Conference also decided not to endorse on a call for a citizens’ constitutional convention, with members to be specially elected on a non-partisan basis, to meet no later than January, 1976. And the committee chose to recommend the creation, rather than the study of possible creation, of a public utilities commission. Provisions in both the governor’s and the committee’s platforms included recommendations that legislators’ legal practice before state agencies be regulated, that campaign spending be limited by law, that school financing be made less dependent on individual districts’ wealth and on ad valorem taxation, that Democrats oppose any state income tax or sales tax on food, that the sales tax on utilities bills be repealed, that voluntary oral confessions be made admissible as evidence, that natural gas prices be deregulated by the FPC and that controls on crude oil prices be removed. J.F. Convention notes Just in case anybody hadn’t gotten the point before, Calvin Guest made his position clear after being re-elected chairman of the SDEC. “The governor of this state,” he began, in acknowledging his victory, “well, as Mr. Castillo said so well, I am his boy and always will be.” As usual, there was disagreement over what the complexion of the SDEC will be. Guest was talking about 35 “moderate to conservative” votes; Colin Carl was using about the same figure to describe the strength of a contingent he called “moderates, labor people and liberals.” One thing is for sure there are seven union members on the SDEC, which could give the AFL-CIO considerable clout on close calls. Carl put the arguing over numerical strength in this perspective: “The weakness of Congress as opposed to the President is nothing compared to the [weakness of the] SDEC against the chairman. . . . The chairman controls the party and will until the SDEC tries to assert itself or successfully asserts itself. This SDEC would have to be extraordinarily adroit to change that.” There were a number of individual SDEC races that got special attention for a number of reasons. In Harris County’s District 11, Rep. Anthony Hall beat out Rep. Craig Washington in another skirmish in their continuing rivalry. Both Hall and Washington are young, bright, articulate black politicians, and both are seen as possible heirs to U. S. Rep. Barbara Jordan’s seat, should Jordan leave it open. Hall’s victory was the result of his greater support from union members in the district. In Tarrant County, Margaret Carter, a long-time liberal activist, lost her SDEC seat to a woman who picked up labor support. In Houston’s District 13, a pair of libs took over the seats formerly held by arch-conservative John Brunson and ‘Barbara Timanus, wife Wallace leader of Hall Timanus. The black caucus’ endorsement of Castillo came out of a sometimes-emotional meeting Monday night. Some black delegates complained openly about the presence of white and brown observers, and press credentials were checked more rigorously at that meeting than they were the next day. The participants pulled their chairs into a tight circle, and many of the speeches were delivered in near-whispers. The meeting climaxed with a decision to invite both candidates for the chair to address black delegates, whereupon Castillo, who had been tipped off, appeared immediately. Guest did not show up by the time Castillo finished his pitch, and one delegate asked if the incumbent had been notified. That brought laughs from the Castillo partisans: one man said, “You can go notify him if you want to, but I ain’t gonna pay any staff to do it, and I ain’t gonna do a whole lot of walking to find him.” Will Davis, the smoothly competent conservative from Austin, was the party regulars’ choice for parliamentarian, and he showed the wisdom of that choice several times. He took over the gavel to negotiate a couple of procedural straits, but he also got Guest out of one sticky situation that had nothing to do with party politics. In the long wait for a nominations committee report, a rather incoherent fellow in a red plastic toy pith helmet approached the stage and began demanding loudly that Guest recognize him on some subject having to do with Confederate soldiers rising from their graves as angels of the Lord. Guest was obviously flustered, but Davis intervened, offering the would-be speaker numerous reasons why lie could not be recognized. Ever the diplomat, Davis finally managed to silence the man by pointing out that he should have taken up his point with the Resolutions Committee. Among all the other questions still being argued over is this one: did the delegation to Kansas City meet immediately after the convention and elect Governor Briscoe its chairman, or did it not? Observer publisher Ronnie Dugger is a delegate, and he maintains there was no meeting. Harry Hubbard is also a delegate, and he says there was a meeting, that he and some 40 other people attended and that Briscoe was in fact chosen to lead the group. Part II The Republicans Houston Covering the Texas Republican Convention this year was about as interesting as watching a traffic light go through its paces. There’s a certain rigid pattern red, green, amber, red, green, amber, red. The traffic moves along at a steady clip, stopping when it’s supposed to stop, going when it’s supposed to go. The signals got jammed only once during the shank of the convention when delegates insisted on passing a resolution telling President Ford that Texas Republicans still don’t like Nelson Rockefeller or draft dodgers. U.S. SEN. John Tower, GOP Chairman Jack Warren and other party leaders decided before the convention that the delegates were not to make pronouncements on national issues. The entire slate of statewide candidates met on Sunday and then sent gubernatorial candidate Jim Granberry to the temporary resolutions committee to ask that the convention concern itself with state issues for a change. Tower himself made two appearances before the committee, pointing out that if there were no national resolutions for the press .to headline, the state candidates might get some much-needed publicity. It was a reasonable suggestion, considering the fact that Texas Republicans traditionally have neglected state contests out of excessive Oct. 4, 1974 5
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