z Notes from a rookie city. The tax-rich suburbs and enclaves \(Alamo Heights in San Antonio, Highland their childrens’ schooling at the expense of the tax-poor central cities’ children. ONE SENSES, here, an emergent agreement among minorities that they want some preservation of their neighborhoods and their cultural authenticity, some autonomy over their local self-government. Integration, federal and state aid, metropolitan government and revenue-sharing have to be adjusted, as ideas and as programs, to this reality. In electoral-legislative priorities for minorities, nothing is much more urgent than “single-member districts” or a ward system to let them elect their own representatives. THE MOST practical applicable social idea in the currency here is the Coalition’s “national counter-budget,” a sharp new instrumentality for making all the prattle about “national priorities” real, understandable and political. The counter-budget idea is quite adaptable to Texas or any other state. The choices made within a public budget national, state or local are the effective values of public life, the decisions made and carried out on what the public money shall be spent on and they shall not be spent on. The National Urban Coalition contends that the federal budget has “just growed,” mostly be decisions made by a few in secrecy, with never an overall scrutiny or a full national debate. Exactly the same statements must be made about the Texas state budget. The N.U.C. has put together a counter-budget that proposes, for instance, a $20 billion cut in military spending and other cuts in farm, highway and business subsidies, releasing vast funds for national health insurance, housing subsidies for lowand moderate-income people, prison reform, modernization of the courts and other needs of the society. I can think of nothing healthier for the public life in Texas than an analogous citizens’ evaluation of the values that are in effect in state government, as these are specifically visible in the Legislature’s budget, and a declaration of the values that should be in effect. It would take work and careful study and thought for such a discussion to begin. That’s why it has not begun. Most reformers are satisfied by the righteousness that’s the easiest to come by. But if the AFL-CIO, the New Party, the Coalition for Honest Government, the Texas Classroom Teachers’ Assn., the Texas Assembly, even the Texas Research League, even the LBJ School of Public Affairs, would like to start a new debate in Texas that would be entirely as important as the tax debate, there it lies, The Budget, black on white, dry and heavy; the guts of government. R.D. Austin I have been covering the Texas Legislature for two whole months now Tapley, I feel there is much credit to be earned by being cheerful in such morbid circumstances. Again like Tapley, I’m frustrated because the worse things are, the more I relish ’em. Others look upon the state legislature and are sickened with disgust and pessimism. Me, I love it. Stronger men than I go reeling from the halls, vomiting with contempt for the venality and vulgarity they witness. I, muttering “Death to Herbert Gambrell’s toe!” and other great slogans, observe on, unappalled. All anyone needs to enjoy the state legislature is a strong stomach and a complete insensitivity to the needs of the People. As long as you don’t think about what that peculiar body should be doing and what it actually is doing to the quality of life in Texas, then it’s all marvelous fun. I am told that when Robert Sherrill edited this publication, he used to call the state capitol, “The Big Top.” I think it is like a zoo, full of the most fabulous and fascinating animals. What a strange, exotic breed is the Texas legislator. What peculiar greeting and mating rituals he displays. The legislature wants Jonathan Swift’s invective and Dicken’s gift with hypocrisy to be well-portrayed. I humbly acknowledge that I am inadequate; but I revel in having such a rich field to mine. IHAD NEVER met a state legislator before Jan. 12, 1971. I did not get 10 feet onto the House floor before at least 25 of them had come up, squoze some part of my anatomy and said, “Hieh, honey, how good to see yew again!” They are a tactile bunch, they are, they are, unable to talk without touching. At the end of a day on the hill, I feel like a roll of Charmin toilet paper. The approved method of communication on the House floor is via the Legislative Whisper, a process which entails the whisperer putting his nose in the very ear of the whisperee while placing hand on upper arm or across shoulders of whisperee. I gave several hapless souls a snoutful of ear wax before learning that this mode is de rigueur. The old slap-on-the-ass technique: thii greeting form is apparently limited to members who are veterans of joint wenching expeditions. It generally precedes divulgation of information of a private nature, as in, slap-on-the-ass, grin, wink, leer, elbow in ribs of ol’ buddy: “Hey, boy! Yew should see what Ah found mahself last night! An’ she doan talk neither!” _ An experienced friend of mine once offered the observation that legislators are lousy lovers. “How can you say that?” queried an offended representative to whom I had repeated this nugget. “We screw 10 million people every two years.” Remember when you were in the fourth grade and you used to stand around on the ‘playground at recess and trade glasses to see hoW funny everything looked through someone else’s glasses? Legislators do that. A lot. In general, House members deserve high marks in the stately-under-stress category. They show up on most mornings after looking for all the world like Winston Churchill. They do, however, get help since their deSk chairs have enormously high backs against which it is simple to prop a woozy head. The proper technique is to keep the chin a bit more aloft than normal. This pose prevents blood from running to the head, and makes bloodshot eyes more difficult to observe. In the House, the press is stationed in a sort of choir stall arrangement, which is, significantly some say, to the left and behind the speaker. The journalistic collectivity usually looks ready to burst into an a cappella version of “That 01′ Time Religion.” HIS PECULIAR vantage point is fine for observing such phenom as: The Texas Star: a square dance formation used by the speaker’s lieutenants during debates on legislation dear to the speaker. The speaker’s lackies dosie-do out across the floor to “line up votes.” This is done by ruining the debate, an end achieved by talking at length with members who would otherwise hear what is being said. .March 26, 1971 19 4’ IDA PRESS 504 West 24th Multi copy service. Call 477-8351
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