Briscoe .. . programs go on for page after page program standards, fiscal auditing, client rewant to write a blank check. So I talked to Bill Wells on the Legislative Budget Board and he drafted a rider. We thought it was one way to have some overview from the executive branch as an agency moves into a new program.” What the rider says is that the TYC gets the money for alternate care of juveniles “contingent upon a finding by the governor that the following fact exists: that the Texas Youth Council has developed and adopted a plan for allocation of the appropriation for community assistance which takes into consideration full utilization of existing facilities in a given area prior to the allocation of funds for new facilities in odd as some riders the state has seen. Unless Briscoe had some master computer list of all the facilities for juveniles in the state and their usage and occupancy rates; presumably down to the Y-Teens enrollment, he’d be hard put to determine full utilization of existing facilities, One has visions of George Lowrance, the governor’s man, haring around the state, opening file drawers in teen centers to be sure they’re full of folders. During the Feb. 18 meeting of the House Subcommittee on Juvenile Corrections, Wilson said Briscoe was interpreting the rider correctly. He Travis, the governor’s budget officer, who showed up to explain the governor’s actions. Wilson said their interpretation was in line with legislative intent. “Somebody should have control rather than making a blanket grant of $4 million and saying, ‘Here, go out and do go.’ ” Yet Wilson told the Observer on Feb. 25, “I’m not sure, I think the governor and the way they have handled that rider is not exactly 100 percent. I’m not personally sure that the way they’ve handled it, they probably have bungled it. We wanted the TYC to go to the governor or somebody and say, here’s what we’re going to do with the $4 million. I never envisioned this piecemeal business.” Last Sept. 5, Ron Jackson submitted TYC’s plans for community corrections for juveniles to Briscoe, complete with the detailed requirements for the auditing of such programs. The TYC’s plan was based on an earlier inter-agency report by a task force that was mostly made up of Briscoe’s people. On Sept. 30, Briscoe wrote Jackson, saying that he was releasing $1 million. “This amount should be sufficient to meet the immediate needs of the program.” Briscoe further asked five questions about the TYC’s plan, all of them good, sensible questions. Jackson eventually sent good, sensible answers, but he didn’t get Briscoe’s letter until Oct. 20. The governor’s office seems to have a problem getting its letters mailed. On Sept. 29, Briscoe wrote Comptroller Bob Bullock, authorizing him to release the first $1 million for the program. That letter didn’t get to Bullock until Oct. 14. On Feb. 12 of this year, Briscoe sent a second letter to Bullock authorizing the release of another $1 million. That was a big surprise to everybody at the Feb. 18 hearing. According to Jon Ford, the respected columnist for The Austin AmericanStatesman, Atty. Gen. John Hill had been leaning on Briscoe to release the money. In his first letter to Bullock, Briscoe cited the rider in toto and wrote; “I have determined that the specified fact has been partially met.” In his second letter, Briscoe again cited the rider and said, “I have determined that the specified fact has been sufficiently met.” Jim Phillips, who is counsel for Juvenile Corrections and its parent Social Services Committee, is intrigued on a philosophical level as to whether there can be a partial fact. In the meantime, the effort to start community corrections programs is getting all balled up. Pat Ayres said some applicants for the grants who conscientiously took the time to submit detailed plans have been left out. Stanley Pindar, the TYC director of community services, said, “We had 52 applications in the beginning. Momentum has been lost.” TYC was able to fund only 24 projects with the first $1 million and didn’t know the second would be forthcoming. The unfunded applicants have to re-work their budget proposals each month for what’s left of the fiscal year, which gets to be a drag when it goes on for month after month. Hector Ayala of the Houston Association for Residential Treatment Agencies is so upset by Briscoe’s holding up the funds that he is seeking a conference with Judge Justice to see if the “impoundment” violates the judge’s order. The prograM is now six months behind. The efforts that have been made to do something about the situation make a classic study in state government a la Texas. The machinery of Texas government was designed by Rube Goldberg and is lubricated with molasses. Jim Phillips started by calling the governor’s office in January. “I was going to write a letter to find out why he was holding up the money, but I didn’t know who to write to. I wanted to go through channels. So I called the general number over there and explained who I was and that I was calling about the money for TYC community corrections and was there anyone there who could explain the governor’s thinking to me. They said no one there could. They said the governor was handling it all himself. But I couldn’t talk to him because he was out of town.” Phillips remained under the impression that only the governor knew why he was doing what he was doing until he saw Dicky Travis quoted in a newspaper article. Travis says the governor is holding back the money because he wants to be sure the programs will work. He said the governor does not want to hinder the start of the program. That didn’t get anyone much forwarder since he is hindering the start of the program and since the TYC wouldn’t be funding the programs if the TYC didn’t think the programs would work. The TYC presumably has some expertise in such matters. The next step was to find out if Briscoe can legally do what he is doing. The logical candidate to request an attorney general’s opinion on the matter is Ron Jackson, head of the affected agency. But Jackson was at the Feb. 18 meeting assuring everyone that he could get along with only half the money for his program, he didn’t have to have it: he could just cut his program in half and cut down on probation services so he can put some of the probation money into community corrections since he considers that more important. “There is a tendency in the social service agencies to be scared to death of getting in bad with the Legislature,” said.Sara Speights, chief staffer of the House Study Group. “They’re afraid their budgets will get cut if they make any noise and annoy anyone. Ron’s a classic case. He should be tough, but he’s saying, ‘Oh. We can get along.’ ” Jackson said, “I’m not going to ask for an a.g.’s opinion without the board’s O.K. I wouldn’t without the board’s approval. I could recommend to the board that they ask for an a.g.’s opinion, but they’re not gonna want to do it. All of them were appointed by Governor Briscoe. I mean, they have a certain loyalty, they’re not going to want to go against the governor. And the fact is that by this time, if we got the full appropriation, it would be difficult to spend it all.” A TYC staffer who would very much like to see a community-based corrections program in Texas said, “Ron’s position is just administrative caution. It would be unrealistic for him to do otherwise. What we’re doing now is implementing everything we planned for, but on a reduced scale. We wanted to have six regional coordinators. We’re setting up one pilot project in San Antonio instead. If the funds came tumbling down today, we’d have to scramble to use ‘ern. But we could do it.” SO with Jackson unwilling to raise a stink, it was back to the Legislature. Reps. Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin and eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas \(he chicano, she hold-up of funds. Wilson, who wrote the rider in the first place was, as of Feb. 18, saying the governor was doing the right thing. Rep. Buddy Temple of Diboll, chair of the subcommittee, seemed undecided. Rep. Joe Hanna of Breckenridge didn’t attend the meeting. Staff members conferred. Much of the state’s business \(and the nation’s, for that Speights, ‘and Barrientos’ man Richard March 12, 1976 3
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