Austin Bureau Reports From 1970



This is a Jan. 23, 1970, Austin, Texas, bureau report written by bureau manager Kyle Thompson to Donald Reed of Dallas:

Mr. Donald Reed, Dallas

Dear Don:

Austin bureau report for period ending 1/23/70:

On Jan. 13, a friend in a state agency I made while I was in the outside world serving as a wealthy state employee tipped me that one of Gov. Smith's appointees to the State Tourist Development Board was serving in violation of the state constitution. He happened to also be mayor of Lubbock, Smith's hometown. I spent the entire day researching law and the constitution and ended up withthe story on the Lubbock mayor which got exclusive widespread play on Jan. 14. The mayor later announced he was resigning from the state board, but so far he has not sent in such a resignation to the governor's office as far as I can find out.

We were a full cycle ahead of the other guys on the naming of LBJ's third grandchild the night of 1/12: I ran into Pat Nugent at the UT Longhorns' sports banquet andasked him, and he told me they had just that afternoon named her. (some scoop, eh?) Lindsey got good play 1/12 with story from welfare department on food for hungry as ordered by Dallas federal court and another saying increasing number of welfare rolls may cause cuts in individual payments.

To back up a bit, we were a full cycle ahead of the troubles brewing between the governor and the consumer credit commissioner. We reported for pm's 1/9 that rumors were thick that pressure was growing to oust Commissioner Frank miskell (KT got this from Miskell and others). Just as we were ready to move night lead about 2 p.m., a letter of resignation from Miskell came to press room.

on Jan. 15, we took a routine handout from the chief justice calling for a special meeting "on the visiting judges program" and developed it into a major story showing how some judges visit in other districts to make extra money while other judges visit in their district for extra pay. It got good statewide play. We staffed a hearing before the insurance board 1/15 on lowering rates on insurance bought to cover loans. AP had only a handout from the AFL-CIO saying labor favored it. Our Sunday 1/18 layout included Lindsey's good report on the new bilingual school program, KT's place on the new hard-hitting chairman of the Water Quality Board, and Ann Arnold's good research piece on $120 million in bonds in doubt over recent Supreme Court ruling.

Jan. 20 was the first anniversary of LBJ leaving the White House with his tail between his legs (figure of speech). I spent considerable time 1/19 and 1/20 pressuring his aide, Tom Johnson, to get something on what the former great man would be doing on the anniversary. Just before I left for home late on 1/20 and after about giving up, Tom called and said he had a short handout and that LBJ would chat informally with me if I wanted to come to the Federal Bldg. office. I went, but alas, Tom also called everybody else and it wound up with LBJ chatting informally with about 15 of us. He refused to let us quote him directly, but we moved out a dispatch of about 700 words late on 1/20 which gave a good insight into what former president's do on the first anniversary of leaving office.

Lindsey moved out a comprehensive report for AM's Sunday 1/25 on new minimum wage law going into effect Feb. 1--the first in the state's history. He tied it in with the 400-mile protest march in 1966 by a group of Mexican-American farm workers demanding a minimum wage law.

This was the week also that Smith announced for re-election and Republican Paul Eggers got in the governor's race, setting the stage for a repeat of their confrontation in the 1968 election.

Thus, politics picketh up in Austin. . . .

Best regards, Kyle Thompson cc: REC, LAH, TH, FJS, KLY, files


This is a Feb. 10, 1970, report written by Thompson to Reed :

Mr. Donald Reed, Dallas

Austin bureau report for period ending 2/7/70:

We apparently were all alone 1/26 with Ann Arnold's fine reporting on Madalyn O'Hair's establishing her atheist church. The national logs showed us 11-0 in Tuesday AMs and 5-0 in PMs.

This last week of January saw much political doings with voter registration deadline on Jan. 31 and candidate filing deadline on Feb. 2. We kept on top, picked up good play 1/27 with Yarborough's announcing, following through with the hectic doings on 2/2 with the filings, including the SDEC's rejection of Sen. Ralph Hall as a candidate for governor. We scored well on the mistrial 1/28 of former DA-FW newsman Gary Cartwright on narcotics charges thanks to an alert tip by KTBC's Bob Richardson.

Our Sunday AMs of 2/1, moved 1/29, on Gov. Smith was timely and well played over the state. It involved rsearch by KT into past governor races and came up with the astonishing fact that Smith will have less opposition than any past governor in Texas history. This, viewed from past performance showing him one of the weakest governors of the state!

Another Sunday 2/1 HFR that deserves special praise was AA's piece on how much legislators are spending on interim activities. This involved a great deal of research, and the reception by editors showed it was worthwhile, including page 1 in Amarillo, and full use by DA News, among others. It was an excellent example of digging out a story and not waiting for the handouts.

We took most of the play in two-service papers we saw 2/2 of Sen. Hall's announcing for governor by getting, with the help of DA, a copy of his announcement 30 minutes before they were handed out at his news conference and moving it HFR. We were exclusive 2/2 on group coming to protest some textbooks found after arriving in Austin that the meeting had been postponed and moved to El Paso, nearly 600 miles to the west.

our layout for Sunday 2/8 included: Lindsey's report, moved 2/4, on progress of statewide drug crackdown, which appears to be slowing down; KT's analysis of side effects of Supreme Court caase of Sen. Hall trying to run for governor; and AA's comprehensive story on State Welfare Department's plan to cut welfare payments (which they did 2/9). We received good play in PMs 2/5 and AMs 2/6 of our story on Research League reporting state will need $1.6 billion over next six years to pay for teacher salary increases. AA staffed the doings 2/6 of a 14-year-old Mississippi girl trying to keep from being deported back to that state on grounds she had filed as common-law wife of an 18-year-old in Austin under this state's new common law marriage statute. For a time it looked like a test of the law, but didn't turn out so. AA did her usual fine job and am sure outdid the other guys, who did not staff the legal doings.

Best regards, Kyle Thompson

cc: REC, LAH, Th, FJS, KLY, files