Urp in San Antone Austin A dart to the San Antonio Express and News for unblushing promotion of itself and another paper owned by its publisher, Australian publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The Express-News has began carrying Murdoch’s new weekly tabloid, the National Star, as a Sunday supplement. \(Our first free issue of the Star carried part one of a new biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with articles entitled “Was Bruce Lee Killed By Kung Fu Masters?”, ” ‘Dr. Doolittle’ Woman Talks To A Racehorse,” “Bunny Barbi Hates Pin-Up Image” and “Diabetic boy dies after Express the sole distributor of the Star in the San Antonio area the tabloid is not being sold at newsstands there. The first appearance of the Star was preceded by three days of front-page advertising in the Express. On Thursday page one carried a red banner proclaiming, “A Great New Star is Rising Over S.A.,” along with a 13-inch story and a four-column photograph. Inside was a full-page, mostly-red ad. On Friday the inside ad had shrunk to little more than a third of a page and the front-page photo to three columns. The banner remained, though \(“The Star Will Put A Twinkle In banner informed readers that “Sunday Is When You Reach Upon A Star,” but we looked in vain for news-column coverage of late developments in the Star story. The supplement even had to share a three-column, 11-inch front-page box with other features planned for the next day’s regular Express-News sections. None of the news stories on the Star carried a by-line, but the anonymous author will surely be rewarded for persistence and dogged investigative work. As of Thursday, for example, we knew only that “The Star is a lively and colorful publication . . . tightly written and well-illustrated . . . highly popular.” By Friday, the reporter had run down additional leads and could reveal also that “The Star .. . is chock full of colorful and lively stories . . . tightly written and well-illustrated . highly popular.” On Monday it seemed for a moment that the story had reached a dead end nothing above the fold on page one even mentioned “America’s newest and most colorful weekly.” It wasn’t until we reached the bottom of the front page that we found “New Star Dazzles Readers,” a hard-hitting piece on reaction to the “special bonus offer,” “numerous stories on stars and personalities” and “wide variety of features.” J.F. Newsweek magazine reports that Gov. Dolph Briscoe and National Democratic Chairman Robert Strauss are also having their returns checked by the IRS. Briscoe was one of seven Democratic governors whose returns were audited last year. There was no comment from Briscoe this year, but a spokesman said last year that the governor did not suspect the IRS of playing politics because they checked Briscoe’s taxes “just like clockwork every two to three years.” Senator Bentsen told a writer for New Times, “I’m telling you just as candidly as I know how to tell you that I’d like to be President of the United States.” … George Wallace sent out a huge mailing soliciting funds and taking a poll, received in Texas in mid-March. . . . The Big Thicket legislation is badly fouled up. As we get it in Washington, Congressmen Bob Eckhardt and Charles Wilson agreed on an 84,000 acre national park, Eckhardt reasoning that 16,000 acres was not too big a price to pay to get the legislation passed. Big Thicket advocate Pete Gunter, agreeing, went along until he went back to Texas and consulted with Big Thicket supporters, whereupon Gunter changed, adverting to the 100,000 12 The Texas Observer acre program and enraging Wilson. Then the staffs of Senators Tower and Bentsen re-involved themselves, and it is possible that along about the end of April or early in May they will propose a park of 68,000 acres or so. This would put Wilson in an awkward spot with interests opposed to the park to whom he has argued that 84,000 acres is as small a park as they can buck for. If the acreage is chipped down much further, they may as well start calling it the Little Thicket. I should earn . . . . o . . . . The Constitutional Convention recessed without completing work on the proposed legislative article, but not before legislator-delegates more or less bit the bullet on the politically toughest vote in that section, the one on legislative salaries. They squirmed and twisted over 24 separate amendments to the committee recommendation on the subject, and finally opted for locking in a new dollar figure of $8,750. That happens to represent a 49 percent cost-of-living increase from the 1960 salary figure of $4,800. It also falls pretty close to the national average for state legislators’ pay. It would also perpetuate the pay-raise-by-constitutional-amendment battle, but delegates apparently felt more comfortable with the prospect of justifying the raise than with the thought of explaining why they voted to let future Legislatures set their own compensation. The convention is expected to approve the idea of submitting a proposal for a salary commission as a separate item on the November ballot, but that vote won’t come until the article proper has been finished. Delegates also approved the idea of annual sessions, sort of. The Legislative Committee had recommended 180-day sessions every year, but the convention quickly opted for retaining 140-day terms in odd-numbered years and adding 90-day sessions in even-numbered years. And only a slim 10-vote majority opened the shorter sessions to general legislative business instead of restricting them to fiscal matters. The last article to be completed by the convention before legislator-delegates took off for campaigning was the local government section. Once the issue of county home-rule was punted to the separate-submission part of the ballot, things went fairly smoothly. The article itself contains one hedge against home-rule reorganization of county government, a provision that county judges, commissioners, sheriffs, treasurers and county and district clerks be elected officials. The delegates backed off from another controversial CRC recommendation, rejecting the idea that the constitution should remain silent on tax-rate ceilings for local governments. The article contains a $2.50 per $100 assessed valuation limit for cities and a $1.25 per $100 ceiling on counties, but exempts taxation for debt service from these limits. Instead, the Legislature is empowered to restrict total debt obligations for all local taxing authorities. A Railroad Commission hearing examiner says that Lo-Vaca Gathering Co. is “a sick corporation” and that it should be allowed to break a number of its long-term contracts in order to set up a new rate structure. Lo-Vaca and its parent company, Coastal States Gas Producing Co., have been under the RR Commission’s microscope ever since they started coming up short on the amount of gas they contracted to supply to a number of major Texas consumers, including the cities of San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Austin \(see Obs., Examiner Walter Wendlandt concluded that Coastal States has “vigorously pursued a rapidly increasing profit picture with little regard for the public interest.” Wendlandt wants Lo-Vaca to set up a “contract reimbursement fund” for each of its customers. The funds would be made up from the difference between the rates under the old contracts and the recommended new rates. They would bear
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.