Page 2


VRA battle continues As the Observer went to press, a federal court order prohibiting the secretary of state from mailing out new voter registration forms was still in effect. The new law requires reregistration of voters and it is opposed by lots of people on the left, particularly those involved in getting out the minority vote. Three Grayson County voters backed by the Texas Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed suit to block the registration procedure until it gets the once-over by the U.S. Department of Justice in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. A three-judge federal panel granted a preliminary injunction over the objections of Secretary Mark White. There is another hearing on the law scheduled Dec. 6. The Austin American-Statesman, whose editorial writers deplore the VRA about as much as they do the rising crime rate and welfare cheats, has given good coverage to VRA-related news. Some people are beginning to wonder, however, whether the paper’s desire to provide information or rather a streak of vindictiveness is behind the current A-S policy of listing how Central Texas representatives and the state’s senators voted on the bill in each and every news story that touches on the Voting Rights Act. The list of pros and cons was even inserted in one of Jon Ford’s political columns after he sent it to the paper. That extension of the VRA to Texas stirred a lot of gall, especially on the right. 6 The Texas Observer Political Intelligence Over in San Antonio the paper’s aren’t listing how all their reps voted on the issue, but U.S. Rep. Bob Krueger of New Braunfels, who voted for the act, has gotten an exceptional amount of publicity on his vote. Comptroller Bob Bullock, that all purpose gadfly, used to restrain himself from criticizing Mark White, his successor as secretary of state. “Doesn’t look good for a man to criticize a fellow who follows him in office,” Bullock would maintain, while grumbling about White’s performance in private. “Got to give him a chance to do it his way: just ’cause he isn’t doing it your way doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” Bullock held himself in as long as possible and finally ripped loose on Nov. 24 with a blast at White’s handling of the Voting Rights Act. White had vehemently opposed the extension of the federal act to Texas and Bullock charges that, having lost that battle, White is doing everything possible to louse up the law. He said White has “failed to act” on required submissions to the Justice Department in hopes of making “all his gloomy little predictions come true.” White has claimed that the state has a noble record of trying to enfranchise minority citizens. Bullock said the record has been “shameful. We have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into making every progressive change that has been made.” Bentsen balances Presidential hopeful Lloyd Bentsen did a delicate balancing act on the common situs bill, but it remains to be seen whether his performance was acceptable to either labor on the left or the Chamber of Commerce and commercial builders on the right. Bentsen voted against the bill, one of labor’s major legislative goals for the year, when it passed the Senate on a vote of 52-45. The measure would permit strikers to close down an entire construction site in a dispute with a single subcontractor. But Bentsen also voted three times for cloture to kill filibusters that were blocking passage of the bill. The cloture motions succeeded by a much narrower margin than passage of the bill, and so those votes were very valuable to labor. Bentsen’s staff is explaining that the senator usually votes for cloture, the ex. ceptions being on a few occasions when he wanted to block floor amendthents that had not been considered in the regular Senate committee procedure. His first vote to uphold a filibuster was in 1974, when he voted against cloture on a Hubert Humphrey amendment to phase out the oil depletion allowance. Since then he has voted five more times against cloture. Dr. Phil Gramm, Bentsen’s rightwing Democratic senatorial challenger, called Bentsen’s votes on the picketing bill “two faced.” Capitol Hill News Service reported that Bentsen personally called George Meany to tell him he could not support the bill. Dan Mundy, legislative director of the AFLCIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, told CHNS that “it would be difficult” for labor to support any presidential candidate who voted against the common situs bill. Gerald Brown, head of Texas’ building and trades unions, also warned Bentsen that his vote would cost him labor support. However, after the vote, Brown said he was still supporting Bentsen. The guy is missing Salute to Associated Press writers Lee Jones and Jack Keever for their brief series on Texas’ invisible governor. Since no one ever seems to know where Briscoe is, AP had some trouble documenting his absences. The reporters had to get an attorney general’s opinion before Briscoe’s staff would let them see even the records of Briscoe’s state airplane, and they were entirely unable to trace the peregrina