Briscoe makes it perfectly clear Gov. Dolph Briscoe held one of his press conferences on Feb. 12, one of himself to more frequently this session. He discussed his meeting the previous day with President Ford. It was the capitol press’ chance to find out what exactly was in the guv’s energy program as presented to Ford in Houston. Up until then, Briscoe’s energy plan was about the best-kept secret since Richard Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam in 1968. Oh, Briscoe had said, “I intend to tell him that I think we need an energy program, and that we should have a program less dependent on foreign sources of energy,” and everybody had thought that sounded like a good plan, but the details had seemed less than pellucid. Margaret Mayer of The Dallas Times Herald reported from Washington that the White House had “sought a preview of Briscoe’s proposals in advance,” but that “the state’s federal relations office in Washington politely declined the request.” In front of the press, Briscoe let it be known that he had made several suggestions to the President. First of all, he said, he had opined that the price controls on “old oil” should be lifted, and a windfall profits tax on proceeds from sale of such oil should be imposed, except that oil producers should be allowed a credit on such taxes for any profits they “plowed back” into further exploration. And second, he had advised Ford to invoke the Defense Production Act of 1950 to make sure that oil producers could obtain sufficient steel for their rigs and pipe. Well, the reporters and the governor seemed pretty glad to get away from questions of technical economics and into the area of how Briscoe felt about energy. The governor said it’s “difficult for other people in other states to understand the situation in Texas” the fact that Texas is both the largest producer and the largest consumer of oil and gas, and the fact that natural gas prices are awfully high in Texas, since FPC regulation of the prices doesn’t apply to intrastate sales. He said he had taken up with Ford the fact that other states don’t seem to be “doing their part” and “taking the environmental risk” of exploiting fossil fuel reserves within their jurisdictions. He reminded everyone of how much he was opposed to provincialism in considering the energy problem. He revealed that all the governors who had met with Ford opposed gas rationing. “And certainly I join the President in opposing gas rationing,” he said. And, in response to two questions, he said he was not aware of any increased chance of war in the Middle East. 8 The Texas Observer IPolitical Intelligence After that, questions changed to other topics. Briscoe gave non-controversial answers to them, claiming not to be informed about most of the matters of discussion \(after all, he had been out of town, and many of the questions dealt When it was over, and the press had milled back into the pressroom, Sandy Dochen of KLBJ, an Austin radio station, was telling his colleagues, “I don’t think we’re tough enough on him. I mean, he’s a nice guy and all, but he ought to get tougher questions.” constitutional convention have been introduced at the Legislature, but it may be a while before they get a hearing in the House. Rep. Ray Hutchison, a Dallas Republican, is chairman of the House Constitutional Revision Committee, and he plans to give the Lege another shot at rewriting the constitution before messing with arrangements for anybody else to do it. Hutchison is personally opposed to calling another convention, and thinks the public would reject the idea if given the chance. He would like to salvage the work of last year’s convention, which he is wont to call “the draft that’s already paid for.” So unless there is an uprising on his committee, the panel will proceed with article-by-article consideration of revision. If it can agree on a package, the draft will be sent to the floor. Only if the committee, or the Lege as a whole, fails to do the job will the committee take up the question of a “citizens’ convention.” The Senate Committee on the Texas Constitution has already taken testimony \(by Price Daniel, citizen’s convention. About the biggest excitement around the Lege these days, after the Bill Moore-Bill Patman fight \(see story this Joe Salem of Corpus Christi and Sen. Mike McKinnon, also of Corpus, got themselves crossways over a Texas Water Quality Board permit to start a toxic-waste landfill \(see Salem, who is chiefly known in the Legislature for having once had a Secret Plan to end the war in Vietnam \(he also fell on the side of the environmentalists. The pro-earthers said a landfill in the area would pollute the water supply for the Corpus area. The non-earthers said it would do no such of a thing. Lots of folks in Corpus got real exercised about the matter, one way or the other. The TWQB, which seldom stands high with pro-earthers, eventually decided not to grant the permit. McKinnon then proceeded to apologize to the board. “I admire the courage of men and women in elected or appointed public office who stand by their honest, sincere, and objective convictions despite political harangues.” The TWQB’s staff, however, headed by the ineffable Hugh Yantis, had recommended that the permit be granted. Salem said he wanted Yantis fired. McKinnon said Salem had no power to get Yantis fired. People in Corpus Christi think Joe Salem will run against Mike McKinnon for his senate seat in 1976. Cloyce Box, the Dallas oil, cement, etc., magnate who made that interesting contribution to Dolph Briscoe’s last campaign \($10,000 listed as $100 contributions from 100 people, many of whom didn’t seem to know anything about it but all of whom worked for Box: see Obs. explaining the whole matter. He says he got the money out of petty cash. Meantime, Sissy Farenthold’s lawsuit against Briscoe over alleged illegal contributions has been split. Part of the case, against Briscoe’s finance man Jess Hay and the committee that staged the October, 1973, fundraising dinner for Briscoe, will be tried in Dallas. The other part of the suit, against Briscoe and his campaign manager Joe Kilgore, is still in Austin. Gosh Democratic National Committee Chairman Bob Strauss of Dallas says he may have unknowingly committed a “technical” violation of federal law when he failed to report that $50,000 from Ashland Oil was actually a corporate contribution. “I thought it was legal at the time,” Strauss told the Los Angeles Times. Ashland recently pleaded guilty to making illegal corporate contributions to the Democratic National Committee and to politicians of various political stripe. Strauss said he reported the money as “miscellaneous” contributions, rather than listing the specific amounts and the names of donors as the law requires for gifts of more than $100. The reason: he felt that Ashland officials didn’t want the Nixon administration to know of the contributions. The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 11 that a number of the 180 Not again! Three bills to create a new
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