accepting a bribe; other powerful politicians were tarnished by suspect trading in Sharp’s stock and by no-collateral loans from Sharp’s bank. THE CHANGING GUARD: AN EXPANDED BUSINESS LEADERSHIP By the 1970s the Suite 8F group was seriously weakened by the deaths of core members and the arrival of numerous corporate executives from across the nation. Between the late 1960s and the late 1970s more than 150 companies moved subsidiaries, divisions, or headquarters to Houston. The magazine Texas Business commented that the older movers and shakers in Texas were being eclipsed, in part, by urban-based capitalists from outside and that the “influx of corporations into the state has both enhanced and diminished the power of the business establishment.” Rice University professor Chandler Davidson has argued that since the 1970s the Suite 8F oligarchy has been replaced by “a more expanded oligarchy in which the key institution is the Chamber of Commerce, whose job is made more difficult by the politicized electorate.” Since the 1970s there seems to have been an effort to include most executives of major Houston corporations on the Board of the Houston Chamber of Commerce renamed the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce in 1987. The chamber’s board of directors has come to include the top executives of a majority of Houston’s major industrial corporations, banks, newspapers, and law firms, as well as a token number of education officials. Notably, the board includes representatives from most of the Suite 8F original firms: Vinson and Elkins; Fulbright and Jaworski; First City Bancorporation; Texas Commerce Bancshares; Texas Eastern; Tenneco; Brown and Root; and the Houston Chronicle. The oil, banking, insurance, law, and industrial firms created by the Suite 8F crowd still have major representatives at the chamber. However, the leading executives in these firms do not wield the great personal power the members of the Suite 8F crowd once did. Corporate executives on the board illustrate the importance of the large multinational corporation in contemporary Houston firms that are major employers and taxpayers. And the executives of these firms often serve on the boards of others firms, the interlocking directorates used effectively by earlier generations of Houston’s business leaders. Moreover, real estate developers today constitute a distinctive interest group. Kenneth Schnitzer, head of the Century Development Corporation, symbolizes the growing importance of the major developers in Houston’s business leadership in the 1970s and 1980s. Developers like Schnitzer, Gerald D. Hines, Walter Mischer, and George P. Mitchell have become members of the chamber’s board of directors, shifting the chamber’s concern toward the decaying infrastructure of the city and the diversification of the economy. Reportedly, in the late 1980s, a few men on the chamber board have the power to significantly improve the chances of a favorable decision or to block a major decision in a situation where the local business community faces either a crisis or a major development project. There is no longer a small oligarchy of a half dozen or so men running the city. Yet there remains, depending on the issue, a group of men who constitute what one source called a “yes or no” elite. These men and this leadership is all male still hold substantial power to shape the economic and political agendas for the city of Houston. POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V DEMOCRATS see the August 13 special election of Steve Carriker to the state Senate as an omen of good things to come. Carriker scored a solid district-wide victory over Republican businessman Bobby Albert and now has at least a temporary claim to the seat vacated by Senator Ray Farabee, D-Wichita Falls. Carriker will have to win again in November to serve the full fouryear term. Carriker, a progressive Representative from the small West Texas town of Roby, seemed to have a disadvantage in the race, due to his opponent’s electoral base in Wichita Falls. And yet Carriker won not only his opponent’s home county, but all 30 counties in the district. His margin of victory was 62 percent to 38 percent. Albert employed the usual Republican campaign tactic of branding Carriker as a tax-and-spend liberal. Carriker rejected the label and campaigned as someone who represents the interests of the farmers and working people of the district. He also benefited from his political experience and higher name recognition. Thomas Whatley’s Texas Government Newsletter recounted the following campaign highlight: “When political novice Albert used the gimmick of symbolically presenting Carriker with a weekly ‘Liberal Left Wing’ award, old pro Carriker stole the spotlight by showing up at Albert’s press conference to accept the award in person and refute his charges when Albert refused to surrender the trophy, Carriker called him an ‘Indian giver.’ ” In the November 8 rematch Carriker will be in a strong position, especially if the Dukakis-Bentsen campaign gives downballot candidates a boost. V THE PROSPECT of Carriker filling Farabee’s seat brings hope for a more progressive Senate. Farabee was one of the most respected and skillful lawmakers in the legislature, but he also carried a good deal of the business lobby’s agenda; last session he sided with the utilities, insurance interests, the large phone companies, and private prison companies. In his tenure in the House, Carriker has been skeptical of big business schemes to get out from under regulation and to shift taxes to people of average means. He has been a strongly partisan Democrat as Republicans in the House have become more vociferous. A similar change for the better is likely to result from the replacement of conservative Democrat Grant Jones of Abilene by Temple Dickson, a trial lawyer from Sweetwater who beat Jones in the Democratic primary this spring. Dickson has no Republican opponent in November. With a legislative fight looming on workers’ compensation reform, the insurance lobby can hardly be heartened. They will have a much more difficult time winning Dickson’s and Carriker’s votes than they would have had with Jones and Farabee. Three of the Senate’s six Republican seats are being contested this fall, with the strongest challenge coming in San Antonio from Nef Garcia, who is given a chance at unseating Senator Cyndi Krier. If the Democrats were to win here and hold onto their other seats they’d have a 26-5 majority in the upper chamber. But Democrats such as East Texas Senator Richard Anderson and Rockwall Senator Ted Lyon are facing aggressive Republican challengers. V SENATOR AND Vice-Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen has been getting some flak for his work on behalf of a candidate for the federal bench who was nominated by Senator Phil Gramm. The Texas Lawyer reported on August 8 that Bentsen’s staff succeeded in making an “end run” around a growing group of opponents to the confirmation of Fulbright & Jaworski partner Simeon Lake for a seat on the Houston district court. Lake’s appointment had been delayed in the Senate but Bentsen reportedly played a key role in getting the nominee’s name out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and onto the Senate floor. The Senate approved Lake’s nomination on August 11. Lake had drawn opposition from labor 18 SEPTEMBER 2, 1988
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