A former chairman is also on today's agenda, this one Brig. Gen. Herbert D. Vogel, a man whose life has been dedicated to the service of his country.
Vogel's retirement from the Army became effective at midnight, Aug. 31, 1954. At 8 o'clock the next morning, he was sworn in as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Vogel had been appointed by another general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had referred to TVA as "creeping socialism" during the campaign. When Ike appointed Vogel, a cracker-jack engineer and administrator, it was assumed that his purpose was to put the agency in charge of a man who would run it effeciently but curb its growth.
However, once Vogel learned what TVA did for the region it served, he became a true believer. TVA had no greater supporter.
In a recent column about the slogan "Nixon, Dixon and Yates," I identified Dixon and Yates as officials of private public utilities and said that cancellation of their contract with TVA had raised a political dust storm.
Vogel, who is now a consulting engineer here in Washington, blew the whistle on that line. He says it was not the cancellation of the Dixon-Yates contract that raised a storm, it was the signing of the contract. It had been a bad deal from the start, and "cancellation brought peace to the valley."
Yessir. No excuse, sir. I just plain goofed.
One of the best things about being a reporter in Washington is that the people who make history look over your shoulder as you write about it. They keep you on your toes, not only about facts but spelling, grammar and usage as well.
For example, Judge Norman O. Tietjens of the United States Tax Court has clipped two items from our newspaper and sent them to me for comment.
In the first, we said that the billionaire Hunt brothers of Texas might be forced to sell part of their vast silver horde.
In the second, we called Dan Rather the hair apparent to Walter Cronkite.
These things may be funny to the reader, but they are extremely unfunny to writers and editors who work very hard to avoid mistakes. When a million or more people read your paper every day, there is no such thing as a "small" error. Even the teeniest goof seems like something written by a skywriter in letters a mile long.
As you know, modern reporters now write their stories on computer terminals.
The problem is that the systems engineers have not yet been able to eliminate the role of the human being at the keyboard.
Once they get rid of humans and put the computer on "automatic," all errors will be eliminatedminatedmina.