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Warren Burnett. . . from page 2 supports the notion that there is little will at any level of government to challenge police misbehavior. These prosecutionstoken acts at bestcould do to chicanos and blacks what the death penalty and thousandyear sentences have done to most Americans: incline them to believe that while we have such sanctions at our disposal, something important is being done about crime. Those on the receiving end of police violence must be made to know that a few federal prosecutions and a few federal sentences will do next to nothing to change police attitudes and behavior toward them. No answer to police brutality seems easy or complete. but I would, for one thing, trade a bundle of prosecutions for a police civilian review board on which representation is fair. This is not easily sold to the’people who are furnishing the heads against which the flashlights are bent and on which the “slappers” make their grisly music. Whatever the answer is, it is not twice putting a citizen in jeopardy for the same. offense. Ransom for today’s equity ought not be a thinning of the Bill of Rights. Warren Burnett, a regular Observer contributor, practices law in Odessa. SPEND YOUR WINTER UNDER THE PALMS! De Luxe Housekeeping — Motel Suites and Rooms Reasonable Weekly & Seasonal Rates Credit Cards honored Secluded Resort Luxury, Air Conditioned Color TV In All Rooms Heated Pool Spacious Lawns Coin Laundry Phones Near Restaurants, Golf, Shopping, HemisFair Plaza. Convenient to Airport, Brooke Army Hospital, Randolph Field, Ft. Sam Houston. ALOHA INN 1435 AUSTIN HWY. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 78209 San :414tOttiO TEXAS banks, and not just a single bank. Call it what they will, Flag Card is the very soul of branch banking. Official reaction to Flag Card and other holding company practices has been negligible, though there is a strong likelihood that both the state and U.S. attorneys general will soon launch important investigations into bank deposit concentration and branching activity in Texas with an eye toward possible prosecutions under provisions of federal antitrust law on one hand and the Texas constitution on the other. In Austin, assistant attorney general Tom Pollan has, since August, been heading an informal, preliminary staff inquiry into branch banking violations. And this week, John Hill, Pollan’s boss, is scheduled to decide whether his office will undertake a full-scale investigation. In addition to gathering evidence from a number of sources in Texas, Pollan has been closely following a Michigan case pending before the Federal Reserve Board. Michigan law prohibits branch banking outside a 25-mile radius of a given parent bank, but holding companies in the state appear to be circumventing the law. Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley has taken action, joining independent bankers in a suit challenging Fed approval of a new acquisition by Michigan National Corporation. Kelley and the independents are fighting the same holding company practices that prevail in Texasgroup identification of subsidiary banks, interlocking directorates, centralized executive,: training, advertising and data processing, common logos, and especially MNC’s five-year use of a depositor i.d. system similar to Texas Commerce’s Flag Carda banking service network, euphemistically called “accommodation transactions,” that allows customers to deposit, withdraw and make loan payments at any subsidiary bank. Kelley has also filed his own lawsuit in state court alleging that MNC’s practices violate Michigan’s branch banking prohibition. At the federal level, Rep. Henry Reuss banking committee, has asked the Justice Department to look into the antitrust implications of holding companies’ growing control of bank deposits. While Reuss argues for a nationwide investigation, his Sept. 28 letter to Justice’s antitrust division chief cited the Texas experience in particular, using figures on bank concentration from the Observer’s special issue. He termed the majority control of Texas deposits by the banking conglomerates “amazing” in light of the state’s century-old branch banking ban, and he asked the antitrust division to submit its findings early next year when his committee begins to consider appropriate legislative remedies. It is important that the holding company/branch banking question be officially resolved. No one can blame Texas Commerce Bancshares or any of its competitors for stretching the law as can get away with it, but there comes a point when public officials are supposed to assert the public interest and at least define certain boundaries. It is obvious that we have reached that point. In the absence of an official determination of the permissibility of branching activities, the state’s big bankers not only are working their will and making a mockery of the constitutional ban, but are even characterizing state inaction as de facto approval of their growing empires. Leslie Peacock, vice chairman of TCB, said in October that the Legislature’s failure this past session to curb holding company growth “means that the public has accepted holding companies as operating in their interest.” Nothing could be further from the truth, and the resounding rejection at the polls last month of the constitutional amendment proposing limited branching through the use of electronic banking terminals in grocery stores and other retail outlets proves it. It’s time for Texas officials to act on the issue. Tim Mahoney is an Austin tree surgeon, student and Observer reporter. His work on bankholding companies has been financed by the Observer’s Investigative Reporters Fund. FARENTHOLD: A TEXAS CHRONICLE A 35-minute, 16mm color documentary on the political career of Frances “Sissy” Farenthold. Winner, CINE Eagle, 1977 “FARENTHOLD” captures the sincerity and articulate commitment of this remarkable Texan. . . .” The Texas Observer Rental $40 Sale $375 Write to: FARENTHOLD FILM LIBRARY P.O. Box 315 Franklin Lakes, N.J. 07417 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19