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Disturbed businessmen surfaced in opposition during the city council hearings. One, Dick Gill, representing a company on Soledad Street, said that if the street was closed, “our building is located exactly opposite where it should be.” W. W. McAllister, Sr., the chief person at the San Antonio Savings Association, was a most important opponent. He had been associated with Morris Jaffe in an earlier proposal for the redevelopment of part of the downtown for commercial purposes, but the Observer understands that this came to nothing because there is no program that can use the public power of condemnation for strictly commercial development. McAllister’s SASA is in the old downtown that might be threatened by a new one just north of it. The woven-together fabric of public and private interests represented in the council caused additional concern. Joe Rainey Manion, representing opposed businessmen, cautioned the council members to be careful “so that none of the conflict of interest will return to haunt” them. What conflict of interest, Councilwoman Lila Cockrell asked him. 14 The Texas Observer MARJORIE A. DELAFIELD TYPING SERVICE: Theses, dissertations, manuscripts, reports, etc. I.B.M. Selectric II typewriters, mu ltilith ing, mimeographing, addressing envelopes. Public Notary. 25 years experience. Call 442-7008, Austin. WE SELL THE BEST SOUND. Yamaha pianos, guitars; Moeck-Kung-Aulus recorders; harmonicas, kalimbas and other exotic instruments. Amster Music, 1624 Lavaca, Austin. 478-7331. “It’s a nebulous thing,” he said. “At this moment the people speaking for this thing are GGL [Good Government League] people and they have a $103,000 some of this money just go over. . . . ” He said that as he had entered the crowded council chamber that day, “I had five people bring this thing up to me, directly.” Solo-Serve is a price-cutting downtown department store that would not be in the proposed new town. Its chief executive, Milton Brenner, told the council in open meeting that the family of the chairman of the urban renewal agency, John Bitter, owned property that would be in the new town and that a member of that agency’s board was in business with an investor in the new-town project. “There is a question of conflict of interest. There might be people making use of their public office to make a profit on this,” Brenner said. None of the council asked Brenner questions about this. There was, however, some relevant banter. Mayor Becker said in jest, “For the effort and the time and the energy we’ve put into this thing, we oughta get a carat interest in it.” Honts stepped quickly to the microphone and jested back, “Mr. Mayor, I’m afraid to offer it.”* THE COUNCIL responded to the criticisms from Gonzalez and others that they were abdicating their public duty by having the city staff study the new-town plans and give copious recommendations. The staff provided an analysis of the developers’ latest financial plan, but had received it only the preceding Sunday. Apparent inconsistencies in the plan were noted, including statements that “all future tax increments” would go to repay the public’s new-town debt contrasting to statements that assumed “a large portion” of the tax benefits would pay off the developers’ debts. The developer was also asked by the staff to clarify the meaning of a $21 million item labeled “Amount to the staff said Honts called “profits” at a city council meeting. But overall the staff said the new town plan should be approved. Councilwoman Lila Cockrell said no, putting her finger on the two hang-ups that could not be worked out, the tax moratorium and the downtown new town’s threat to the central business district just south of it. The tax feature was the grease that made the whole financial package go. In effect, the city agreed to forego more than $50 million in prospective taxes, letting that money go to the developers. Honts now readily concedes that this huge factor was what made the new town in town workable from the investors’ point of view. The sum of money involved did not become generally known. Rather there was debate about what was called “the tax moratorium.” The investors agreed to pay each year, “in lieu of taxes,” the $300,000 presently realized in local taxes from the area in the new town. But they would have “a moratorium” on taxes on the developments the buildings, businesses, apartment houses, residences and so on for 25 to 50 years. Even on the surface, however, this raised difficulties. First, the state law would have to be changed to allow it. Beyond that, would it be constitutional? Property owners not in the new town would have to pay higher taxes to let the new-town owners pay none. A businessman in competition with a new-town business would have to pay taxes that would put him at a competitive disadvantage. A lawsuit was likely; business interests fighting the new town openly threatened to file it. “They can develop the commercial property first but buy it last and thus avoid the tax rolls to the end on the most valuable property,” said Ms. Wagner. The Rev. Claude Black, a Negro minister on the council, was for the new town because, he said, at least they could watch the developer, in contrast to the ordinary situation where they could not even be sure who the developer was, and because the new town would mean jobs. Councilman Alvin Padilla added in, on the positive side, $80 million of development in the downtown and a better tax base in the future. * It caused some unease among advocates of strong public authority over new towns that Winston Martin and Bob Honts are close friends. Martin is head of the city urban renewal agency, to which the city proposed to delegate land acquisition and planning powers over the downtown new town. As Martin confirmed to the Observer, he taught Bob Honts in Sunday School, gave him his first job one summer at the urban renewal agency while Honts was still in high school, and was best man at Honts’ wedding. Martin did not much like having been asked about this, commenting that in a city like San Antonio everybody knows everybody and resenting any implication that he might put friendship ahead of his public responsibility. Then Mayor Becker showed the council, the press and the packed chamber that he has a flair for farce. Bucking the new town for days, he berated it now as variously outrageous, appeared to side with his business sidekick ex-Mayor McAllister against it, and voted for it in some form. He felt concern for the property owners of the old downtown, Travis, Houston, Commerce and Market streets. At first the new-town proposal had contained just 70,000 square feet for businesses, but now this has grown to include, over 50 years, 1,200,000 square feet, and if put into effect immediately, the new town “would render the central business district almost