Mharrurr Incorporating The State Observer, combined with the East Texas Democrat APRIL 4, 1955 425.405 3 ished once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 per annum. icing rates available on request. Extra copies 5c each. Quantity orders available. -ed as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, he act of March 3. 1879. ‘cNG ADDRESS: Drawer F, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas. OF PUBLICATION : 504 W. 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone : 70746. litor and General Manager Ronnie Dugger d Supervisor Dell Sackett Associate Editor Bill Brammer Circulation Manager Jim Dyer Office Manager Sarah Payne serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and s we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all o the rights of man as the foundation of democracy : we will take orders but our own conscience, and never will ‘e overlook or misrepresent the .ve the interests of the powerful or catP he ignoble in the human spirit. Beyond the Rangers’ Rang\( Bartlett appears exclusively in The Texas Observer Behind the Great Squirrel Squabble By TOM SLINKARD Written for The Texas Observer WASHINGTON The running fight between the Eisenhower Administration a n d Senator Richard Neuberger of Oregon over the exile of squirrels from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has given some partisans of conservation a sly satisfaction. They insist that the squirreltrapping at the White House really reflects an indifference about natural resources, whether they be furry creatures, national parks and forests, or the “giveaway” of public lands out West. The squirrel squabble started here on March 18 when Merriman Smith of the United Press revealed that after the President noticed squirrels were scratching up his White House golf green, box-type traps were baited and set around at night. Each morning, the previous night’s catch was put into a truck and hauled off to the woods. The next Sunday, National Wildlife Week began. Then Oregon’s Sen. Richard Neuberger made his famous appeal for the President to “cease and desist” in trapping wild life on the White House grounds and to permit the squirrels to frolic there as they had since the days of John. Quincy Adams. Further, if the squirrel population had already been critically depleted, he called on the administration to return to the woods with its baited traps, lure back the exiles, and so mend the many broken squirrel families at 1600 Pennsylvania. Sen. Barkley suggested that the squirrel-trappings might be best explained by a paraphrase of Holy Writ: “Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, “But the son of man bath not where to putt.” The White House responded at once. A special release from the White House revealed that a veteran squirrel-trapper, age 11, had volunteered his services to the president in ridding the putting green of squirrels. In his opinion, said the experienced trapper, the squirrels would be happier in the woods. Sen. Neuberger revealed he had received several pro-squirrel calls, many from persons who claimed to be Republicans. Said one, “The White House squirrels have been living high on soft nuts. They won’t be able to handle the hard nuts of the woods.” Said another, “Woods squirrels are real rowdies. They won’t let the city-bred squirrels have anything to eat anyway.” Bernard Baruch called on the President and asked, “where’s that squirrel?” To which the President replied that all he knew was what he read in the papers. Finally on March 25, White House Press Secretary James C. Hagerty announced that the squirrel-trapping season was over; in fact, it had ended ten days before. “There will be no more of it in the future,” he said. In addition, Hagerty claimed only three squirrels in all were trapped. Two were hauled out to Rock Creek Park and one was turned loose in Virginia. The President’s press secretary did not say why the three were separated or if they came from the same squirrel family. He was vague as to who did the actual trapping nied that the President knew about the trapping business but conceded that it was the President who first noticed the torn-up green. “The President says something,” explained Hagerty, “and we try to fix it up.” Neuberger remained unsatisfied. A District of Columbia law makes squirrel trapping illegal. Under the code, anyone who traps a squirrel is subject to a $5 fine and-or 30 days in the workhouse for each offense$15 and-or 90 days for a three-squirrel catch. Asked Neuberger, “Who is going Hagerty Says to pay up or serve time for the White House bag of squirrels?” Said Washington Police Chief Robert V. Murray, “I plan no action. First, because I have no jurisdiction, and secondlywell, you know the reason without my telling you.” By April’s Fool Day, operations had shifted farther from Capitol Hill to Gettysburg, where, it was alleged in a newspaper letter, the caretakers had received orders to shoot the pigeons on the President’s farm. Texas at Large Reports we receive from Cuero say that Congressman John J. Bell of that town is being criticized on the streets by his former friends. When he arrived in town to testify before the DeWitt grand jury about his receiving $27,000 in “legal fees” from group land promoters, he went directly to. his home and would receive no callers. Further reports from Cuero indicate that Bascom Giles is in no mood to take it lying down. He testified before the grand jury, too. …. It is strange how C. 0. Hagan has dropped out of the land investigation headlines. He pulled off some of the biggest land deals under investigation, yet the course of the probe seems to be passing him by. Looney, Clark, and Moorhead, the powerful Austin law firm, helped Hagan set up his insurance operations. Hagan has large interests in three insurance companies with offices here. There is responsible talk that he is being “p:otected.” …. State Senator Weinert of Seguin, a dour old-timer, mused the other day that if the filibusters keep up, he thought maybe they’d let Senator Phillips talk within 15 miro1 4 the Wagonseller record of . 6 minutes, and then adjourn on him. “That’d cure ‘ern,” he said. We Only Trapped Three, Let those flatter who fear, it is not an American art. JEFFERSON en, h. I oug . A strict accounting of the conduct of state legislators on the basis of a reasonable ethic of the public welfare would leave the people gasping with shame. They take retainers and then influence and vote on legislation which directly benefits the people retaining them. They take “legal fees” to use their influence with state agencies. They accept compromising gifts and services from lobbyists. And if what we have been told oftentimes by members of the Legislature is true, they take bribes. This is not new to people “in the know” in Austin, but a lall of silence protects all that occurs. The lobbyist-legisator relationship has been a sacred cow for years. Now it is time to pull open the curtains. A legislative ,ommittee of impeccable members should take over the task wofiteering by legislators. It is now a part of the public record that Congressman John Bell, when a state senator, took $27,000 from group land promoters as “legal fees.” He said that his legal services were “available,” and it has been wisely replied that 327,000 buys a lot of availability. Senator Gus Strauss of Hallettsville also took $11,500 as “legal fees” in group land deals. Both men say this was entirely proper. We think it was entirely improper. Members of the Legislature should not be permitted to use their influence before state agencies for personal profit. The officials in those agencies know that their appropriations depend on the legislators. They know that their reappointments can be stymied by a single senator. Federal law says that any Congressman or government official who practices before any governmental agency on any matter in which the Government might be directly or ink”Yrectly interested can be fined up to $10,000 and sent to pr. son. Texas needs such a law. We do not know the extent of the malpractices, though we believe they are widespread. Certainly not all members of the Legislature are guilty, but the deafening silence with hich the Bell-Strauss evidence was greeted is eloquent roof that many of them do not have clear consciences and any others do not want to offend the people they must ork with. We know that silence is easiest. We can only implore the ‘siators who love the people to remember that their r:e is a rebuke to decent government and the people’s Bell testified almost incidentally that he has also repre$ented clients before the Texas Railroad Commission. He said he got $1,000 a day and $2,500 a week for such work! Think upon the thousands of opportunities for influencepeddling by legislators in the State Government. The Railroad Commission sets oil production allowables. The Board of Control buys millions of dollars worth of materials for state agencies. The Land Office handles vast acreages of public lands. The School Land Board sells leases to oil companies and individuals on school lands. The Insurance Commission supervises that shaky industry. Every year Texas buys thousands of textbooks. With the standard of public morality in Austin so low hat members of the Legislature take legal fees for influnce peddling and think nothing of it, it is the duty of each 3gislator to clarify his own position. 0 Every legislator should file with the secretary of each house, for public inspection, a full statement of any iterest or role he has had in group land deals in the past nder the veterans’ land program. received by him or his firm during his tenure in office. Every legislator should make public a list of all state agencies before which he has practiced, for whom, and -.4-how much. In addition, every legislator should support the now-v. -led Maverick bill for lobbyist registration and regulation. rhe state and the people have been dishonored long nigh by these shady legislative practices. The people are gry. The time for an accounting is at hand.