New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, January 14, 2000, Page 6

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

January 14, 2000

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Issue date: Friday, January 14, 2000

Pages available: 36

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Next edition: Sunday, January 16, 2000 - Used by the World's Finest Libraries and Institutions
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Publication name: New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 14, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas jJPage 6A HERALDZEITUNO Friday January 14 2000 OPINIONS FORUM LETTERS Nuw HERALDZEITUNG New Braunfcls Zcitung was founded 1852 New Braunfcls Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958 Doug Toney Editor and Publisher Margaret Edmonson Managing Editor Bill OConnell News Editor EDITORIAL Better to get something than nothing at all All or nothing Apparently its a gamble New Braunfels City Council is not willing to take Council made the right decision this week to unbundle the sports complex projects and list them as separate proposals on the May bond LETTERS TO THE EDITOR issue As the Feb 14 deadline nears for finalizing the million bond package council will be deciding what the city needs versus what the city wants In the case of the parks proposal it appears council is will ing to let the voters decide for themselves what they really need an indoor pool fields and gymnasium That means sports complex advocates stand a better chance of getting something as opposed to nothing at all Thats exactly what council and taxpayers say could happen if the sports complex is presented as a single allornothing proposition If we break it up well have a better chance of getting something Mayor Stoney Williams said Supporters of the sports complex issue particularly members of New Braunfels Youth Sports argue that voters will not support the indoor pool if listed as a separate proposition And they said they wanted to present a united front in support of the bond proposition If you split this youll kill NBYS board member and parks board advisory member David Feltmann said Youll literally kill The high price tag that comes with the current bond package might till everything on the ballot Council is taking the necessary steps to lake sure the necessary projects will be funded to improve New Jraunfels Better streets improved drainage a communication system For emergency response personnel all of these could be lost if coun cil does not change the current makeup of the bond issue As councilwoman Jan Kotylo said Kids are a priority but we need to Jo a little at a time If we offer the bond as well look irresponsi Council did not axe the sports complex it is just giving voters an opportunity to decide for themselves what they are willing and able to pay for In this case anything would be better than nothing TODAY IN HISTORY Holiday River of Lights was sight to behold Dear Editor During the holidays I had the pleasure of seeing your River of I congratu late you on a very original wellplanned and constructed project It was a beautiful sight to behold A busload of senior citi zens from Marriott Brighton Gardens Assisted Living Home all agreed it was the prettiest decorations we had seen We hope you continue it in the future to bring much pleasure to many Lena B Young Dont roll the dice with our money Dear Editor If a man gambles and loses what does he do Try again luck will change If he tries three times and loses each time what does he do Try again Hes now a compulsive gambler Its sad if he throws away his own money but if its someone elses money thats worse Take our River of Lights It lost money the first year but well make it up next It lost money the second year but well make it up next It lost money the third year but well try again next Id say cut your loses and run Its not such a great show in the first place You can see better light displays all over town and for free Dont try the dice with our money Albert Buhl New Braunfels Dear Editor Trust truly fine columnist Molly Ivins to think of others and advise mammograms when she is confronted with breast cancer herself Such compassion for others gives great wisdom to her insights about the federal election the media pack turn on Dubya is Herald Zeitung Dec 15 Here in Canada the soap opera of US pol itics rarely enters the popular conscious ness Partly its because Canadians realize that big business has replaced big govern ment as the real throne of power as evi denced by APEC NAFTA and the World Trade Organization Global business not the elected representatives of the people now dictates the agenda of nations social policy and moral values Our own Prime Minister made this quite clear when he hosted the APEC chow down in Vancouver including some of the worst tyrant and butcher world leaders and then set the RCMP on the protesters with pepper spray and war measures And partly its because few candidates offer a believable vision of a viable alterna tive Why for example are the distinctly unbrilliant George W Bush and the leader drone Al Gore shoeins as the final con tenders in this plodding process when Rep John McCain and Dem Bill Bradley offer so much more to the American people The massive protest in Seattle against the WTO is a sign that people are fedup with global business trashing their lives Similarly the low voter turnout at the polls shows that Americans are equally fed up with lousy candidates who are incapable of good government which might be expected to protect their interests against global busi ness exploitation Every blessing to Molly Ivins across the miles Roger W Henning Vancouver Canada GOT SOMETHING TO SAY BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Today is Friday Jan 14 the 14th flay of 2000 There are 352 days in the year On this date On Jan Puccinis opera Tosca got a mixed reception at its world premiere in Rome In 1639 Connecticuts first con stitution the Fundamental was adopted The New Braunfels Herald Zeitung encourages letters on any public issue The editor reserves the right to correct spelling style punctuation and known factual errors Letters should be kept to 250 words We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels HeraldZeitung bearing the writers signature Also an address and a telephone number which are not for publication must be included for confirma tion purposes Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days Mail letters to Letters to the Editor the New Braunfels HeraldZeitung Drawer 311328 New Braunfels TX 78131 1328 Fax 830 6063413 email Justice system on trial When the courts err AUSTIN Have you noticed that the system of justice in this country is shut ting down piece by piece by piece We have long noted the deleterious effects of tort reform here in Texas where insurance companies are ever bolder and injured workers and consumers have fewer and fewer rights But there is a shutdown in criminal justice as well A Frontline documentary on PBS The Case for gives the most chilling case histories in a stupid and tragic trend in criminal justice DNA identification which has become more sophisticated by the year is the greatest advance in criminal detec tion since the fingerprint It has enabled jthe system to put away criminals who would have gotten off scot and to find perps years after the crime when their DNA shows up after an unrelated arrest Short of a truth serum this is the best thing that could happen for the criminal justice system The problem is DNA evidence some times shows that the system messed up and nailed the wrong person for a crime In fact it happens depressingly often The notorious inability of prosecutors to admit that they are ever wrong is a fact of life What is far more horrifying MOLLY IVINS is the refusal of judges and courts to look at evidence that proves innocence Can you imagine how that must feel to be in prison for a crime you didnt commit and to finally be able to prove it only to have a court refuse to consider the evidence Most of this is a consequence of a nox ious law that Congress rushed through after the Oklahoma City bombing Called the AntiTerrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 the law was aimed at the ability of federal judges to secondguess state courts and at the ability of prisoners to file endless habeas corpus claims challenging the constitutionality of their convictions corpus is a Latin phrase meaning you have the body and goes back hundreds of years in common law as well as being in the Constitution It means that if you can show you were unfairly tried you have a remedy through the True the right has been abused for nitpicking purposes by some lawyers but to effectively abolish the right is a dreadful abrogation of freedom Where in the world are the militia folks now that we need them Where are all those rightwingers who claim freedom as their most cherished possession The trouble with the 96 law is that it was poorly written and has been subject to conflicting interpretations by the lower courts The law says that a federal judge can reverse a state court convic tion only if it was contrary to federal law or if it applied federal law in an unrea sonable way The Fourth Circuit one of the most conservative courts in the country has ruled that this means state courts have applied the law in ways that all reason able jurists would agree is unreason As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out reasonable jurists always disagree on constitutional issues The new film The with Denzel Washington is about a case in point Rubin Hurricane Carter a con tender for the middleweight boxing title was wrongfully convicted of a 1966 triple murder He spent 19 years in prison before he was finally released The movie depicts the conviction as a frameup by one racist cop but as Selwyn Rabb who originally covered the story for The New York Times wrote The actual story is more har rowing because it exposes an underlying frailty in a criminal justice system that convicted Mr Carter not once but twice The convictions were obtained not by a lone malevolent investigator but by a network of detectives prosecutors and judges who countenanced the suppres sion and tainting of evidence and the injection of racial bias into the court Under current interpretations of the 1996 law Hurricane Carter would not be free today The most thoughtful comment in the PBS documentary came from a law pro fessor concerned about the criminal jus tice systems refusal to consider its own errors He pointed out that in most other systems when something goes horribly wrong a plane falls from the sky a type of car begins bursting into flames a hospital patient dies from gross malprac tice there is a system in place to deal with the error There are investigations reports and ultimately corrections made to prevent recurrence In the criminal justice system there are only denials and strenuous efforts to prevent the exculpatory evidence from being presented in court The ease with which our criminal justice system can nail the wrong person has been painfully demonstrated time and again Henry Lee Lucas the serial liar pro vided one of the most bizarre examples He claimed to have committed more than 600 in 26 states closed the books on 229 murders and he was convicted of 11 of them before it occurred to anyone to wonder if he was telling the truth Physical evidence against him was found in two cases The state of Texas managed to convict him for a murder committed while he was quite demonstrably in another state and had to let him off Death Perhaps the saddest and most terrify ing finding in The Case for Innocence is that in the 60someodd cases in which innocence has been proved by DNA and the accused finally freed none of the cases has been reopened Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth ;