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The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Vol. 53 TEXAS, MAY 20, 1961 15c per copy No. 7 THE SALES TAX TRAIL Governor’s Substitute Fails; Bill Goes to House True Conservatism’ at Stake Tower, Blakley Enter Final Week AUSTIN The Senate fight against the sales tax was a wretched failure. The governor’s jerry-built substitute was turned down after only brief debate. Sen. Henry Gonzalez, who earlier had promised a hardnosed filibuster to end all filibusters, lost his chances for that in a strategy conflict with the governor’s office. And on the one occasion the liberals would certainly have won at least one relatively minor concession to make the gas production tax amendment read “in perpetuity” rather than “for two years”, as originally proposed and finally approvedthe two key floor generals for the liberal cause, Gonzalez and Sen. Babe Schwartz, got fouled up in their signals and contributed to their own defeat. The anti-sales taxers’ only consolation was the governor’s promise Friday to veto the Senate sales tax bill. Gonzalez said that his filibuster, which started at 5:53 p.m. Tuesday, was launched with a double purpose: primarily to give Gov. ?rice Daniel time to write his substitute tax plan with care and time for the senators to really study it before bringing it to a vote; secondly, the usual purpose of a filibuster, to build up an atmosphere of stubbornness to which the more faint-hearted of the enemies of the sales tax could rally. As it was, his aborted filibuster didn’t reach its fulfillment on either score. It gave the governor time to complete his tax substitute, but the job was rushed and careless in wording, as its opponents were quick to point out. EAST TEXAS Charles Elbert Williams, a Negro youth from Centerville, has been convicted of rape and sentenced to death, denied a signed confession and his guilt, lost every appeal but the last one now pending, and awaits his execution at Huntsville. So much has happened since the day he was condemned, the Observer traced back over the facts,’the accusations and counteraccusations, the trial and the appeals with the principals in the story. The judge, the district and county attorneys, the three defense lawyers, the prosecutrix, and Williams himself—All have been interviewed on the events that led to Williams’ sentence of death. In Galveston, Williams’ appeal lawyer, Thomas Dent, interviewed in his trim two-story home a block from the seawall, said he does not think Williams raped the wornan; he thinks it was understood between them. “I don’t believe in capital punishmentI don’t think it does any good,” Dent said. Men kill from Gonzalez said he wanted to f ilibuster through that night and the next morning. The governor’s strategists cut him short before midnight. Sen. A. M. Aiken, who carried the governor’s bill, which featured a $10 deductible sales tax, was for more speed. He said later that if the vote had been taken that night, when the substitute was brought in, he thinks it might have carried. But by recessing, and thus delaying the vote until the next morning, he implied, Sen. Wardlow Lane, who carried the Senate version of the sales tax, and his confederates could go to work on the less-loyal of the Aiken supporters and lure away a couple of votes. The crucial ballot, 17-14, that killed the governor’s tax program found these voting no: Robert Baker, Houston; Galloway Calhoun Jr., Tyler; Tom Creighton, Mineral Wells; Martin Dies, Lufkin; Jep Fuller, Port Arthur; Dorsey Hardeman, San Angelo; Grady Hazlewood, Amarillo; Hubert Hudson, Brownville; Frank Owen, El Paso; George Parkhouse, Dallas; David Ratliff, Stamford; Bruce Reagan, Corpus Christi; Ray Roberts, McKinney; Jarrard Secrest, Temple; Preston Smith, Lubbock; R. A. Weinert Seguin, and Lane. Switch Vote Sen. Bill Moore, Bryan, voted to save the governor’s program Wednesday, but Thursday he the statc’s example, he said. “I just don’t believe the state ought to kill anybody. Put incurables in institutions and make ’em work and help support the deaf, dumb, and blind institutions. That’s punishment.” Dent did not deny he wins delays for his clients. ” I hold these boys as long as I can. I had one boy six yearsthey finally got him,” he said. Reading a transcript of the Houston appeal hearing, the Observer received an impression that Joseph Holmes, in whose name the first federal appeal for Williams was filed, had assisted Williams write out his basic statement of innocence last Nov. 10 at Huntsville. \(A paragraph so stating in last week’s story, specified for omission but printed inadTo the contrary, Dent said, Dent himself wrote out Williams’ statemerit as he sat on the other side of the bars from Williams. A guard was sitting right beside Dent all the time, the Negro lawyer said. ”The guard sat as close to the boy as you to me,” Dent told the Observer reporter. “You know I switched sides, and voted for the Lane sales tax. He previously had voted against Lane. Aiken presented the governor’s program as a “limited” sales tax, meaningso far as the average consumer is concerneda two per cent tax on everything costing more than $10 an item. Aiken said $32,100,000 would come from taxing cars and other “motor or power driven objects.” $31,500,000 would come from the tax on building and construction materials. $17,000,000 from retail tax on alcoholic beverages. $26,200,000 from tax on just about everything else costing more than $10. It was not clear just how much would come from the tax on utilities. First estimates were $31,500,000, but that was from both household and commercial users, and Aiken said he would take an amendment exempting manufacturing plants. Restaurant meals costing more than $1 would have been taxed at three per cent. Some Difference Opposition was from the expected sources. Sen. Reagan, who has held high the torch of commercial interests everytirne taxes were mentioned in the Senate this session, attacked the $10 bottom as “the most unsound, impractical business suggestion we could make. I think the collection of it is just about impossible.” Aiken shot back: “I think the main difference between you, and me, senator, is you’re for a general sales tax and I’m not.” Sen. Owen said there was no basic reason why the governor’s program could be touted higher than Lane’s, because although the didn’t coach him. This is the affidavit he wrote out. . . . I believe what he told me. I don’t believe he coulda told a story as straight as he did. I don’t believe he could. A boy of 18and standing up as well under cross-examination as he did.” In his office in the basement of the courthouse in Athens, the district attorney who asked for and got the death penalty against Williams, Jack Hardee, defended capital punishment. “I think it’s a necessary part of our law to have, not only to punish people guilty of some of these heinous crimes, but also to deter and stop and slow down the commitment of crime,” he said. Mrs. Jones, the name here given to the prosecutrix, “made an immediate cry-out,” and Williams had “admitted now that he had intercourse with her,” Hardee said. As for his story about beatings and the confession, “that’s a damn lie, that story he’s telling now. That didn’t happen at all.” He was not locked up that night but was brought to the courthouse, and the county attorney took the statement down right then, Har AUSTIN Although the key to the election may very well rest with Texas moderate and liberal Democrats, Interim Senator William Blakley and Republican challenger John Tower were still jousting this week for the stronger claim to the “true conservative” epithet. The interplay had some curious asides. Barry Goldwater, the Arizona archconservative imported by Tower for a hard-swinging barnstorming tour of the state, branded Blakley as “no conservative” who votes “with the radicals.” In an interview with the Houston Press, Goldwater said he found it “surprising to hear Blakley referred to as a conservative. You can only judge a man by the way he votesand Blakley’s voting record in 1957 showed he voted 80 per cent of the time with Hubert Humphrey and 100 per cent of the time with LBJand LBJ is certainly no conservative.” The.Blakley forces, calling the Goldwater charge a “smear attack,” responded in a half-page ad: ” ‘Radical’ Blakley was joined .;ri 11;3 in the Senate in 1957 by such radicals as Goldwater himself, Byrd, Eastland, Mundt, Thurmond, Schoeppel, Russell, Knowland, Lausche, Bricker. While Blakley was making his absurd . . . statement in Houston, Sen. Blakley, despite the demands of his campaign, was in Washington to speak against the federal the opponents of the welfare state and socialism, Blakley is the most articulate and vigorous leader.” Tower had earlier protested Blakley campaign literature which dee said. “The next day they carried him before a JP.” It’s true, Hardee said, Williams was later taken to Rusk for two or three days because “some of her family might get to him.” But the beatings are “just a fairy tale.” If the racial roles were reversed, would there be the same penalty? “Probably quicker,” Hardee said. He had taken care to be sure the defense lawyers were good, Hardee said, because “if I’m gonna ask the death penalty I want to feel like he had every chance.” If defending him, Hardee said, he would have done about as the two trial defense lawyers did. The only question, he said, was whether Williams had used force. “The jury chose to believe what she had to say,” and their verdict was “very justified,” Hardee said. “If I thought there was the slightest possibility that the story they’re tellin’ was true, I’d be down there tellin’ em ‘Don’t do itdon’t pull the switch.’ I have no desire to have an electrocution during my term of office . . . I’m not trying to build up a record of prosecutions.” says Tower attended London School of Economics, “traditional spawning ground for young socialists.” Such exchanges, stretching the internecine conservative rivalry to an extreme, have nonetheless given a curiously exaggerated truth to the campaign as it has unfolded. With the May 27 election only days away, and with both candidates undoubtedly aware that the liberal-moderate response will be the crucial factor, neither has budged an inch ideologically. Blakley, who trailed Tower 2-1 in the first primary, is counting on sufficient brass-collar party sup -port to carry the day. Tower, with his hardcore GOP support in the first race practically assured, is hoping to attract a positive vote from enough conservative and liberal Democrats while counting on enough moderates and liberals to go fishing to take a majority. In this complicated geometry, the election could be extremely close. Tower this week visited Pres. Eisenhower in Gettysburg. The two men talked an hour and participated in a filmed interview to be tiset.i on Texas television hi the f:nal week of the campaign. Tower said Eisenhower had suggested “that I keep working, which I’m going to do.” In Austin, bigwigs of the state Democratic Party convened for a session of the state executive committee to pay their tributes to Blakley. Three of Blakley’s first round opponents, Jim Wright, Will Wilson, and Henry Gonzalez, participated \(Maury Maverick Jr. said he would make an announcePrice Daniel, Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey, Speaker James Turman, national committee members Byron Skelton and Mrs. Hilda Weinert; and members of the legislature. State chairman J. Ed Connally of Abilene gave a reception, and an evening rally was carried on statewide television. Daniel praised Blakley “not only because he is a Democrat but because he is the best man with the most experience and prestige in this race. No new senator has ever gone to Washington with any higher esteem . . .” Organized labor dealt a blow, though not a surprising one, to the Blakley cause by announcing a “hands-off” policy. In the most recent issue of the AFL-CIO News, Hank Brown wrote, “I know of no reason why any member of organized labor should get excited about expressing his preference when forced to choose between arsenic and blowing his brains out.” The Harris County Council of Organizations, composed of representatives of 70 Negro groups, endorsed Blakley after a controversial session. Congs. Bob Casey and Albert Thomas of Houston also announced their support. Sen. Ralph Yarborough continues to keep his silence, Although he has been under much partisan pressure to endorse his 1958 rival, he has not taken a stand. Negro Boy’s Fight against the Chair