Keep the canal, by jingo! No one knows who jerked Speaker Billy Clayton’s string, but suddenly last month he bullied his way into the national debate over the now-approved Panama Canal treaties, summoning all the foreign policy expertise one would expect a representative from Springlake to have. Coming straight out of right field, Clayton issued a special “report” on the economic impact the treaties would have on Texans, distributing the document to every member of the U.S. Senate and to a no-doubt-puzzled Washington press corps. The hastily contrived report \(it was whipped out in ten that “untold thousands of Texas jobs will be in jeopardy and the economic losses to the state could run into the billions of dollars if the U.S. Senate chooses -to sign over the Panama Canal as is now contemplated.” Statistics? You bet. The speaker put four into a press release on the report, just to show that he knew any heavy analysis like this needed numbers in it. For example, he said that treaty approval “would mean a $180,000-perday increase in the cost of Alaskan oil now coming to Texas.” How did he arrive at that? Well, you see, “It is generally conceded that once Panama takes over the operations of the canal, inert ciency in operation will rise greatly.” \(He cited lack of maintenance, civil uprisings, andLord save uslabor strikes as factors contributing to a possible shutdown of a Panamaniancontrolled canal. So, reasoned the Springlake economist, oil refiners would bypass the canal and haul Alaskan crude to Texas by shipping clear around Cape Horn, adding 90 cents a barrel to transportation costs thereby. Such is the logic the speaker served up. And, as if he knew down deep that a cynical public might not swallow such thin stuff, Clayton larded the thing with economic jargon”ripple effect,” “impacted,” “input-output model,” and the like. If the speaker’s aides are to be believed, Clayton thought up this bit of silliness himself. It is the Texas taxpayer, however, who’s had to foot the $300 printing bill and shell out God knows how much for hand delivery of copies to all those Capitol Hill offices. Clayton noted that Representatives S. L. Abbott of El Paso, Wilhelmina Delco of Austin, Joe Hanna of Breckenridge, Joe Hubenak of Rosenberg, Jim Nugent of Kerrville, Ron Wilson of Houston, Brad Wright of Houston, and Joe Wyatt of Victoria had chipped in “volunteer” staff to do the basic “research,” and he singled out Dr. Herb Grubb of the Texas Department of Water Resources for his “remarkable job gathering and digesting data.” While Clayton maintains that his personal opinions on the canal treaties in no way colored the findings, he did call on Texans “to express their displeasure at this unnecessary intrusion on the economy of Texas.” He argued also that the U.S. should insist on a prerogative to intervene in canal operations to insure its “efficient” operation. Jamie Murphy The business favorite The people of Houston’s 18th congressional district are just a few days away from choosing among seven candidates vying for the seat being vacated this` yearby retiring Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, but recently filed financial reports show that the city’s business establishment has had no trouble making up its collective mind on which one to backthe big businessmen are putting their 12 APRIL 28, 1978 money in city councilman Judson Robinson’s campaign. Both of the other two major candidatesState Rep. Mickey Leland, generally considered the frontrunner in the race, and Anthony Hall, who has the AFL-CIO endorsement report some contributions from executives and corporate political action committees, but Robinson is clearly the downtown crowd’s chosen one. In particular, Robinson is indebted to Houston’s powerful developer interests, with fully half of his $38,000 in contributions coming from a network of construction firms, mortgage lenders, engineers, architects, investment firms, hotel developers, and real estate executives. Among Robinson’s other backers are Bernard Weingarten, chairman of the supermarket chain, Jackson Hinds Jr., president of Entex Oil, Francisco Lorenzo, president of Texas International Airlines, and George Mitchell, president of Mitchell Energy and Development. The business PACs of the city have also favored the councilman, though they have covered their bets with a little something for the other two. Houston Natural Gas’s Political Support Association gave $250 to each of the major contenders, while First City National Bank’s Good Government Fund and Baker & Botts’s Bluebonnet Fund each gave $1,000 to Robinson and $500 apiece to Leland and Hall. Asked why his man has attracted the business interests, James Robinson, Judson’s brother and campaign manager, offered this succinct analysis: “I would say, number one, that those people who have a concern about the health of the city . . . would say [Robinson] is better.” Aside from his business friends, however, Robinson does not have many contributors, and he has had to borrow $32,000 to finance his effort. With $52,000 raised, Leland has had the most success with contributors, and most of his money has come from small givers. In addition, he has borrowed $10,000. Hall’s April 10 report shows that he has raised $22,000 and borrowed $28,000. Tony Canino
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