Page 74


federal law means, the one that passed in September.” “There’s gotta be a crash program,” said Pearson’s predecessor as chairman of the housing authority, Woodrow Bean. “That’s the only way they’ll make any progress. But there’s nobody in city government that can do it. They don’t see the need for it, and they don’t have the imagination.” Bean, long-time West Texas Democratic Party kingpin, said with his characteristic vigor, “I like Ray Pearson. He’s a personal friend. But he hasn’t gotten one goddamned penny for housing since I left there. Not one red cent. Before that I got $68 million for housing. We went from 2,000 to 6,000 units.” Bean is proud of the housing built during his two-year term \(including the Woodrow Bean carpet on the floor and you’ve got a semi-luxurious apartment.” El Paso, Bean said, has more public housing per capita than any other city in the country. Part of that he attributed to his friendships in the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as his powers of persuasion and his leadership. “We’ve got the only housing authority in the country that’s in the black. Did you know that?” Bills creating a state housing finance agency and providing for rehabilitation of old homes have been introduced at the Legislature, and Bean said they would help. In other cities, tenement dwellers have gotten together to improve their lot. In El Paso, nothing. Two architects working for VISTA, Owen Warneke and Wayne Muellenbach, say they have seen no interest in self-help. For the last month or so, they have been helping people fill out income tax forms. “We’ve had some people come in and ask us to help them plan some improvements. Almost all of them were people who owned the buildings they lived in,” Muellenbach said. “The only thing we charged for was $20 for blueprints,” Warneke said. Even at that, there were few takers. Owners would rather demolish than upgrade, and tenants don’t bother. What’s needed is leadership, and there is none around. “These groups they’re all smoke and no fire,” is how Muellenbach put it. “There’s not much contact or continuity between the groups,” Warneke added. The night before he spoke, the local LULAC chapter had publicly withdrawn from a pan-chicano project, saying that the project leaders had used the project to attack other chicanos. “Self-help?” Valencia said. “No, there’s too strong a feeling of futility.” One city official said that the individuals and groups who complained about the tenement clearance project were doing the work of the landlords. He was not, for that matter, sure that the landlords hadn’t put them up to it. “The leaders look good and the landlords continue to collect their rents,” he said. None of those I talked to saw any chance that letting things go on as they are would produce mobs in the street, or even protesters at the city council meetings. In El Paso, at least, as Bean said, “Poor people have poor people’s ways. They’ll just do the best they can.” Sauerkraut pizza! Lately, Texas has been developing an unfortunate resemblance to Saigon, where Thieu keeps ordering all the copies of any paper he doesn’t like destroyed. In November, it was merely a campus paper and the college president \(B. H. Amstead, replaced. The same fate does not seem to be in store for Tom Simmons, managing editor of The Dallas Morning News,’ who on Feb. 6, ordered 10,000 copies of a section of his own paper destroyed, apparently because he feared that a story would offend major advertisers. At issue was an article by Leigh Fenly, the food editor of the News, on the cover of the paper’s weekly food section. \(Food editors, as a group, generally stick to their tuna-marshmellow casseroles and raise little journalistic hell our congratulations to how to save money on your food bill. On a trial shopping trip with a couple of home 8 The Texas Observer Bob and Sara Roebuck Anchor National Financial Services 1524 E. Anderson Lane, Austin bonds stocks insurance mutual funds optional retirement program Political Intelligence ec experts, Fenly found that she could save over 30 percent on her food bill by shopping at surplus stores, thrift bakeries, and some small, out-of-the-way places. All she said was that she saved “a good 30 percent on our purchases over chain store prices.” But the chain stores Safeway, Tom Thumb, A&P, etc. provide the great bulk of the advertising in the weekly food section. Since the Thursday paper is a biggie, there was an early run on Wednesday of 10,000 copies. When advertising director John Rector and News vice-president Sol Katz saw the piece, they had your basic hissy fit, roared into Simmons’s office, and demanded that the story be pulled. Simmons complied destroyed the 10,000 first-run front pages of the food section and replaced the story three-quarter of a page picture of a sauerkraut pizza. It was, you see, National Sauerkraut Week, and the Sauerkraut Institute, or whatever it is, had sent out this big promotional layout. KERA’s “Newsroom,” the good guy-public television program in Dallas, duly reported why the News’ readers were getting a load of sauerkraut pizza, but no one else in town picked up the story. The New’s news staff, revolted by the development, began circulating petitions, writing letters of protest and calling meetings on the Sauerkraut Pizza Episode. Buster Haas, an assistant managing editor, found the episode so humiliating that he actually submitted his resignation, to be withdrawn only if it were made clear that the news department set news policy, and that the advertising department did not set it Simmons at first announced that he had yanked the story because it was, somehow, journalistically inadequate had nothing to do with fear of offending advertisers, or anything like that, he said. After it became clear that the News’ staff was seriously upset, he caved in and the story was scheduled to run, word-for-word the way it was written, March 6. Briscoe suit settled Sissy Farenthold’s $2.5 million suit against Gov. Dolph’ Briscoe and his campaign fund was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The suit was divided into two complaints, one against the Briscoe Dinner Committee and its manager, Jess Hay, in Dallas and one against Briscoe here in Austin. Negotiations on dropping the suit were between the Dinner Committee and Farenthold’s lawyers. Briscoe said he ordered his attorney, Joe Reynolds, to stay out of the discussions. Parties to the suit agreed not to talk about the settlement. According to a statement released by the Dinner Committee, Farenthold was paid an undisclosed sum for court costs and attorneys’ fees “from a legal fund created for the defense of the Dinner Committee case by Mr. Hay and some of his friends.” The Observer has reason to suspect that the settlement was something more than $100,000.