poLPAI BRIscoE “ri k/1-1 ,02. PARR075 &F-JelE/ 1701 AfUogA/r; 01-50A4 dwAyAle P6vEro chairmanship of the House ways and means committee next session. Questioned about this possibility, Peveto snapped, “I don’t operate that way,” though he added that he would be the logical choice for the post. Others thought Peveto had merely been duped by Clayton, while a minority held that the man had lost his mind. The ugly Long before Peveto’s surprising move roused the ire of some of his fellow reformers, it had come to be a cantankerous session, with members having at each other freely. Commenting on Bill Hobby’s opposition to some of his pet bills, Rep. Doug McLeod of Galveston called the lieutenant governor “the cow pattie on the dancehall floor.” During a particularly heated House debate, Tim Von Dohlen charged that John Bryant came to Austin intending to make a charade of the special session, and that Bryant’s name should be listed in the dictionary under “charade.” Bryant, in turn, said that “If Mr. Von Dohlen wants to get the dictionary out, let’s get the dictionary out and redefine the word `phony.’ Mr. Von Dohlen has given the word new meaning.” By far the ugliest aspect of the session, though, was Speaker Clayton’s highhanded tactics. On his way to an unprecedented third term at the head of the House, and with visions of higher office dancing before his eyes, Clayton steamed into the special session intent on having his way and emerging a month later as some sort of Howard Jarvis in ostrich-skin boots. But on the first vote taken, Clayton was beaten, and he headed downhill from there. As the session labored on without making real legislative progress, the speaker appeared more inept than ever before. He developed a siege mentality that made matters worse, isolating him within a narrow clique of trusted colleagues, shutting out advice from all others. He also unleashed his staff on those who were not cooperating. Rep. John Hoestenbach of Odessa, a conservative Democrat, angrily charged that school officials in his district were getting calls from the speaker’s office urging them to pressure him to vote Clayton’s way. Then, Rep. Buddy Temple of Diboll unearthed an enemies list that Clayton was keeping, based on whether or not members were voting with him. Several members were genuinely shaken by this last revelation, but the speaker tried to dismiss them as a bunch of soreheads out to wreck the session. A few hours later, a group of about 50 legislators of all political persuasions convened in a swank Austin watering hole to Vent their anger and plot strategy. Originally dubbed the “Shifty Fifty,” the group decided on a more dignified name, “The Sam Houston Caucus.” There was some early talk among them of coming up with a challenger to Clayton in the next speaker’s election, but it was soon decided that they lacked the strength for that, so they settled on a less ambitious aide, former Young Americans for Freedom leader Jack Gullahorn. “Arrogant,” “hostile” and “hit man” are three of the printable things that members have to say about Gullahorn, who is given to such comments as, “It’s politics. We’re not up here playing tiddlywinks. [This rebellion is] all part of an attempt to hurt the speaker.” The caucus succeeded in dumping Gullahorn \(though, for appearance’ sake, Clayton said he was going to leave anytion on rulesnot that he has agreed to any changes, but he has promised to meet with caucus members to discuss their concerns. The caucus met five times during the special session and intends to convene monthly until the new session commences in January. But many of their number are lame ducks, including Hoestenbach, their chairman, so the staying power and long-term punch of the caucus is questionable. However, at least they put some fetters this time on Clayton’s worst instincts. The speaker knew about half-way through the session that he was not going to be able to deliver the substance of the tax relief he had promised the public in July, so he made a clever shift in the amendment’s formhe changed its title, which will appear on the November ballot, from “special session amendment” to “tax relief amendment.” This bit of public-relations gimmickry didn’t help much with the membership, however; Clayton was twice unable to get the majority he needed to pass the bill in the House, and on the third vote he had to leave the speaker’s podium and personally take to the floor to beg, borrow or steal enough votes to put his product across. On final passage, Clayton’s coiffed hair was mussed and his face showed relief, rather than exultation. A measure of the rancor that this 30-day ordeal and Clayton’s methods produced was that Governor Briscoe signed the proposed amendment in the seclusion of his office, without the usual fanfare and without inviting any of the legislative sponsors to bask in the public spotlight. No one wanted to celebrate and no one really wanted credit for the session’s handiworknot even Billy Clayton. On the record Finally, of course, each of the 181 senators and representatives must share the credit and blame, so the Observer has assembled below a record of their individual performance on several key votes. As one senator explained off the record, “the Senate is better at protecting its members,” so the Observer found only three public tallies in the chamber that offer a clear test of the members’ sentiments on tax relief. Most of the Senate action was in committees. For example, Governor Briscoe had proposed a measure that would give Texans the broad powers of initiative and referendum, both of which are effective tools for direct democracy. The Observer favors this step, and it would have made a good test vote, but it never got out of the state affairs committee, failing by one vote to get a majority of the 13 members \(Andujar, Braecklein, Doggett, Hance, Kothmann and Traeger voted for it; Aiken, Brooks, Longoria and 4 SEPTEMBER 8, 1978
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