ANL STOP Have you read High tower’s column on page 2 announcing the crea tion of an Observer In vestigative Reporters Fund? If not, please do so. Then pluck out the envelope and send us money to get the thing going. Then you’ll see some Political Intelli gence all right. state aid to parties that won 20 percent or more of the vote in the last gubernatorial election i.e., the Democratic and Republican parties only. The measure passed last session but the U.S. Justice Department said it amounted to an abridgment of the voting rights of Mexican-Americans and -struck it down. This time around, White will meet with the Justice Department attorneys to get them to reconsider their opposition. The conference is set for March 3. White, Briscoe and other high-ranking state officials argue that the state should not have to bankroll the nominating activities of small parties, which could more conveniently conduct their internal contests at conventions. UT on defense Department of Defense figures show that both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University rank among the 500 top defense contractors for research, development, training and education. UT received $6,942,000 in fisdal 1976, placing it 92nd among all contractors. A&M was given $674,000 in contract work, and the Texas A&M Research Foundation another $379,000. Whenever the University of Texas wins a conference championship or beats A & M in their Thanksgiving football match its tower is bathed in orange light at night. This month, however, the tower was illuminated in honor of another occasion the acquisition of the UT library’s four millionth volume. The West Corporation of Houston has pledged $500,000 to the University of Texas to endow a chair in “constructive capitalism” at the graduate school of business. The Bank Administration Institute reports that white-collar crime \(especially embezzlement, fraud and average of $20,000 per job, which is four times better than the average haul of bank robbers. Texas’ insurance companies have come to the state insurance board with a proposal for an 8 percent hike in the average yearly premium for a homeowner’s policy. If approved, the rate increase would be the third granted the industry in the last year. Back in 1973, a little noticed press release announced the resignation of a vice president for marketing at Olympia Brewing Company, the firm that recently acquired San Antonio’s Lone Star beer. No reason was given for the resignation four years ago, but it now appears it was related to charges that the executive made payments up to $150,000 to beer retailers “to encourage sales.” Olympia says it instituted procedures after the resignation to prevent a recurrence of such questionable activity, but The Wall Street Journal reports the federal government has begun an investigation that “may include Olympia’s current trade practicies.” U S House banking committee reports that the gap is widening again between the rich and the poor. Citing Census Bureau data, he said that between 1947 and 1968 poorer Americans had been closing the gap, but it has been widening in the last decade. In 1975, for example, the incomes of the bottom 20 percent of American families increased by 4.3 percent, while those of the top 5 percent went up by 6 percent. Who, do you suppose, owns Houston’s Astrodome? Harris County? Judge Roy Hofheinz? No. Current owners are the General Electric Credit Corp. and the Ford Motor Credit Co., two astro-big consumer finance companies. The two firms repossessed “the eighth wonder of the world” when the Hofheinz empire stretched itself a little too thin. The Dallas Times Herald reports that the companies are offering the dome, the Houston Astros baseball team, and a couple of other throw-ins for something between $20 and $40 million. The Ford Motor Credit Co. is one of the loan outfits currently lobbying the Texas Legislature for a 25 percent hike in the interest rates for smalltime borrowers \(Obs., Today the Astrodome, tomorrow your Pinto. Grocery shopping The AgBiz Tiller, an independent newsletter monitoring agribusiness activities, reports that in both Houston and Dallas, four retail food chains control more than half the grocery marketa level of monopoly dominance that invites price fixing. Attracting 53 percent of grocery sales in the Houston area are Weingarten’s Kroger, and Rice. The Dallas market is even more concentrated, with four chains controlling 70.5 percent of the retail food trade. Safeway leads in Dallas with 33 percent of all supermarket sales. Then come Tom Thumb, Minyard’s, and Kroger. The value of Texas farmland rose by 11 percent in 1976, according t i o the U.S. News & World Report, and now averages $283 an acre. The magazine reports that prices have climbed 76 percent in the last five years. Average per-acre prices for American farmland now range from $76 in. New Mexico to $2,852 in New Jersey. March 11, 1977 9
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