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THE OBSERVER IS SOLD AT THESE NEWSSTANDS .. . Austin Garner & Smith 2116 Guadalupe Hemphill’s 2244 Guadalupe Miller’s 132 West 6th Travis Bookshop 2405 Nueces Alamo News 620 Congress Alamo News-UT 407 W. 24th University Co-op 224.6 Guadalupe Dallas Newsland 1629 Elm Cambridge, Mass. Out-of-Town News 1430 Massachusetts San Marcos Colloquium Books 326 North LBJ Denton Fultz News Agency 114 N. Locust Houston World News Stand 1208 Texas Malone’s News Stand 918 Texas South Main Book Store 6624 Main Guy’s News Stand 3622 Main Underground Railroad 810 Preston San Antonio Little Ned’s Renaissance 427 N. St. Mary’s Globe News Stand 204 E. Houston Newsland 303 N. St. Mary’s Fort Worth Book Oasis 622 Seminary Drive So. TCU Pharmacy 3001 So. University Amarillo Brown’s House of Books 115 West 7th . . . if you know of other potential outlets let us . . . and them . . know of the demand for THE TEXAS OBSERVER Open Housing in Austin Austin Austin citizens are engaged in an emotional battle over the city’s newly passed fair housing ordinance, the first to be approved by a Texas city. A coalition of realtorg, home builders, and apartment owners are attempting to repeal the ordinance by bringing it up for a city referendum where voters might turn it down. The group says it prefers voluntary compliance with anti-discrimination guidelines rather than what it calls the “forced housing ordinance.” The ordinance, which is similar to the federal housing law, will go into effect May 27 unless its opponents can gather before then the signatures of 9,000 qualified voters who want a referendum. The o -dinance was passed on final reading May 17 with Mayor Harry Akin, Mayor Pro Tern Emma Long, and Councilman Dick Nichols providing a favorable majority. Councilmen Travis LaRue and Ralph Janes opposed the ordinance. In a packed council room before the final reading, Nichols, a real estate operator, 10 The Texas Observer criticized some members of the board of realtors. “Nelson Puett [a realtor] and Hub Bechtol [president of the board] and others took it on themselves to call clients of mine to put me in an economic bind so I would have to vote against this,” he said. Looking at Charles Babb, the realtors’ attorney, Nichols said, “I’ll see you and Hub and anybody else in hell before I’ll change my mind on this.” The realtors and homebuilders in turn criticized Mayor Pro Tern Emma Long for exerting pressure on them by threatening to reevaluate the generous refund contract system enjoyed by home builders in Austin. Under the system, the city reimburses subdividers and land developers for water and sewer lines the developers put in new subdivisions. The refunds go up to 90 per cent of the original cost of installation. Austin “no longer can afford to subsidize home builders if they have this kind of attitude,” Mrs. Long said. The Austin ordinance carries a $200 penalty for racial, religious, or ethnic discrimination in the sale or rental of housing by real estate brokers and agents, Bechtol requested a minimum $50 donation from every realtor for the campaign. The board has about 200 voting members and more than 250 associate members including real estate salesmen, bankers, and builders. In addition to advertisements, the board is keeping its office open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to take signatures on the petition and to answer calls concerning the ordinance. As the Observer went to press, the petition had signatures. K.N. builders, and apartment owners. The federal law carries a maximum fine of $1,000 for punitive damages plus actual damages. Complaints of discrimination would be filed with the director of the Austin human relations commission who would investigate the complaints and attempt to bring about a conciliation if he thought the complaint valid. If necessary, the director would refer the matter to the cornmission which would hold a public hearing. If a majority of the 25-member commission felt the complaint valid, it would be obligated to attempt to bring about voluntary compliance by “persuasion, education, and entreaty.” As a last resort the city attorney might file suit in corporation court against the alleged discriminator. The realtors and home builders placed large advertisements in the Austin American-Statesman and bought television time asking for signatures on the petition. On first reading the ordinance covered all housing, and advertisements charged “this ordinance can make criminals out of God-fearing, law abiding, tax paying homeowners. If you believe in democracy and the right of the people to the freedom of the ballot-box, write or call, in care of City Hall, Mayor Harry Akin, Mayor Pro Tern Emma Long, or Councilman Dick Nichols.” Before the second reading, Mayor Akin commented in a written statement on the advertisement, “this intemperate and deliberately misleading ad, intended not so much to influence the city council, but to arouse the emotions of the people, is most regrettable, It does, however, demonstrate the length to which some free enterprisers will go when they feel that their selfish personal interests and prerogatives are being threatened.” Bowing to emotional calls from home owners, the council amended the ordinance to exempt home owners who sell their property without the aid of real estate agents or brokers. Ironically, the amended ordinance increases the pressure on realtors, home builders, and apartment managers since they can be fined for discrimination while home owners who sell on their own cannot. After the ordinance was amended, advertisements urged Austinites, “Don’t let your ‘straw vote’ be cut off. Show the city council what People Power can do.”