under the watchful eye of numeroso insurance lobbyists, deadlocked. They started by not being able to agree on a time and place to meet and it went downhill from there. The House conferees refused to accept a single reform measure. With 30 minutes remaining in the special session, Pickens, chairman of the House conferees, got his crew dismissed. He said that would throw the bill back to the Senate. But Kennard took up on his previously arranged right to take the floor and filibustered to the end. At the end, as representatives stood “at ease” waiting to hear that Sen. Kennard had in fact talked until midnight, there appeared on the floor behind the press table well, not a horde of crickets, as during the grocery tax vote, but a single cockroach. And just after the session was gavelled to a close, the gavel fell off the speaker’s desk. And so the members of the 62nd Legislature left the capitol for the last time, lock, stock and pick-up truck. M.I., K.N., J.F. Odds at the end The high point of the House debate on the superport bill came when Jim Nugent of Kerr, one of the most ferocious and tricky representatives, backed down on an amendment. Neil Caldwell of Alvin, at the front mike, chanted softly, “Nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh.” The same said ferocious and tricky Jim Nugent is widely believed to be responsible for the disappearance of what was probably the worst bill of the special session. The bill was an effort by Dallas County commissioners to end run $5 million worth of bonds around the voters. The commissioners have bonding authority, but they must first seek voter approval on a bond issue. They wanted $5 million worth of voting machines; had, in fact, already made the deal with the Automatic Voting Machine Co. and asked the Legislature to give them bonding authority without an election. The bill was passed out of the Elections Committee and went then to the Rules Committee, where it got lost. You know, no one could find it. Strangest thing. Nugent, chairman of the Rules Committee, insisted that he hadn’t lost it. Some sources said the committee’s secretary likes to make paper airplanes with certain bills and sail them out of windows, but other sources say she’s a nice girl who never loses anything. Everyone felt real bad about the loss. A certified copy of the bill was eventually produced, but by that time lots of unpleasant rumors about AVM had circulated and the bill failed to pass to third reading. Dallas County Commissioners Lew Sterrett and Jim Tyson were plenty peeved about the episode and saw fit to verbally attack several legislators at a social gathering in Dallas the next weekend. That, in turn, peeved Rep. Sam Coats of Dallas, who took the floor in a personal privilege speech to say phooey on the commissioners. Now there’s a nice crossfire going. Some days you can’t even get wished happy birthday. Rex Braun of Houston and Ed Harris of Galveston, those loyal Dirty 30’s, drew up a funny birthday resolution in honor of Sissy Farenthold. The resolution took several cheerful, tongue-in-cheek swipes at Farenthold’s enemies, past and present. You would have thought the House had been asked to pass the Communist Manifesto. The representatives gravely devoted 45 minutes on the last day of the session to amending the resolution, expurgating such unseemly phrases as “she was born, unbeknownst to the Texas Rangers. . . .” and an ironic reference to “. . Shadow on the Alamo, the Bible of the 62nd Legislature.” The Fort Worth Startlegram, in an access of prissiness, reported the deletion of the mention of the controversial book without ever reporting its title. Rep. Jack Ogg of Houston tried to get the death penalty reinstated but the bill died on a point of order. One House member was heard to comment, “I’m all for capital punishment as long as it isn’t too severe.” The same bill died in the Senate, also on a point of order. During the discussion in the Senate, Roy Harrington of Port Arthur said, “Let’s give prisoners a little leniency.” Bill Moore of Bryan replied, “Let’s give them a little death along with it.” It must be a lot of fun to be on death row during an election year and to read about legislators making jokes about the death penalty. Luv that guy. Sen. Jack Hightower of Vernon introduced a resolution “to authorize the hanging of Gov. Preston Smith in the capitol rotunda.” The idea was to get the guy’s portrait up on the wall, but the senators liked the first reading. In the House, it was, “Mr. Speaker?” “Yes, Mr. Doorkeeper?” “Messenger from the Governor.” Followed by a hail of boos and hisses. One of the few useful things the special session did pass was a common sense measure to give the governor authority to draw on contingency funds under certain conditions in order to meet state emergencies. It was really a simple housekeeping measure, but one that was badly needed. The Highway Department’s plan to build a new highrise smack dab between the capitol and the Governor’s mansion keeps pestiferously reappearing even though beauty lovers have slapped it down a few times. During the 3rd-called special session, the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to the Parks and Wildlife Dept. so it could buy the historic site for use as a minipark. But P. Smith, that little old aesthete, vetoed the appropriation and said he thought a highrise would “enhance the beauty of the Governor’s mansion.” At least it would fix things so nobody could see the mansion. The guv asked the A.G. for an opinion, the A.G. said the department could go ahead with the plan and that’s what the department is planning to do. But the latest slap came from Lady Bird Johnson, who was invited to present some highway beautification awards. She took the opportunity to sweetly express her hope that no one puts a highrise up to ruin the lovely view from the capitol. Various Highway Department officials flanking her choked and turned red. The 62nd Legislature as a body is not exactly an appetizing sight at best, but most of the time most of the members retain some sense of the ridiculous. But every now and then, legislative venality is joined by legislative hypocrisy and then the sight is truly nauseating. There is a whole school of legislative rhetoric revolving around phrases such as, “an insult to the integrity of this honorable body.” Pecksniff is nothing compared to a Texas legislator whom someone has accused of being exactly what he really is. Sen. Oscar Mauzy set off two such flaps during the special session. First he went on the “Capitol Eye” program and said he didn’t have much hope for a good insurance bill since “the House insurance committee is owned by the insurance lobby.” Well, for all practical purposes, that’s true. There are some few members of that committee who aren’t cozy with the lobby, but they do not constitute a majority. But the House promptly swelled itself to its most pompous attitude and denounced Mauzy’s fairly accurate comment as a dastardly lie. Next Mauzy named the three House members Pickens, Orr and Grant Jones he had seen taking signals from lobbyists during the conference committee meeting. The Speaker demanded that Mauzy apologize one presumes for having observed something happening. Watching Mutscher’s men wax indignant over some affront to their integrity is a little hard to take. If one has to reply to an attack like Mauzy’s, which may or may not be inspired by demagoguery, the best course is something like Ace Pickens’ succinct response to Mauzy’s first charge. “Puke,” said Pickens. November 3, 1972 7
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.