Just politics Campaigning does strange things to people, Witness Reagan Brown, currently running for state agriculture commissioner, the post that Dolph Briscoe appointed him to last year. Apparently overcome by candidate fever, Brown issued a Feb, 23 press release hailing the end of winter: “No group of Texans were more relieved to see this week’s sunshine than the state’s farmers and ranchers,” he said, as though he had something to do with it. Condos for college kids Is college not all that it could be because you’re living in a drab dorm? Is that what’s bothering you, bunky? Well, break out of the doldrums by getting daddy or mommy to buy you one of the neat condominium apartments being built in Austin for University of Texas students. For $90,000, you can move into a three-bedroom unit of “The Orange Tree” and be the talk of the Drag. If that’s a little steep for those of you working your way through college, you can get an efficiency for $27,500. The condos have been built by Hamlets Corporation of Houston, and 30 of the 32 units have been snapped up already, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman . Phase Two of the projectanother 36 apartments will be under construction beginning in April, and word is that there is already a waiting list of parents eager to buy so junior can have a bedroom of his own to study in. Hamlets Corporation is so enthused that Phase Three is on the drawing boards. Where’s Wright? An eight-year effort to establish an effective consumer voice within the councils of the federal government has been crushed in Congress. H.R. 6508, supported by President Carter, House Speaker Tip O’Neill and Ralph Nader, among others, would have created an Office of Consumer Representation to advocate consumer interests before government agencies and congressional committees, providing thereby some counterbalance to the lobbying pressure of business interests. The Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an ad hoc organization of some 300 corporations \(deceptively packaging themselves as the “Consumer Issues Working dollar lobbying blitz to overwhelm the proposal. On Feb. 8, the House voted 227 to 189 against consumers. Only eight Texans came down on the side of the angels on this one, and two of them get smudges on their gold stars. The six stalwarts are Jack Brooks of Beaumont, Bob Eckhardt of Houston, Barbara Jordan of Houston, Jim Mattox of Dallas, Jack Pickle of Austin and John Young of Corpus Christi. Henry Gonzalez voted against the bill on the final roll call, but after the electronic tote board showed that it had failed to pass, the San Antonio Democrat switched his vote to “yes,” thus becoming a consumer champion by way of the back door. More curious was the disappearing act of majority leader Jim Wright of Fort Worth, who had supported the administration’s bill all along. It is generally conceded that Wright had worked hard lobbying members for support in the days preceding the vote, but when the last-day crunch came, Wright was on an airplane to Hawaii. A spokesman from his office explained that Wright had a previous commitment to attend a fundraising dinner for a Hawaiian member of the House. However, the dinner was not till Friday night, and Wright departed Wednesday noon, just hours before the crucial vote. The Hawaiian congressman, Cecil Heftel, stayed in Washington to vote for the consumer bill, and, indeed, didn’t leave for home until Thursday. Wright was formally recorded for the bill on final passage, since he had arranged with an opponent of the measure to “pair” or cancel one another’s vote. Gerald McLeod At the bargaining table Seamen, construction workers and post office employees in Texas have union contracts up for negotiation in 1978. Some 12,000 members of the National Maritime Workers Union are based in state ports, and negotiations on their behalf are already underway. Although the current NMWU contract does not expire until June, union official Kirby McDowell told the Observer a new pact probably will be wrapped up by May, providing increases in wages, pension payments, cost-of-living allowances, and other benefits. Elehue Traylor, national vice president of the American Postal Workers Union said that negotiations for APWU members begin formally in April, though the union’s bargaining committee is busy now screening proposals for the contract sessions. Most Texas workers affected by labor negotiations this year are in the construction trades, and include bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, ironworkers, pipefitters, plumbers, ers, roofers and sign painters. Contract negotiations for their unions will be concentrated between March and July. Debbie Wormser Awarded His lead article in the Observer’s July 29, 1977, special issue on Texas bankholding companies earned Tim Mahoney third place honors in the investigative reporting category of this ‘year’s William Randolph Hearst Awards competition, the collegiate equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Mahoney, a journalism major at the University of Texas and an Observer regular, beat out competitors from 65 other undergraduate j-schools to win the $500 cash prize, created from the estate of the late newspaper magnate. David Guarino THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 ‘ .N.,
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.