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. 0 0 The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1977 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 69, No. 12 June 17, 1977 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower MANAGING EDITOR Lawrence Walsh EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger 0 ASSISTANT EDITORS: Luther Sperberg, Ray Reece PRODUCTION MANAGER: Lois Rankin STAFF ASSISTANTS: Laura Eisenhour, Susan Reid, John Gjedde, Bruce Selcraig CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Wade Roberts. Don Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Russell, Paul Sweeney, Laura Richardson, Marshall Breger A journal of free voices BUSINESS MANAGER Cliff Olofson OFFICE MANAGER Joe Espinosa Jr. ADVERTISING Jeff Reynolds Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July: 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $25. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 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 7413PP.Iff Adjourned Austin The 65th Legislature was a minor spectacle, and following its brief transit was a little like watching a sand crab scratch its way across a beach, darting sideways on its spindly legs, with no discernible purpose. The movements and purposes of the now-adjourned 65th were little clearer than a sand crab’s, and its anatomy about as absurd. It had 5,114 bills and resolutions in its system, a 140-day life span, 181 members functioning parttime, Dolph Briscoe for personality, Bill Hobby for brains, and Billy Clayton for muscle coordination. It went nowhere fast. On the whole, this was a Legislature only lobbyists could love, and many did. Corporate interests got what they came for: hard cash for the highway builders, eminent-domain powers for the coal slurry people, a branch banking loophole for the state’s big bankers, an increased weight limit for cement and dairy trucks, etc. Sen. Lloyd Doggett got it right when he said, “This session was little more than a service station for the lobby.” The rest of us didn’t fare nearly as well. A handful of needed reforms made it through both houses, but consider the legislation that didn’t: a utility sales-tax exemption, generic-drug substitution, group auto insurance, a homestead tax exemption for the elderly, tax relief for farmers, a ban on redlining, property tax reform, teacher pay raises, auto repair shop regulation, tenant habitability and farm worker bargaining rights, a refinery tax, county ordinance-making power, a proportional presidential primary, and the elimination of telephone directoryassistance charges. We could rear back and have our biennial laugh at the Legislature, but all the hilarity is killing us. Dolph Briscoe, Billy Clayton and other political crustaceans have been turning over the state to Fortune’s 500, practically holding the door open for the large corporate interests that are remaking Texas in their own image. Our family farmers are in desperate trouble; small businesses are falling before the crushing power of national retail chains and conglomerates; blue-collar workers here are closer to indentureship than are their counterparts in nearly any other state; increasing numbers of the elderly find themselves sorely pressed to afford both groceries and utilities; one out of every four Texans still lives in poverty, and the state’s maldistribution of wealth is more scandalous now than it was in Allan Shivers’ day. If we are to do anything about all of this, we’ve got to get serious about the Legislature. It is easier to laugh at it than to reform it, and progressives have been taking the easy way out for too long. We cannot go into another session without a comprehensive program of our own. This year, only the governor, the speaker and their corporate blood brothers had an overall plan for state spending and use of the unprecedented $3 billion surplus. It’s not that the session lacked good bills; rather, it’s that the good bills came to public notice individually and separately, with no serious effort on anyone’s part to draw them into a unified, progressive program. As a result, the legislative debate was framed entirely by Briscoe, Clayton & Co. Progressives spent at least 90 percent of their time this spring confronting the
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