Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on May 7, 1974 · Page 4
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May 7, 1974

Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 4

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Fayetteville, Arkansas
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Tuesday, May 7, 1974
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Editorial-Opinion Pagt Th« Public Mcresl Is The First Concern 01 TTiu Newtpaper 4 * TUESDAY, MAY 7, 1974 How Dean Put 'Finger On The President Postal Situation A mplified TX the Editor: ''-You recently received from United Features Syndicate a column by Jack Anderson that contains so many inaccuracies tfid draws so many wrong contusions that I feel compelled ^ respond. ··; The column begins w i t h a . Ulse note -- a comment that tbe mails have been moving slower since the Postal Service dame into being three years ago. This is not true. Our own tests and those of the General Accounting Office and various newspapers have indicated a marked improvement in mail . service within the past year or so. ''Mr. Anderson erroneously slates that since 1971 "about half" of United States Postal Service contracts h a v e been awarded on a non-competitive basis. This is not true. Data for the only full year of procurement on record (Fiscal Year 1973) shows that only 24.8 per cent of Postal Service contracts were sole source, and justification was made for going sole ·ource in each case. Mr. Anderson contends t h a t "an extra estimated $100 million" on Postal Service contracts, including $60 million to "eleven favored companies." We do not know the source of these figures and cannot reconcile them. but cost overruns of this magnitude have not occurred. Of 26 specific contracts about which inquiry was made by Mr. Anderson's staff, 11 we« awarded before the Postal Service took over operation of the old Post Office Department on July 1. 1971. There were cost overruns on four of the contracts, two of which pre-dated the Postal Service. The total amount of the overruns was $9.7 ; million -- of which J3.5 million was on old Post Office Department contracts. Mr. Anderson's incidental qualifier that "some of the ! additional costs were legitimate, with needed work being done for the extra moeny" does little to correct the false impression he has already : created. g EXTRA WORK Adding extra work to initial contracts has been by far (he principal reason for cost growth. So l o n g as the Postal Service is involved in efforts involving breakthroughs . in the state-of-the-art, as is the case with some of the contracs cited by Mr. Anderson, there · will continue to be some degree of costs exceeding the original contracted price. The United States Postal Ser- vice is the largest civilian branch of the Federal Government and one of the b i g g e s t businesses in the w o r l d . It has an annual budget of more than $10 billion, a work force of over 700.000 employes and it handles 90 billion pieces of mail a year. The overwhelming bulk of that mail is now sorted manually, as it has been since the founding of the republic. We are engaged In a massive research and development effort to bring sophisticated mechanization to the P o s t a l Service. In the early stages of this effort we will have to take some risks as we plow new ground.... As of January 1, 1974. actual expenditures for the New York Bulk Mail Center have n o t exceeded e s t i m a t e d costs. Based on current conditions, we do not anticipate any overrun. On the other 20 bulk mail centers, we have done cost-to- completion estimates as of January 1 which indicate that the nati'onal bulk mail system will be completed within the original estimate. It should be further clarified that the company identified by Mr. Anderson as the builder was, in fact, the architect-engineer. Mr. Anderson quotes from a memorandum distributed to the top staff of the Postal Service in May of 1972, which was critical of some procurement prac- Ikes that had long e x i s t e d What he does not say is that the same memorandum, issued by the Deputy Postmaster General, designated a headquarters committee to take action to improve purchasing and contracting procedures. The Committee's final report, d a t e d August 21, 1972 concluded: "As a result of the activity of this committee, several improvements have already o c c u r r e d , namely better communicatons b e t w e e n requiring and contracting offices, more complete statements of work, and careful justification of requirements." What Mr. Anderson has done is to take a number of contracts and through innuendo, half- truth and misinformation, use ·: them to imply mis-management by the Board of Governors and the present management. I believe the public should be apprised of the facts, and that is the purpose of this letter. E. T. Klassen (Postmaster General Of the United States) Washington, D.C. To which the TIMES has the following reply: EDITORS: Like a postman dodging a \From Oar Files; How Time Fliesl )0 YEARS AGO The FayeUeville school board approved the expansion and reorganization of the vocational training program in a regular monthly meeting last night. Construction of a new sewer system should be in full swing next week, it was announced so VEARS AGO Thirty-five students will graduate from (he Sprlngdale High 1 School this evening, with Prof. J. L. Bond, superinlendant of ! the Methodist Assembly to deliver the class address. lOO YEARS AGO One or two of our citizen* have made desperate efforts to work themselves up to fever heat over the troubles at the = capital, but the weather has been so cool they couldn't make it.If the weather should turn this week at a Huntsville city council session. Members of Young Democratic Clubs from all over Arkansas will begin arriving h e r e tomorrow morning for a weekend state convention with headquarters at the Mountain Inn. One thousand dollars for a community mountain school was raised at Strickler Sunday by the congregation of the Baptist Church there. warm, (he Mayor will have them confined in a straight jacket. The heath of our city and the surrounding country at this time is very good considering the weather we have bad for the past two months. They'll Do It Every Time NOTHING TO IT.'; JUST AS SIMPtE SETTING A HAIRCUT.' NOTHIK TO WDKKV ABOUT . 'fa COMES TH= TIME THE GOOP POG NEEDS MAYBE , . XDONTNEED C-CAM AH OPBZATtOK"WAIT~ neighborhood dog, Postmaster General E. T. Klassen tries to refute our documented charges by evasive action. We held up our story 10 days, as Klassen well knows, to permit the Postal Service to respond to our charges. We considered this a reasonable time for its $3.2 million-a-year public relations apparatus to assemble its alibis. Although we never recieved the detailed reply which Klassen is now peddling, we s p o k e to postal officials throughout our investigation and carefully checked the facts they gave us. Most of our information, indeed, came from the Postal Service's own files. First of all. Klassen disputes our comment that the mails are slower. The readers are perhaps the best judges as to whether their mail service has improved. Of course, Klassen doesn't challenge the charge that postal rates have gone up. The price of mailing letters has zoomed an incredible 66 per cent since the Klassen crew took over in 1971. During the same period, 900 small post offices have been closed and afternoon mail pickups have stopped in many areas. Klassen uses bureaucratic slieght-of-hand to attack our statement that "about half" of the postal contracts have been awarded on a noncompetitive basis since 1971. To reduce the figure to 24.8 per cent, he includes all the work that the Postal Service contracted with other government agencies. Obviously, we referred in our story only to the contracts with commercial firms. EXACT FIGURES But lest there by any doubt, we are happy to cite the exact, confidential figures from the Postal Service files. Tn the 1973 fiscal year, the Postal Service awarded 623 contracts over S5.000 in value. Of these. 244 went to other government agencies and, therefore, have no part in our story. Only 111 contracts were formally advertised for competition. But 145 contracts were awarded without bids to single contractors. The remaining 39 contracts can't.be nailed down. In 1971 and 1972, the figures . are even more unfavorable to the Postal Service. We were charitable, in other words, when we stated trial "about half" of the contracts had been awarded without competition. Klassen professes to be puzzled about the source of our figures on cost overruns, We are happy to enlighten him. The figures came straight out of his own files. If he has any doubt about this, we will be happy to furnish him with a copy of his own computer printouts listing the sole-source contracts complete with cost overruns.... Klassen's statement that "there are no cost overruns' In the Bulk Mail project is preposterous. The House Post Office and Civil Service Committee estimates that the project will cost at least $1 billion. The Postal Service estimated the cost at $900 million. At the Secaucus project alone, the overruns were rampant, since the Postal Service bought swampland to build on, additional costs were incurred when (he pilings for the building had to be sunk deeper than expected. Then the pilings struck methane gas. The smell was overwhelming and the gas dangerous, so the field had to be drained. More overruns. TRICKS OF TRADE The Postal Service ingeniously avoids calling these "overruns" bv what contractors call the "depreciation shell game." They write off depreciation on equipment not being used because of project delays and use the figures to offset additional cost. Another trick used to avoid admitting "overruns" is entering into open-ended contracts which can be padded without embarrassing comparison to the original cost estimates. We made one m i n o r error, which we are please (o correct. We identified Lester B. Knight incorrectly as a builder. Klassen more accurately describes him as an architect-engineer. But what Klassen failed to mention is that this contractor, who has benefitted from doing business with the Postal Service, is a close personal friend of Klassen's. The Postmaster General criticizes us for not citing a portion of a memo, which said the Postal Service would try to do something about sole-source c o n t r a c t s . The committee report. Kiassen n o t e s , cited icveral improvements. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to the final report although we tried for ten days to get it from the Postal Service. The fact remains that the report still hasn't been implemented. Klassen's defense, in brief, is constructed on a tumbling house of cards. We will present our evidence to the Senate Investigations Committee. It will be interesting to see whether Klassen will join us in urging a full investigation. Jack Anderson Washington, D.C. '.: , By JACK ANDERSON W A S H I N G T O N -- T h e dramatic story can now be told how President Nixon came under investigation by the original Watergate prosecutors. They laid the groundwork a year ago for the present impeachment proceedings. The sequence began in mid- April. 1973, when ex-White House counsel John Dean gave prosecutors Earl Silbert. Seymour Glanzer and Donald Campbell fragments of the Watergate story. They sent him back to get documents and put together a coherent account. Sources close to the investigation, however, say Dean carefully kept the President out of his confessions until the lost week of April. Then Dean, as part of his plea bargaining for a deal for himself, played his big ace. His attorney. Charles Shaffer, notified the prosecutors on April 23 that Dean "could deliver the President," our sources report. They were given an outline of the testimony that Dean later delivered, implicating President Nixon in the Watergate cover- up. Up to that moment, the prosecutors had believed the President was not involved. They had provided Assistant Attorney General Henry Petersen, therefore, with the complete details of their investigation for relay to the President. Because of the possibility that the President had been a party to the crimes they were investigating, the prosecutors decided they had to shut off the flow of information to the White House. They had a showdown with The Washington Merry-Go-Round Petersen over this on the 'night of April 25. They contended that the President was now a suspect and c o u l d no longer be told what was going on inside the grand jury. The shocked Petersen insisted they had no business investigating the President. Tn any event, he said, he could never withhold information from the President of the United States. The following day. Petersen impressed his views on U.S. Attorney Harold Titus, who stood between him and the prosecutors on the ladder of authority. "We have to draw the line." Petersen told Titus. "We have no mandate to investigate the President." The next link in our story is provided by the White House tapes. President Nixon got wind that Dean was implicating him in the Watergate crimes and summoned Petersen to the Oval Office the evening of April 27. "We have gotten a report," President, "that, ah, that really we've got to head them off at the pass. Because it's so damned, so damn dangerous to the Presidency...Information indicating that Dean has made statements to the prosecuting team implicating the President...Now, Henry, this I've got to know." Peterson agreed to try to find out what Dean was telling the prosecutors. B u t Petersen warned apologetically that ha was having trouble with the prosecutors. "We had a kind of crisis of confidence night before last..." he said, "whether or not they were at ease with my reporting to you..." But the President was adamant. "If Dean is implicating the Presidency," snapped Nixon, "we are going to damned well lind out about it." He insisted that Petersen phone the prosecutors from the White House and find out what Dean was telling them. Petersen obediently put through the call and learned that Shaffer had approached the prosecutors with an offer of evidence against the President. P e t e r s e n immediately reported this back to the President, Quoting the prosecutors, Petersen said Shaffer told them: "We will bring the President in -- not this case but in other things." Our sources say the prosecutors agreed with Petersen that they had no authority over the President. They even drafted a memo giving their opinion that, legally, the President couldn't be indicted but could only be impeached. They thought it was their duty, however, to get all the facts about Watergate. So they went ahead with their efforts to get Dean's evidence against the President. They were in the process of preparing the evidence to lay before the grand jury when the Watergate investigation was taken away from them and turned over to a Special Prosecutor. But the Special Prosecutor 'The President Has Nothing To Hide . . .' picked up where they left off. The record was made before the grand jury and turned over to the House f o r . an impeachment inquiry, as they had recommended. W A S H I N G T O N WHIRL: President Nixon's former right bower. H. K. Haldeman, kept cash stashed around the While House and in the apartments of aides. One former aide. Fred LaRuc. led his lawyers to some cash that figured in the Watergate case. It was stuffed in a brown manila envelope in an. open White House file drawer. The lawyers took the envelope to a nearby bank and dumped out $128,000 in loose cash... During the 1972 campaign. Nixon aides squandered money on everything from champagne breakfasts to break-ins. But there was one exception. White House liaison man Fred Malek. who tried vainly to keep down expenses. In a secret memo complaining about a $3.50(1 dinner for businessmen at Washington's soignee Madison Hotel. Malek told campaign aides: "I believe it is important to have a first class event for people of (this) caliber." But really, he said acidly, "$42 per head for cocktails and dinner docs seem a bit steep"... We recently told how two U.S. mining companies in South Africa abused their black employes, blaming the government for forcing racist policies upon them. In contrast, Mobil Oil has boldly given its black employes in South Africa pensions, medical and home ownership plans, higher salaries and major job upgradings. The measures were taken in consultation with U.S. religious leaders. How Crucial Is Need For From The Readers' Viewpoint Simple Minds To She Editor: It would be pleasant if life were as simple as editors sometimes make it out to be. It would be good if all issues had a hlack side and a white side with a clearly marked dividing line between. Unfortunately, this is not so. Life is full of problems in which the issues are not clearly defined and you cannot always tell the good guys by the white hats. On Sunday. April 7 an editorial appeared in the TIMES entitled Little Roads vs. Big Ones. The thesis of this editorial seemed to be that southern and central Arkansas by showing a united front are about to wrest the much touted way away from the northwest Arkansans who are defeating themselves with petty squabbles over trifles. This editorial presents a view so simplistic that it would require a small hook to expose and refute it properly. This is not practical. A briefer effort must suffice. To begin with, the assumption is made that the southern and central Arkansans are wiser than we in their ability to show a concerted effort toward reaching their goal. To one not accustomed to careful thought and close observation, a herd of buffalo stampeding toward a cliff might show the same laudable singleness of purpose-until the disaster. Secondly (to one accustomed to superficial thinking), public debate, a reluctance to be railroaded into action, and a prudent skepticism about the motives of "progress boosters" might appear to be petty "squabbling." It would seem to me that the lonjrer we here in Northwest Arkansas "squabble" the boiler chance we have of avoidine "progress." In the third place, the assumption that underlay the whole editorial is that an Interregional highway would be good for Arkansas and therefor* good for Northwest Arkansas. This is a doubtful assumption. The various citizens groups a n inter-regional highway through Northwest Arkansas do so on quite reasonable grounds. Not the least of these are the facts that dwindling fuel reserves, national speed limits of 55 in.p.h.. and the doubtful future of the motor car render it folly to construct another of these giant insults to Mother Nature. It is my personal feeling that construction of such a highway anywhere in the state would be foolish. I would do anything in my power to prevent it and advise all reasoning, responsible, and forward looking citizens of this state to do the same. Robert L. Croddy ( P r e s i d e n t , Citizens E x - pressway Coalition Greenland Best Yet To the Editor: Bless Mr. Belzung for Ihe most intelligent statement on the energy problem that I have yet seen. It should be required reading for all congressmen, senators and legislators (as well as all editorial writers), and our present governor. Bob Stout Fayetteville The Big Race To the Editor: Our articulate, handsome governor - would - be - US - Senator does not expect, after all. to get elected just by showing himself and smiling at the people! To be sure he has boxed himself, cleverly and by choice, away from any debate of public issues, accomplishments, and relative qualifications. But now he's found something better! Every knowledgeable American knows that, long before Watergate. Richard Nixon had an obsession for foreign policy (Nixon doctrine, peace with honor (!), spectacular journeyj to Moscow and Peking, European summitry, Pentagon pan- dering, etc.); and that this preoccupation took practically total p r e c e d e n c e over homeside problems; and that it also took us directly, if not overwhelmingly, into the spectacular fiasco and unprecedented phenomenon of skyrocketing cost of living, raging inflation, and deepening economic depression, all at one and the same time! Right now reaching new peaks of seriousness, most evident in supermarkets and on Wall Street! And how does this matter get involved in the Arkansas US Senatorial Campaign? It is obvious, of course. The Great Difference between Bumpers and Fulbright, says Mr. Bumpers, is that Bill has a predominant obsession with foreign policy, while Dale's first and foremost interest is Arkansas! Fulbright neglects the people of Arkansas just to mess around with his hobby, while Dale sacrifices his all for Arkansas, always- And so voters will choose Dale, in order to protect the interests of Arkansas from the Fulbright failure! It is hard to believe, but there it is. The demagoguery cannot possibly be obscured by the rhetorical subtlety, nor the slyness conceal the implied insult to the intelligence of the electorate; the strategy ought to be evident to even a school child, let alone every literate adult in the State. For though Bill Fulbright may not have so many schools, highways, nor engineering projects named for him as Mills and McClellan, nor the glamor of smile, style, and pretty clothes of Bumpers, he has very many attributes and honors to which none of them have the least claim or eligibility. Several of these are permanently memorialized on a plaque on the campus of Ui« University right here in Fayetteville; go and re-read them for yourself, and try and grasp the significance and the scope for Arkansas, America, and the world. Reuben Thomai Fayetteville Secrecy? WASHINGTON (ERR) -- The Nixon administration has insisted more vehemently than any of its predecessors on the need for executive confidentiality. At the same time, no other administration has made public so much confidential material, either voluntarily or under duress, in so short a time. A year ago, only a handful of people knew of the W h i t e House t a p i n g system. Now m o r e than 1,300 pages of edited la \i e transcripts have been released to Hie House Judiciary Committee. President Nixon insists there will be no further disclosures, however. The flood of Wntergate- rclatcd data from the While House appeared contrary to President Nixon's views on executive privilege. In a memorandum sent to all cabinet officers and agency heads on March 24, 1969, Nixon slated that it was the policy of his administration to comply as fully as possible with congressional requests for information, but "the executive branch has the responsibility of withholding certain information the disclosure of which would be incompatible with the public interest." The President has now reasserted that view. One of the larger ironies of Watergate is that the administration's deep concern about secrecy led directly to its current inability to keep much of anything secret for long. The W h i t e House "plumbers." formed in 1971 to plug leaks of government information, engineered the burglaries of Daniel Ellshcrg's psychiatrist's office and of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. When these events became known, the White House's defenses against full disclosure began to crumble. THE CONFLICT between the government's need for secrecy and the public's need to know goes back to colonial times. Neither need is a right expressly guaranteed by the Constitution, but each is considered essential to a properly functioning democracy. Hardly anyone disputes the argument that the federal government must conduct diplomatic negotiations in secret and withhold details of such things as current military strategic planning or weapons designs. Antl few would question the assertion that ordinary citizens should know as much as possible about decisions taken in their behalf by elected or appointed officials. The trouble is ' that the boundary separating secrecy and disclosure shift* continually and defies all attempts at demarcation. NEVERTHELESS, attempts have been made. One of the most ambilious camp in 1966, when Congress passed the so- called Freedom of Information Act. The measure largely rewrote Section 3 of the 194S Administrative Procedure Act., the law governing information disclosure by federal agencies, which had been criticized for vagueness since its enactment. Like (he original Section 3, the Freedom of Information Act required agencies to publish procedures and rules in the Federal Register, to make publicly available all final opinions, statements of policy and staff manuals, and to maintain an index of these. The 1946 law had permitted agencies at their discretion to exempt from the disclosure rule matter "required for good cause to be held confidential." The 1966 legislation permitted exemption of only nine specific types of matter. Although the Freedom of Information Act was opposed by the agencies it affected, they need not have worried. Critics have since charged that in practice the 1966 law allows the government to keep secret almost as much material as before.

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