[Untitled]

http://data.mohistory.org/files/thumbnails/shsmo-tc1_missouri_edu5525ddf9a6f2c.jpg

Description

John E. Downs was born on May 12, 1917. He served as a Democrat in the Missouri House for one term, 1957-1959, and in the Missouri Senate for two and a half terms, 1961-1971. Educated in law and a practicing attorney, Senator Downs had a reputation as a labor lawyer representing the interests of the working class and the little guy. For his most recent biographic entry, see the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1969-1970.I met Senator Downs in St. Joseph on an overcast morning in May, and proceeded to get acquainted during an interesting tour of the citys historic sites, including the remarkable cemetery. We eventually drove to his law office, appropriately located about St. Josephs AFL-CIO office. While professional, Senator Downs law firm had a very approachable air about it, which was matched by the Senators friendly and forthright manner itself. His particular office was filled with all sorts of papers and documents, and at times he searched through various of these collections for newspaper clippings or other data to illustrate a point. This activity especially characterizes the third of the three interview tapes. Although serious and filled with important information, the session was also informal and at times almost resembled an amiable conversation rather than an interview. At times Senator Downs employed an engaging style of parody that is hopefully indicated in the following transcript. The session was unfortunately cut short due to another interview I had scheduled for that afternoon.
An Interview withJohn E. Downsat his law office inSt. Joseph, Missouri14 May 1996interviewed by Will SarvisOral History ProgramThe State Historical Society of Missouri 1996Collection C3929 Politics in Missouri a.c. 31-33 NOTICE1) This material is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). It may not be cited without acknowledgment to The Oral History Program of the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, a Joint Collection of the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri.Citations should include: [name of interviewee], [name of the interviewer], [date and place of interview], [audio recording or transcript], and [where it can be found, for example, The Oral History Program of the State Historical Society of Missouri, Politics in Missouri Oral History Project].2) Reproductions of this transcript are available for reference use only and cannot be reproduced or published in any form (including digital formats) without written permission from the Western Historical Manuscript Collection.3) Use of information or quotations from any Politics in Missouri Oral History Project transcript indicates agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Missouri, the State Historical Society of Missouri, their officers, employees, and agents, and the interviewee from and against all claims and actions arising out of the use of this material.For further information, contact:Western Historical Manuscript Collection23 Ellis LibraryUniversity of MissouriColumbia, MO 65201-5149 PREFACEJohn E. Downs was born on May 12, 1917. He served as a Democrat in the Missouri House for one term, 1957-1959, and in the Missouri Senate for two and a half terms, 1961-1971. Educated in law and a practicing attorney, Senator Downs had a reputation as a labor lawyer representing the interests of the working class and the little guy. For his most recent biographic entry, see the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1969-1970.I met Senator Downs in St. Joseph on an overcast morning in May, and proceeded to get acquainted during an interesting tour of the citys historic sites, including the remarkable cemetery. We eventually drove to his law office, appropriately located about St. Josephs AFL-CIO office. While professional, Senator Downs law firm had a very approachable air about it, which was matched by the Senators friendly and forthright manner itself. His particular office was filled with all sorts of papers and documents, and at times he searched through various of these collections for newspaper clippings or other data to illustrate a point. This activity especially characterizes the third of the three interview tapes. Although serious and filled with important information, the session was also informal and at times almost resembled an amiable conversation rather than an interview. At times Senator Downs employed an engaging style of parody that is hopefully indicated in the following transcript. The session was unfortunately cut short due to another interview I had scheduled for that afternoon.The interview was recorded on 3M AVX60 audio cassettes (normal bias), using a Marantz PMD-222 manual recorder (set on automatic recording level) and a Shure VP64 omnidirectional microphone attached to a floor stand. A fairly violent thunderstorm created some interferring noise, but these passages of the recording nevertheless remain quite understandable. Otherwise the recording is of generally high quality.The following transcript represents a faithful rendering of the entire oral history interview. Minor stylistic alterations--none of factual consequence--have been made as part of a general transcription policy. Any use of brackets [ ] indicates editorial insertions not found on the original audio recordings. Any use of parentheses () indicates a spoken aside evident from the speaker's intonation. Double dashes [--] are also used as a stylistic method in an attempt to capture nuances of dialogue or speech patterns. Words are italicized when emphasized in speech, and bold-faced when heavily emphasized in speech. Exclamation points [ ! ] are also used, when applicable, in an attempt to capture emphasized or enthusiastic speech. In an effort to avoid cluttering the transcript with brackets, details surrounding complete proper names are not always found in the transcript itself, though the index always contains their fullest possible spelling. And although substantial care has been taken to render this transcript as accurately as possible, any remaining errors are the responsibility of the editor, Will Sarvis. JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 1Will Sarvis (WS): I'm in St. Joseph, MO where I am interviewing the Honorable John E. Downs, who served in both the Missouri House and the Missouri State Senate for a total of twelve years, I believe. Two years in the House and ten years in the Senate.John Downs (JD): Yes, that's right.WS: If you like, maybe you could just tell us a little bit about where you were born and grew up, and stuff, before you got into politics.JD: Well, we're sitting here in St. Joseph, Missouri in my office, Will. Glad to have you come up. I was born in this town seventy-nine years ago. My birthday was this week. I'm a product of the Depression Era, really. I remember the Depression Era because it seared my soul, and my dad's. My dad had to go through bankruptcy. He was the owner of the Hotel Roubidoux (which has been torn down now, but it was a block up the street). I grew up as a very privileged person and then I went from being the son of the owner to hopping bells and holding out my hand for a dime. And I remember Dad sold the big Packard (he had to sell the big Packard), and he sold it to a colored band. It was big enough [laughs] so they could get everything in but the tuba. That's a leveling experience, and I think it affected me.Everything you do as a child affects your view. I went to the parochial schools, the Sisters and then to the Christian Brothers. The Christian Brothers is no longer in existence. There is a Catholic high school here called Le Blond named for Bishop Le Blond, who lived up the street from us in a big old house. Then I went to the junior college. And we had some very good teachers--Miss Bloom, Mr. Poppelwell; some others who greatly influenced me, for the better, I think. Then I wound up in the Marine 2 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will SarvisCorps. There's the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] hanging on the wall. I'm proud of that. Somewhere in this room, I've got a picture of me and Colonel Charles A. Lindburgh, and he wrote about me in the War Time Journals of Charles Lindburgh. Right behind you is--look at that. Do you know what that's made from, that picture of that woman?WS: Butterfly feathers.JD: Butterfly wings. You can buy them for a shilling on the streets of Nairobi. So, when I was the president's appointee with the rank of minister--I sound like I'm writing my obituary--why, one of the places where I was stationed for awhile was in Africa, so that's where I bought that. I bought a lot of them and gave them away. Looking back at it, I should have bought several hundred of them and taken them to the gift shops. [laughs] I'd tell people that they only cost a quarter.Those pictures on the wall there [gestures to other of the rooms artwork]--you buy them just on the street in Montreal. I was stationed in Montreal and that was where the headquarters of ICAO, The International Civil Aviation Organization, (the acronym is ICAO). Those were just pictures I bought because I liked them. The great education that you get in the international body. You learn something, and you learn something from your contemporaries, your peers. I guess I learned more in ICAO in the five years I was there than any other five years in my life. But you came up to talk about Missouri, and here I am--WS: Thats alright.JD: You know what the definition of a bore is? JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 3WS: What?JD: Somebody that talks about himself when you want to talk about yourself.[laughter from both parties]JD: As you can see, I can sit here hogging the conversation.WS: No, that's the idea, that's the idea.JD: That's a picture of the ICAO Council. Over here [gestures toward a framed montage of Missouri state legislators], the reason that we're having our meeting is, I was in the legislature in l970, among other years, and those are the Senate Officers. So many of them are dead now. My favorites were--the gifted public servant in that group was A. Clifford Jones.WS: I see him.JD: His motivation was always what is best for the people. I liked him very much. I think--we were discussing it before you turned on the machine--I think that in broadbrush, the House and the Senate, that a third of the members are crooks.[tape meter, 50]And then you get the difference between black and white. Where does ignorance stop and sabotage start? The net result is the same to the beneficiaries of the ignorance or the sabotage, but a third of them fall into that group. The other third are kind of well-meaning guys. And, then there is a third who are dedicated, and work hard and want things to be better. That was true in the House and it was true in the Senate. It didn't take long to know who was on the take. But again, the difficulty of the take is what are your predilections? I was very fond of . . . oh, the little guy from St. Louis; Ed . . . 4 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will SarvisWS: Ed Long?JD: No, no. I liked Ed Long.WS: Oh, Linehan?JD: Yes, Edward Linehan. I think he had the quickest, and best, and sharpest mind in the Senate. Genius of a little guy. I know his father was killed in the old Eagen's Rats Days, the gangsters in St. Louis. Ed's mother received money from an anonymous source growing up, so that he could go to school. He was a lawyer, and I was very fond of Linehan. Are you going to get a chance to see him?WS: If I could, I'd like to. Didn't he go on and become a Pipefitters boss or something?JD: Well; no, Edward represented the Hotel Workers and some other unions. I'm sure you could hunt around in St. Louis and find him, because people would know Ed. But I haven't contacted him in many years, but he was fiscally honest, and almost a movie-type background.WS: Yes.JD: Yes. You see that in the old black and white flicks, but that's where he came from. And I liked him very much. I was very fond of--he's now deceased--oh, a lot of the guys I liked. Some of them, I didn't care much for. I was very fond of Senator [Theodore] McNeal, the first black senator. He had been President of the Pullman Porters, and I remember a guy came in to see me one day from north Missouri, where we have an Amish community. Some people call them the Plain People--buggies and so on--right up here at Jamesport. You can drive up there in an hour and a half, an interesting place. He came in to see me and he said, "Now Senator, he said, I've figured out a way to get JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 5rid of the Plain People. You know they're not like us." I said, "Oh, well, I know that." He said, "What we'll do, nobody hardly ever travels by buggy, but these people have to travel by buggy. What we'll do is, we'll impose a tax on buggies. Then they'll all have to move someplace else." That sounds kind of like the way that the Mormons got treated in Missouri. So, I said, "Now, there's a minority person here who understands problems like that. I said, I dont handle it. I want you to go around and see Senator McNeal and you explain to him how you're going to handle it." [laughs] So, pretty soon Senator McNeal came to my office and said, "Oh, you son of a bitch." I said, "Well, Ted, I just thought maybe you'd want to handle a minority problem, being minority yourself." And we used to needle Ted. If he did something we approved of, we'd say, "Oh, Ted, that was very white of you." [laughs] He was a great contributor. He was a friend of Governor [Warren] Hearnes.But, in the House--let's see--the guys that I knew there are all dead. I went to the House after I left the office of Prosecuting Attorney. I ran for Congress. It took three days in a recount to find out I got beat.[tape meter, 100]I ran for Congress and spent a total of $l,500 dollars. My life would have been different had I won that, then I would have moved up in a different direction. I think in politics, Will, that you ought to move up or out. The career state politicians get into an awful rut. When I went to the House, the salary was $l25 dollars a month, and I think you got $5 dollars a day per diem, but only for the first sixty days. So, then we got involved in this great dispute as to whether or not the elected House and Senate of the state--whether or 6 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvisnot you should earn more. They said if we pay more, then the people there won't be as greedy or as tempted to take favors from industry. There's an argument on both sides. Of course, lawyers are not popular as a group, and often they'd say, "Well, he's a lawyer" or "It's a lawyer's bill" to try to hang a sinister meaning on a piece of legislation. I was opposed to the pay raise because--and I think I'm right, looking back at it now--the people who are careering in the legislature get so they need the job. That's the money that pays for the braces on Susie's teeth. That's the money that makes the car payments, and they need the job. When I was there at $l25 dollars a month, you needed that job like you needed a hole in the head. We've talked about continual pay raises, perhaps upping the ante for the per diem because things sure as hell cost more now in the '90s than they did in the '50s, '60s and '70s.The other thing that they did wrong, and I opposed it, was the annual sessions. That's wrong, and the reason that it's wrong is that it just keeps you down there and the special interest bills get a chance to come up over and over again. I'll give you an example. I called it the Avis--meaning, after the Avis-Hertz [Company]--Bill. At the rental car companies. Every year they would offer that bill to say that if you did not return your car, your chattel, or anything--a lawnmower, or the tools that you rent from the United Rental people (anybody), that if you did not return it you were presumed to be guilty of theft, a felony. And the reason Avis and Hertz wanted that is they wanted, when the car didn't return on time, instead of them recovering it, to have the taxpayers recover it, utilizing the long arm of all of the law. Then grab the guy and throw his ass in the can because he didn't return his car on time, or his lawnmower, or his hand saw. I opposed JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 7that. Every year I got up on the floor and we were able to defeat it. It was Kenny Rothman's bill. Sure enough, the year I left, it passed. Here in St. Joe, I saw where some poor guy didn't bring back something to the Rent-All Company and the over-zealous prosecutors dragged his ass into the state court on a felony and he was found guilty. This is wrong.[tape meter, 150]I can remember Cliffy Jones and I defeated the Missouri State Flag Bill. That was the one where they provided that every flag pole of a state building that flies the American Flag would fly the Missouri State Flag. After all, the proponents said, "they do it in Texas." It also provided that the flag would have to be made from Missouri cotton. Cliffy and I (he's a Republican, I'm a Democrat), we led the charge against that. [laughs] They got mad at us. There's the Pink Boll Weevil Bill, and it cost a lot of money. You inspect the cotton for the pink boll weevil which is damaging cotton. Missouri is a cotton state, too. Did you know that?WS: Sure.JD: Ton of cotton, yes. Edward Linehan used to refer to those people in the cotton belt as the "rustics," and we alienated the rustics. I think the reason that the rustics--or what I called, to the annoyance of the rustic representatives, what I call gimme counties. And a gimme county is a county which gets a lot more in state revenue than it contributes. There are a lot of gimme counties. The argument gets down to the level of, they just turn then at the table and say, "We're feeding you." And that entitles them to what, I regard, as a disproportionate sum. But, there are two sides to that argument, too. Do we ignore 8 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvisour brothers because they're bedraggled? I don't think so. But do you throw money at the problem? I hope we don't do that. We do do it. Schools, for example. So, where are we now?WS: In this urban / rural kind of tension, it sounds like you definitely consider yourself an urban senator.JD: Oh, yes. For example, Ted and I, Ted McNeal and I--and St. Louis is a classic example. Kenlock, I think that's the name of the district (the school district), they get their money for the tax base on residences and so on. So does Creve Coeur. Look at the difference in the amount of money that goes to Creve Coeur--to the kids there--and the kids who go to Kenlock, who are primarily black. It raises a serious constitutional question of equal treatment under the law. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yes, that's a hell of a problem--how we handle . . . Creve Coeur actually is French for broken heart, isn't it?WS: I don't know.JD: Yes, sure. I think, as in Sacre Coeur, you know, in Paris. That's the Sacred Heart and Creve Coeur is the Broken Heart. It's the French expression for the broken heart of the Mother of Jesus. But, you can also stretch it to broken heart in a couple of other directions. You know, Creve Coeur is a right prosperous part of St. Louis County. I copied the phrase, "the rustics" from Senator Linehan.WS: So, did you find yourself often aligned, perhaps, with senators from St. Louis or Kansas City as opposed to outstate senators? JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 9JD: Yes, I think so. Their views were more similar to mine. They told the story on a senator from Christian County that when they were--you've seen that room where they have the caucuses, the Senate Caucus Room, in the Capitol Building?[tape meter, 200]WS: No.JD: Well, you've got to roam around in there some day. That was when they were having the appropriations for a new chandelier. I'm not sure this story's true, could be. The senator from Christian County got up and said, "In the first place, he said, nobody knows how to play a chandelier, and also, that room is too dark." [laughs] He's dead now, but I remember Sorkis Webbe. Sorkis Webbe got in big trouble. Sorkis Webbe was--and his son got in trouble in St. Louis. There was a tie up there with the underworld. But, I liked Sorkis. I remember he was fighting for money for the museum, for the library. Someone asked Sorkis how long it had been since he'd been in a museum and he said, "I've never been there, but I know they've got books." I remember, he was a great gambler and they nailed him in Las Vegas and they found his marker. Do you know what a marker is? Well, a marker is the name of the document upon which they put your credit at a gambling house, and his markers said, "Sorkis" on them, just "Sorkis." When the press inquired about that, he said, "It must have been some other Sorkis." You never saw the movie of Shirley Temple and Little Miss Marker? That's where the gambler in the movie put up his daughter, who was Shirley Temple, as a marker to agree to pay his losses at the bookie. That word has disappeared from the scene, I guess.WS: I guess. 10 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will SarvisJD: [laughs] That's too bad.WS: Talking about the underworld, I guess you were well acquainted with Senator [Michael] Kinney, and Ed Hogan and those--JD: Hogan was just ahead of me. I hate to malign the deceased, but Senator Kinney, he was an old crook. His fair wage, or fair pricing, that he used to introduce--either himself or introduce the cats paw - - so that he could defeat it every year and get his retainer from [the] Stixbayer [Department Store] and those people. I don't know why they didn't see through it, but I guess they figured it was safer to pay off than it was to rely on the rest of us. No Hogan--that was just before I got there.WS: How about, do you remember Senator Brancato? He was from Kansas City.JD: Jasper.WS: Right.JD: I was very fond of Jasper. Jasper had a beautiful daughter who was an equestrian, and he ran a grocery store in Kansas City. His bitter hatred was for green stamps. Jasper hated them. Jasper had friends in the underworld.WS: So I've heard.JD: Yes, I remember. This actually happened. [laughs] We were standing in the back of the senate floor one day and somebody said, "Jasper, how are you going to vote on this bill?" And, he said, "I don't know. I haven't been told yet." But, I liked him very much.[tape meter, 250]Jasper didn't swing a very wide swath. He was just there and you could anticipate his votes. I'm a great civil libertarian and I'm very strongly opposed to such bills as creating JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 11the Missouri Department of Investigation. That kind of a crowd is just absolutely going to wire tap when they shouldn't and cater to the "law and order" crowd, which means to hell with the Constitution and the Bill or Rights. So, for reasons other than Jasper's, I always said, "Whoa, let us not come close to attacking the presumption of innocence." That you're presumed to be innocent, you have a right to confront your accusers, you have a right to remain mute, you have a right to counsel of your choosing. Everybody wants to get rid of that now. They say, "Well, we know they're all crooks. They're just staying out on a technicality." The technicality is a privilege found in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. That's what a technicality is.I remember I was particularly scornful of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the dishonesty of the paper, Duncan Bauman and the right wing nuts that they ran. They characterized me as "the friend of the drunk" because I opposed the difficult punitive bills which concerned themselves with drunken driving. For example, the way the bill passed, if you had actually pled guilty to drunken driving the day you graduated from college, twenty-five years later you're a repeater if you get caught on the way home from the Elks Club. That's punitive. That's goofy. And it still goes on. They keep lowering the percentage of alcohol on your breath, for which you're presumed to be intoxicated. Highly questionable. But, they hound you.I think the real problem, Will, is the tyranny of the minority. I want you to imagine that you're running [for political office], and they say, "Will, they did the poll now. Youre neck and neck, you're very close." Now, I'll make this ridiculous. They say, "There's a bill up that provides that it's mandatory for you to take your dog to the 12 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvisveterinarian and have such and such a shot provided." You say, "Well, I talked to my veterinarian and he says that's not necessary." "Yes, but the veterinarians all want it. Everybody will have to come in and the shot's going to be fifteen bucks. I want to ask you this, Will, do you want your opponent's card and propaganda to be in every veterinary shop in this town? In this town there are--oh I don't know, look in the yellow section--maybe twenty-five vets.[tape meter, 300]Why don't you go on ahead and withdraw your opposition to the mandatory inoculation, and then they all won't be on your ass?" In a more practical way, what are you going to do with the single-issue people, the right to life, the right to freedom of choice, the guns? These people do control--and can deliver--a certain tiny percentage [of votes]. But your advisors say to you, "Now, Will, are you going to stay with this position? Can't you do more good if you just bend a little bit and agree, for Christ's sake, to go for it?" What do you do? "You want all the banks on your ass?" I had them on mine. I was the bank basher, and I was. I still am a bank basher.For example, in just this most recent session of the legislature, the one on right now, one of those senators from Kansas City had a bill that he wanted the ATM cards to not be placed on the premises of the gambling halls. It got beat. Why? Obviously, the gambling halls have a lot of money despite all of this nonsense about not being controlled by the Las Vegas crowd and so on. They'll kick into your campaign. Somebody said, "Well, why don't you shut up and go along? They're going to kick in big. Sure, the people are getting screwed. Sure, gambling is a social evil, but you're not going to JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 13change the world, Will. Let them have the ATM card." That's the world we're in. It's kind of hard to stand there and speak your mind, or cop out. You abstain. You explain that you were sick that day.I think you're in a difficult situation because you have to watch the legislature in action. You have to sit there. Here we are in the last week, aren't we? I think right now. They'll pass some crap this week. Everybody is angry now at the children. They all want to prosecute the children as adults. I can't go along with that. The real problem is the dishonesty and the slanting of the news stories. Here in this town, the Bradley Family has, for three generations, run the newspaper. They're a cancer on the town.[tape meter, 350]You go along with them or they destroy you. Who was it that--I haven't read it; I want to--Blood Sport. Have you read Blood Sport?WS: No.JD: I think that's the book, I heard the reviews on it, that Vincent Foster, who took his own life, said that the destruction of reputation of people in politics is a blood sport.WS: Right.JD: And I think that's what created that expression.[end of side 1, tape I; tape meter, 360]JD: . . . would you have to take? How much can I give you to satisfy.WS: Well, as much as you like.JD: No, you've got your job. What the hell. 14 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will SarvisWS: I've got some questions. I wondered; one thing you witnessed while you were in the Senate--three different Presidents Pro Tem--Senator [Albert] Spradling, Senator [John] Joynt, and Senator [Earl] Blackwell. And I just wondered if you'd care to compare, contrast, maybe, the style and effectiveness of these three?JD: Senator Spradling is a tool of the banking interests. [laughs] I kind of liked old Albert, but when push came to shove, he always came down on the side of the banks and the vested interests. If Albert had a bill--I wouldn't suggest that Albert took money, but that's where he was. That's the side of the economic periphery where you found Albert, on the side of the banks and the lending institutions. Yes, Albert was--that's where he was. I would nearly always be opposed to the bills that he sponsored. When the vote came down, you wouldn't have to guess how Albert was going to vote, or how I was going to vote. Depending on your constituency, which one of us was right?Senator Joynt, there's his picture up there. I liked John Joynt. He'd been a circuit judge and the St. Louis political crowd liked Senator Joynt. And in most instances, he and I were on the same side. I think that there was some undue influence on the part of--not the steelworkers, but the plumbers--what were they called?WS: The Pipefitters?JD: The Pipefitters. I think they had undue influence on John Joynt. But the Senate was a better place with John than without him, yes. He wasn't a statesman, but he was a decent guy. He had a sense of the problems of the unwashed, as opposed to the overwashed. He saw that problem. Most people don't. JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will Sarvis 15WS: I understand--Senator Blackwell told me you were in on sort of a conspiracy to keep him as president pro tem an extra day longer [laughs], and the day they were getting ready to oust him, he moved that the bill be put on the table and you seconded it or something--it was just a game he was telling me about.JD: Well, yes. I liked Senator Blackwell very much and that was a time when Governor Hearnes didn't keep a commitment to Earl. By and large, I liked Warren Hearnes, but he sometimes fell under pressure that I didn't think was appropriate. Yes, we did that, and then Blackwell led the--one of the few times we had a filibuster. Blackwell led the filibuster--he and I and Bob Young. But, Blackwell was the principle in the filibuster. I remember they always said that we will never move the previous question. Well, by God, they did move the previous question--the question being, "All those in favor, vote aye and opposed, vote no." Then you debate the merits. But, when someone gets up and can get the floor, and says, "Now, Mr. President, I move the previous question," that means vote aye or no. That's a non-debatable subject, or motion. So they did move the previous question, and so they did pass the tax measure. I was for Blackwell. I was against the tax measure. But Young--Bob Young, who went to the House of Representatives--and Blackwell and I would stand up. The procedure of the Senate said you'd stand there and the presiding officer would say, "For what purpose does the Senator from Buchanan arise?" Then, I would say, "It is to interrogate the Senator from Hillsboro." So, then all I had to do to continue the filibuster was to say, "Senator, let me ask you this. Are you familiar with the following propositions?"[tape meter, 50] 16 JD = John E. Downs; WS = Will SarvisThen, I would read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That's a hell of a long time. Then, if he said he wasn't familiar, I'd say, "Well, let's go over them again." That drives them crazy. I remember Earl had a book in his hand called, Solomon's Yoke. I don't know what the book was about, but when he ran out of something to say, he would turn and read the title of the book, Solomon's Yoke. And that was a signal for me to get up and interrogate him so he could sit down; or Bob Young. No one else. You see, after you ask for the floor--and Earl had the floor (Senator Blackwell had the floor)--then the presiding officer would have to say to him, "Do you yield?" I said, "Yes, I'll yield to senator from Buchanan and not Albert Spradling." He said, "No, but I'm not going to yield to him," because Spradling wouldn't move something. I think it was Spradling that moved the previous question, which was wrong. You know, it cut off debate. That again, is the purpose of debate--to delay a matter, or the purpose to delay is to seek the truth. It all depends on how you wanted the game to come out. [laughs]WS: Right. Was it just the three of you, Senator Blackwell, Senator Young and yourself against the thirty-one others?JD: Oh, well, the measure finally passed. Oh, no. One of the expressions in the Senate is, It takes eighteen votes to pass a bill. Used to say, "You've got the arguments, you've got the rationale. We've got the votes." That's how this bullshit passes. No, it wasn't overwhelming, but Earl got beat.I know. I made the sponsor withdraw the bill for auto inspection against Governor [John] Dalton. I didn't like Governor Dalton. And the auto inspection bill was a frau

Comments