Life Insurance Company in Texas with $1,000,000 Capi-, tal and Surplus Paid in Cash Prior to writing business August, 1954. To set a World’s Production record of over $33,000,000 in its first year. And Now ..er $43:000,000 LIFE INSURANCE IN FORCE AS OF DEC. 31, 1955. 0 Home Office: 5011 Fannin, Houston, Texas AGENCIES THROUGHOUT TEXAS Affiliated with Western Indemnity Life Insurance Company Laredo’s Mayor Defends System LAREDO Joe C. Martin , Jr., a 42-yearold Laredoan who is descendant of at least eight former mayors of the 200-year-old city, sat back last week behind a desk cluttered with congratulatory telegrams and other after-election signs and defended the so-called “patron system” of government, which he had just led to a sweeping victory, at the polls. “What’s wrong with a group of fellows who think alike and want the same thing for their community to organize and carry out those things harmoniously and without the wasted bickering and argument that goes with people who don’t think alike ?” he asked. His question came a day after 7,872 voters out of 12,059 agreed that there was nothing wrong with that method of political thinking, and re-elected him mayor for a second term, assuring the half-century old Independent Club a stronger hold on the political life of Laredo. But RefOrm Party workers, opponents of the unique system, amazed Why Shouldn’t Friends Meet, Agree, and Rule? Ramon Garces at the two-to-one majority that the Martin forces mustered, announced that they wouldn’t give up trying to break the political machine and said that precinct had “gobs of infoi -matiorr” on ballot and poll tax irregular ities which they claimed were used by. the administration to keep itself in power. “They call us a machine,” said Mayor Martin wearily, “but we are just a club, working for the benefit of the whole community. If they were in power, they’d be a machine, too. In fact, the Reform Party is just a machine in the making.” The club the mayor referred to is the Independent Club, whose tightly knit political organization has controlled government in Webb County for over 50 years, with th -e -only oppOsition coming in 1932, 1950, and this year. In 1932 the Club won by just’ 400 votes, but in other years they scored big majorities. 0 PPONENTS charge that the Club keeps in power by abusing voting laws, financing poll taxes for its supporters, charging city and school employees three percent of their salary as dues,, and ‘trickery at the polls. Mayor Martin, whose uncle, Albert, was mayor 14 years, and whose greatgrandfather, Bartolome Garcia, was mayor two terms before and during the Civil War, says that his, party keeps’ in -power only by helping .people. and making. friends, an old political formula. “We welcome a contest \(of the eleccharges are ridiculous” and unproved, he said. Asked -about the charge that the Independent Club urges its members to buy poll taxes for its supporters, Mayor Martin said : “That’s just like asking if the party condones murder; of course we :don’t.” He added that all the party Members are volunteers who try to keep their party in poWer by doing everything within the legal means of getting votes..”Sorne of our city employes can’t even control their own wives’ votes,”. Martin added.: During the city election campaign, Reform Party members printed a list of poll tax holders, identifying them ‘ as ones who had been issued two poll taxes, were living out of the city or in Mexico, had questionable citiien ship status, were under voting age, or had addresses of vacant lots. Later they published an advertisement in the Laredo Times, saying that possibly some of the allegations were clerical errors at the Tax Collector’s . office or ‘slip-ups by their own investigators. Martin denied there is any deduction from salaries of city ernployes. “That charge has been flying around ,for over 20 years,” he said… A member of 17 civic organizations, and well-liked, Martin has been deScribed as having the “old Roosevelt charm,” and many believe that if anyone else had headed the club this year, the slate would have lost at the polls. A good speaker, he can hold an audience in both English and Spanish. , He operates 38,000 acres of cattleland in ‘Webb . County and 12,000 in LaSalle County. He is a descendant of Don Tomas Sanchez, who founded Laredo in 1755 and later was mayor for 22 years. , While Martin and his Independent Club celebrated their . victory, Cattlemin .Lonnie Gates, who ran on the Reform ‘slate as mayor, said his group was busy analyzing election returns by precincts and said no announcement “as yet” will be made as to contesting the election. AN EDITOR, A MOP, AND TEXAS JAILS AUSTIN A newspaper publisher is going around the state these \\days passing out brooms. The purpose of the brooms is to sweep the state cleah of ‘corruption. He has a public address system on the top of his car. He started out last week in Houston by telling the Jaycees there that two men who gave him information about Fort Worth corruption have had their lives threatened. He said he is paying a personal debt to the state’ with his anti-corruption crusade “I’ve been living high on the hog for 40 years,” he said, “and I think I owe something to the state.” 1-le passed out a dozen new brooms to the Jaycees and kept , a mop for himself. Next day he arrived at the steps of the state capitol and announced to a group of about 15 people, “I’m going to clean up Texas.” He had half a dozen brooms and mops left, but he could only get two of them passed out. To those who refusedtheir he said: “I’ don’t blame you. Taking a broom brands you.” He told Homer Garrison, head of the Department of Public Safety, about the Fort Worth threats. He said be has hidden a letter”to be opened’ if he or either of the threatened men dies. He said he has telegraphed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover where the letter can be found if need be. Recently he was put in jail in Fort Worth for refusing to divulge sources on which he baSed editorials in his newspaper about state corruption. After a night in jail he said they were anonymous and was released. Now in Austin he remarked : “I -think God picked me out in that jail and told me to go out and talk to the ‘people.” When he got to Beaumont he was warned by police that if he didn’t stop talking over the P.A. system he would be violating the city’s anti-noise ordinance. “Well, go ahead and arrest me. riwant to bearrested,” he was quoted as replying. He parked a block from the police station and started making a speech. A patrolman told him it was against the law, but he went on talking. “We just try to enforce the law as it’s given to us,” the patrolman said. “There was nothing else for us to do but arrest him.” The publisher –who is William Prescott Allen of the Laredo Times was advised that he could put up $25 bond and appear in Municipal Court a few days later, but he refused’and was jailed. Two hours later a lawyer advised him to post the bond and he did SO. He said he thinks the ordinance is unconstitutional and will carry it up through the courts. The ordinance, he said, is but a “well defined political plan where -corruption has taken -over the whole state and the purpose is to deny the public knowing the truth.” -Undaunted, he drove to Port Arthur, talked some more through the P.A. system, and was warned once that he was violating another antinoise noise ordinance. He went on talking. An hour later he was jailed again. He was fined $100 in Beaumont and will appeal. Then Allen promised that when he is through with his mop-up in Texas he will go to Washington and “clean up the income tax department.” mitting the insurance policy to insure more money than is lent ; several policies on one loan ; “acts of coercion”; refusing to pay claims. Major Milton Swett, Jr., loan shark crusader with the Air Force in San Antonio, told the commission credit insurance is “worthlesS to military personnel”; that $5-to-$50 lenders are “interested in the 85 percent kickback they get on the premiums,” not in in, suring loans ; and that credit insurance is “a license to steal.” The passage of the credit insurance. act didn’t solve any problems in the small loan field. It just set up a marriage between loan shark and insurance shark married them without benefit of clergy. He hit hard at the commission’s present regulations, which let the policies be for 175 percent of the face of the loan. “Another way the public can be gouged,” he said. Interest rates in his experience have been 211 to 384 percent, Swett said with the major portion of the “interest” charged as premiums on credit insurance. T HE’ REFORM Party at once prepared for the School. Board election and for the state senatorial and representative races in summer. C.B.W. Dick is running against Inde-. pendent incumbent Abe Kazen for the Senate and three, Oscar Laurel, Independent Club ; Virgilio Roel, . new dependent of any party, are running for ,representative. “The district race will be tougher,” Dick ‘predicted. “And the issue will be simple : whether the people in this. district want a machine-candidate state senator or a free senator.” Independent Club observers said Kazen’s experience and legislative know-how would, be pitted against Dick’s inexperience. . Other Elections Municipal and school board elections were held all over the state last week. In San Diego, Duval County, George Parr’s forces lost only one -raceto political allies of County Judge Dan. Tobin, Jr., who were backing a candidate for aldermanbut Parr carried the major’s post and backed two other winning aldermen. ‘ In Kerrville, two school board candidates wbo were vocal against integration won over three others who did not take positions on the issue. H ARRY LOFTIS, president of the Junior Bar of Texas, said that on more than 50 percent of the loans that’are made, 50 to 95 percent of the “premiums” return to the lender himself. In many instances policies are not issued and insurance is not even mentioned by the lender. Credit insurance has been “used to legalize a swindle and to perpetrate a fraud on the lendincr b public in many, many cases,” said Ted Hanson of the Houston Better Business Bureau. Ned Fritz of Dallas, attorney, appearing at the request of the junior Bar, reviewed tlfe”special privileges ‘in the regulations for lenders of sums under $100.” He showed how it is possible under the ‘commission’s existing regulations for a lender to multiply the credit life rate permitted in the regulations eight times. THE’TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 11, 1956 PAGE 4 Loan Sharks in a Bind
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.