Robinson smells worse than poverty After one hackle-raising session with five appointees to the Air Control Board, the Senate Nominations Committee decided to call the five back for a second interrogation. The men were questioned as a group, and two controversial nominees received most of the senators’ attention. E. W. Robinson of Amarillo and John ‘Blair of Kountze seemed destined to get thumbs down by the full Senate. Robinson, a retired vice president of Southwest Public Service in Amarillo, has actively campaigned to keep an ancient Amarillo zinc smelter open, despite the fact it has been violating state air standards for five years. Robinson read a prepared statement peppered with phrases like “laws that can be realistically implemented” and “socio-economic factors.” “I want to walk down the middle and treat each case separately and come to an unbiased conclusion,” he said. Sen. Barbara Jordan of Houston attacked Robinson for using “weasel words,” and told him there are times one should forget about “socio-economic factors” and worry about people’s health. Robinson said he would oppose giving variances in cases “that would prove very harmful” to health. “How about a little harmful?” Sen. Joe Christie asked. “What I’m talking about is lead poisoning . . .” Robinson answered. “What about allergies and asthma?” “Well, you seldom die of it . . .” Robinson said. Sen. Charles Wilson of Lufkin, an asthma sufferer, muttered, “God damn,” and threw his pencil down on the table. It didn’t look good for Robinson’s confirmation. John Blair of Kountze did little better with the committee. He was questioned about saying at a recent air board meeting, “I can assure you poverty smells a lot worse than pollution.” He also came under fire for saying after a trip to Amarillo’s endangered smelter, “I don’t see a problem. I’m not a technician, but some of the uproar borders on being ridiculous.” Fun on the Industrial Accident Board. One of the P. Smith’s appointees is in for hard times in the Senate during his confirmation hearing. Harold Harvey has managed to make himself loathed by workingmen’s representatives: settlements have gone down by about 15 percent since he was appointed. The funniest possibility of all is that board will, if unchanged, appoint Ed Burris as its new executive director. Ed Burris used to head the Texas Manufacturers Association. 12 The Texas Observer Political Intelligence A special Senate subcommittee on busing met to vote on two resolutions and one letter to be sent to Congress. In effect, the resolutions call for an end to forced busing as a means of bringing about desegregation in public schools. There was little contest given the resolutions. Sen. Barbara Jordan was the only member to voice opposition. Lame Duck Sen. Don Kennard requested that each of these resolutions and the letter be read aloud to the committee. Upon realizing that the chairman was becoming anoyed, Kennard just noted, “There are some of us who ain’t back here this session simply because they didn’t know what they were voting for . . .” While the House was waiting for the appropriations bill to be written, Rep. Jim Earthman whiled away, the time passing memorial resolutions. At least six of his seven resolutions solemnly honored men who recently were buried compliments of Earthman Funerals, “Serving Houston Since 1905.” Perhaps the Earthmans are offering a new exclusive burial plan in which the customer gets a fancy casket, a full choir and a final official farewell from the Texas Legislature. The Observer has not been able to obtain a copy, but has been told by several sources that some friends of the recently indicted Rep. Tom Holmes of Granbury are circulating Xeroxes of a proposed bill. The bill would grant an automatic change of venue to any legislator accused of any crime the automatic venue would be the legislator’s home district. Grover rebuffed A new departure in Texas politics. The Republican convention was almost as interesting as the Democratic convention. In brief, Hank Grover the Republican gubernatorial nominee, who’s on the right hand of Houston’s Nancy Palm, tried to take over the convention. He didn’t make it The Dallas faction, which is generally considered the more civilized branch of the Texas Republican Party, lined up firmly behind Sen. John Tower. National Committeewoman Ms. Tobin Armstrong thumped on Grover and reaffirmed her commitment to Tower as the state party leader. That left Palm on less than good terms with Tower a breach which probably will be healed before November. The specific point at issue was a minority report out of the resolutions committee calling for a meeting of the state executive committee “for purposes of replacing the state chairman and vice-chairman.” Chairman Rudy Judeman would not permit a roll call vote and ruled that the ayes won on a voice vote to table the minority report. Angry Grover supporters accused the party leadership of ignoring or working against Grover’s candidacy. As long as the so-called Dallas group retains state control of the party, one can anticipate that Tower will get the lion’s share of Republican resources this fall, with Grover dependent on Palm’s shock troops in Houston. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, everybody just got madder than hell and screamed and yelled and all kinds of awful stuff happened. It was, natch, a liberal/liberal fight, with the McGoverns and the Humphreys squaring off in a senatorial district convention without peer. The old lib forces were headed by George McAlmon, the party chairman, who appointed luckless Buddy Hicks, the parliamentarian, to take over as temporary convention chairman while McAlmon tried to make sure that Colbert Coldwell was elected in his stead. But the McGoverns put up Tony Petry for the job. They all voted. Then the chair refused to announce the vote. They all hollered for 45 minutes, while poor, nervous Hicks kept looking to McAlmon and Coldwell and they kept telling him not to give out the vote “because it was too close.” Finally Frances Ortega got a look at the results and simply announced them on her own: Petry, 522; Coldwell, 498. With that, Petry took over. But the district’s at-large delegates were thrown out by Roy Orr’s credentials committee at the state convention. The credentials committee accepted the Humphrey-weighted at-large slate from El Paso despite the fact that the district convention had voted for a McGovern-weighted slate, apparently on the logical grounds that it must be right because it wasn’t McGovern. Meanwhile, Coldwell, undaunted by his defeat at district level, showed up in San Antonio and calmly told the authorities at the credentials desk, “I’m the head of this delegation.” With which, he was given all the credentials. According to McGoverns on the spot, Coldwell unilaterally added an extra member to the delegation. All of which more or less explains why Humphrey-fan Judge Woodrow Bean rose at the San Antonio convention and spoke warmly and sweetly of Roy Orr while referring to the irate members of his own delegation behind him as “jackasses.” A fun committee at the state convention was that on the selection of delegates-at-large. After the committee
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.