bN TI TEXAS server JANUARY 11, 1991 VOLUME 83, No. 1 FEATURES Crime and Rehabilitation By Michael Vines 6 The Ceiling of Texas By Steve J. Martin 11 The Logic of War By Thomas Ferguson 12 Desert Shielded By Debbie Nathan 15 Bum Rap By Steven Kellman 17 DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Political Intelligence 20 Social Cause Calendar 23 Books and the Culture Immigrant Sagas By Steven Kellman 22 Cover photo: Texas Department of Corrections prisoners in Clemens Unit, Huntsville, by Alan Pogue. I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve. “Spanish Pipe Dreams” John Prine BILL HARRISON, the Corpus Christi lawyer who accompanied House Speaker Gib Lewis, Austin lobbyist Dean Cobb, former law-firm receptionist Toni Barcellona, a topless dancer named Chrissee, and others on a 1987 trip to a posh Pacific Coast resort in Mexico, told the Dallas Morning News that he had spent much of his long weekend in Manzanillo reading. Perhaps he read Gertrude Stein. “What is the answer?” Alice B. Toklas, angling for the illumination that anticipates death, asked a dying Gertrude Stein. “What is the question?” Stein replied. The question, “Is Gib Lewis \(who registered as Don Lewis when he checked into the $800-per-night Las Hadas presidential suite, indicted, this time of two misdemeanors. Of course, by the terms of an accusatorial system, guilt is not determined by a grand jury. However, “Is Gib guilty?” is not the question to ask as the 72nd Legislature convenes and re-elects Lewis to his fifth term as speaker. What is the question? It is: “Is Gib Lewis fit to serve as speaker of the House?” The answer is no. A short bill of particulars on Lewis is sufficient to explain why. And perhaps that bill of particulars should be held up to the light of a statement made by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle at the time the Speaker was indicted: “We [elected officials] all have our duty, not only to uphold the law, but also to model ethical behavior, because the public deserves leaders who lead by personal example.” The history of the Speaker’s ethical transgressions, at least those transgressions known to the public, dates back to 1977, when Lewis handed out gold-plated watches to members of the House Governmental Affairs subcommittee, which he then chaired. Part of the cost of the watches was paid by the Texas Thoroughbred Breeders Association. In 1983, during his first term as Speaker, Lewis pleaded no contest to charges that he had failed to disclose business interests on his personal financial statement. Of particular interest was the Speaker’s co-ownership, with a horse-racing lobbyist, of a condominium and a 460-acre tract of land. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which broke the story that led to Lewis’s current indictment, reports that Lewis then said he had never read the disclosure law. Recently Lewis has told reporters that he is familiar with the 1973 ethics law because he was a member of the Legislature at the time the law was enacted. He was. In 1984, according to the Star-Telegram, Lewis and five legislators were guests of the trucking and horse-racing lobby in Ruidoso, New Mexico. From New Mexico, the group traveled to the Pebble Beach Golf Club in California. The second leg of the trip reportedly cost the taxpayers $15,000. In 1986, Lewis reimbursed his political campaign fund for $25,000 he claimed had been mistakenly used to purchase stock for his private company’s retirement program. Lewis, according to the Star-Telegram, described the $25,000 indiscretion as “just one of those dumb things.” He claimed that the problem was caused by an employee of Lake Worth National Bank. In 1988, Lewis requested that Parks and Wildlife officials stock his private ranch with wild game. After the incident was reported by the press, it was suggested that Lewis repay the state for the cost of trapping and transporting the animals. Officials at Parks and Wildlife, questioned in early November of 1990, said there was no record of Lewis having reimbursed the state. In 1990, Lewis omitted from his financial statement his interest in N.W. Investments, a company owned, in part, by John McMillan, a Fort Worth beer distributor, and James Leggett, a liquor store owner living in Fort Worth. It was also discovered that Lewis failed to declare his ownership of 50 percent of 801 W. Vickery Inc., which operates a Fort Worth gun dealership. It is a property tax payment on 801 Vickery that led to Gib Lewis’s indictment. During the 1990 election campaign, the Fort Worth Star Telegrm reported that the San Antoniobased law firm of Heard Goggan Blair & Williams had paid more than half of the delinquent taxes on the 801 Vickery property in Fort Worth. Heard Goggan is a law firm that has cornered the market on the collection of delinquent property taxes for cities, counties, and school districts. Part of their continued success can be attributed to the defeat of several House bills in 1987. “We are not alleging a quid pro quo,” District Attorney Earle said. The indictment, according to Earle, does not claim that the Speaker took money in exchange for any act that might have benefited Heard Goggan. It only alleges that he took money from a person subject to his jurisdiction, then failed to report that gift of money. Though Earle is not alleging a quid pro quo, the Dallas Morning News, a publication whose news page has for years set the standard for reporting in the state, and whose editors are known to demand a reasonable standard of proof from their staff, reports that “a lawyer who accompanied House Speaker Gib Lewis on a Mexican resort vacation boasted that the trip helped kill legislation harmful to the law firm’s business.” The story is based on an interview with a source with ties to Heard Goggan. Bills filed in the House in 1987, according EDITORIALS The Best Ethics Money Can Buy THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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