Of Political Pros and Amateurs Dallas When Dallas county rejected bonds for the new Dallas-Fort Worth regional airport a few months ago, it looked like disaster for the city’s future development and certain death for its established hierarchy of citizen volunteers. Political pros on all sides drew deeply on their cigars and looked forward to the final agony of the amateurs at City Hall. The airport bond election had been routine. Officials had feigned concern, but everyone had assumed it would pass. The city of Dallas said “yes,” but enough other country towns said “no” to defeat the issue and humiliate the leadership. To add to their mortification, Fort Worth approved the airport and proposed plans to go it alone if Dallas declined to participate. The Dallas county voters seemed to have forgotten that the Civil Aeronautics Board had ordered Dallas and Fort Worth to pool their efforts on a new joint regional airport. Many Dallasites were stuck on the memory of Mayor \(now Congress. of several years before to preserve Love Field against the encroachment of Fort Worth’s Amon Carter. They refused to quit the struggle, though the CAB ruling had resolved it long since. Then, too, there had been some confusion about taxes. Enabling legislation had been passed in Austin providing for up to 75 cents per $100 valuation, when actually much less than this would be required. The people were uncertain and suspicious. Furthermore there had been too many conflicting reports on the financial feasibility of the project. Jim Lehrer of the Dallas Times Herald explained after the election that the airport simply didn’t fit into the average man’s concept of “the good life.” He was concerned with getting to Lake Tawakoni, not to Hong Hong. Let the guys who use the planes for business trips and fancy vacations pay for the runways. The notion, so clear to the leadership, that an up-to-date airport meant a more modern, prosperous economy with better jobs and higher pay for everyone, eluded the average man, Lehrer said. It wasn’t understood, as Lehrer put it, that both Tawakoni and Hong Hong were important to the future of all Dallasites. Mrs. Clark enjoys an unusual vantage point from which to observe Dallas public affairs; she is the wife of State Rep. Jim Clark and the daughter of Charles Cullum, a Dallas councilman. She attended Sweet Briar College in Virginia one year, earned a social sciences degree from SMU, and studied for six months at the Sorbonne in Paris. She now divides her time among an eleven-month-old son, volunteer work at the Dallas Art Museum, decorating a new home, collecting art, her husband’s politics, and studying French. The city fathers’ warning that Dallas was losing ground to Houston or Kansas City or Atlanta failed to interfere with many people’s peace of mind. In fact, peace seemed to be just exactly what they Lee Clark wanted . . . peace . . . with no more Vietnams, no more wars on poverty, no more riots, no more airports and no more taxes. The oligarchy had already lost another significant battle earlier in the year, when the rival League for Educational Advancement in Dallas had elected Dr. Marvin Berkeley and Dr. Emmett Conrad to the School Board over the candidates of the established Committee for Good Schools. This election, it developed, did not mean the demise of Downtown Leadership, as many supposed. Rather, it meant a slap at School Superintendent W. T. White’s hold-the-line policies in education. The School Board had been infiltrated by alien PhD’s. The airport had been shelved by stay-at-homes. The establishment had not felt so threatened since liberal Councilwoman Elizabeth Blessing had challenged Erik Jonsson for the mayoralty two years ago. THE AIRPORT was not the only question. Mayor Jonsson and the City Council had spent months putting together a bond program that could justifiably be called the most imaginative, certainly the most ambitious, in the history of Dallas. It had the usual improvements for fire and flood protection, libraries, streets, sewers, and waterworks. But more important, it offered the first significant program for neighborhood redevelopment of the city’s Negro slums in South Dallas, using both local and federal funds. Renovation of Fair Park was a major part of the bond issue. \(Clint Murchison, Jr., had been sparring publicly with the mayor for months over the question of a stadium for his professional football team, the Cowboys. Murchison demanded a new stadium dowtown. Mayor Jonsson insisted on redoing the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park, and added the project to the bond issue. That closed the discussion, The real obsession of Mayor Jonsson had come to be the Municipal Civic Center, an impressive layout with new city hall, park plaza, fountain and, someday, a theatre and library. Philip Johnson, Gordon Bunshaft, Yamasaki, and I. M. Pei, among others, had vied for the job \( something new in Dallas, where allegiance to provincial ideas has kept public commission and skillfully presented his concept to the city last spring. Now the Mayor had to raise the money. The Chamber of Commerce, with the urging of certain downtown merchants, had insisted on expanding Memorial Auditorium for convention purposes. This seemed unnecessary, since plans were already laid to accommodate conventions privately in the Trade Mart district. Nonetheless, the downtowners prevailed, and what many felt was the only piece of fat was added to the program. BUT WHAT TO do now, with the airport bonds? The airport was the city’s most crucial business. One way or another, it had to get underway. There then hold another county-wide election or The leadership favored the second course, but where did that leave the bond program? At first, it seemed sensible to push the airport and let all the ‘other considerations go. Finally, in a great stroke of audacity, they decided to add the airport to the bond program and offer the whole $175 million package to the city. Liberals, labor leaders, legislators, precinct chairmen, and assorted dissidents, still smarting from past slights, braced up to receive the Oligarchs. They knew that this time the city fathers would have to ask their help. Would they give it? Well maybe, for a price. That price, it turned out, was not high, as they had threatened. It was, simply, a little recognition. The Mayor sent his liege lords out into the city to call on secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO Council, Gene Freeland; defeated liberal candidate for Democratic county chairman, Mike McKool; and liberal-labor State Sen. Oscar Mauzy, who had had the gall to get elected without their help. The business nobility had to endure some ugly words, full of spiteful accusations of past affronts, but they got what they went for. After the catharsis of cursing the Oligarchy, the outsiders agreed to come in and help. The city fathers contacted their old associates in the Negro community, the rival Reverends H. Rhett James and S. M. Wright, plus newcomers to elective power, Dr. Emmett Conrad and State Rep. Joe Lockridge, but found that they were not enough. Dallas’ Negro leadership is becoming increasingly diverse. Other voices, such as Capt. Charlie Smith’s of the Episcopal Church Army, are commanding attention. A. Maceo Smith seems to have a following. So does precinct chairman Mrs. Juanita Kraft. The Establishment is September 15, 1967
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