BOW WILLIAMS Automobile and General Insurance Budget Payment Plan Strong Stook Companies GReenwood 2-0545 624 LAMAR, AUSTIN Let’s Abolish the Poll Tait TEXAS CHAMPIONS OF. FREEDOM Guardian of the Robert M. Williamson, wise and witty editor, lawyer and statesman of San Felipe, Stephen F. Austin’s colony, was respected and loved by his neighbors of early-day Texas. They called him “Three-Legged Willie” .. because of a stiff knee he always used a very fancy cane. One of the many salty stories told of Three-Legged Willie is dated 1834, when, as the colonists’ troubles with Mexico grew to fighting pitch, he and other patriots of San Felipe marched to join the loyal Texans at the Guadalupe River. There his assignment was to protect a precious 4-pounder cannon. A Mexican force under Captain Castenado arrived to demand the cannon. Williamson hand-lettered a large sign which he placed on the cannon, in full view of the Mexicans. The message on the sign was brief and to the point .. “Come and take it!” Captain Casteliado forthwith took his command out of there, pronto. In Congress, the Legislature and on Texas Division, United 206 VFW Building, Austin, Texas Our sincere appreciation to The Bellville Times for historical assistance. People’s Rights the bench Williamson built a distinguished career .. inaccessible to threats or bribes, unflinching in his judgments, ever watchful of the people’s rights. Like so many kind and constant champions of freedom, Judge Williamson was generous to a fault. He died in poverty because of his unselfishness. Today Texans still demand and .get their right to choose the way they want to live. In this vigorous and freedom-minded homeland . . “Beer Belongs” and this is why the United States Brewers Foundation works constantly, in conjunction with brewers, wholesalers and retailers, to assure the sale of beer and ale under pleasant, orderly conditions. Believing that strict law enforcement serves the best interest of Texans, the Foundation stresses close co-operation with the Armed Forces, law enforcement and governing officials in its continuing Self-Regulation program. States Brewers Foundation, STATE UTILITIES AGENCY GETS ONCE-OVER AUSTIN State price-fixing for the major public utility monopolies telephones, gas, and electricity drew support from Houston officials, opposition from the chief Texas utilities lobbyist and the Dallas official in charge of utility rates, and a burial in. a House State Affairs subcommittee which won’t be reversed this session by anything short of political reincarnation. Rep. Bill Kilgarlin, Houston, who has also sponsored a 50-cent minimum wage bill for all workers, reminded his colleagues that Gov. Colquitt proposed a Texas public utilities commission in 1915; said Houston officials are now swamped by rate fights with Southwestern Bell, Houston Natural Gas, Houston Light and Power, and the water company; and asked if Houston couldn’t handle its disputes with the utilities, how can the smaller cities? More than 100 such cities, a majority, supported his bill in the Texas League of Municipalities poll on the subject, he said. A state agency with qualified personnel can set utility rates more effectively than municipalities, he argued. “A utility must be regulated because it’s a monopoly and you can’t have cornpetition,” he said. He said 42 states now have state regulation of electric power; 46, phones; and 43, natural gas. “Are we soaking the consumers? Are we letting the utilities get away with unfair profits?” Kilgarlin asked. He quoted from Fortune Magazine Aug., 1958, that among the 50 major utilities, Houston Light & Power ranked first with 13.4 percent on investment, with Texas companies also ranking fourth, sixth, and seventh in the U. S. on this basis. Southwestern Bell covers a five state area, of which Texas is the only one without state regulation of rates, he said. In these five states, in 20 categories of phone rates, Texas has the highest rates in every category except one, he said. Kilgarlin’s exhibits f o r the committee included letters from mayors of Bonham, McLean, and Cisco, and officials of Olton, Hale Center, Abernathy, and Columbus endorsing his legislation. Mayor E. J. Lander, McLean, wrote, “We have been up against some of this rate fixing and frankly it is a problem for the cities and towns. The cost is so great in running down information needed that it is almost impossible to do it.” Columbus city secretary Harvey Westerholm wrote that the town aldermen “feel they are ill equipped to intelligently regulate rates.” Kilgarlin also presented long letters to him from chairmen and members of state public utility commissions in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Generally these writers said that their commissions work; that they keep rates lower than they would be otherwise; and that cities can’t handle rate regulation of large utilities. Marion Beatty, chairman of the Kansas State Corporation Commission, wrote: “… the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company makes a tremendous profit out of its Texas properties for the simple reason that they are dealing with numerous municipalities and not with one centralized agency. When they come in to us for rate increases, we notice that of all the states in the Southwestern Bell system, their Texas properties show the biggest profits.” ‘ Rep. Alonzo Jamison, Denton, said, “I think the legislature could probably render a service to the consumers of the state by having a full time investigation of the utilities.” n R. ROBERT MONTGOMERY, U professor of economics at the University of Texas, author of the Allred Montgomery public utilities regulation bill in 1935, and a specialist in public utilities economics, said municipal regulation has not been worth its costs and that a state commission is requisite to effective regulation. How, he asked, can the city council of Austin, in its current controversy with Southwestern Bell, effectively “face a $2 billion corporation, with a $19.5 billion corporation standing right behind it, with all of its facilities ready to be thrown into the fight at any moment?” He said he does not know a city in the U. S. that can “carry on an even controversy with AT&T except New York City. “If Houston can’t do it, who can?” he asked. “AT&T can buy the finest legal talent, accounting, or engineering in the world, at any time.” Rep. Richard Slack, Pecos, inquired about the independent phone companies. Montgomery said they have to buy their equipment from a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, Western Electric, and so are at AT&T’s “mercy.” “If you want regulation, you’re going to have to get it with an authority that has the same magnitude, the same power, as the utility you’re trying to regulate,” he said. “I don’t like it. I don’t want to go back to when the United States was a free sovereign and independent nationI want to go back to when Menard County was a free sovereign and independent nation. But AT&T covers not only an entire nation. It covers the entire civilized world.” “You’re not against AT,Vr?” asked Rep. Frank McGregor, Waco. “Of course not. That would be ridiculous!” Montgomery answered. Jimmy Walker, the mayor of Deer Park, a town in Harris County, advocated the state commission, saying most public officials do not pass on rate disputes more than once or twice -in their lives, and experts are needed. J. W. Monk, supervisor of utilities for Dallas, testified against the bill, saying Dallas can handle its own rate controversies. “We are in a better position to handle our problems than any utilities commission,” he said. “We vigorously protest the enactment of this bill.” ITILITY REGULATION is ser ious business and it should be conducted by full time, dedicated people. It’s not a job for small-town, part-time city officials,” said Clinton Owsley, public service and utilities director for the city of Houston. “The only pretense at regulation is done by incorporated cities and towns.” Owsley said he was presently “covered up” with four rate cases. A state commission could space out such cases better and handle them one at a time, he said. He also implied that his preoccupation with the cases was one of the reasons he exploded to a Houston reporter in blistering criticism of the state affairs committee, which twice had cancelled hearings on the regulation bill after Owsley had taken time out to go to Austin. Rep. Richard C. Slack, Pecos, chided Owsley for statements he had made about what he considered the subservience of the cornmittee and that he was sorry if any member thought their motives had been impugned. The story in question quoted Owsley: “The utility lobbyists already got their work doneprobably in hotels and night clubs.” Apologizing, Owsley said he did not think “the members were bought off.” Rep. R. H. Cory, Victoria, chairman of the committee, joined in the reproof to Owsley. He said it was incorrect for Owsley to have said that a resolution passed by the Houston city council in behalf of Kilgarlin’s bill was not accepted by the committee: it was accepted, he said. Kilgarlin intervened to argue back. The criticism of Owsley wasn’t germane to his bill, but was prejudicial, he charged. In response to a question as to how a utility commission would be of value to the utility, Owsley said it would be better for a company to have to appear before the one commission than before 800 city councils in the state. It would also be to the great advantage of the cities, he said. Rep. Max Smith, San Marcos, asked Owsley why the bill exempted cooperatives and publicly owned utilities. Owsley said the great majority of the 48 states which have utility regulation by the state in one form or another did not regulate city-owned utility companies or cooperatives. He said he had no objections to regulation of co-ops o r publicly owned utility companies, however. Monk rose to retort to Owsley’s remark that Houston electric power rates are lower than those in Dallas. The telephone rates in Dallas are lower than in Houston, he said, and also the transit rates. In the Dallas area, he said, 20 cities have joined together in a committee which was making a study to counter an application of Lone Star Gas Co. for a rate increase. Financing was by a contribution of ten cents per meter, and $47,000 had been collected to carry on a rate case, he said. THE COMMITTEE called anI other opponent, Jack Harris, utility lobbyist, who was much in evidence when the electric utilities were fighting against the bill by Rep. Alonzo Jamison to help rural electrification co-ops. Harris said he always had been for utility regulation. The fact was that the cities didn’t really Some one interested in a good chance to make some money: A West Texas town with a bi-weekly paper at present, that does not serve the town. Some one that is aggressive, wide awake, and interested in printing the truth, can serve a good county, and make some money while doing so. There is a lot of job printing, etc.; If interested write at once to Box 1-A, Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin. want state regulation; they didn’t want to give up this authority, Harris said. He added that he had seen all the utility bills that had been introduced in the legislature over many years but never had he seen one like this bill. He said it would make public utilities out of private manufacturing plants which make some excess power which they have been selling, as for example, he said, the Aluminum Company of America plant and the Dow Chemical Co, have been doing. Some power, he said, had been sold to the Brazos River Electric Co-op, which sold it to the REA’s and charged them 35 to 40 per cent more than they would have had to pay if they could have bought it somewhere else. Harris said a person shouldn’t sit on a utility commission and run for office or be allowed to practice before the commission within two years after leaving office. He said Kilgarlin’s bill was wide open at both ends. He asked the committee to visualize how many employees the proposed utility commission could hire with $3,250,000 which he said it would have under the terms of the tax on utility companies. Did you ever have the head of any bureau come to you and tell you at the end of the fiscal year he had any money left? Harris asked. “This outfit wouldn’t have any left either.” The only way to get reasonable rates, said Harris, was through a regulated monopoly, and the utility was entitled to earn enough to pay all expenses and attract new capital. Under the rate formulas in the bill, he said, a utility that was not in an expanding territory would go broke. Figures quoted by the proponents of the bill came from federal commission reports, he said and they omitted some facts. He said the Houston Light and Power Co. now was selling electricity cheaper than in 1938. The reason for this, he said, was the greater use, more appliances in use, and greater and more efficient employment of plant. Instead of standing idle for a large part of the day, the plant was -now in use most of the time. Referring to a chart, he pointed to what he said was the great increase in costsit would cost $17 million today to replace the plant which cost $10 million several years ago; labor had gone up from around $8 a day to $25 a day. The bases of depreciation and valuation of plant had been set up years ago when a great group of people wanted nothing but public power, Harris said. Cory had told Harris that the committee would hold him to its 11:30 p. m. rule. Harris finished up on a personal note: “You can’t find a man in this legislature,” he said, “who will say I’ve ever called him to vote against a bill. I just give them the facts and they vote as they want to. I have never talked to any of you fellows about this bill and you know it.” HE SMILED GENIALLY as he left the room and the Kilgar lin bill went to a subcommittee. Kilgarlin conceded that it would stay there. But he consoled himself with the thought that he had brought the bill to a hearing, something he said has not happened to any bill to set up a state utility regulatory body since
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