Thursday, December 28, 2000

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 28, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas NEW PELS HERALDZEITUNG Vol 150 No 40 14 pages in 2 sections December 28 2000 THURSDAY Serving Gomal County since 1852 SO cents Ruling prohibits secret ballot BY LISA FALKENBERG Associated Press Writer AUSTIN AP A state district judge has barred the Texas Senate from electing an acting lieutenant gov ernor in secret ruling Wednesday that the vote for Texas secondranking official must be picked in pub lic and on the record It was a victory for the Texas publications who brought the case before state District Judge Lora Liv ingston The newspapers filed the petition against the Senate and President Pro Tern Rodney Ellis a Democratic senator from Houston It was unclear how the decision would affect the Senates plans to hold a secret ballot Thursday to elect one of its mem bers to replace former Lt Gov Rick Perry who became governor last week when George W Bush resigned to become president I obey the law I think everybody ought to have their day in court I dont know if the day in court is finished said Sen Gonzalo Barrientos D Austin said Represented by Attorney General John Cornyn the senators argued that the state constitution autho rized them to elect their presiding officer by secret vote Senators supporting the private ballot say it helps avoid the political that might result if votes are known But Livingston ruled otherwise saying the lieu tenant governor is an executive position normally elected by the people and not merely an officer of the Senate It seems to me in this case they are not choosing a president of the Senate Rather they are choosing the lieutenant governor It seems to me that is something required by the Texas Open Meetings Act to be done in Livingston said Perrys replacement will assume the duties but not the title of lieutenant governor and will continue to be a senator He will control the flow of legislation while presiding over the Senate and keep a vote as a legis lator A new lieutenant governor will be elected in 2002 when Perrys term would have expired Senators agreed informally in a private caucus Dec 23 to pick Perrys replacement through a nonrecord vote but they would have to approve the rule for mally Thursday before casting ballots Last week an Austin law firm representing the publications faxed letters to the 31 senators warning that a nonrecord vote would violate the Open Meet ings Act which requires government bodies to act in public This is perhaps the most powerful state official we have in this said Austin attorney Jennifer Rig gs who represents the publications Hes a lot more than just an officer of the The publications involved are the BryanCollege Sta tion Eagle San Antonio ExpressNews Houston Chronicle Waco TribuneHerald AustinAmerican Statesman and Texas Monthly magazine Before the ruling Sen Bill Ratliff an 11year vet eran legislator who has expressed interest in the lieu tenant job told the San Antonio ExpressNews that the senators should continue with plans to vote privately See Death under investigation K JESSIE Above Deputy State Fire Marshal Tommy Pleasant works with his dog Heico in the Cranes Mill home of Barbara Casey Wednesday afternoon Right this map shows where the home is located on Canyon Lake Drive Neighbors tried to rescue elderly fire victim Woman found shot twice in burned home BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer CRANES MILL A 62yearold Cranes Mill woman was found dead with reported gunshov wounds after a fire destroyed her lakefront home Tuesday night Comal County Sheriffs Capt Dennis Koepp said Barbara G Casey was found dead in her Canyon Lake Drive home shortly after firefighters extinguished a blaze there On Wednesday Koepp said Wednesday the fire was under investigation by county and state officials but provided no other information In a news release Koepp reported that Comal County Pet 4 Justice of the Peace Howard Smith had ordered an autopsy In Austin Travis County Chief Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo would release no information on Caseys autopsy Everything has to come out through Comal he said In Sattler the justice of the peace said the woman had been shot twice He would not say whether the death was a suspected homicide Youll have to talk to the Smith said Sheriffs Detective Tommy Ward was unavailable Wednesday night Canyon Lake Chief Shawn Wherry said firefighters were dispatched to the Casey home in the 1900 block of Canyon Lake Drive at Tuesday for a structure fire When we got there at the house was about 60 percent involved in Wherry said A mutual aid call went out to all Canyon Lake fire companies and the Spring Branch Volunteer Fire Department Wherry also said New Braunfels Fire Department Engineer and Comal County Assis tant Fire Marshal Darren Brinkkoeter was dis patched with thermal imaging equipment used to help find hidden hot spots in walls and fire victims In all 15 or so firefighters tackled the blaze knocking it down in about two hours Wherry said the design of the trilevel contem porary lakefront home and its exposed location on Canyon Lake made fighting the fire especially challenging The home is elevated on stilts and designed so See BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer CRANES MILL Neighbors of Barbara Casey tried to save her home and her life Tuesday after noon but to no avail Now they will watch as detectives scour the Canyon Lake Drive home for clues about her death and the fire Ken and Nancy Ellis heard a loud noise late Tuesday afternoon that they said might have been an explosion We thought someone might have run into a tele phone pole with a car and blown a Ken Ellis said When he went outside he saw smoke billowing out of Caseys home two doors down Its windows had been blown out and a fire raged inside Smoke was filling the neighborhood Nancy Ellis dialed 911 Ken Ellis ran to help He tried the door to the main floor and went around to the side He kicked in lattice beneath the elevated home to open up a utility area turn off electricity and free a garden hose I was yelling for anybody inside but I didnt get anybody to Ellis said He sprayed water through an exploded window trying to beat flames back from the ceiling behind the front door Then he kicked in the door Ellis didnt know whether Casey was inside or whether her grand children who had visited during the previous week end were there with her I laid on the floor calling for people inside and See CHRIS INSIDE Abby 5A Classifieds 46B Comics 8A Crossword 5A Forum 6A 4A Movies 5A Obituaries 3A Sports 14B Today 2A Stocks 5A Key Code 76 Police Restaurant robberies may be linked BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer New Braunfels police believe two recent closingtime armed robberies at local fast food restaurants could be related Detective Sean Gabbard said a black or Hispanic man escaped from Mr Gattis restau rant at Saturday with the night shifts cash receipts The man confronted the employees of the Walnut Avenue restaurant during their night ly cleanup forcing them into a walkin cool er at gunpoint He then escorted the restaurant manager to the office and took the cash Gabbard did not say how much money was taken The manager then also was forced into the cooler and told them not to call police Gab bard said The robber escaped He was described as being 6foot1 and weighing more than 200 pounds He was wearing a dark cap a green bandana over his head and a blue or green and white ban dana over his face He was wearing dark bag gy pants and a red white and blue long sleeved shirt black and white tennis shoes and gloves Gabbard said he might have been involved in a similar robbery a weekend earlier at the Sonic Drive In on Loop 337 The two robberies share characteristics that suggest this likely will be the same guy who robbed Gabbard said Gabbard said he had not confirmed a con nection betwen the New Braunfels incidents and similar robberies of San Antonio area restaurants However he acknowledged he was working with investigators to determine whether one existed San Antonio is aware of our robberies and theyre including that information in their investigation to deter mine if theres a Gabbard said At this point its my belief were dealing with a completely different Gabbard said restaurant operators should exercise extra care at night particularly at closing time Right now it looks like these incidents are centering on restaurants Id encourage everyone to use good safety Gab bard said Try to leave the doors locked after closing Nobody should think that because theyve never been a victim they wont Another idea worth considering is having the crew take out trash in the morning so employees arent outside behind a business late at night Gabbard said Employees should stay together at night and not work alone particularly outside he said