Mayor John Ray Harrison

Duration: 52mins 56secs
Please read and accept the disclaimer below to continue.

DISCLAIMER

I have read and accept the terms of the disclaimer.

The Houston Oral History Project is a repository for the stories, accounts, and memories of those who have chosen to share their experiences. The viewpoints expressed in the Houston Oral History Project do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the City of Houston, the Houston Public Library or any of its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The City of Houston and the Houston Public Library make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the interviews and expressly disclaim any liability therefore.

The Houston Oral History Project provides unedited versions of all interviews. Some parents may find material objectionable for minors. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children as they use the Houston Oral History Project Web site to complete research and homework activities.

The Houston Public Library retains the literary and publishing rights of its oral histories. No part of the interviews or transcripts may be published without the written permission of the Houston Oral History Project.

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to:

The Houston Oral History Project.
Houston Public Library
500 McKinney
Houston, Texas 77002


The Houston Oral History Project reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decline to post any account received herein and specifically disclaims any liability for the failure to post an account or for errors or omissions that may occur in posting accounts to the Virtual Archive.

For more information email the Houston Oral History Project at information@houstonoralhistory.org.

I have read and accept the terms of the disclaimer.




Interview with: John Ray Harrison
Interviewed by:
Date: March 18, 1975
Archive Number: OH 073

N: 00:00:09 March 18, 1975. Interview with Mayor Harrison, Pasadena, Texas.

N: Mayor Harrison, can we start off by getting some background facts. Are you a native of Pasadena?

JRH: No, not really. I was born and raised out in Taylor County, or actually I call Abilene my home, and I came to Harris County and Pasadena, Texas, in the end of May of 1958. As I say, I was born in Abilene and went through the public schools there and received my bachelor’s degree from McMurray College. From that time, for a year, I went up to a little community called Carbon, which is in Eastland County, and taught almost every grade in the public schools and coached basketball before I came to Pasadena and had a title as youth counselor with the school district in the city of Pasadena. I really, until I came here—I was about twenty-seven years of age, I believe, I wasn’t too concerned about politics or anything yet. I was concerned about survival. I became interested to some degree in politics in my job as a youth counselor with the school district and the police department. At that time there were youngsters dropping out of school at the age of sixteen. Between sixteen and, actually at the age of seventeen, a boy was held accountable for his criminal acts, which a young lady at eighteen—I talked to a lot of youngsters that had quit school at sixteen and what are you going to do? When I get to seventeen I’m going to join the service. A lot of times they would run afoul of the law, and even the service didn’t want them at seventeen. I wondered, well, you know, most of them were quitting in our junior highs, in about the ninth grade, and I thought, you know, they need to go until at least they’re seventeen. Because at that time, then they could be criminally responsible for their actions, not handled as juveniles. Where do you do this? You talk to a lot of people. You got to go to Austin. You got to get elected to the Legislature. So I decided here in Harris County that I’d run for the Legislature. Basically knowing that I was a Democrat, I found out real hurriedly that there were a couple of factions at that time in Harris County, what they called the Liberal faction, the Democratic Party, and the Conservative faction. I ran countywide the first time out of the shoot and was defeated by about 700 votes and about 140,000 cast. So the next go round I ran again against the same incumbent and was able to beat that particular incumbent, campaigning on youth is my business, combat drop-outs, and so forth. Anyway, I was elected to the Legislature. I went and they composed a school-attendance law now, which raised it to seventeen, is something that I can say that I accomplished as a member of the House of Representatives, which, as I say, is law today. I considered it holding power, and actually in the school system now, that if a child is incorrigible and things of this nature, the Board of Trustees has the right to expel the child. I ran into this in the Legislature, saying that, you know, why make a child go to school. And I came right back and I tell teachers, you know, I can teach myself the accelerated student, but the one that’s having problems, and to accomplish something with this particular individual, you really gain some. Anyway, I, as I say, I prevailed as far as that goes. We redistricted and I ran for State Senator and was beat, and my contentions were that as far as I was concerned I was through with politics. When I came here in ‘58, also, I entered law school and finally got my law degree in 1963, but never practicing law up until the time, in ‘65, when I got through with the Legislature. In ’69, I decided I would run for City Council, basically to see if I had any friends in Pasadena. I think we were four in the race, and I led in the first go round and won pretty good in the run-off. My second term for the council, I was unopposed. Then in 1973, I decided to run for mayor, and I believe there were four candidates. I led the primary and prevailed about 62% or 63% of the vote in the run-off. So in essence that’s about my political history. I’ve had seven wonderful kids and a wife that certainly know how to campaign, so I’m going to contribute a lot of this to them.

N: 06:13 What was the source of your support when you were elected to the Legislature?

JRH: Basically I would say, from the liberal philosophy, people, as I say, I thought we had democrats and republicans. I was real naïve. And as I say, basically, my support was from the liberal faction of the Democratic Party when I was elected to the Legislature.

N: I would—I’m curious about the process of how you begin to develop support. You went to the faction in the Democratic Party that you felt comfortable with. But how is it that you actually began to find people who will go out and work for you? Find people who will contribute money to finance your campaign? This is kind of a gray area that people really don’t know too much about.

JRH: First, I would say that a candidate, in some instances, is like a product. I came to this community in 1958. In 1960 I was voted the Outstanding Young Man of Pasadena with my work with juveniles, handling them and their problems. I met a lot of people and was able to relate to these people basically on things that are dear to all of us as youngsters, which at certain times in our life, we’ve either been a youngster or we’re going to have youngsters and these things, so I think this relates, and I think that my beliefs in the things that I certainly supported, who could be against youngsters completing high school and getting an education? For instance, a bill that I passed out of the House, and if I’d had a little more knowledge, it would become law today. I call it my toddler’s bill, which was to fence swimming pools, except in private homes. And when I addressed the House of Representatives, I pointed to the picture on the back of the wall, which is a big one similar to this with all the infants there, and I said, “This is a toddler’s bill to keep from infants riding off with their tricycles and things of this nature.” A lot of people would say, well a fence, if you put a fence that’s false security, and I’d say well I’d rather have false security than no security, which got flagged in the Senate by—actually it was the Apartment Association, the apartment people, which you still have at ________ (??) in the city of Houston. Now a lot of people say well let’s do something, then you run into these problems. But when you said I found where I was comfortable, to be very frank, when I was talking to people, let’s say this is—we’re Harris County democrats, you know, I thought this was the total party, really. (laughter) And I think basically though that my upbringing and so forth, that on a lot of issues I’m liberal, and my liberalism comes from the standpoint I feel if you and I compete in something, and that I prevail in that particular activity, not to try to keep you down, but to say, you know, next time maybe you’ll prevail, and vice versa and give everybody an equal shot. Then on the other hand, I’m probably just as conservative as far as finance is concerned as anyone, you know, because—so, what is a liberal and what is really a conservative? But this is first what happened to me to get involved in politics. I mean, I had a, oh, probably an average-size family at that time. I didn’t have any battle scars on me, so maybe this is the way that people will support you, you know. Here’s a clean product, or here’s a clean candidate, and people get behind you. What was so amazing about it—my first race is really not having any money and just out of the shoot. I did so good though, that my second race, beating an incumbent, that I felt a lot of people were very, very dedicated to me because we were defeated just barely the last time and they were going to be sure that I wasn’t this time. You know, we’re going to do that little bit more. We’re going to have box stuffers and all of these things. So there’s a lot of dedicated people which, since about 1964, I think say ten years since then, things have changed. People are not that close or that dedicated; at least I don’t think so.

N: 11:57 Is this, do you think, a change (coughing) basically in society or is it a product of the growing size of the urban situation in Harris County?

JRH: Well, I think it’s a change of both. The urban situation, which the people in this particular area will not block vote one way or the other anymore. I mean, they’re informed. Most of them probably have three years or more of college. They listen a lot and make up their own mind, and they’re not followers like they used to be say ten or eleven years ago. Plus, I feel that for some reason that people are not quite as concerned as they used to be about their political leaders, whether it be on the state level or on the national level. I think a lot of them have the attitude of what’s going to happen is going to happen, probably.

N: What were the major issues in the mayoral campaign?

JRH: Well, in my campaign, in the mayor’s race, that I was not endorsed or supported by the chamber or even by labor. My philosophy was that they had gone to bed with each other and had formed a coalition to rule or run Pasadena. So I began immediately saying that here’s X amount of people conspiring to take over the city administration. I began by setting this particular tempo that I was beholding to no one—able then to rally the grassroots people around me. Also, at all times, playing a low profile of being the underdog financially and otherwise, knowing full well that there would be run-off and that actually using a great amount of our strategy in the run-off, because the other candidates had used the tabloids and all of these things during the primary, which would be repetitious if they came back. I, you know, campaigned on issues like, if you’ve got a cracked slab, your taxes will be reduced if you call it to the proper attention of the tax department. And this is obvious, if you’ve got a cracked slab, that your house is not as—the value should decrease, and this has happened during the administration to a lot of people. That I would curtail the building of apartment projects, which we had become overbuilt, oversaturated, which created flooding problems, low water pressure, and even sewer problems in some of our subdivisions adjacent to the apartment complex. I think overall to run an honest and efficient administration that the city of Pasadena has had a bad track record in some of its elected officials.

N: 15:49 What changes did you institute when you assumed office?

JRH: First, some of the immediate changes—we had about a $95,000 shortage by inventory in our purchasing department or warehouse, but to change procedures where we had not only safeguards, but triple safeguards of monitoring these things—but basically that our budget is from—instead of people adding on what they need each year is to have a zero-based budget and ask people to justify what they need. Also, the previous administration had budgeted in all of our revenue sharing into the operating capital of the budget, which is bad news, and I began immediately to back it out. I had to actually increase the tax rate by 10 cents from $1.25, I mean a dollar and a dime, to a dollar—excuse me, $1.15 to $1.25, to take care of some of the deficit. Actually I was $600,000 in the red, because the previous mayor had got a million and a half worth of federal revenue share at one time and plugged it into the budget. The next year I only got about $900,000, so I was $600,000 in the red. Also, at the same time, when we did that, people on fixed incomes—right now we give to our senior citizens a $5000 exemption to help them in that form. Right now we’re in the process of being equal and fair. The previous administrations would strictly go to the area where they could generate capital the quickest. We have about thirty-seven subdivisions in Pasadena that have not been appraised in eighteen or nineteen years, so people are carrying other people’s share of the load. I intend to uniformly see that everybody is brought up to date and have high hopes really that it will decrease our tax rate. Actually, we have tried to bring our city employees up to standards of the industrial areas as far as salary, benefits, because I feel very strongly if you train people, and they stay with you, in the long run it pays off. Instead of having a lot of turnover, people that do not care, and they’re actually they’re just biding their time and looking for other employment, so I think now the attitude and the atmosphere of the administration is, you know, it’s a good job. I might try to stay with it. As long as I do my job, I will certainly have a job. I divided two big departments up so that our Public Works—I created what I call a Public Service Department, which I’m hoping, and I think it’s worked to some degree, that these departments will be closer to the people instead of just maybe twenty departments under one department head and cannot give individual attention to our citizens. We passed, in November of ’73, the largest bond election that has ever passed in Pasadena. Eighteen and a half million at one time. Just recently, we passed ten charter amendment changes. All of them passed. One that was real close was increasing the mayor’s salary from $17,500 to $25,000 a year, but I think this was an accomplishment because the Legislature and a lot of other people that had tried it, I think that the people think that the administration is doing, you know, halfway good. And we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re trying.

N: 20:36 One of the issues apparently has been the attempt to professionalize municipal services. How’ve you gone about this?

JRH: I think, one, is certainly to increase salaries. I mean that’s underlying, and I can see someday that, for instance, that, and I have advocated this, that our police department, before they will be even be hired, at least they have a Bachelor of Science degree in something. But again, this has to happen based upon the ability to pay. I think it’s coming. We encourage all of our employees to go to school, all of our employees that refresher courses or whatever it may take, that certainly the city foots the bill, because we feel like it’s beneficial to the city. We certainly try to update our personnel department. In fact we had a feasibility study, and it cost about $27,000 to—our police department is under civil service, but for the rest of our employees, to let them know that systematically, every so often, they’ll get raises, instead of being at the whims of the administration, or a blanket raise, so to speak. This has been looked into. It has not been finally implemented because of the amount of money it will take to implement things. For instance, in the two years that I’ve been here, each year we’ve given at least a ten-percent pay raise one year. Then one year we gave fifteen percent, five percent was to increase our retirement program. When I became mayor, we were funding our retirement program at $33,000 a year. Now we fund it in the neighborhood of $245,000. So you can see how much greater benefits are employees get. I would say that, in essence, these are some of the things to professionalize within the city government.

N: Is the police under state or municipal civil service?

JRH: They’re under state civil service. I mean they’re creatures of the state legislature.

N: The mayor’s office here is a strong mayor. Is that right?

JRH: A strong-mayor-type government. Full-time chief administrator of the city. Right.
N: What about the city council. In the past, there have been charges that there’s conflict of interest between some members of the city council and the interests of the city itself.

JRH: In what regard?

N: Of interest in business that has conflicted with—(unintelligible; speaking at same time)

JRH: Right.

N: --expenditures.

JRH: 24:00 Right. Well there’s no doubt. Again, this was under the previous administration, and I will be here now two years in May, and to my knowledge, there is no conflict, and if there was conflict, I have a straight line to the District Attorney’s office. Because these are some of the things that the city must overcome is building up a good image. So to my knowledge, there is no conflict of interest with any members of the council with outside business-work conflicts with the city. In the past, I will certainly concur with you.

(voice in very low, inaudible tone)

N: I would like to—you mentioned the tax assessments. Since taxation is a matter close to our hearts, one way or another, I would like to go into it a little more. How does the tax assessments on property compare with Houston?

JRH: Of the twenty-eight major cities in the state of Texas, we are number nineteen. (shuffling of paper) Our tax rate is lower than the city of Houston. For instance, the city of Houston is fifteenth. They have a little different form there where their ratio is fifty-three percent where ours is sixty percent, but their tax rates is $1.53, where our tax rate is $1.25. In essence, on a $20,000 home, you’d be paying taxes to the city of Pasadena $150, where if you resided in the city of Houston, you would be paying $162.18. In other words, $12.18, based upon a $20,000 home.

N: How about industry? How are they taxed?

JRH: I would say ninety-five percent of industry is in what we consider industrial districts and they’re taxed at fifty percent. It used to be thirty percent under the other administration, but since I’ve become mayor, we have increased that to fifty percent of the actual value.

N: Are there any plans to increase it further?

JRH: I don’t think at this time. Keep in mind that we’re not obligated to furnish any city services, such as water, sewer, fire, or police protection. I can see maybe, many moons from now, that someday that Bayport and these areas are industrial districts will be saturated to the point that we’ll indirectly help relieve the tax load on our residents by lowering the tax rate.

N: You said no city services are provided to these industrial areas. Is that—?

JRH: That is correct. In other words, we owe them no consideration.

N: 27:37 They handle sewage.

JRH: They handle their own water, sewer, fire, and police protection. All of these things. In fact, they’re actually—to be able to under the state’s statute to do this, we had to de-annex that particular area, and in fact, they’re not even within the city limits of the city of Pasadena. Only in our ETJ, which is our extraterritorial jurisdiction, which we have right to annex.

N: In these industrial parks, in a time in which people are becoming much more aware and concerned about pollution, how does the city affect, or is it able to affect, any sort of improper waste disposal that would affect the quality of life within the city?

JRH: I think they would be under the same guidelines and the same jurisdiction as the city, the Texas Water Quality Board and the Clean Air Act and these things. So the same state agency that polices the city of Pasadena would also police them, and likewise, the EPA would police them as equally as they would the city of Pasadena.

N: But does Pasadena, with any of the industry within the city limits, does it police that industry in terms of sewage disposal and any form of pollution?

JRH: Within our city limits, we do. Not—

N: Not outside.

JRH: Not outside the city limits, or in our, as you call it industrial districts, because they’re outside our city limits. And we would, for all practical purposes, have no control. So it has to be pollution abatement and these things would have to be enforced by the attorney general.

N: Have there been any efforts on your part to cut down on the amount of pollution?

JRH: We monitor. We have a helicopter. We take samples. These are turned over to the attorney general or his assistant attorney general that’s in Harris County, Rod Gorman. I’m sure from some of these things, some cases have been made. As you know, as a general rule, they’re slapped on the wrist, fined $500 or $600, and say don’t do it again.

N: Well that leads into another question. I believe that in Houston, where there’s been more press coverage about this, that there’s been dissatisfaction on the part of those within the city about they’re not having enough power in the Texas Water Control, Quality Control Board, not really policing sufficiently enough. What are your views about this?

JRH: 30:42 First, Houston can’t say a whole lot about it, because Houston is the number one violator (laughter). A lot of our problems are caused right now by the Sims Biotreatment Plant. If you came up 225 you can smell it. It depends what direction, which it comes in this direction, it’s going to the bay. I feel like certainly Houston is doing all it can to update their sewer system and so is Pasadena. We’re under a court order, or it’s not a court order, a board order, which is Texas Water Quality Board, to update our sewer treatment plants, which we passed the bond issue to take care of the city’s obligations. The problem now is the EPA. They changed their rules. At one time our priority was number thirteen, now we’re sixty-ninth. They say now they’re going to fund through seventy. They keep telling us these things, and we really don’t know where we stand. They want us to update our plans every six months, so it creates quite a problem. I think eventually we will be able to upgrade our sewer system.

N: In this connection, since we’ve already stated that pollution is more than just a Pasadena problem, but a county problem, what relationships do you have—what relationship do you have with the surrounding communities, Houston, the county authorities? Is there much cooperation there?

JRH: I feel that there is more cooperation now. I address myself as being president of the Harris County Mayors’ and Councils’ Association, and during this tenure, not only to meet with a bunch of guys and do some talking and a little drinking, (laughter) for instance, I will leave here at 4 o’clock, and a bill that I recommended to be introduced in the Legislature is to increase the Houston Port Authority by two members to seven. In 1925, when the bill was passed, the city of Houston was 130,000; Pasadena, 2000; Baytown about 1000; and a lot of these other little cities were not even known of. Now the law has not been changed since then. It says that member cities of over 100,000 will put two on the port authority. We contend now that we’re over the 100,000, but we contend that now, because of Bayport and all the other industrialized area, that we should have some input. And not only that, the port authority itself has grown tenfold, and seven members will not be too unwieldy and will give a broader cross section. Also, I will address myself tonight on subsidence, which we are certainly concerned about in this particular area. We have mixed emotions. For instance, whoever controls the water hole controls the range. Right now the city of Houston controls all the surface water; sea wall, city of Houston; Lake Houston, the city of Houston; Lake Conroe, the city of Houston; Lake Livingston, the city of Houston. This is what concerns us, is what price that they can charge us for the water. But I feel like we’re all together. I feel like under mass transit, I, certainly, one of the people in Harris County, was against the hoarder proposal. I feel since then that all the other mayors, inclusive of Mayor Hofheinz, has a better understanding on what we need and how to go about it. I feel like we do communicate. We furnish a lot of services to our sister cities like South Houston, Deer Park; they use our landfill, we try to share in the help to a great degree. Sometimes I do feel like the city of Houston would not inform us of some things that are available for us, and we’re big enough now to have a plan department to find out some of these things. We’re not selfish. We convey these to our sister cities. Such as, on the (clanking sounds) Title 6 (??) monies, which I went to H-GAC this morning, and the only thing we was trying to spell out is in the next five years there was forty-nine million dollars allocated to Harris County. Now when it set still that Houston could’ve had all the forty-nine million dollars and spent it, now (shuffling of papers) we have at least gone to single out that Houston’s entitled to 73.4%, Pasadena 5.3, Baytown 2.6, Bellaire 1.1, and on down. Now if these cities do not use this money, then it reverts to the city of Houston on or before January 1, 1977. If this is not used, then the city of Houston would have the money. (shuffling of papers)

N: 36:28 What you’ve been saying—(unintelligible; shuffling of papers)—relationship with Houston. Is it fair to conclude that the treatment you received from Houston has been somewhat unfair?

JRH: I certainly answered in a selfish vein. I would say, yes. But keep in mind that Houston must look after Houston. I feel that basically the city of Pasadena, if it was sitting out by itself, such as Abilene, Lubbock, Austin, San Angelo, Wichita Falls—one, we’re the size that we’re bigger than a lot of county seats. We have actually no district judges or county court law judges that live this side of Main Street. In fact, if you want to look at the Houston Port Authority, all them that are appointed live in the southwest area of Harris County, not even—out of Houston, I mean, and not really a broad cross-section of the community. So I would say yes. We get lost a lot in the shuffle.

N: This problem that you were pointing out with the port authority, what sort of reforms, speaking in terms that don’t necessarily relate to the reality of the politics, how would you like to see the appointments made so it would reflect a broad cross-section?

JRH: Under the bill that the legislature will hear tonight that there is two by the city Houston, two by Harris County, and there will be two by all other cities, then the seventh member will be elected by a representative from each of these three entities I have just discussed.

N: And you think that this would provide the more equitable distribution of representation?

JRH: True. You’ll hear the argument very strongly that the county actually represents Pasadena and other areas, but it’s traditionally been that their appointments have been from the city of Houston, from the Silk Stocking area, and not someone really related and knows what the problems actually are. They have been more political appointments instead of people that really can do a good job as far as knowing what’s happening and relate to the individuals on the Houston Ship Channel.

N: 39:24 How will the other communities within Harris County get together to appoint these two members of the—?

JRH: Under the bill, it’s at the—the mayor of the second largest city of the county would be the chairman to call them together. Then they would have one vote each. In other words, where you appoint and nominate a committee, and leave the nominations open X amount of days, then get back together, and everybody would have one vote. What if you do it individually or the two high, if there are two appointments at two high, they’re it, you know?

N: Do you foresee the development of a metropolitan form of government? For example, consolidation of the police in one police force?

JRH: No sir. Actually you hear a lot about it. I see that there’s a lot of areas, for a matter of economics and so forth, that there’s legislation now that you can contract some services with various governmental agencies. I think once you do that then you destroy the grassroot or local control of government. If I wanted to live in a big city like Houston, I would move to Houston. Everybody in town knows the mayor if they want to know the mayor, and I think in some instances, you can get too big for your britches. Big to the extent, would it be a college or a city, when you become a student, and you’re—they put your grades out, and you’re a computer number instead of your name and these things, and you lose your identity.

N: What is your relationship with the county authorities on issues such as flood control, road maintenance? Do you get much cooperation from them?

JRH: Under the new administration, it seems that they’re trying to respond to our needs, and I’m able to communicate with them. I think that’s one of the big problems of communication. I know what resources they have. I know their obligations to the total county, and I only feel that we should have basically no more than what we put in to the county coffer. A lot of areas want theirs and someone else’s too, and so with that attitude, I think we have a good relationship.

N: You mentioned that the relationship is good under the present administration. Did you have problems with the previous?
JRH: There was not the—for instance, I can pick up a phone now and within ten minutes talk to Judge Lindsay, Commissioner Fonteno, or these things. Previously I could have done the same thing and maybe never complete the call. You know, if they say—we do not communicate with each other like politicians, like friends, you know, and able to josh with each other because it’s a tough, it’s a tough life anyway. In fact, Commissioner Fonteno will be on the flight in about an hour with me to testify that we need to increase the port authority bill. He’s a former member of the Houston Port Authority.

N: 43:26 I am curious about the county government. With the growth of the urban areas, Houston, Pasadena, and all the other communities, the numbers of people, the sorts of concerns of county government changes. How do you see this changing relationship between the city governments and county government, and what is the future of county government in such an urban area as Harris County?

JRH: In essence, for practical purposes, county government would be obsolete. For instance, all area of Harris County could be incorporated. There are some areas that are not incorporated, but almost all the area, some city, would be Houston, Pasadena, or other cities. They’re ETJ, which they could annex if they want to, which in toto, Harris County could be cities. At that time, then you would say we do not need the sheriff’s department, that we don’t need Commissioners Court. It’s a form of government, though, that in a lot of rural areas that you certainly need and is still viable. It’s something that become a custom, and it’s going to be hard to ever overcome, such as Justice of the Peaces. Actually, we have them running out of their ears in Harris County. (laughter) Someday I think they’re going to have become courts of record, and we’ll call them something besides the Law West of the Pecos or something. (laughter) But it’s something that will be hard to overcome because constables are the same way. Basically they used to be law enforcement, and basically now they’re paper servers. But I could see someday that their usefulness, really it’s duplication and overlap in the services, which it gets back into metro government, which I am opposed to metro government. Then you could say county could run the government and do away with the mayors and the councils and so forth.

N: I would like to talk to you for a few moments about federal funds, okay? Has there been opposition to the use of federal funds in Pasadena?

JRH: I think back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s there was opposition based upon philosophies. Based upon seeing federal control, strings attached to the money, but I think now the philosophies are not that way. They feel like if you send something to Washington you’ll get all you can back, even though there’s a lot of red tape to receiving some of these funds, and there’s long delays in receiving some of these funds, (buzzing) but basically I don’t see any opposition to receiving federal funds.

N: How does the question of federal funds look now with the new integration order? Do you think you will have more difficulty convincing your—the voters that federal funds are a good thing?

JRH: 47:20 I don’t think so. I think, again, the people in our community, we take things in stride. I don’t think the problem of integration—we have blacks, browns, that live in our community, but we take it in everyday stride, and I think if all the communities took these things in everyday stride, I feel very strongly that people are resolving their problems within the system. It’s like in the ‘60s when we were having the riots on the campuses and so forth. I feel that people are lined up now to get in law school. These people are getting elected to the Legislature, to Congress, to city councils, so I feel that people are resolving their problems within our system, and I feel that as far as integration is concerned, that we have no great problems in this particular locale.

N: Some commentators have noted that because of the working class, the domination of Pasadena by the working class voter, that there’s a real—there’s a very conservative outlook, and this reflects in some of the school board controversies have gone on—

JRH: I don’t feel so. Basically, until I would say five or six years ago, as I commented before, that basically Pasadena would vote for Don Yarber (??), which was considered a liberal. Ralph Yarber (??) is considered a liberal as a union town. I think it has changed, more by moderate or more of an urban-type vote and you can’t—for instance, the mayor’s pay raise was defeated in eight or nine of what we call the working precincts. Some areas that we have management live in, they carried it to offset the difference. I don’t feel that this conservative philosophy prevails. I do feel that a philosophy prevails in our school system—which keep in mind that we overlap into Houston. It’s called Pasadena School System. In fact, one-third of the Deer Park school system is in the city of Pasadena. A lot of people don’t know that. I do feel that we respect rules and regulations, for instance, the terror codes and things of this nature. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a matter of teaching a form of discipline, and once they reach their maturity, then they can do just about anything lawful that they want to. I think really this is the attitude. It’s not they’re so conservative, it’s like I have certain rules around my house that my youngsters must abide by. I may be old fashioned in some ways, but I want them to respect my wishes until they don’t put their feet under my table to eat beans anymore.

N: In closing, I would just to get your opinion on the direction of Pasadena. Is it a growing community? Where is it going?

JRH: I think Pasadena is the promise land. (laughter) Really because we’re not the highest now in the state of Texas per capital income. I think Bayport is a blessing. When Hudson Oil says they’re going to build a five-hundred million dollar plant on—I can’t even count that high, really. I was talking to the El Paso Natural Gas this afternoon. They’ve just purchased 600 acres to build in Bayport. I don’t think it’s despite anyone that Pasadena will continue to grow and prosper because the great economy is diversified in this area. I think everybody would like to probably live on 150 acres and have them a tank to fish and hunt in and they can shoot a gun at any time they want to, (laughter) but I tell you, in this area, you feel very comfortable when you go to bed tonight, you have a full stomach, your kids have a full stomach, and you got a little money in the bank, so I don’t think we can do anything but go up.

N: 52:37 On that happy and optimistic note, I think we’ll close the interview. I know you have a busy schedule, and I do appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

JRH: Alright. Do you want me to sign these—

(End of tape 52:50)