rf .S A 4ADWR13aoK….oF lite Man Ci-u E3 AWCIN Cr, Alf Mount ‘Sadler’ erupts again! am deeply indebted for their confidence in me over the past 30 years.” The first five chapters in the booklet are entitled: “How the Treasures Got to Texas,” “A Missionary Prophesies Disaster,” “Wrecked on Padre Island,” “Flight to Mexico,” and “Salvage Operation Ordered.” These chapters detail the new familiar general history of the three galleons that sunk off the Texas . coast in the mid-sixteenth century. Then the rediscovery of the treasury and Sadler’s version of the role of his office and other agencies and persons in the treasury flap is told in chapters entitled, “Wreck Site Rediscovered,” “Commissioner Moves In,” “Treasures Returned to Texas,” and “Experts’ Verdict: A Major Find.’ ” We are told that “Commissioner Jerry Sadler of the General Land Office began to investigate reports of this [salvage activity in 1967] . When he had established the magnitude of the find, it then remained for some authority to try to determine what claim if any the State of Texas might have to the treasures. “As we shall see by later developments, the authority was Commissioner Sadler himself. … The commissioner took immediate and positive steps to move into the picture as guardian of the interests of Texas and its school children in the discovery.” The Sadler book cites the Texas law that gives the land commissioner control of Texas public lands, including the tidelands that extend 10.35 miles out into the gulf. However, no mention is made of the fact that Sadler lacks legal authority to execute 6 The Texas Observer The Houston Post a contract for recovery of treasure. Nor is there mention of another Texas statute, the one that specifically exempts gold and silver found on public lands from the land commissioner’s control. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Sadler, when the press and public began asking about the contract he said he had with Platoro, Ltd., thereupon said he had no such contract. The contract matter is discussed in the “Before the last of the treasures were finally released by the Indiana firm [Platoro] and returned to Texas, terms of a contract had been worked out to the satisfaction of the company. Its officers had signed it and sent copies to the commissioner for his consideration. The first such contract was received on December 20, 1968. About three weeks later a correction was made and still later, after the charter Was approved and issued by the secretary of state, another correction was made to include the new name. This final contract was received at the General Land Office on March 28, 1969. But it never became effective because the commissioner never has finally approved and signed it. “He did, however, accomplish the task he had tackled back when he first learned of the salvage operation: He had returned the treasures to Texas. Even up to the present time he still is the only member of Texas officialdom who has made any effort to do so. Except for his efforts, which have succeeded, the entire lot of these artifacts which form a concrete physical link with the earliest recorded history of our state would have been lost for all time,” the Sadler booklet says. AUSTIN NEWSMEN got onto the trail of the Sadler book when Dallas News columnist Frank Tolbert wrote about it on Jan. 10, saying that he would “urge every inhabitant of the province to get a copy.” Some newsmen here, wondering how Tolbert had seen the not-yet-released book, suspect that Tolbert, who is a friend of Sadler’s, helped write the book. On Jan. 12 the Austin American-Statesman’s George Kuempel phoned Sadler. The commissioner told Kuempel that it was being printed at Sadler’s own expense and that copies were not yet available because “I’m not ready for it to be prostituted yet” by the Capitol press. Then on Jan. 22 Kuempel’s sidekick on the American-Statesman staff, Castlebury, was tipped by an employee of Sadler’s that the booklet was being prepared in the basement of the Land Office. Kuempel on the way to investigate invited the Houston Post’s Bonavita to accompany him. In the Land Office basement, there joined by an American-Statesman photographer, David Scott, the newsmen found a door marked “No Admittance.” They went inside and found three women gathering the printed pages of the book, preparatory to binding and trimming. The women told the reporters that no one was supposed to be in the room without permission. They then made a phone call that summoned David Reeves, director of the research section. Reeves said Sadler was on the third floor and invited the newsmen to accompany him. Finding Sadler in a meeting the reporters went back down to the basement, without Reeves. The women workers seemed to be amused by the stir. One of them took a phone call, hung up, and said they had been ordered to lock the door of the office where they were working. “OK,” Bonavita said, grinning, he then walked over and locked himself, Castlebury, and Scott in the restricted area, to the general amusement of the room’s six occupants. Sadler evidently is not uniformly popular among his employees; several Land Office workers have come forward anonymously to offer tips to Austin newsmen about the operations of the agency. Further, one hears of some Land Office workers quickly and surreptitiously flashing the v-fingered “peace” sign to each other as they pass in the hallways of the Land Office these days. A SHORT WHILE later the reporters went up to Sadler’s office to see if he was then available. Finding Sadler in his office the two reporters began asking him questions about the booklet while Scott took photos of the commissioner. Suddenly Sadler moved towards Scott, exclaiming, “I didn’t tell you to take no pictures.” He grabbed Scott’s camera with one hand, shoving against the lens to push the camera into Scott’s face. With the other hand he grabbed Scott’s neck, an
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