Page 6


ODE OF EMISFAIR The Texas Observer SEPT. 30 1966 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c The Politics of HemisFair- And of San Antonio San Antonio HemisFair is what the president of San Antonio’s chamber of commerce has milk, “this great excitement.” But so far this bilingual city’s 1968 international exposition, “a half-world’s fair,” has caused more of the kind of excitement that terrifies ‘the city’s businessmen than the kind that delights them. They stand to lose all or part of the $7.5 million for which they have underwritten the fair in case it doesn’t wind up in the black; they can fill fat treasure-pots with the long green if all ,goes well. On the verge of ‘becoming either civic patsies of commercial conquistadores, they are quick to anger and quick to compromise, rash and ‘suddenly politic. HemisFair can make or break many of them. Therefore, HemisFair has entwined itself all through the jungle of Texas ‘politics, whose elected practitioners know the private political meanings of public events and can foretell next year’s lists of campaign contributions from this year’s ‘snarlups and alignments. HemisFair’s exotic and colorful facade has been ‘splattered again and again this year with charges of conflicts of interests, questions about the proper uses of public funds, political guerilla warfare, and even, in the Senate foreign relations committee, resentment of President Lyndon Johnson. It takes a program far more candid than HemisFair’s artistic brochures to follow the game. Unless the bill to provide some U.S. millions to build a federal pavilion and give the stamp of official governmental approval to the fair founders in the next few weeks, which ‘it is not now likely to do, the six-month fair will be held. Most of the 92 acre tract at the edge of downtown San Antonio has been ‘cleared ; construction of the $10 million civic center is well under way, and half a dozen of the “modules,” 3,000-square foot sheds for the fair’s exhabits, have been completed. Firm commitments to sponsor exhibits have been made by Texas, seven nations \(Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, and Pearl Beer, General Electric, Coca Cola, Humble Oil, 30 nations and 37 companies expected eventually. The contractors have ‘agreed to pay union scale wages to all employees