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Moby Dolph threatens new constitution. New charter foundering Austin Three weeks before the vote, it was looking like a bad day at black rock for the new Texas constitution. As other states have discovered, a new charter is hard enough to pass when the state’s leadership unanimously favors it; when the eadership’s divided, ,passage is more in the nature of a miracle. Gov. Dolph Briscoe, who sat on his hands and mumbled vague discouragements during the writing process, finally, 21 days before the referendum, made his position clear. The governor said he would vote against all eight propositions. His strongest objection was to the legislative article that provides for annual sessions. “Texas would move toward a full-time legislative branch to replace the traditional concept of citizen-legislator,”.he said. What’s more, he said, annual sessions will cost taxpayers more money. \(See Ronnie Dugger’s story in this issue for details of the The constitution considered Austin The Legislature, acting as a constitutional convention, has presented the voters eight, and really nine, complex problems for the political intuition in the November voting on the new state constitution. Each of the eight summary propositions involves pluses and minuses that have to be not only counted, but also individually weighed. The ninth problem is whether, in summary, to be all for, all against, or selective about the new constitution. At the outset of this discussion, let me warn you that I give little weight to the comparison between the old constitution of 63,000 words, 220 times amended, and the proposed new one of 17,500 words. The argument that the old constitution is unworkable is invalid simply because the state government, mechanically, works, and the adjectives like “cumbersome” and “antiquated” bounce off the substantive issues like raindrops off stones. The only tangily-written article in the new constitution is the Bill of Rights that was taken over bodily from the old one. If the new constitution was a ringingly eloquent document arguments of literary merit might have some weight, but simplicity and clarity are almost entirely irrelevant to the issues of substance. Proponents of the new constitution have long tried to make it seem to be a civic virtue to favor whatever new docurrient was offered, and that clearly is absurd. Now there is a new argument of a similar kind. We are invited to look at all the big-money people who are opposing the entire constitution and decide, as reformers, that what they hate must be great. This is nothing but a cop-out, a thoughtless short-cut. The subtlest, the most troubling general problem, I believe, is whether, by supporting the new document, we preclude, probably for 30 years, the election of a citizens’ constitutional convention and the production of a more progressive document. The intuitive answer, the ninth answer, depends on one’s judgments about the first eight propositions on the November ballot. I propose to discuss these one by one. PROPOSITION 1 The article of most progressive import, the legislative, cannot be voted on separately. In Proposition 1 the Legislature requires that you vote yes or no on a package of three articles, the legislative, the executive, and the separation of powers sections. A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South Oct. 31, 1975 500 aiwp01101.0400,W410-