IT APPEARS clear that federal agencies, given the change in administrations in Washington now do not want to go through with the Austin project. The method of recovering the property from the Erwin group lies in the Austin group’s failure to get a tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, a step that was a prerequisite for the whole deal. HEW has written Erwin twice demanding that the title to the land be returned. The agency wrote him first in October, then again on Nov. 6. At last word Erwin had replied to neither. Earlier this week it was announced that Erwin plans to get the tax-exempt status from IRS and to proceed with the deal. Last week HEW people in Washington had heard conflicting reports: that Erwin was going to surrender the deed or that he would go to court, if necessary, to get the tax exemption from IRS. HEW in its letters has promised to go to court itself if Erwin does not surrender the deed to Washington. “If we do not hear from you immediately,” an, HEW official wrote Erwin in the Nov. 6 letter, “we will refer this matter to the Dept. of Justice for any action which may be necessary to protect the interest of the United States.” A spokesman for HUD told the AP that FHA commitments for the project have never resulted in transfers of funds. The spokesman added that the “project is dormant.” LAST SPRING the Legislature passed a bill that would exempt AGC from paying state or local taxes. The measure was carried by Don Cavness of Austin in the House and Ralph Hall of Rockwall in the Senate. Normally, local bills are carried by the senator or representative whose district the bill would affect; why Austin Sen. Charles Herring didn’t carry the bill is a minor mystery. Herring says he wasn’t asked to introduce the bill and, besides, he says, as. written, the law could pertain to more than just AGC’s proposed geriatrics Brannin Next Time Carl Brannin’s observations on his recent tour of Cuba will be resumed in the next issue. Space limitations precluded their publication this issue. Ed. set-up. But often local bills are written in terms that could apply elsewhere, and another senator tells the Observer he recalls Senator Hall, in explaining the bill to a Senate committee, referring to it as a one-shot, local bill, affecting only the AGC. It was rumored earlier this year that Erwin and Herring were not on good terms; that, in fact, Herring was considering invoking senatorial courtesy to block Erwin’s reappointment to the UT board of regents. A senator in whose district a gubernatorial appointee resides has, under the time-honored practice of senatorial courtesy, the right singlehandedly to block an appointment. Herring did not do so in the case of Erwin. In any case, the question of why Herring did not carry the AGC bill in the Senate is, in light of recent developments, of some interest but evidently of no significance. Leaders of Austin’s Model Cities and park and recreation programs have in recent months expressed dismay about the Erwin group’s acquisition of the land. People interested in acquiring the tract for recreation use once the federal government abandoned the hatchery explained their hopes in detail to Johnson’s secretary of the interior, Stuart Udall, in 1968, when Udall was in Austin. Evidently Udall was uninterested in the plans for a city park on the tract, or unable or unwilling to try to stop President Johnson and his friends from their plans for a geriatrics center. Austin parks director Beverly Sheffield says the city’s Town Lake master plan portrays the AGC land as a park. “We thought it possible the land would become a city park until this [AGC] deal arose .. . I think the day will come when every bit of this land will be needed for open space.” So the matter rests. If Erwin does carry through on trying to keep the project alive, he will be facing a tough fight. Clearly, the Nixon administration does not want the AGC deal to go through. Erwin’s best hope at this point is to prove in court that IRS was arbitrary in not providing the necessary nonprofit certification. This appears to have been the stumbling block in the project on which construction was to have been begun early in 1969. Some people here believe he will let the public discussion of the matter die down, then quietly run up the white flag, believing he and his associates cannot prevail over an unfriendly administration in Washington. G.O. Silber Replies to Sullivan Austin John Silber, dean of the college of arts and sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the principals in the Caroline affair, declined the Observer’s invitation to write a reply to John Sullivan’s discussion of the controversy. He said his ox was being gored, and he was not inclined so to come forward in rejoinder against Sullivan. The Observer asked him if he would discuss the article and the affair in an interview, and to this he agreed. The affair began when Caroline said in a public speech in October, 1967, that a revolution is needed in America and that the whole bloody mess of the American way of life has to go. Silber said that through January, 1968, he was defending Caroline against demands that he be fired. It was Silber’s position that the speech was intellectually irresponsible and incompetent, but not sufficient grounds for turning away from Caroline as an 6 The Texas Observer academic person. Only Caroline’s conduct after that Jaunary convinced Silber that Caroline’s two-year, probationary contract should not be renewed a year and a half later, in June, 1969, the dean said. That spring, the Texas Legislature was meeting, considering, along with its other business, the University of Texas appropriation. The Observer knows, from legislative sources, that Frank Erwin, Jr., chairman of the board of regents, had given assurances to certain legislators powerful in appropriations matters that if they would give UT appropriations which Erwin wanted, Caroline would not be around the university after June, 1968. This was the fact that conditioned whatever was going on behind the doors of the regents’ closed meetings while the Caroline case was being fought out publicly. Sullivan’s conclusion about the case is that “Everyone seems to have acted in accordance with their principles and conscience, and yet Caroline was somehow railroaded, if only procedurally. What seems clear is that if Caroline’s [October, 1967] speech had never been given, the intolerably searching scrutiny of his place in the department would probably not have been made . . .” “What I don’t understand,” Silber said, “is why Caroline expected praise or approbation for the kind of stuff he put out. I didn’t expect that in the Barbara Smith case [in which Silber fought discrimination against a black student in a university function] . If you want to state you’re for revolution, you better expect to become controversial. If you don’t, it’s colossal naivete and childishness, or simply bad faith.” Also, Silber said, “Frank Erwin made damn good sense when he said that he, too, had a right of free speech, and if he wanted to say Caroline ought to be fired, he had a right to.” The Observer asked Silber, “Would you have refused to renew Caroline’s contract in the absence of political and Erwin
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