The Charlotte News

Friday, January 7, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Democrats were pondering how to cope politically with what their leaders were calling a "New Dealish" domestic program set forth by the President in his State of the Union message of the previous day, appearing to have put the Democrats on the defensive by asking for legislation or laying the groundwork for future requests for same on 33 foreign and domestic problems. The first reaction to the message for "unhesitating cooperation" between the Democratically-controlled Congress and the Administration was one of outwardly warm acceptance, but there were also signs of disagreement, with key Democrats criticizing the President's request for continuation of flexible farm price supports, calling his report on economic conditions "too optimistic", attacking his local-Federal "partnership" program of national resource development, rejecting his proposed revision of Taft-Hartley, urging a larger increase in the statutory minimum wage than the 15 cents, from 75 cents to 90 cents, which he had proposed, and also disagreeing with his statement that Alaska was not yet ready for statehood. There had been enthusiastic bipartisan support for the President's foreign policy objective of attaining a "durable peace".

In Washington, reports filed with the clerk of the House showed that four Republican national organizations had spent about 3.7 million dollars the previous year on Congressional campaigns, about 28 percent more than by the national Democratic groups, ultimately successful in gaining control of both houses, with the Democrats spending $800,000 less. Labor organizations had spent about 2.8 million dollars on behalf of Democrats, but the figure was not yet complete for CIO, which had not reported expenditures during the last two months of 1954. Both Republican and Democratic labor groups reported almost exactly the same total deficit for the year, about $266,000 each. The story provides a breakdown of both Republican and Democratic spending.

The NAACP this date urged tighter rules in the Administration's upcoming armed services reserve plan to prevent racial discrimination in National Guard units, sending a telegram to that effect to Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson. It indicated that unless it were done, thousands of black citizens would be barred from training opportunities which would be provided white personnel under the plan. It said that the practice of excluding black persons from Guard units in the South would force states outside the South to supply more than their fair share of trained personnel in the event of an emergency, should the plan presently under consideration become law. It stated that inclusion of Guard units in the plan without a ban on racial discrimination would "seriously threaten all of the progress that has been made in the direction of eliminating segregation in the armed services."

In New York, the stock market began to rise again, but many remained skeptical and some took the opportunity to sell, as prices improved by as much as one dollar per share after two days of heavy sell-off. The market had rallied briskly during the morning and trading volume for the first hour had totaled 930,000 shares, which brokers considered impressive. By late morning, several key stocks had increased by a dollar per share or more, with Douglas Aircraft increasing by three dollars and United Aircraft, by about $2.50.

Julian Scheer of The News reports from Raleigh regarding the prospect of a statewide liquor referendum, as supported the previous day by Governor Luther Hodges in his statement to the General Assembly. The representatives from the dry counties did not like to discuss it, while those from the wet counties wanted first to assay what the voters believed, with both groups afraid that any comment would cause lobbyists to descend on them.

Proposed legislation dropped into the hopper in the State Senate this date included bills to provide for a change in the time for paying State income tax, repeal of the legislative "secrecy" law, providing for executive sessions for budgetary matters, and a study of the problem of reallocation of Senate seats to accord population changes. Details as to who was proposing the pieces of legislation are provided.

Emery Wister of The News tells of the General Electric Corporation announcing this date that it would construct a 20 million dollar distribution transformer plant between Hickory and Newton, with an annual payroll of five million dollars, the plant to be 400,000 square feet, erected on property between Highways 70 and 70-A, about a half mile east of the Fair Grove Church Road. A sketch of the new building is provided. That looks like a humdinger, and we know you can't wait to see it take shape. But it appears to us that it will be displacing some tobacco fields, and that is bad, bad. We need that tobacco to grow big and strong as a state, even if it makes you puny as an individual, causing your muscles to atrophy, your face to turn leathery, not to mention the impact on your heart and lungs. But all of that is beside the point. We need that tobacco to grow.

A pair of photographs show an automobile accident in which, fortunately, no one was seriously injured, when two telephone poles being carried by a Southern Bell truck, fell off the truck and rammed through the windshield of the driver's 1952 Chevrolet.

On the editorial page, "North Carolina Must Meet Problems of a Growing and Dynamic Society" indicates that the honeymoon of Governor Luther Hodges, who had acceded to the office in November at the death of Governor William B. Umstead, was now over, as commissions had completed their studies or would soon do so and remedies for political ills had been prescribed. The Governor's message to the General Assembly the previous day demonstrated his firm grasp on the tiller, presenting a "bold, specific, positive" message, one of confidence and faith in North Carolina to meet the sort of tough problems which were expected to arise in "'a growing and dynamic society.'"

Much of the program he outlined the newspaper enthusiastically endorsed, such as reassignment of State House and Senate membership on the basis of population changes, increasing the number of judicial districts to provide additional judges, elimination of the absentee ballot except for military personnel, formation of a water conservation policy, and a major overhaul of the sales tax schedule. He had understandably reserved his policy for primary road construction and improvement until the State Highway Commission submitted its recommendations. He had urged the Legislature to "have the courage" to separate the Prisons Department from the Highway Department, a split which the newspaper believed was long overdue.

It emphatically disagrees, however, with his position of support of a statewide liquor referendum, which it believes each county ought determine.

It finds some merit in his request for legislation to provide local school boards authority over enrollment and assignment of children within the school systems, deserving thoughtful study.

It suggests that it should be obvious to all that there ought be variations in the approach to problems of desegregation and the timing of appropriate measures, based on different demographic issues within the various counties. The black population in the state varied widely in density over the whole state, and in some cities, the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education would produce few changes in the makeup of the schools, while in other areas, where the decision affected many pupils, the impact of sudden changes could have serious consequences.

It was the opinion of some authorities that discretion could legally be vested in local school authorities initially to construct appropriate school designation methods, with some communities having more gradual adjustment than others without there being a denial of Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. It quotes James Paul of the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill as indicating that a state did not need to provide for territorial uniformity in methods of governing every locality within its borders, that some cities or counties might be afforded different powers from others, or all might be provided an optional choice of alternative methods of governance, that disparity did not destroy their validity under the Constitution.

It posits that there was a strong likelihood that the Supreme Court, in its implementing decision in Brown, would allow considerable discretion and variance among the states, having stated in the May 17, 1954 original decision that if "diversities" in certain legal remedies "may exist in the several states without violating the equality clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, then there is no solid reason why there may not be such diversities in different parts of the same state." It suggests that safeguards might be necessary so that local rule on admissions would enable some localities to deny constitutional rights while others did not, rather implementing a system permitting a variance in the remedial period for adjustments to the Court's decision.

It concludes that in general, the Governor had spelled out a "progressive, forward-looking program" for the state and it hopes that a good part of the recommendations would be favorably received by the Legislature.

"Revise Sales Taxes for New Revenue" indicates that because of the growing needs and desires of government at every level, an equitable system of taxation was no longer possible, with the only thing possible being a policy of balancing budgets by cutting off a little more tax revenue in one place, uprooting a new tax source in another, until somehow enough revenue was being received to offset expenditures. That was the policy enunciated by Governor Hodges, on the recommendation of his Advisory Budget Commission, to the General Assembly the previous day.

It agrees with the Governor and the Commission that one means of increasing state revenue ought be a revision upward of the $15 limitation per item on sales tax, regardless of the cost of that item, even if a $4,000 car. Even by abolishing that limitation and thereby raising an additional 7.7 million dollars in revenue, the state would still have a shortfall of 18.3 million dollars, and it also agrees with the Governor and the Commission as to how that ought be raised, with 8.9 million dollars coming from a new tobacco tax and 7.1 million from a new tax on soft drinks, with other increases in certain taxes and licensing fees providing the balance. It explains further why it supports that program.

"Ike's Journey Down the Center Line" indicates that the President, in his State of the Union message the previous day, had set forth a program for 1955 which was not very different from that he had outlined for 1954, with no surprises contained in it. He had again demonstrated that his political philosophy was that of a moderate, while his political method was as a persuader and conciliator. During the new 84th Congress, the political philosophy would be limited largely by the political method. In the related fields of foreign relations and defense, the President's objective would still be to reduce the Communist threat without war, through building up the strength and unity of the free world. On domestic policy, he would give considerable support for the motto which had been hung in Washington in 1953: "Nothing Too Much, Nothing Too Fast, Nothing Arbitrarily".

There would likely be a great deal of intraparty and interparty strife and the year would present severe tests of the President's leadership.

Drew Pearson indicates that a former California judge had recently committed suicide, leaving a mute note which pointed to the need for another crime investigation by Senator Estes Kefauver, albeit one which was unlikely to occur because Senator Kefauver's colleagues did not want to give him another opportunity to have a sounding board through which he could again mount a run for the presidency in 1956, as he had gotten with his nationally televised, itinerant hearings into organized crime in 1950-51.

Mr. Pearson provides the story apparently behind the judge's suicide, indicating that for years an affable fixer for the liquor industry had been more powerful in the Legislature in California than Governor Earl Warren, until Senator Kefauver conducted hearings in California and called the man, Artie Samish, as a witness before the committee, exposing his income tax finagling, after which he was convicted. Despite that fact, the lobbying which he had done for the liquor industry continued, with the beer barons and whiskey moguls merely swapping lobbyists, continuing to operate a large slush fund through which to elect politicians, influence legislation and dominate the state of California. Former Judge Leonard Wilson, who had committed suicide the previous month, had been director of that slush fund, officially called the "Spirits Foundation". Before his suicide, he had gone to see Attorney General Pat Brown, making revelations regarding payoffs and backstage operations inside the liquor cabal. Partly as a result, a San Diego grand jury had subpoenaed the books of the "Foundation" and unearthed some interesting payments, which Mr. Pearson presents, among them being a $1,000 contribution to then-Lieutenant Governor Goodwin Knight, Governor since the appointment of Earl Warren to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in October, 1953. Another contribution of $2,500 had been made to Governor Knight's dinner committee in February, 1954, a $5,000 contribution to former California Attorney General Fred Howser, and a $5,000 contribution to the Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in 1954. There was also a contribution of $3,000 to the Civic Research Press, an organization which published Billion Dollar Blackjack, a book by William Bonelli, who was then head of the State Equalization Board and the official whose job it had been to pass on licenses for the liquor industry. Thus, the liquor lobby had played the field, supporting both Democrats and Republicans.

Mr. Pearson finds that it illustrated the problem which confronted not only California but many other states, as legislatures were increasingly becoming the tool of the lobbies. He finds that a Congressional investigation of the manner in which the big lobbies for the racetracks, the liquor industry and the gas and oil industry were subsidizing, directly or indirectly, the poorly paid members of state legislatures would be wholly salutary for government.

Morris L. Ernst, writing in Harper's, tells of being repeatedly asked at cocktail parties and other settings for informal, free legal advice on various personal issues, providing samples of the conversations and that which he would like to say in response, while providing the free legal advice in most instances.

Sample: "'I saw your picture in the paper. Look, Mr. Ernst, you know (I didn't) I bought some of that stock of the bank that busted and now they're suing me. Tell me, why didn't they tell me I was liable for more money? Can they collect that $3,000 again? I paid once, you know. They handed me a summons. What should I do?'

"At a formal dinner I might have plunged into the problem of double liability on bank stock and technical defenses based on equitable ownership. Over a snack at midnight I couldn't face it. I pleaded exhaustion and fled.

"At a garage or filling station a lawyer is expected to know every single rule of the road throughout every state. In a barbershop he had better be quick on advice about losses on book-making for horse racing. And if he's confronted by a manufacturer, he should run not walk to the nearest exit."

E. B. White, in The Second Tree from the Corner, indicates that photography was the most self-conscious of the arts, having been glorified in the newspicture magazines and even in the newspapers. Editors continually pointed to "best shots" or "news picture of the week", confident that the readers were following every move of the shutter.

But in the writing profession, there was nothing which corresponded to that sort of camaraderie, and writers felt somewhat left out. He suggests that maybe writers made a mistake in not making more of a fuss about the mechanics of writing, that the writer did a lot of work of which the reader was not aware and they never received any credit for it. "This paragraph was exposed for 15 minutes, in a semi-darkened room. The writer was leaning far out over his typewriter, thinking to beat the band."

He allows that the art of photography and the art of writing might be antithetical to one another, with the hope and goal of the wordsmith being to communicate a thought or an impression to the reader without the reader realizing that he had been "dragged through a series of hazardous or grotesque syntactical situations." In photography, by contrast, the goal appeared to be to prove beyond a doubt that the cameraman, "in his great moment of creation, was either hanging by his heels from the rafters or was wedged under the floor with his lens at a knothole."

A letter writer favors separation of the Highway Department from the Prisons Department, indicating that there had to be a profit to the State from employment of prison labor or it would not be used, placing the State as an exploiter of crime and a partner in the crime of the prisoner, a perpetrator of a "social and legal paradox". He concludes that with respect to the state's prison system, it was still traveling on "the old dirt road marked out during the ages of illiteracy and superstition", and urges therefore coming into the modern era.

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