‘re! , 410,4, the bond vote to contact H.E.W. about the land. Although Thomas avowed that Butler had conscientiously strived to acquire a portion of the fish hatchery site for Palm School, he also insisted that at the time the Catholic Church and St. Jude’s became involved in the geriatrics deal \(that appears to be sometime between February and knew that many members of the chicano community wanted the site for a school. If Mr. Butler had been so conscientious, how was it that Thomas did not know about the conflict over the land? the Chicanos wondered. \(Erwin insisted at the Oct. 8 meeting that he had not heard from the parents about their interest in the land ERWIN TOLD THE parents that H.E.W. had no authority to do anything with the fish hatchery land at the time they petitioned because he has held the deed \(which includes a stipulation that the land be used exclusively for health and 1968. \(The Observer reported Nov. 21, 1969, that H.E.W. wrote to Erwin in October of 1969 and again on Nov. 6, 1969, demanding that the title to the land Erwin and others involved with the Geriatrics Center seemed to take the position during the meeting that the chicanos simply had not acted in time to get their chance at the land, but that opportunity never arose. On the Senate floor, Oct. 30, 1969, Senator Williams pointed out that the property was never screened for use by other federal agencies, despite the fact federal law requires such screening. A public hearing was never held to discuss the disposition of the land. Mrs. Buss of the Democratic Women’s Committee asked the Austin City Council on Sept. 26 of this year if it had any legal claim to the fish hatchery. She pointed out that the city gave the federal government the land 30 years ago. Councilman Jay Johnson told her that she was “beating a dead horse,” as the council long ago had found out that the city has no legal claim to the land. Councilman Stuart McCorkle disagreed. He said he had raised the question of ownership earlier and had received no satisfactory answer. Rather than requesting a legal opinion on the land, the city council went ahead and passed a formal resolution approving the project. The resolution was a requirement that had to be met before the government loan could be made final. Undisputed specifics about the A.G.C. are hard to come by. Erwin says he first became involved in the venture when the federal government approached the University of Texas in the fall of 1968 to see if the university was interested in building, with federal assistance, a research facility and home for the elderly poor. The university was interested, but the Texas Constitution prohibits any state entity from going into debt, so the university was unable to sign a note for any portion of the Center’s expenses. “At that point,” Erwin said at the Oct. 8 meeting, “it was decided that a private agency should be designed to execute the notes. Because of my relationship to the University of Texas, I was named president of the corporation.” The non-profit Austin Geriatrics Center, Inc., was set up. Butler said at a Sept. 28 school board session that he was not involved in a conflict of interest because A.G.C. was being dissolved and turned over to the Catholic Church. At the Oct.: 8 meeting, however, no mention was made of the possibility of dissolving the Geriatrics Center. THE CHURCH MAY have become .involved because of the criticisms some federal officials had of the A.G.C. administration first time around. After Senator Williams raised a stink about the alleged “land grab,” the federal government reinvestigated the Center. On Jan. 14, 1969, Samuel J. Dick, a government contracting officer submitted a critical report raising a number of questions about A.G.C.’s ability to do what it was under contract to do. He pointed out, among other things, that the Center had no other assets than the property deeded to it by the federal government. \(This seems curious since in the deed A.G.C. directors had sworn that they were “ready, willing, and able . . . to pay all external administrative expenses incident to the transfer of said property, to assume the expense of commencing and operating the proposed program, and to assume immediate care and maintenance thereof , Dick also said that the A.G.C. did not have an administrative staff or employees, that it did not have an adequate accounting system or controls to administer a government contract, that it did not have the financial capacity or other resources to perform the contract, and that it had not demonstrated the ability to obtain such financing. The Health Services and Mental Health Administration recommended on Jan. 15, 1969, that the contract not be awarded to the Texas group. The contract was signed over the unfavorable recommendation. Subsequently, the Catholic Church was brought into the deal. In a diocesan newsletter Bishop Reicher reportedly said that L.B.J. had asked him to help the Center by providing a source of beginning operating funds. The bishop apparently officially became involved during an A.G.C. board meeting in April, 1969. A.G.C. representatives at the Oct. 8 meeting explained that the Bishop, in addition to providing operating funds had been asked to furnish management of the Center, because he has been involved in the management of a number of Catholic homes and hospitals for the elderly. Neither Reicher nor the Catholic Church, however, is mentioned in the deed or the articles of incorporation or in any amentments to the deed or articles of incorporation. Their involvement appears to be purely unofficial. Jorge Guerra, a member of the parents’ group, commented at the Oct. 8 meeting that he thought if Bishop Reicher had known there was not enough land for both the Geriatrics Center and Palm School, he might not have gotten involved with the Center. The elderly Reicher, who was present at the meeting, never spoke in his own behalf, except to say that any funds spent would be from one of his personal October 30, 1970 13
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