Sheppard got the job in the courthouse
right out of University of Texas law
school. He has handled the renting of the
Astrodome; he won a case for the county
which allowed it to keep its buildings at
76 degrees last summer while everyone
else was at 78; and he designed and defended the ordinances which have allowed
legal pressure against nude massage and
photo parlors outside the city limits of
It's a rather non-exciting, Dolph
Briscoe sort of record, but Sheppard is
not ashamed of the comparison or his
respect for the former governor. And
despite his middle road record he has a
little humor and quirkiness about him.
For example during a Good Friday interview he said that his anti-skin campaign in
the boondocks has not really closed down
the nude places—it has just caused them
to cover up a little. Characteristically, he
described the whole show as a zoning-
fight, not a sin-stomp.
"It's been a kind of go-along, get-along
situation with the county attorney," said
political analyst Dr. Richard Murray.
"It hasn't been too controversial, but
occasionally it gets pushed into something. The attorney there anyway is in a
weak position to be a catalyst for change.
He can't do much grandstanding, anyway,
Ralph Yarborough. Driscoll has a background in business, law, and as a Justice
of the Peace, and his charges against
Sheppard are not so much of villainy as
being out of touch with the needs of the
county. The attorney's office has been
slow and short-sighted he says.
"What happens," said Driscoll, "is that
the commissioners decide to do something, say use a piece of land. They have
to pay the owner a fair price for it—every
delay means that the owner can get more
for it from the county. And the delay has
been inevitable, so far.
"Take the new county jail," he continued. They didn't want to build it at
first. It took an ACLU lawsuit on behalf
of the prisoners there and then a federal
court order to force the commissioners'
hand. The county attorney was opposing
the jail, then delaying the whole proceedings even when the county had admitted
the jail was inadequate, so that finally
Federal Judge Bue legally took over the
county jail himself, and is running it to
The delaying, although it served the
county officials apparently, actually cost
money and should have been avoided. "It
was obvious that going to jail in the county was cruel and unusual punishment,"
said Driscoll. "It was obvious we needed a
Anthony Sheppard is related to Susan B. Anthony
but Mike Driscoll doubts whether she'd vote for him.
as the house lawyer for the county."
Sheppard agrees that things have been
mostly quiet, but this is the sign that matters are being taken care of: "It's a legal
office, not a policy-making position.
There is a large bulk of work, with the
welfare and medical suits increasing geometrically. All this is not necessarily a
bad sign—I believe in people being able
to take their cases to court. But that
makes experience, experience with public
law, all the more important for this position, and there is no question about my
knowing the work and the office."
He points to his endorsements by
many presidents of bar associations, by
people long associated with the county
attorney office, by some of his grateful
clients, including some community and
minority groups. And then there is Susan
Susan B. Anthony does not ordinarily
endorse candidates for county attorney,
but Sheppard claims to have her in his
corner because he is a lineal relative of
Mike Driscoll, however, questions
whether Susan B. Anthony would have
endorsed Sheppard's bid for election.
Driscoll thinks Anthony might have endorsed his race instead, joining the Harris
County Women's Political Caucus, Harris
County Democrats, PASO, and union
groups on his list of supporters. "The
Susan (B. Anthony thing," said Driscoll,
"is just an attempt to curry favor. Her
influence seems minimal: look at the
Equal Opportunity plan that Sheppard
drew up for the county, only after Bass
and the Justice Department both pushed
him—the plan included all ranks in the
same quota system, and now, as a result
they have only one black and one woman,
and are not really offering equal opportunity on a professional level."
Driscoll also has a famous relative in
the background—former U.S. Senator
new jail. If I had been attorney, I would
have been meeting with the commissioners, not aloof from them, and I would
have been advising them to avoid the law
suit and go on and make the improvements.
"That new jail started with a $15 million cost, the cost for improvements that
should have been made, but by the time
it is finished and the judge lifts the federal court order, that jail is going to cost
three times the price of the Astrodome."
He spins off charges: the county attorney needs to have real world experience,
operate on real time and have real money
consciousness. "Here's another example,"
said Driscoll. "When the county condemned land for a project at Wallisville
and Garth roads, they sold some bonds
to raise money for the project. The bond
issue passed in 1975. But the whole plan
has been snarled up in red tape, so that
they have only acquired rights for construction this year—can you imagine how
costs have ballooned under them since
1975? One of those county projects involved 3.5 million dollars-we're not talking about digging a ditch."
Driscoll said much of the delay in the
county government has been due to the
distance between commissioners and legal
staff. Plans are drawn up, then submitted,
and batted back and forth between attorneys and commissioners. He would bridge
this gap by meeting with the commissioners, as a group and individually, and for
the special, busy area of land condemnation, he would establish a special legal
section within the office.
Driscoll hammered at his point. "Shep
pard's strength and weakness is that he's
been in that office all his working life. I
am a lawyer, I have a lot of different legal
experience, including some as an elected
Morris Edelson is a general assignment
reporter for the New York Times.
Kathy Whitmire, left, and Eleanor Tinsley have endorsed Debra Danburg.
for State Representative - District 79
Harris County Women's Political Caucus
Mary Ellen Brannan
Nikki Van Hightower
We need your time.
We need your money.
We need you.
WE'VE GOT A LOT TO WIN!
Paid for by the Debra Danburg Campaign, Charles Blanton, Jr., Treasurer
P.O. Box 7241; Houston, TX. 77008
JAMES R. (Jim) KUHN
CANDIDATE FOR JUDGE
HARRIS COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT AT LAW
• PRINCETON 1967, A.B.
• UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS 1970, J.D.
• ADMITTED TO PRACTICE TEXAS 1970
• PRECINCT COMMITTEEMAN 1978-80
• PRACTICING ATTORNEY FOR 10 YEARS
• ENDORSED BY HCD AND GPC
• RECOMMENDED BY AREA V DEMOCRATS
• ENDORSED BY BAPTIST MINISTERS' ASSOCIATION
WELCOME HOME SISSY
SUNDAY, JUNE 1ST
Mark your calendar to join the
Women's Political Caucus for a Texas-style
for our favorite daughter
Details in the next issue or call (512) 474-1798
The National Women's Political Caucus will hold its quarterly meeting in Houston
May 29-31. Call Olga Soliz, chair of the HCWPC for more information: 225-4480.