Ward Says Wife Sold the Stock Old Age Care Eyed SAN ANTONIO Delbert Ward, president of the construction firm in which San Antonio district highway engineer F. M. Davis’s wife and son bought stock, said he solicited the Davises to buy stock but that Davis said ” ‘under the rules of the Highway Department I can’t invest any money’ ” in the firm. Thereupon, Ward told the Observer, Mrs. Ward sold $1,000 of the stock to Mrs. Davis. The firm lost money Mrs. Davis, through 1958, had a loss of $150 on her stockbut Ward expects a profit on this year’s business of about three percent, he said. The Davises’ son, Rothe, bought another $1,000 of the stock, Ward said. Why? A letter of solicitation went to him, and “He had worked for me one summer,” when Ward was with H. B. Zachry Co., Ward said. Ward was president of the Zachry firm until he formed Ward Construction Co. on March 1, 1957. He wrote, he said, about 500 letters of solicitation for investment. Davis remembered the letter he and his wife had received as a personal letter, but Ward said it was “a form letter.” Neither could locate a copy of it “No, we don’t have files on that,” Ward said. The matter was settled, Ward remembered, at a party of an engineers’ society or its auxiliary. “F. M. Davis said, ‘I couldn’t buy any stock, but hell, Vera’s got a little money.’ … My wife sold that stock to Elvera. … He said, ‘Delbert, under the rules of the Highway Department I can’t invest any money’ ” in the firm. Ward had some advice for the Observer reporter. “I would suggest you not be a party to trying to embarrass a good man like F. M. Davis,” he said. “Youall make a ass of yourself if you try to make a story out of this.” He said that one or two Corps of Engineers men “bought a little stockjust a little,” and that no state officials’ families or officials themselves owned other stock in his firm. He said he has sold $178,000 worth of stock in the firm, of which he owns 35 percent. He said he has “a broad base” of 35 stockholders. Since 1957, he said, his company has subcontracted in the San Antonio district for about 15 state highway jobs with a total value of between $700,000 and $800,000. The firm’s 1959 primary contract for $770,000 work on. Loop 13 in front of the Highway Department’s district office is, therefore, its largest job with the state. At present, Ward also said, Ward Construction Co. has three jobs in the Corpus Christi highway district, one as a joint bidder and two as a subcontractor, with a total value of $300,000. Did any Highway Department officials or their families in the Corpus Christi district own stock in his firm? “None at all,” he replied. Ward Low Bidder Ward Construction Co. was the lowest of six bidders on a contract for grading, structure, flexible base, and surfacing of two miles of highway along Loop 13, part of it in front of the Highway Department’s district office, in which Davis has his office. Ward has a sub-contractor, Kulliam-House Co., which has 48 percent of the work. The six companies bidding, and their bids, as reflected in the file of the job in the San Antonio office: Ward Construction Co., San Antonio, $769,981.73; KilliamHouse Co., San Antonio, $772,812.15; H. B. Zachry Co., San Antonio, $831,518.80; Cage Brothers, San Antonio, $845,649.50; Austin Bridge Co., Dallas, $850,983.51; and Cecil Ruby Co., San Antonio, $859,486.30. Ward’s firm was awarded the contract in Highway Department Minute No. 45332 Jan. 28, 1959. The work began on Feb. 18, 1959. W. C. Raby, district construction engineer, said that by Texas law, the department must award jobs to the low bidder. Extra Pay Denied The case file showed that Ward wrote Raby July 23, 1959, asking for additional payment for work in connection with a steel clearance deficiency. Raby wrote Ward on July 30, 1959, “… we see no justification for allowing the additional payment as requested.” Davis observed this would show there was no favoritism on the allowance of extra costs. “It’s a normal maneuver to try to get more paythey all do it,” he said with a smile. Raby said the relationships between the main contractor and his subcontractors is strictly the primary contractor’s business. The department certifies it has no objection to the named subcontractors. Raby concurred with Davis in the Observer reporter’s presence that he had not known that members of the Davis family owned stock in Ward Construction Co. He said that 90 percent of the $770,000 for the Loop 13 job is federal money and ten percent state. He said, “it is not one of the larger jobs. Some of these jobs run bigger than that.” Asked if he or Davis discussed’ Ward’s bid with them in advance, Raby replied: “No, we never discuss their bid. We as engineers show the work, the job, to all contractors to acquaint them with the provisions existing at the time they take the bid, prepare the bid, and explain features, and they may ask questions about what they are not clear on a set of plans that they are bidding on; but they prepare their bids. … I think they uscentral place in Austin. Those sealed bids are submitted in a formal way, too, to those who receive the bids in Austin. … The usual routine is that most contractors, especially on a job of this nature, come to us to be shown the job. … And we usually know which contractors are going to bid. … I’ll say where a contractor submits a bid without having let us know locally and looked at the job, it’s a rare case.” Francis Marion Davis, 55, has worked for the Texas Highway Department 31 and a half years. He has been a district engineer, first for the Paris district and then for the San Antonio district, for the last twelve years. District engineers are the directors of the Department’s 25 district offices in Texas. Dewitt Greer, the chief highway engineer, is their immediate superior. Greer is responsible to the three Texas Highway Department commissioners, Herbert C. Petry, Jr., chairman; C. F. Hawn, and Hal Woodward, who are appointed by the Governor, In Fort Worth, Tech Sgt. Weirleis Flax of Carswell AFB and his wife sought to enroll their daughter in a white elementary school, and another Negro couple, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert C. Teal, tried to enroll their six children in a white elementary school. Both parents were told the Fort Worth school board has voted for another year of segregation. The sergeant said, “I’m not affiliated with any organization except the US Air Force.” ORobert G. Storey of Dallas endorsed a U.S. Civil Rights Commission proposal for appointment of federal registrars in areas where voting rights are denied members of minority races. He said the proposal would be a remedy where all other remedies had been exhausted. Storey is vice-chairman of the commission. OThe suit of a Negro dentist from Alabama against the Statler-Hilton Hotel in Dallas because it refused him a room after confirming a reservation was dismissed by federal judge T. Whitfield Davidson on grounds his civil rights had not been violated, since the hotel is a private corporation. OVoters last Saturday approv ed legal beer and liquor sales in a Brown County precinct, including the north part of Brownwood; a precinct in Mills County; Rowena, near Ballinger; various documents concerning the matter, but that “5,000 documents wouldn’t have made any difference.” Quite apart from the code of ethics act, he said, the question is “whether or not the position is one that you can logically hold to the inquiring mind. You must rule that we will be clean as a hound’s tooth. We’re public servants; and as such, you’ve got to be.” Greer said that every department employee is required to swear before a notary public every year that he has read the provisions of the code of ethics law, which are binding on state law, \(which Greer had marked “No officer or employee of a state agency shall make personal investments in any enterprise which will create a substantial conflict between his private interests and the public interest.” “We’ve tried in every way we know to keep this thing buttoned up, and then a dern thing like this pops us,” Greer said. “He asked me what I was going to do. I said, all right, let’s knows about it, and has every right to publish it. I’ve defended you, I employed you, you are one Davis, a native of Hondo, graduated from Texas A&M in engineering, class of ’27. He started out with Fort Worth Steel & Machinery Co. and went directly from this job into the Highway Department on Feb. 1, 1928. He worked, as he says, from the “bottom on up.” His San Antonio district covers Kerr, Bandera, Medina, Frio, La Salle, McMullen, Atascosa, W i 1 s o n, Guadalupe, Comal, Kendall, and Bexar counties. He shifted from director of the Paris district to San Antonio Nov. 16, 1951. He is known as a tough director, or, as an associate said, “a stickler,” and Muenster, near Gainesville. Voters rejected alcoholic sales in a Marion County precinct. The day before, voters in Copperas Cove refused to legalize beer sales. Cities and precincts within dry counties can now vote wet if they wish. Union members at Long Star Steel voted 2,891-1 to strike; thereupon, Lone Star Steel offered to sign a contract on the “big steel” settlement basis, which the union had requested two weeks earlier. The union spokesmen turned down the offer but decided not to strike Sunday night. Negotiations continued this week. ORev. C. W. Black, publisher Valmo Bellinger, and other San Antonio Negro leaders, G. J. Sutton and Archie Johnson, Jr., demanded a full inquiry into a policeman’s shooting of a Negro the officer said was advancing on him with a jug in his hand, but a witness said was standing still with the jug at his side. “An unnecessary killing,” said Bellinger. OTwo Dallas firms have been charged with violations by the Federal Trade Commission. of my finest engineers. I must say I’m hurt and disappointed. My ruling on you and your future must be for the best interests of the Texas Highway Department. I must abandon my feeling for you and your wife,” Greer said. He also told Davis, he said, “I would not suggest you rush back home and dispose of the stock. That would be admitting you’re guilty of somethingyou are guilty of it, but if I’m gonna fire you you might as well hold the stock and go to work for the company.” “I told him,” Greer continued, ” ‘Look at the position you put me in. I hired you.’ ” ‘Completely Wrong’ Davis had said he saw nothing wrong with his family owning the stock; in fact, he said, he saw no objection to any Highway Department employee owning any stock, as long as it was bought on the open market and did not constitute a controlling interest in the company. \(He also said, however, that he told Delbert Ward he could not own stock in the The Observer, to clarify the Highway Department’s position on this question, asked Greer what his policy was about his employees or their families owning stock in construction companies doing highway work. “It’s completely wrong. No doubt about it,” Greer said withcut hesitation. “I’ve had employees write in to the personnel department and ask whether we would consider it would be a conflict of interest that they have part interest in some constructing company,” Greer said, “and I have ruled personally that it would be. ‘You either work for us, or you work for them.’ ” It is not possible, he said, for a person to separate his wife’s from his own interest in his mind. “If anybody could, F. M. Davis could, but I don’t think anybody could.” General Precautions The man in administrative charge of the state-federal high The new $2.4 million Texas Employment Commiss ion building to house the state agency charged with administering t compensation was dedicated in Austin. In the dedication speech, Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson said social security programs are an important factor “in our response to the challenge of our times.” Gov ernor Price Daniel emphasized the state’s need to meet its obligations rather than permitting the federal government to take over more governmental functions. The building, first to be completed in the new state mall area north of the Capitol, was constructed with federal funds. OHerbert Shore, director of the Home for Jewish Aged in Dallas, now working on his dissertation at North Texas State College, said in San Angelo. “There’s no comprehensive old age assistance program in effect in Texas, and frankly it seems as if we don’t care about one … We feel that investing in young people is investing in the future … but older people are going to die anyway, so why worry about them … There’s much that can be done on a local level. But I suppose we’ll just wait till Washington acts.” way program to cost $783,000,000 the next two years then described the precautions he takes against various kinds of irregularities. “I’ve got people constantly on the alert hunting for these things,” he said. “This is one of those things that would have been difficult to findI doubt if you’d have found it if you hadn’t had a tip. It’s not a Gestapo, they’re traveling accountants, hunting out snitching of storage batteries, fuel, that sort of thing. On occasions a district engineer will call, he thinks something is going on. It’s worked pretty good. We try to find our problem zones, and try to correct what situations we find.” He has, he said, two rules for dealing with irregularities. “Number one, the State of Texas must lose no money. If there’s been some loss, the person must return the money to the treasury. “Then, number two, I mete out the punishment that I think he properly deserves. “We catch a lot of itwe clean it out. Maybe we miss some.” Greer pointed out that in order to prevent conflicts of interest through outside compensation, he
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