SNAFU: THE LUBRICANT THAT FAILED AUSTIN The thread-bare Lyndon Johnson presidential carpet that is House Bill 158, thought to be satisfactorily restitched to accomodate the governor, may have to go back to the legislative shop for yet another patching, there to run once again the gauntlet of domestic liberal oratory that each trip around achieves wider and wider national circulation. The laughable, ironic point : had most of these same objections been heeded, Lyndon’s much-caressed H. B. 158 could have made the grade with perhaps but one exposure to embarrassing headlines. As it is, the words the liberals uttered futilely in the Texas House and Senate now take on added meaning. Items : Henry Gonzalez, in the Senate on H.B. 158’s first trip : “I tell you this bill has technical imperfections; it is being considered with intemperate, passionate haste instead of sober reflection. It will change the pattern of accepted custom and settled tradition that has been woven into the fabric of our electoral process for over 50 years and it will do so unread and unseen by the members of this Senate because the bill has not even been printed. When a person is not willing to offer a bill in the free debate of ideas, it raises many doubts in my mind which are … confirmed by the bill itself, a result of frenetic haste on the part of some lackeys to please somebody else … None of you have seen the bill, none of you have read the bill, and I say to you it has organic procedural defects that are in open conflict with the present election code. To those who seek to palm this bill off as a bill to help Lyndon Johnson, I say you cannot disturb settled custom, habit, tradition, and law willy-nilly without reaping the consequences of your hasty and intemperate action. You will belatedly discover you have become hated objects of derision.” Bob Eckhardt, in the House on H. B. 158’s second trip: “I say the -bill in its altered form will still plague the Senator more than it will help him and will allow his enemies to tie another albatross around his neck along with several other rather dessicated albatrosses that are now just skin and bones and feathers and don’t smell any more … In addition to a minor change with respect to dates, the Senate, acting in utmost haste, struck all of Section 11, thus removing the only section that could have made a clarifying improvement in the present law. … There are many other errors, disparities and evils in the bill, which Governor Daniel did not point out … Because of the great pressure from Washington and the blind political partisanry that it has evoked, this bill has never received the consideration in the House that it deserves and it has never really been subjected to consideration by any Senate committee.” So now, withered and maligned, H. WASHINGTON Any man who would insist that every member of his own family have the same initials as fatherLady Bird Johnson, Lynda Bird Johnson, Lucy Baines Johnson, and Little Beagle think that he was qualified to be the President of the United States. If he can get away with such a display of egotism at home, he can get away with it anywhere. So those Northern Democrats who insist that Lyndon B. Johnson is no more likely to become a candidate for President than Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, or Eugene Talmage of the same state had better take a new look at the man from Texas. Even though there are many observers still inclined to laugh of f Lyndon, he is taking his own possible choice as Democratic nomination with the utmost seriousness. Even if he should not emerge as the candidate this time, Johnson will certainly be an important force at the 1960 Los B. 158 has made two hurried passes through the legislature, been signed into law by the Governorand it still isn’t right yet: in the flurry of date changes, the law now calls for the June convention planning committee to meet four days after the convention for which it is to plan. How ludicrous ! Is the state convention now to wallow idly through four days of illegitimacy until the SDEC can officially meet and clarify the convention rolls so the business of selection of presidential delegates may at last begin ? Are convention delegates from the remotest corners of the state to gather and memorialize 96 hours of their time to the heat which Lyndon put under his Texas errand-boys, a breath of fire so patently galvanizing they couldn’t pause to read the bill they were carrying? Is this Lubricating Lyndon, the suave greaser of parliamentary machinery, Angeles convention. Apparently there will be no Estes Kefauver this time to stop him. In light of the situation that seems to be developing, it is likely that the Northern Democrat s, no matter which candidate they f a v o r, will eventually become more watchful of the Johnson record than they have up to now. From the liberal viewpoint, that record is not terribly impressive ; in fact it often seems to be no record at all. Recently, Rep. Carl Vinson \(D.crat, was reported to have told associates : “We have no program and no policy. Our leadership is dead.” This was not meant for the public to hear, but somehow the story did get out. Johnson and House Speaker Rayburn undoubtedly were disturbed by this characterization of their lack of significant activity. Vinson probably did overstate his case; the big boys are not dead, just resting. ROBERT G. SPIVACK waxing cloakrooms with compromise –is this the oily legend we read about? Or is the new, even hungrier Lyndon now so terrified by 50 Texas House liberals he has, lost the poise he learned to exercise so deftly on Senate Democrats in Washington? Whatever the speculations concerning Lyndon’s personal compromise and its debilitating effect on his force as a leader, there are soberer, more damning implications of his garbled Texas fling. For if it is true a man’s character stands most clearly revealed in time of personal crisis, then Lyndon’s heedless ambition in pushing his election bill regardless of its effect on his party in Texas should alert even the most complacent to the implications of supporting such a man for President. He has premeditatedly assaulted the loyal Democrats in his home state while they were locked in the perennial struggle to reclaim their own party from disguised Republicans. In insisting on passage of HB 158 to the exclusion of the very necessary ‘ amendment giving Democrats a voice in their party commensurate with their votes for the party’s presiden tial nominee, the man has shown again he has no respect for the ideals undergirding the party he wishes’ to lead as President. To such a man, principles are only phrases to be memorized and cataloguedfrom right to leftto be parroted to other politiciansfrom right to leftin a manner calculated to win the favor of each in turn. Withot men standing to his left and his right, without a Paul Douglas or a .Styles Bridges to provide a frame of reference, such a man as Lyndon would be revealed simply as an intellectual void a political gadfly flitting before each changing windan opportunist feeling no ordered response’ to his republic, its institutions or its aspira tions. The country could perhaps drift along with such a man as President in a stable and tranquil era. Today, it would be madness. L.G. “Our Leadership Is Dead” Who Owns the Beaches? AUSTIN Who owns the beaches ? Who has a right to walk along them ; camp there ; fish or swim ; lie in the sand? Who has a right to the oil underneath them ? The people, the oil companies, the landowners, and the state are now converging into a locked climactic fight to decide. Governor Price Daniel told his press conference Saturday, “If there is legislation that would be helpful toward keeping our public beaches along the Gulf and prevent fencing of our beaches, I will submit it to the special session.” He has promised to wage a “second tidelands battle” if necessary. He said he had talked to Rep. Bob Eckhardt, Houston, about “the general theory he had in mind.” The legislature thus may be called on to take steps, if any can be taken, to circumvent the Texas Supreme Court’s refusal last week to reconsider the 1958 decisions by ex-Justice W. St. John Garwood, which held that the landowners along the Gulf own the beaches down to “the mean of the higher high tides.” These decisions mean that the landowners can fence their parts of the beach, barring the people from using them, unless, as Asst. Atty. General Arthur Sandlin has said, they wade or boat their way around the fences. Rep. Eckhardt has observed that in the 1958 Luttes case, the Supreme Court was not actually called on to rule on the question of the dividing line between private and public property along the beaches. Justice Garwood chose to use the casea dispute over ownership of some mud flats in Laguna Madreas an occasion to rule that the beach does not end at the vegetation line, as has been assumed, but at the high tide line. Under this ruling some landowners have fenced their beach, and at high tide people cannot pass without trespassing. I. CCKHARDT fears a test on the main question of who owns the beaches might result in a decision for landowners and thus forever close them to the public. Once a property right is settled a legislature cannot easily set it aside without raising constitutional issues. Eckhardt, who has been conferring with the Atty. General’s office on the matter, proposes legislation which would not deny landowner’s title to beaches but would codify a public easement to them by virtue of long public usage. A landowner could still litigate against public use of his beach, but he would have to establish that the public had not in fact been using it, which might be difficult to do. Rep. Joe Ed Winfree, who joined Eckhardt and Daniel in a conference after the Supreme Court refused to reconsider its 1958 holdings, said that he thinks the easement solution is sound. Winfree also said Daniel believes the solution is “a very fine idea” and “was very much impressed with the idea of submitting the subject to the special session.” “The Governor seemed favorably inclined toward my bill and indicated he will give his full cooperation in working out a solution,” Eckhardt said. After the conference, Eckhardt wrote Daniel saying that the decision encourages, if it does not allow, landowners to fence off access to the seashore. “Barriers on formerly open beaches are already being erected, and this decision will encourage further fencing of the beaches,” he said. “The longer this practice continues, the more the right to public access … is endangered.” Atty. Gen. Will Wilson’s office said, “We are going to study the question of whether the public may have some type of easement to the beaches because of long usage and also whether or not the public access to beaches can be subject of legislation.” THE COURT’S RULING in the matter have been the subject of a careful series by Cliff Blackburn in the Houston Post. Editorially the newspaper called on Gov. Daniel to act through the legislature to save the beaches for the people. If something is not done to overcome the decision, the Post said, many public beaches will be closed to the public forever. The old Spanish law says that private property begins and the beach ends where the highest waves wash, whether in winter or summer. Before the Garwood decisions this has been construed to mean the line of vegetation. But Garwood ruled first for the mean high tide in June, 1958; in December, 1958, he said he had intended to rule for “the mean of the higher high tides,” but the distinction is not substantial. Appealing, Atty. Gen. Wilson and his lawyers have argued: “In the great sweep of the tidelands, embracing as they do vast areas both seaward and landward of the seashore, the comparatively minute area that is the beach can mean very little to the two oil companies who have fought so valiantly and ably in this case. “On the Other hand, to the 447,000 salt water fishermen in Texas, to the multiplied thousands of hunters for ducks and other water fowl in the coastal area, to the hundreds of thousands of bathers, tourists, campers, vacationers, and picnickers, the matter is of the utmost importance.” “It is easy to imagine what will happen if the coastal landowners fence off their beach front,” the state also argued. “The public will be effectively deprived of use of the beaches.” Blackburn reported that the state’s attorney in the matter, J. Arthur Sandlin, thinks he has an ace in the hole : an order by Ferdinand VII of Spain in 1815 that his sailors had a right to the beach to high tide and 60 feet more. The state has established beyond reasonable doubt that the order did exist and maintains it was not countermanded ; but it has not been found, and the state is financing searches for it in Texas, Mexico City, and Spain. Dr. Ramon Martinez-Lopez, professor of Romance languages at the University of Texas, who is searching in Texas, says the Spanish despot wrote the order on Sunday, probably by hand, and it may never have been printed. REP. ROGER DAILY, of Houston, who sought unsuccessfully to persuade the legislature to consent to the establishment of a national park at Padre Island during the regular session, said the Supreme Court decision may do away with all public beaches in Texas. If the Supreme Court decision stands, then the only hope for saving Padre . Island for the public will be a national park. In any case all the resources of the state should be pitted against the Luttes opinions. If the people do not have a right to the beaches, Texas will be that much less worth living in. R. D.
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