hoods,” the report said, Carr’s office entered protests before ICC against railroads’ abandonment of railway trackage. The labor desk, he said, has one lawyer, Ed Moffett, with a labor background, organizing for a chemical union, and another, Bob Norris, with a business background. “Now labor coming in knows somebody is there who knows the problems and has a place to go,” Carr said. After reading from the report on the work of the labor desk, he laid it down on his own desk and said, “I don’t know how management will like that, but .that’s our record, anyway.” In his report to the legislature last year, Carr said his office, his first two years, had broken “record after record in the number of lawsuits tried, disposed of, and money recovered for the state.” He said 7,701 lawsuits had been disposed of, more than during the five years before 1963; $6.6 million recovered for the state against the department’s costs of $2.7 million, or almost $3 returned for every $1 spent ; legal opinions released on the averagg 25 days after the receipt of the requests for them, compared to a 57-day wait the last year of Wilson’s administration. Of the 7,701 cases disposed of, he said, his office had won 6,103, lost 207, and settled 1,391. 67 The last audit of the attorney general’s department was dated the fall of 1963, and another is past due. Charles Davis, who is the man in the state auditor’s office in charge of it, says it will be ready “within the next two or three months, I expect.” The Courthouse Door Some of the most interesting of Carr’s activities as attorney general have been little publicized. The Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative of Gilmer had, in 1963, completed’ plans and let contracts for a $9 million electric power generating plant adjacent to the Lake of the Pines. Demand for the power was not expected to take it all up the first few years, and plans had been made to interconnect with the Southwest Power Administration, a marketing agency of federal hydroelectric dams, and exchange power with them, according to J. L. Johns, the co-op manager, in a telephone interview with the Observer. Carr, as the state’s lawyer, went into a district court in Austin and asked that the co-op be prevented from building the plant. He did this on behalf of Southwestern Electric Power Co. of Shreveport, a private power company that serves in East Texas, west Arkansas, and northwest LOuisiana. \(A Chicago holding company, Central and Southwest Corp., owns the Shreveport company, as well as Central Power and Light Co. of Corpus Christi and West Texas Utilities in Abilene, according to J. R. Cobb, general manager of Texas Electric CoWhen the lawsuit was filed in 1963, Asst. Atty. Gen. Stanton Stone told, the 8 The Texas Observer AP in Austin that Carr believes the dispute between the co-op and the private utility “should be decided by the courts and the only way Southwestern [Electric Power Co.] can bring suit is through the attorney general.” The suit asked that the court prevent Upshur from exchanging power with the U.S. Southwestern Power Administration. Carr’s petition alleged that Upshur was operating in violation of a Texas law prohibiting electric co-ops from competing with established companies. 68 Speaking of _the attorney general, Cobb told the Observer, “He said he just opened the courthouse doors. What he actually did was file’ suit against us. . . . He said the attorney general was the only one that could legitimately bring the suit, that the power company couldn’t because it was not being injured” in the terms of the law, Cobb said. The attorney general’s office did not “actively pursue the case as a partici pant,” assigning a lawyer to observe merely, and “I think Waggoner handled it [the case] himself,” Cobb said. “The effect was, you might say, it killed our generating plant,” Johns said from Gilmer. The co-op believed it lost the lower court ruling, and the ruling at the first appeal level was not clear ; the case was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. “The power company came in and made offers to stop the law suit,” offers to sell power to the co-op at rates about as low as the co-op could have had by building the plant, and the co-op accepted and dropped the litigation, Johns said. It got so that they were risking the loss of more than they could gain; Johns said. Specifically, other co-ops in Texas exchange power with the federal government, and the Upshur co-op feared the lawsuit was endangering this. “Of course,” Johns said, “this was called to Carr’s attention before he filed the lawsuit. We had several conferences and tried to talk it out. He was just opening the courthouse door so the power company could go in, but anyway he held the key to the courthouse.” To the point that other co-ops’ power exchange arrangements might be jeopardized, “His [Carr’s] only answer was that there wasn’t anybody complaining.. So you can draw your own conclusions that you have to complain to Mr. Carr before he’ll open the courthouse door,” Johns said. “I knew there was the difficult feeling on this,” Carr told the Observer. If there ‘had been any other way for either party to get ‘the dispute into the courthouse, he said, he wouldn’t have filed the suit, but he had believed they had “a legitimate fuss” and deserved “their day in court.” WHEN the Federal Power Cmsn. last August ruled that gas prices in the Permian Basin had to be lower, on the basis of a dual-price system, than producers and Texas officials had urged, Carr said, “This decision is a bitter disappointment to Texas and it dramatically illustrates the damage to Texas that can be expected from a consumer-state oriented commission.” 69 The gas consumer states, he has also said, are now studying gas prices on the Gulf Coast and in East Texas, and “What disturbs us is that [they may] recommend lower prices in each case.” 7 In November Carr joined, on behalf of the state, a producers’ suit in a federal court in Denver that has the object of invalidating the FPC Permian Basin ruling. Carr alleged that the lower prices would discourage future gas exploration in West Texas and New Mexico, that Texas would lose considerable tax revenue because of the lower prices, and that Texas producers would have to refund $33.6 million to outof-state consumers under the FPC order. Of this $33.6 Million his petition said, “This money could be used for exploration drilling for new reserves so badly needed for the nation’s continued growth as well as national defense.” 7′ In San Angelo last month Carr said the ruling could cost the state $1.4 million a year in taxes, plus lost royalties on gas produced on state land.” Carr’s predecessor, Will Wilson, filed 365 suits accusing small lenders of usury in December, 1958, and had obtained about 200 injunctions against small lenders when he left office, leaving 150 or so, pending cases.” What has happened to these? Howard Fender, chief of the enforcement division under Carr, told the Observer, “We’ve cut that down to about 75. Frankly the ones that are left are nothing but dogs . . . the companies gone out of existence, no idea who was running them. As the court set ’em down for dismissal for lack of prosecution, we just let ’em go. We did push about 50 to conclusion, and got injunctions against the business entity [involved].” When Houston oilman O.J. McCullough built an earth dam across the San Jacinto River at his ranch in Montgomery County, down-stream owners objected, and the attorney general sued McCullough to remove the dam, asking $3,900 penalities. McCullough agreed to remove the dam and to pay a $500 fine. 74 The School -Bus Case In August, 1961, Wilson filed a blockbuster of an anti-trust suit, alleging that 16 Texas school bus companies and individuals had rigged prices and bids on school buses bought by the state. Most Texas school districts are required to buy their school buses through the Board of Control. Wilson’s petition in Judge D. B. Wood’s court in Georgetown charged that Ray Cowan of Austin, former assistant purchasing agent of the board in charge of buying the ‘buses, left the board, went into the bus-selling business, and became “the dominant figure and moving force” in the alleged conspiracy. Wilson said the companies and individuals split up the business among themselves, each company getting a percentage of the bus contracts; rigged bids; fixed and increased the prices; and agreed not to compete with each other. ‘He said this had gone on six years, since 1955, and that during that time the Board of Control had bought 5,100 buses for $23 million. He asked huge penalties$50 to $1500 a day per day of violation.” The figure $3.6
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.