Robert Hinkle Finck with a cc to Christian. Another close friend of Cockrell’s is Jack Camel, who was Bob Price’s campaign manager last time out. Another big Price supportei is Ben Scroggins. Scroggins is Cockrell’s lawyer and he handled all the negotiations with the TACB. It was through Price that two of the members of the Lubbock SBA board that approved Cockrell’s loan got their appointments to that board. Price wrote a letter for Cockrell to that board urging their favorable consideration of the Cockrell loan. Price now has between 300 and 400 head of his own cattle in Cockrell’s feedlot. None of this is unethical and it is certainly not unusual. It just gives Cockrell more influence, clout in dealing with state and federal agencies. Perhaps he wouldn’t have needed it in any case. Perhaps he didn’t even use it. But there is no question that the agencies involved knew he had it. Skraggins, when asked if politics played a role in the TWQB’s work, said, with the patient air of one who is called upon to explain the self-evident to the moronic, “This is a state agency. We operate within the framework of state government. Of course politics is involved.” It’s what Sam Kinch, Jr., calls “the ol’ regulatory commission trick”: setting the fox to guard the chicken coop. The TWQB and the TACB, supposedly entrusted with securing and guarding the purity of Texas water and air, spend a lot of their time fighting the feds, who keep trying to make them clean up the water and the air. The TACB is even now preparing to sue the EPA because the EPA has set out some stringent anti-pollution controls. Better we should choke to death on our own smog and drown in our own sewage than accept dictatorship from Washington. Hugh Yantis, the director of the TWQB \(see amazing environmental statements, including his classic defense of what the Armco Steel Co. was dumping in the Houston Ship Channel. “Cyanide,” said Yantis, “is a scare word.” The TACB also has a distinguished tradition. Early on in its bureaucratic life, John Connally named John Files of Houston to the three-man board. Just a month before, The Houston Post had named Files “Polluter of the Month.” This grand old tradition continued under other governors. E. W. Robinson, who was appointed to the TACB by Preston Smith, told a Senate confirmation committee that he was opposed to pollution that would be very harmful. When asked what would be very harmful, Robinson volunteered that lead poisonin’ an’ such would be unacceptable. What about pollution that causes asthma and allergies, inquired a senator. Well, pointed out the reasonable Mr. Robinson, they don’t kill ya. But as Wallin points out, cases like the Cockrell-Philpott feedlot involve some very gray legal areas. How far does a man’s right to do what he wants to with his own property extend when what he wants to do bothers his neighbors? A moot question. The Philpott neighborhood is not entirely pristine. There are, in fact, two small feedlots there already, two miles upwind. In fact, the Philpotts sold some of their land to those feedlots on a lease-purchase arrangement. But the Philpotts maintain that there is all the difference in the world between two small lots two miles away and one medium lot right across the road. Cockrell maintains folks’ attitudes toward feedlots all depend on whether they’re making money off of them a not unreasonable theorem. In Deaf Smith County the whole town of Hereford is literally surrounded with feedlots, but the TACB never gets complaints from Deaf Smith, Wallin said. One recalls the old joke in Pasadena, outside Houston, which is distinguished by a godawful number of refining plants. “Ah, the smell of money,” Pasadenans used to say, upon scenting the perfumed air. IT IS, for many reasons, easy to stand off from this matter, to view it with the brisk, albeit self-interested common sense of Buddy Cockrell, with the keeping-all-the-factors-in-mind \(and weather eye out for who’s got political Cockrell’s neighbors are not numerous. The Philpotts claim 44 persons on their side, but they are counting children and grandchildren who will someday inherit the land. There are only six residences in the immediate stink zone, not counting the Cockrell’s. But somewhere, before all the TACB regulations were worked out and “sparsely populated” got defined and prevailing wind currents were charted and humidity-efficiency factors worked out, there was an idea that state agencies assigned to police the environment were to be concerned with the quality of life. Jim Philpott is 69 years old: he is widely held to be one of the best, if not the best wheat farmer for several counties around. Kint Philpott is 61: he has owned and farmed his land for 30 years. He and his wife built the home on their land for their retirement, most of it with their own hands. They built a catfish farm, mostly with their own hands, “as a hobby to occupy some of our idle time with hopes it will pay expenses and maybe show some profit.” Virginia Harvey’s family has been on that land for three generations. Her folks came there in a covered wagon in ought-eight. Her voice quavers when she says, “It’s against my Christian upbringing, but I just cannot find it in me to like Buddy Cockrell.” The Tom Hendersons have two children, Holly, 6, and a baby boy. They spent $50 in one month on aerial spraying for their home to get the flies down so the kids could go outside to play. These are house-proud people. They do not haye the kind of elegant residences one sees in Better Homes and Gardens, but their glistening kitchens are filled with gizmos, their lawns all have crew cuts and their bric-a-brac is proudly displayed. When you walk out one of their doors on a crisp, clear day, with the wind whipping the prairie and big clouds flying across the sky, instead of dry, clean, country air, you get a lungful of the Cockrell feedlot. There are a lot of folks who have to put up with worse in this world. But the quality of life in that corner of the Panhandle is not much to brag about these days. M.I. November 2, 19 73 5
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.