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A Study Still Not Printed Two weeks before Bill Steven was fired, reporter Saul Friedman completed a series on Negroes in Houston which he had been researching from May through August. He was released from other work to do this study. He wandered throughout the city, stayed in Negro sections, visited with Negroes all over the city. The title of the last article was taken from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. “It takes slum landlords apart,” Friedman told the Observer before he left Houston for a job in Detroit. “It’s a study of Negro racial diplomats erstwhile Uncle Toms. . . . the city’s indifference and complacency . . . some of the real problems of the Negroes .. . the subsurface hates . . . the leadership’s philosophies from Black Muslums and functional Uncle Toms.” Steven, who recommended, as he left the paper, that the series be run, says of it, “It sings. It’s a beautiful job. I think it’s the kind of thing that would win a Pulitzer Prize. Maybe a Sidney Hillman. It’s a first-rate piece of work. It’s significant because it is a study in depth of 300,000 Negroes and attitudes toward them in the rest of the community. There’s been substantial progress; it’s a document of what ought to ‘have been done.” “My guess,” said Friedman, “is they won’t run it.” So far, he’s right. responsibility to banks or stockholders,” says Patman, who wants the new 20% stock limitation for foundations recommended by the Treasury Department dropped to 5%. Patman was putting on plenty of heat; then, on Feb. 2, 1965, the Treasury Department itself, in a report on private foundations, went to work with a blow-torch. In a section entitled “Foundation Involvement in Business,” the Treasury used as “Example 1” a foundation designated as “A” that many who know the facts assumed was Houston Endowment. “Concentrated largely in one city,” the report said, “these properties present an economic empire of substantial power and influence . . . The A foundation . . . received no dividends for either 1961 or 1962 from its newspaper corporation, its lumber company, or its real estate corporations, despite the fact that all those companies earned substantial profits during both years,” thus making it possible for the businesses to improve their “competitive posture” with businesses that are not tax-exempt. “Where a foundation becomes heavily involved in business activities,” said the Treasury report, “the charitable pursuits which constitute the real reason for its existence may be submerged by the pressures and demands of the commercial enterprise. The directors of a foundation which owns 26 widely diverse businesses [Foundation A] must of necessity devote a very considerable portion of their time and energies to the supervision of business affairs; and charity’s claim upon their attentions may well suffer. Business may become the end of the organization; charity, an insufficiently considered and mechanically accomplished afterthought.” ” . . . business participation is altogether inappropriate for private foundations,” said the Treasury. WHEN HOUSTON ENDOW-MENT fired Steven, making Collier the editor, it already had accepted John T. Jones’ resignation from the board. Jones had stepped down to avoid a charge of self-dealing when he bought from the Endowment the Chronicle’s radio and TV stations. Yet at that stage, while one could see wheels spinning within wheels, one could not yet anticipate in which direction the Endowment was going to chug off in. The papers didn’t help. The Chronicle didn’t mention Steven’s name; the Post ran no story at all. There followed a watchful period, during which Collier treaded lightly, although more conservatively, and the staff watched the sky for bolts from the blue. None came. Instead came Mecom. This man Mecom is the most successful of the second generation of independent oilmen. He treats his employees very well; that way, he has said, they’re loyal. He studied petroleum engineering, but didn’t finish the degree, turning instead to roughnecking in Liberty. With $750 borrowed from his mother he struck oil and was on his way. In October, 1964, Business Week said he “admits to an income of over $15 million a year. ‘And I could keep $10 million, but I don’t. I put it back into the business’.” His assets are said to be between $400 and $500 million, and he owns many businesses oilfield equipment manufacturers, a plastics company, two fishmeal plants in Latin-America, a drug store, a natural gas pipeline, a chemical company, a hotel chain. Time, in July, 1964, said he has 27 airplanes, a converted LST, three ocean-going tugs, a freighter, three cattle ranches, and a private zoo that contains lions, zebras, gazelles, and camels. He has allowed in print as how he also owns several race horses and has “on occasion bet on them.” Fortune, in June, 1957, gave the best insight into Mecom’s skill at his trade, the finding and producing of oil. In 1955, he brought in, with Sid . Richardson and Freeport Sulphur Co., a $2 million well in the Mississippi Delta at 22,570 feet. The other two were said to want to back out, and Mecom said he’d finish it alone if he had to, so they stayed in. He found a major oilfield in South Louisiana in 1951, and he discovered the High Island field. Mike Halbouty, the Houston independent, was quoted that Mecom disproved the theory that the best place to drill salt domes is close to the center of the caprock; Mecom drilled deep out from the flanks. The least all this means is that the Houton Chronicle is owned by a skilled business plunger who has vast holdings. Mecom has sunk millions into exploration in three Trucial State sheikhdoms, Dhofar, Yemen, and Jordan \(apparently as yet without sucColombia. But as to what it will finally mean, one would be rash to venture. Collier, the new editor, says, “I am the editor and as such determine the policies expressed.” Asked why James Reston had been appearing in the paper less frequently, Collier said, “Reston is one of my favorite columnists. If he hasn’t been appearing as often, it’s because he isn’t writing as often, or that he is writing on a duplicating subject. I am trying to build the editorial page around James Reston, Arthur Krock, Max Frankel, Russell Baker, William White, Max Freedman, Marianne Means.” In a perusal of two weeks’ editorial pages in the Chronicle in late February and early March, the Observer counted five columns by White; three each by Henry J. Taylor, C. L. Sulzberger, Raymond Moley, Les Carpenter, Marianne Means, Victor Reisel, and William Buckley; two each by James Reston, Max Freedman, and David Lawrence, and one or two by a scattering of other writers. The assistant editor continues to be John Emmerich, who had worked for Steven in Minneapolis and was brought in early last year on Steven’s recommendation. “When he came down, I was already canned. Of course they need him badly now,’! Steven said. Emmerich’s father owns the ‘McComb Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Miss., a paper that has won a Pulitzer for its policies in that town. The New York Times said late last year that Emmerich, as the editor of the editorial page, “is considered a liberal.” The Times also said Mecom is “a strong financial supporter of President Johnson” and “is considered to have a progressive record on civil rights.” Buying the Chronicle, Mecom was quoted as saying, “I like it.” When he was named president and publisher of the Chronicle in January, filling the vacancy created by John T. Jones’ resignation, there was a short story in the Chronicle about it. This story said Mecom announced that Frank E. Warren would stay on as executive vicepresident and general manager, and Collier as editor-in-chief. And, the story said, “Mecom said that basic present policies of the Chronicle will be maintained.” So what’s with the Chronicle? Bill Steven is gone from it, devoting his time now to World Book Encyclopedia Science Service, of which he is vice-president and editorial director. A more conservative editor, Everett Collier, is confirmed in place. John T. Jones has wound up with the Chronicle’s broadcasting business, but the Joneses are gone from the Chronicle itself. Houston Endowment has set the paper loose, and John Mecom, a Democrat on his way to becoming a ‘billionaire, has it. R.D. March 18, 1966 5