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Briscoe’s first hurrah Austin Wouldn’t you know it. Dolph Briscoe held his first gubernatorial press conference in absentia. One of the purposes of the session was to announce that the theme for his administration will be “Cooperation for Progress.” If he doesn’t name a staff pronto and start making some motions like a state leader, he’s going to be remembered as the Absent Governor rather than the cooperative one. To the best of the Observer’s knowledge, Briscoe has put in only two Austin appearances since he was elected, once for a press conference and once to take a tour of the Governor’s Mansion. At the Nov. 10 press conference, which he attended in the flesh, he told reporters he would be meeting with them regularly before the inauguration to discuss his legislative plans. That was the last the Austin press heard of him until a person or persons unnamed phoned Capitol reporters Dec. 27 to announce, `:The governor-elect will hold a major briefing today at 3 p.m.” It being a slow news day, a great gaggle of reporters attended and they showed signs of acute restlessness when it was learned that Briscoe was still in Uvalde. ROY COFFEE, Jr., Briscoe’s administrative assistant, introduced Charles G. Purnell, who will have the rather nebulous title of “chief adviser” in the Briscoe administration. Neither Coffee nor Purnell seemed too clear on the duties of the chief adviser, but both stoutly maintained it was the TOP staff position. Purnell’s office will be in an apartment building on Guadalupe St. rather than in the Capitol. Purnell is a partner in the Dallas law firm of Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney and Neely, 6 The Texas Observer formerly Locke, Locke and Purnell, which was founded by Purnell’s maternal grandfather, Maurice E. Locke. The new chief adviser supported his cousin, the late Eugene Locke, when he ran as John Connally’s anointed successor for governor in 1968. Locke came in fifth, Briscoe fourth and Preston Smith first that year; and in 1969 Purnell joined a group of Texas businessmen in urging Briscoe to run again. \(Jimmy Banks describes that famous meeting at Briscoe’s Catarina Ranch in Money, Marbles and Chalk. As Banks, a former Dallas Morning Newsman, sets the scene, Briscoe “seemed completely happy while sitting on the elevated rear seat of a specially modified Bronco Land Rover, pausing occasionally to eradicate a speedy jackrabbit with his 12-gauge shotgun while the vehicle bounced over rough roads and Purnell shares the new governor’s interest in road building. He has been on retainer to the Texas Turnpike Authority since its inception in 1955 and he has drafted highway legislation for the Texas Good Roads Association. Informed that the governor-elect promised to meet with the press “regularly” through November and December, Purnell said, “I would guess he just hasn’t had time to do the nice things he’d like to do.” “We all assume and I think he intends to meet with the press . . . at regular intervals,” Purnell said. “Yeah,” grumbled one veteran of the Capitol press corps, “once a year.” Why was Briscoe absent from the “major briefing”? “If you were informed the governor-elect would be . here,” Purnell answered, “it just shows how desperately we need a press secretary.” A press secretary is not the only staffer Briscoe needs. Back in November he said he would have a staff by Dec. 1. But Purnell was only the fourth Briscoe man to be announced. Besides Coffee, who was Briscoe’s Dallas County campaign manager, the gubernatorial cast includes George Lowrance, a San Antonio attorney and a former aide to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, and Ken Clapp, who used to be a school administrator in Killeen. Questioned as to whether there was some extraordinary situation which was prohibiting the governor-elect from assembling a staff as quickly as most governors do, Purnell said, no, he’s just trying to do a careful job and it takes time. APPROXIMATELY 500 clerical, technical and administrative employees on Governor Smith’s staff are waiting to find out if they still have a job. Purnell said Briscoe will keep most of Smith’s people: “It is the opinion of the governor-elect that continuity of administration, where feasible, should be had.” \(An upper echelon member of Smith’s staff insists Briscoe’s position has been explained to him in these words: “Employees have been told that if they aren’t told otherwise by the ’16th [Inauguration Day] they can stay on. until they are told one way or the Not knowing what Briscoe is doing in Uvalde, people in Austin are reduced to speculation on his administrative style. Will he be one of those politicians who can’t delegate authority? An Austin reporter tells the story of being among a large group of men invited to the Catarina Ranch for a weekend of hunting. All of the guests had arrived and were ready to get settled into their ranch-style accommodations, rows of bunk beds, all alike. Ranch employees, however, begged them not to, explaining