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Ti i11 1111111111111111111111110101111MIIIII111111111111111 \( 013 SER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South E-00 Feb. 14, 1975 50e Is Dallas falling apart? Dallas Every couple of years or so, the Observer has predicted, with what can only be called disgusting gusto, the imminent collapse of the Dallas Establishment. The Dallas Establishment, perennially unimpressed by our repeated diagnoses of its terminal senility, has carried on and on and on. It finally succumbed on Jan. 17. The death blow was struck by U.S. District Judge Eldon Mahon, who ruled that Dallas’ system of electing its city council members on an at-large basis is unconstitutional. Sic transit. For almost 40 years, the power structure of Dallas has been close enough to the operating definition of an oligarchy to make any democrat puke. The chief architect of the system was the late R. L. formalized the Dallas Establishment with the creation of the Dallas Citizens Council \(any relation to the racist groups of the membership comprised the presidents of the largest corporations in Dallas. Its political arm was the Citizens Charter Association. The CCA picked, financed, worked for, and elected slates of candidates for every public office in Dallas. During the last 30 years, only four or five independent city council candidates have ever beaten members of the CCA slates. The reasons are simple enough. A candidate running at-large in Dallas has to cover 800 square miles and 800,000 people. The city is almost exactly the size of two congressional districts. The CCA spends approximately a quarter of a million dollars on its slates. Any independent city council candidate who would work as hard as two congressional candidates and spend a quarter of a million dollars to get a city HE CCA leaders used to meet in the penthouse of the Mercantile Bank Building or in one of the city’s private clubs and there select, in an ever-so-genteel smoke-filled room, the candidates for the year. Any candidate with CCA endorsement scarcely needed to work at all aspiring pol who failed to get the CCA nod could forget it. The CCA quite naturally selected candidates not unlike themselves, or even of their number white, conservative, and business-oriented. Many city positions were “awarded” by the CCA for long and faithful service while, others were given to up-and-corners to provide them with credentials. Two terms on the city council and then it was someone else’s “turn.” The system reached an apotheosis of ridiculousness in the early 60’s, when the CCA began parcelling out assignments as to which charitable and cultural endeavors its members were to support. “This year you support the symphony orchestra, you work on the Heart Fund, and you take on the art museum.”