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expect an after-tax return of 40 to 50 percent per year. . . . ” According to press reports from Washington, Gonzalez asked Honts if he would not have received $1 million in fees plus a fourth interest in the venture, to which he replied he would have received “a piece of a piece.” In Austin, interviewed at length on many facets of the two new towns by the Observer, Honts conceded the paper was “some part of the work” the developers had prepared, but was not a prospectus as Gonzalez had said. Honts’ basic defense was that the paper was prepared on assumptions now out of date. As submitted, the project envisioned the acquisition of 250 acres downtown for $21 million in a program based on $40 million in federal grants. By this year the grants were down to $16 million, and the price for a decreased land area of 170 acres had THERE WASN’T nearly as much hanky-panky as you might think,” Christian told the Observer. “I wish I had the political clout that you give me credit for we wouldn’t have been havin’ to go through all this stuff.” Christian said that right after Hayden Head asked him to go to work to try to get the new UT at San Antonio located on the San Antonio Ranch, Christian called John Connally, but only to make sure that Christian would not be working against something Connally might be interested in. “Do you have any interest in it?” he said he asked Connally, and, he said Connally replied, “I ain’t got any interest in the thing. You ought to go to work for Head, he’ll be a good client.’ ” Connally, Christian noted, owns property on the south side of San Antonio. “I just didn’t want to [do something] that might hurt him. That’s just common sense,” Christian said. “I ain’t asked him anything, because I learned a long time ago you don’t keep his friendship by asking him for favors.” Christian also says that the nature of his political involvements did not tend to give him the kind of clout with the Nixon Administration he would have needed that the contrary is so. He had been with President Johnson, who had the run-in with George Romney over sending forces into Detroit during the riots there. “I couldn’t get near to George Romney,” Christian says. During 1970, he continues, he worked for Lloyd Bentsen against George Bush in the Texas Senate race, campaigning “against Nixon the full year,” which could hardly have helped his firm get HUD approval of the new town at zoomed to $42 million. The “two-page thiAg” was done on the earlier basis to ask, “Is there a ball game? So I’ll ask you who’s taking what out of context.” The developers had told the city council “we would agree to some profit limitation,” Honts said. In the council meetings in May, Honts and the council were talking about the promoters realizing a 14 percent profit a year. Honts explains that they might make nothing the first year, $10 million at a mid-stage, $100 million the last year, but that the total anticipated profit had been then “compounded back” to a discounted annual average return of 10 to 14 percent. But this is all past: the Honts group’s new town in town appears to be dead. Figuring the losses, Red McCombs said the investors had $500,000 in the thing already, it would take another $70,000 to close it down, and there is “no way to get it back.” In 1972, he said, he was a Humphrey delegate in June. True, he was communications director for Democrats for Nixon last fall “at Connally’s request,” but, he says, “I am still a Democrat. I have not been close to the administration.” “There may be politics, and I do play politics,” he said. “But this [the San Antonio new towns matter] was done through the regular channels and there wasn’t any handle that we could have done it with.” Christian said that Honts has told him he did not say the things various sources in San Antonio said Honts had said that the new towns were wired all the way to HUD or to the White House and that there was no way the environmentalists could stop the San Antonio Ranch new town because they, the promoters, had the political clout to get it through. However, Honts, asked directly about the remarks attributed to him, did not deny he had said what was reported. Honts said that partially the remarks were “a misrepresentation” of what he has been saying generally. They had had 300 to 500 hours of public meetings and uncountable private sessions, and “what we’ve said generally” was that HUD was on record for the ranch new town and was very much committed to and impressed by the new town in town project. Speaking of the statements attributed to him, Honts asked, “Is that a misrepresentation? Partially, yes, I think it is. Does it tell you is it wired?” Their real strength in HUD, he said, had been at the staff level; their trouble had come from the upper level. After the new town bills had died in the Legislature, Christian said, “The pressure is reverse pressure,” tending to “make it look like it’s something political and try to scare everything off of it.” There was nothing crooked, fishy or fixed about it, he said it was a business operation. The experience discouraged him from wanting to be in any new town, anywhere. “There are so many requirements they put on you. Trade in land, lickety-split, and turn your money and get your money and get out, nobody says a word. It’s not worth it.” Honts expressed a similar view. “You could be paving streets with bricks of gold and you’re still going to be cursed,” he said. “We have not one solid commitment from the city or the urban renewal agency that we could take to court and yet we have put up half a million dollars.” Investors can buy into oil well drilling funds and if they lose, they have a quick tax shelter; if they gain, they have a good return. “How do you expect private capital to come in?” he asked. “You can’t build a city on welfare money. You can’t build a city on private sector money when it’s treated like this.” Killing the new town, he said, “It harnessed taxes they aren’t gonna get without the project, yes. The loss the city saved is income they’ll never get.” Certainly few San Antonians are happy about all these events. Those who wanted the Honts group’s new town downtown are not getting it. Those who opposed it are back where they were before. The new town on the aquifer seems on its way. Leaving the city for other employment, Cyndy McSwain, the city manager’s administrative assistant during a critical phase of the recent developments, said, “I think we’re at a critical point in the next 20 to 25 years in San Antonio whether we become a thriving, acceptable, environment. I think we’ve missed it we’ve almost reached the point where there’s no turning back. The developers have control of the council presently.” Honts says his mission has been to bring two new towns to San Antonio. “The people who oughta be supporting this urban experiment aren’t, and the people who oughta be opposing it aren’t,” he said. “The Texas Observer ought to be supporting this program. There are two kinds of people the people who finally try to do something and the kibitzers who say, Why didn’t you do it another way? . You can stop and be transfixed by the possibility of something bad happening, and as a result nothing will happen.” With 24 percent of the ranch new town dedicated to open space two of the three parks larger than Brackenridge Park “it’s several steps along the way ahead of what we’re getting now,” Honts said. “The ranch will be a better place to live if knowledge and technology and planning count for anything.” R.D. June 29, 1973 11 Politics & pressures