Page 1


Dialogue Un-American Question There are people in Austin and elsewhere in Texas who have the audacity to ask public employees, particularly librarians and teachers, and belligerently at that, “Are you a a Christian?” Any such question is in bad taste, un-American and unconstitutional. The constitution of the state of Texas states specifically : “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State . . .” States has the same provision. Consequently those officials who appoint public employees may not ask applicants such a question, and it is presumptuous on the part of a citizen to do so. One employee so questioned replied honestly, “No, I’m a Jew.” One may answer politely, “Please speak to the supervisor about that.” One’s opinions on religion and politics are purely private matters which he may voluntarily reveal to whomsoever he pleases or to no one. It is for this reason that the constitutions of the state and the nation are specific on religious tests and that we have the secret ballot. William E. Roth, P. 0. Box 3161, Austin 4, Tex.; secretary, Austin chapter, American Humanists’ Assn. Editor and General Manager, Ronnie Dugger. Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. Business Manager, Sarah Payne. Contributing Editors, Bill Brammer, Chandler Davidson, Larry Goodwmn, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Willie Morris, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shattuck, Bob Sherrill, Dan Strawn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. Contributing. Photographer, Russell Lee. Subscription Representatives: Amarillo, Mrs. Imogene Williams, Rte. 3, Panhandle \(Williams Austin, Mrs. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos, HO 5-1805; Dallas, Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; Fort Worth, Mrs. Jesse Baker, 3212 Greene St., WA 7-2959; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Lubbock, Doris Blaisdell, 2515 24th St.; San Antonio, Mrs. Mae B. Tuggle, 531 Elmhurst, TA 2-7154. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but Austin The House of Representatives is sickly this year. The liberals are splinting, falling back to tasks that do not exhaust them, and the junior executives are grey-going errandboys, belonging and obeying. There is none of that democratic play, the sense of the argument that might persuade and the outcome that is in doubt, which gives legislative drudgery its tang. Everything is settled. One need only look to the record for the evidenceeven though the session reaches its mid-point this week and next week starts in earnest the business of passing important laws. Except for passing a Padre Island national seashore bill seriously qualified by reserved powers, all the House has done of much importance so far phur by as much as $1 million in 1964 much less strictly regulated access to the shell reefs \(where the good at which . they can take the shell, so that it cannot be increased. The liberals did not even call for a vote on the sulphur tax \(it fell to Rep. John Allen, Longview, chairman of state affairs, to say to the Observer that he had voted against the cut, not because it was necessarily unjust, but because the only way he could see to get the make-up money would be to raise college tuition, “which hits all not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. The Observer solicits articles, essays, and creative work of the shorter forms having to do in various ways with this area. The pay depends; at present it is token. Please enclose return postage. Unsigned articles are the editor’s. The Observer is published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd., biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Re-entry application pending. Delivered postage prepaid $5.10 a year for subscribers living for subscribers living elsewhere in the U.S. Foreign rates on ‘request. Single copies, 25c; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk orders, on request. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin 5, Texas. Telephone GR 7-0746. Change of Address: Please give old and new addresses and allow three weeks. the people,” or abolish the clothing exemption in the sales tax, “which ord vote, 75-66, on final House passage of the oyster-shell bill. Compare what the House has done with what it hasn’t. Deposited in unfriendly subcommittees you will find every major piece of worthwhile legislation in the Housepermanent voter registration, the minimum wage and fair employment practices, loan shark reform, industrial safety, political rights for college teachers . . . why give the full list? There are no exceptions. VVHEN the business lobby saw that the Texas Senate, which they had controlled through Ben Ramsey and a “team” of senators, was becoming a relatively democratic body in spite of their best efforts, they turned their attention to the House elections and particularly to the election of Byron Tunnell of Tyler as the House speaker. Such lobbyists as Floyd Bradshaw of “the smallsmall lenders” and Harry Whitworth of chemicals worked throughout last year getting members pledged to Tunnell before and after their elections. Pledging Tunnell became a House candidate’s “open sesame” to the political bank vaults of business. Tunnell’s election was only the obvious part of the lobbyists’ new program. As Larry Goodwyn writes in the Democratic coalition’s newsletter, they saw that the continuing defections of conservative Democrats to the Republicans threatened them with liberal statewide officeholders. Their solution has been to padlock the office of House speaker for the conservatives, turning the House into their new control post in state government through Tunnell and his team, led by Rep. W. S. Heatly of Paducah, the appropriations chairman, and Rep. Ben Barnes of DeLeon, the chairman of rules. The first step. was to abandon the new rules that gave House members more power over the affairs of the House and the speaker less. This was done in the opening days. But the second step was the shocker: Tunnell let it be known, before any major bills had been considered and while the members’ local bills and appropriations were still extremely vulnerable THE TEXAS OBSERVER An Independent Fortnightly Vol. 55, No. 7 709110 March 7, 1963