They were conspicuously absent from the guest list for the presidential audience, and it was only because Reyes agreed to present their arguments that Carter was forced to squarely confront the Rodriguez issue. Carter denied a Dallas Times Herald reportwhich inconveniently appeared just hours before the meetingthat Drew Days, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, had recommended no federal action in the case. But the activists are convinced the recommendation was made, and attorney Sandoval says that Bell’s “personal interest” since the Houston discussion has taken the form of an in-house endorsement of Days’s tentative decision. The Justice Department’s main argument for inaction, according to Sandoval, is that Cain has already been successfully prosecuted in state court. But, he claims, another officer implicated in the killing wasn’t prosecuted at all, and Cain’s state sentence was not proportionate to his crime. If no federal prosecution occurs in the Rodriguez case, Sandoval adds, President Carter will have alienated the constituency he came to Houston to placate. The special session may not be dull, but it is going to be more drawn-out than anyone had expected, for one simple reasonthe electronic voting machine doesn’t work. The old machine has been gutted to make way for a fancier version, but the new one will not be ready until next January. That means roll call votes will take at least a half-hour each, and there are about a dozen such votes on an average day. When President Carter saw color photos of 12-year-old police mur der victim Santos Rodriguez of Dallas, reported State Rep. Ben Reyes \(Dmost horrible things he had ever seen.” But whether Carter’s reaction to the photographs Reyes displayed at a fence-mending meeting with Hispanic officeholders in Houston last month presages strong federal action against police misconduct in Texas remains an open questionmost notably in the Rodriguez case itself. Carter promised that Attorney General Griffin Bell would take a “personal interest” in the case as the July 24 deadline approached for federal prosecution of the boy’s killer, Dallas policeman Darrell Cain. \(Cain is serving a five-year state sentence for shooting Rodriguez but could serve a life sentence if conBut the activists who have pressed the Justice Department hardest on the brutality issuesuch as LULAC director Ruben Bonilla, San Antonio civil rights attorney Ruben Sandoval, and Vilma Martinez of MALDEF are still skeptical. Times may change, but 73-year-old Bexar County Judge A.J. Ploch, who is retiring this year, is not about to change with them. The Old Guard of San Antonio no longer runs things, and Ploch doesn’t like the trend one bit, so the Democrat has announced his endorsement of the Republican candidate for county judge, an anglo, over the Democratic nominee, Albert Bustamante. The judge is upset that MexicanAmericans are gaining dominance in local government. “We’ve got to stop this thing of minority groups getting together and electing a man,” Ploch said, apparently unaware that, in Bexar County, anglos are the minority. The San Antonio Express-News termed Ploch’s remark “racist,” and there was a flurry of demands by Mexican-American leaders that Ploch resign. He rushed out to say that he had not meant to cast any racial aspersions: “What I meant by the term ‘minority’ is a small, radical group on the West Side,” he said, a clarification that managed to double his jeopardy. As Oscar Moran, district director of the . League of United Latin American Citizens, said in a press conference, “Now, when the Mexican-American voters unite into a strong political force, we are labeled ‘radical,’ when in fact we are only exercising the one-man one-vote principle.” It was all old hat to Bustamante, a political moderate who had already been called “a Crystal City radical” by Ploch. “I couldn’t dignify the judge’s comments with a response,” said Bustamante, whose already-good chances for election are enhanced by the flap. Will Ploch resign? “Of course not,” said the oldtimer. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 e wr orrwt..y.n y J p..t vio
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.