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Charles L. Black Jr., Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University, came to Austin April 19 to tell the House criminal jurisprudence committee that the Texas death penalty statute is even more vague than a Georgia capital punishment law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Scoring the Texas law as “defective,” Black, a Texas native, urged the committee to heed Rep. Sam Hudson’s call for a two-year moratorium on all state executions. Hinging on the Dallas Democrat’s bill is the life of Ernest Benjamin Smith Jr. and sixty other death row inmates at Huntsville. Smith is the convicted accomplice to a 1973 robbery murder of a Dallas convenience store clerk. “I have come home to talk on this life and death subject,” Black told the committee. “I beseech you to take a chance. When the switch is pulled it will forever have been too late.” Hudson’s bill was sent off to subcommittee. In the meantime, Dallas federal Judge Robert Potter has issued a stay of execution for Smith. Loans and Transamerica Financial Corp. The finance companies are after a rate increase of up to 25 percent on small loans; they claim they need the hike to stay in business \(Obs., Feb. 11 and ent picture in its latest annual report, which boasts that Transamerica Financial enjoyed a record year in 1976, posting a 40 percent gain in earnings over the previous year. The state-paid lobbyists of the University of Texas System have won another round, and this time with an eleventh-hour assist from House Speaker Billy Clayton. Every time the Legislature extends a new benefit to the state work force, the UT System fights to maintain a distinction between the personnel policies that apply to college and university employees \(except faculty and adminisstate employees. Senate Bill 142, the Texas Higher Education Personnel Act, would chisel that distinction in legislative stone. The bill sailed through. the Senate 30-1 under the unlikely sponsorship of Babe Schwartz. When officers of the University of Texas Employees Union scheduled a meeting with Schwartz to ask why a labor liberal was doing them in, they were greeted instead by UT System lawyer Mike Hudson, who told them chummily, “Don’t worry. If it doesn’t work out we can come back next session and get it changed.” In the House, Lyndon Olsen of Waco is carrying the bill and, since Clayton referred it to the higher education committee chaired by Olsen it looked like a sure thing. A Schwartz aide was rumormongering that the bill was backed by labor, which sounded credible enough coming from Schwartz’s office. But on March 28, while a UT lobbyist hovered outside the door, the United Labor Legislative Council \(the lobbying thumbs down on the hill. By April 1, UTEU had mustered the votes to keep the bill locked up in committee. Labor’s happy ending was rewritten on April 7, when Speaker Clayton “corrected” his committee referral and sent the bill to the state affairs committee, whence it has a ticket to ride. Adolph Coors Co. has begun hiring strikebreakers to replace some 1,500 members of the Brewery Workers Union who had walked out of Coors’ Golden, Colo., plant.The strike was precipitated by Coors’ insistence that employees take lie detector tests. AFL-CIO president George Meany termed the lie detector ploy a “gross violation of human dignity” and called on working people everywhere to boycott the beer. Coors, long an antiunion operation, has been the target for several years of a boycott by chicanos who have charged the firm with discriminatory hiring and promotion practices. The Colorado brewer, the fifth largest in the country, controls 26 percent of the Texas beer market. Runoff roundup Corpus Christi’s maverick mayor, Jason Luby, made an issue out of election runoff scheduling and defeated establishment-backed dentist Bill Tipton on April 23. Luby, who had won runoffs by narrow margins in his first two elections, argued for a Saturday and not a Tuesday election “for the workingman.” The court of civil appeals agreed and overruled Secy. of State Mark White. Surprisingly, independent Luby picked up support on the rich, anglo southside, where he had been expected to do poorly. The win fills Luby’s sails for a possible congressional race next spring against longtime representative John Young. In the council runoffs, incumbent Ruth Gill was the only Unify Corpus Christi Party candidate who could manage a victory; the three remaining seats went to the Seven for Corpus Christi Party. Save for David Diaz, who took Tipton’s vacated seat, everyone on the council is an old face. In El Paso’s April 16 runoff, chal lenger Ray Salazar overwhelmed incumbent Mayor Don Henderson and the well-fueled, $109,000 campaign he had run for himself and a ticket of six running mates. Only two of Henderson’s running mates, both incumbents, were elected to the board of aldermen, and local observers say this year may spell the end of ticket voting. Five of the new aldermen and Salazar all ran on their own. Registered voter turnout in the runoff jumped ten points citywide from 26 percent on April 2 to 36 percent and by as much as 50 to 100 percent in Mexican-American districts canvassed by some 450 Salazar workers just before the runoff. Voter dissatisfaction over utility rates is responsible for the new cast of city government. Salazar pledged during his campaign to review all utility rates gas, electric and even telephone which in El Paso are regulated by the city. Rose Renfroe was unseated in the April 16 Dallas runoff after a bitter campaign against former Church of Christ minister Don Hicks. The defeat came hard for Renfroe, a fiery urban populist-cum-busing opponent. She blamed “big Dallas money,” the Oak Cliff Tribune, and members of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce for her almost two-to-one drubbing. Also losing in the city council runoff was Jim Bradshaw, a union-backed former AFL-CIO officer, who finished 167 votes behind Dallas osteopath John Walton.