Legislative Reprint Available now, in a single 80-page booklet, is the Observer’s complete coverage of the 66th Legislative Session. This compilation, taken from issues dated February 2 through June 22, 1979, includes all the articles published during the session plus the post-session summaries and the Observer’s evaluation of each member’s position on key votes. More than recent history, it’s a revealing documentation of the way Texas’ legislative politics works. If you were reading the Observer during the session, this reprint although it contains no new materials except for a short introduction and table of contentscould be useful as a reference work . . . or as a valued gift for friends. If you are a recent subscriber, here’s your chance to catch up with the other readers. Copies are $2 each, plus a 50 cents per order charge for postage and handling. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 West 7th Austin 78701 eit ..4%….Mie le 42 DECEMBER 28, 1979 HALF 1,111C..E ftCORXIS’MA G AZ LK E S DALLAS Bag Maus Store 4528 McKinney 5r 0owntown: Austin Alley, across iTOT \(Austin EA Centro College FORT WORTH 3306 F he’d 16301 Camp g Ridglea ShoppIng Center rn ACO 301 N. 25th 125th & Columb TEMPLE Towne & Country Mall 4401 S. General BIUCe Or. RICH ARDS\(314 r c SOB Lockwood FARMERS BRANCH Farmers Br h Shopping Center a velopment block grant funds, and fair insurance regulation. During the past two years, ACORN members have developed an agenda for the 1980s, a People’s Platform which was ratified by over 1,500 delegates last summer in St. Louis. In clear terms the preamble to this document spells out what so many have felt: “Enough is enough. We will wait no longer for the crumbs at America’s door. We will not be meek, but mighty. We will not starve on past promises, but feast on future dreams.” “Our plan is to build an American reality from the American rhetoric, to deliver a piece of the present and the fruits of the future to every man, to every woman, to every family.” Jesse Alaniz, a member from Houston, stated it simply: “The poor will close up the wide gap which divides us from the rich. This is not socialistic or communistic. It’s really just the start of democracy in action.” By J. Chrys Dougherty Austin No look at the next quarter-century can be complete without noting the quiet revolution taking place in the legal profession. It is a revolution the Observer will want to watch with constructive criticism. What is changing in part is the lawyer’s accessibility, or rather the accessibility of his store of knowledge. The American Bar Association estimates that, while the rich get first-class legal service and the very poor get adequate service, over 70 percent of Americans get no adequate legal service. Compare this statistic with the fact that 39,000 young lawyers are graduating in 1979 but only about 21,000 legal jobs are available. Part of the problem, recent studies have shown, is that middle-class people are afraid to seek help from lawyers, for four basic reasons. They fear: arcane legal language and an alien environment, perhaps of dubious virtue; excessive fees; the legal system’s complexity, its delays, its uncertain results; becoming enmeshed in transactions from which one can’t extricate oneself. Recognition of these fears is the first Direct democracy, though, is predicated upon electoral participation, and the “people” haven’t previously scored high on this count. But ACORN members in Dallas and Fort Worth recently showed that people will come out of the neighborhoods to the polls when the issues come alive. Dallas members unsuccessfully opposed a city bond package, but Fort Worth members helped defeat a property tax referendum which would have cut city services along with taxes. The import of these elections lies in the voter turnout in ACORN-organized neighborhoods: as much as a 151 percent rise in one Dallas precinct. Such a showing indicates the power the “little people” can have if they organize and participate. The Dallas-Fort Worth experience is a start in one direction in which ACORN members will be moving during the next 25 years. Mary Lassen is head organizer of Texas ACORN. Margot Beutler is the editor of the Texas ACORN News. step toward removing their causes. Efforts are even now being made to bring the lawyer to the customer who needs his help. Efforts to reduce the cost and difficulty of employing a lawyer include increased mechanization of the law office; employment of paralegals for routine chores; better division of tasks between young associates and seasoned practitioners; specialization in particular areas of law; and, in general, more efficient, cost-conscious use of lawyer time. New legal directories and lawyer referral information permit a more informed and free selection of counsel. Prepaid legal plans permit, by means of a monthly payroll deduction, access to a stated from a lawyer of one’s own choosing. The United States Supreme Court has removed, and now the Federal Trade Commission is seeking to remove, some advertising and solicitation barriers which, in their view, increase the cost of legal services unnecessarily. Finally, there is the rise of legal clinics, which deliver routine, standardized services at reduced costs and depend on high voluv-e fueled by heavy advertising. The cziiulative effect is clearly discernible. More people will get better legal services at a better price. Parallel efforts to reduce the costs and Taking the law to the people
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