Page 9


The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1977 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. LXVIX, No. 2 January 28, 1977 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lawrence Walsh CORRESPONDING EDITOR Hoyt Purvis EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely. STAFF ASSISTANTS: Laura Eisenhour, Luther Sperberg. A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. BUSINESS MANAGER Cliff Olofson OFFICE MANAGER Joe Espinosa Jr. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co.. biweekly except for a three week interval between issues twice a year, in July and January; 25 issues per year. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Street Austin, Texas 78701 512-477-0746 “430V: Powers that be Austin And now: The Legislature. The very word triggers an instinct to hide the silverware. Like it or not, however, they are here for a four-month stay, like 181 kids come to summer camp. Individually, they may be cherubs; collectively, they are trouble. Serious damage could be done. But it is not the Legislature we need fear as much as it is the power behind it: The Lobby. It never goes home. On the facing page is a representation of that power, a partial list of the hundreds of big business interests that have formally declared their intent to influence legislation this go-around. And you can bet they will. Of course there are others in the lobby beside big business. There are large constituent groups like AFL-CIO, Texas Farmers Union, Common Cause, and Texas State Teachers Association. And there are several of what might be called your specialty interests, like the Texas Federation of Progressive Hairstylists, the Self-Assassination Information Bureau of Texas, the Texas Horseracing Association, and Mount Olive Cemetery. But power in the legislative chambers belongs overwhelmingly to big business. As individual firms, as members of trade associations, and as members-in-good-standing of the corporate lobby, these economic interests will have more to say over the shape of legislation than all the other registered interests combined. Through their power in Austin, they largely define the public interest of Texans. Consider the heft of just one group, the Texas Association of of a sound and equitable revenue and expenditure program for the state” as TAT’s purpose. Since “revenue” means taxation, and “expenditure program” the state’s budget, these folks are interested in everything the Legislature does. Who are they? Merely the largest corporations in Texas, including Exxon, Mobil, Shell, ARCO, Pennzoil, Chevron, Texaco, Tenneco, Gulf, Conoco, Dresser, Sears & Roebuck, Hughes Tool, Anderson Clayton, Houston Lighting & Power, LTV, Brown & Root, Stauffer Chemical, Zale,` Texas Power & Light, Texas Instruments, and Southwestern Bell. Not your average taxpayers, but it is fair to say that they will have more influence than most when it comes to deciding what is and isn’t “sound and equitable” legislation. The lobbyists for these interests are a far cry from the caricatures of Thomas Nast: corpulent figures, lurking in the corridors with their pockets full of boodle. It’s not even the wide open Lobby-that-was of the Fifties and Sixtiesworking directly and boldly on the floor with members, willing to lose legislators, and otherwise taking care of those who went along. The whirl of bottles, blondes, and bribes is not over with, you understand, but the main business now is carried on with a great deal more finesse through PR types and lawyers who like to call themselves “Austin representatives” rather than “lobbyists.” It is a polyester version of the coarser fabric that used to cover the Capitoldull, but still effective.