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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 13, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — Herald-Zeitung — Friday, April 13, 2001Forum Contact Managing Editc Margaret Edmonson a 625-9144 ext. 22C Nhw Braunfels Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels 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 Jo Lee Ferguson, News Editor (830) 625-9144 Editorial By the Associated Press Berliner Zeitung, Berlin, on Dutch legalization of euthanasia: Even if potential abuse — as well as the usual abuse critics claim has long existed — could be completely prevented, the Dutch euthanasia law should be rejected. Most countries refuse to legally regulate killing on .demand. Yet their condemnation of the Dutch law rings hollow because they no longer invest in hospices and palliative medicine. And euthanasia critics, rightly indignant, often lack understanding for those suffering from incurable illnesses. A law that sets out to allow killing on demand and regulates its implementation in detail can only produce routine. The result will be a process that is less humane than the legal gray area which exists everywhere else, in which each case must be examined by public prosecutors. Jordan Times, Amman, on the use of child soldiers: ... The conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa is a unique chance for representatives to voice their opinions on the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Child that would set the minimum age for all forms of military recruitment and use in hostilities at 18 years of age without exception or reservation. Although countries of our region are believed not to be as plagued as other areas of the world by the use of children in military conflict, numbers worldwide suggest that the phenomenon is substantial — 300,000 children engaged in warfare. However, we should not be complacent. As our region faces a new moment of uncertainty, we should be extra vigilant in securing guarantees that Arab children will not be compelled to serve in military combat in a time of war. Jordan is signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Child and has signed the optional protocol, yet we remain, according to the Coalition to Stop the use of Child Soldiers, one of dozens of countries that continue to recruit or conscript under-18s to the military. In our region, we are joined by Israel, Iraq and Iran in this practice. Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Friday, April 13, the 103rd day of 2001. There are 262 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History; On April 13, 1970, “Apollo 13,” four-fifths of the way to the moon, was crippled when a tank containing liquid oxygen burst. (The astronauts managed to return safely.) On this date: In 1742, Handel’s “Messiah” was first performed publicly, in Dublin, Ireland. In 1743, the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, was born. In 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in New York. In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial. In 1958, Van Cliburn became the first American to win the Tchaikovsky International Piano Contest in Moscow. In 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Academy Award, for “lilies of the Field.” Write 'Em STATE REPRESENTATIVE Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin P.O. Box 911 Seguin, TX 78155 (830) 379-8732 Fax: (830) 463-5896 COMAL COUNTY JUDGE Danny Scheel 150 N. Seguin Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130 620-5501 Fax: 608-2026 MAYOR Stoney Williams 424 S. Casten Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130 608-2100 Fax: 608-2109 Letters To The Editor Thanks for banning smoking in restaurants Dear Editor: I want to thank our city council for passing an ordinance that makes public places smokefree. Their efforts have been rewarded. I have noticed the signage in the various places where my family members and I eat. I appreciate the position to “stand up and be counted” by the council’s action to address the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in the community. As a citizen and a voter, I thank you again for your commitment to the quality of life in New Braunfels. Bob Peterson Patient Services Chairman Vice President Comal County Unit American Cancer Society Councilwoman owes city department head apology Dear Editor: I was completely shocked as I witnessed the absolutely inhumane treatment Darryl Phillips, the airport manager, endured at the city council meeting Monday night. He had the patience to stand at the podium and refrain himself while Juliet Watson literally tore him limb from limb. I have never witnessed a person so enraged as she was. Why did she feel empowered to berate a city employee who was doing his job? Perhaps it is because of the false information she puts out about the airport land being “stolen” by the government. The truth is, the federal government paid top dollar for this land in the 1940s for airports here and all across the United States. Families around our airport are still Letters Policy- counting their jumbo CDs today. Worse still, the city manager and the mayor did nothing to stop Ms. Watson’s ranting. Did you see this? Weren’t you sick of watching a city employee so insulted and degraded without cause? Civility and respect is a two-way street. The raised council dias apparently gives some a superior attitude. Ms. Watson owes Mr. Phillips a public apology on television at the next council meeting. Jim Rice New Braunfels Anti-tourism sector doesn’t know all facts Dear Editor: I received this letter about a week and a half ago. “Mr. Polk: Re: Your potential lawsuit. Are you sure you want this much attention for you and your outfitter friends? Remember the taxman will catch up sooner than you think! Signed, Concerned Citizen who supports the 6-1 vote.” I kind of decided not to ask the newspaper to publish it because whenever you enter into a controversial public discussion, you run the risk of hearing from the local crackpots. First, to the author, next time you feel the need to express your convictions in print, have the courage to sign your name. Second, I pay employee taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, WORD taxes, gasoline taxes, parks and recreation fees, city of New Braunfels public transportation fees — tax on top of tax and enough paperwork to fill a small room as do all of the other outfitters. You obviously have never been in business for yourself. The “tax man,” as you call him, and I are most intimately acquainted. This letter is representative of the petty small-minded, anti-tourist segment of the city population that doesn’t want this town’s main commodity, tourism, to be successfully marketed. Tourism and the dollars it brings provide jobs and business opportunities for the vast majority of the people who live and work here. The council members who go along with this anti-tourist mindset are not representing the best interests of these people. Mr. Kendrick was quoted in the newspaper saying that now, at this late date, the council has the outfitters’ attention. Kevin Webb, general manager of Rockin R’ River Rides, was a member of the river activities committee that proposed this poorly outlined, and I think illegal, wristband ordinance. His input was virtually ignored. We all realize the problems involved regarding trash, rude behavior and bathroom facilities. Alternative solutions have been proposed and have fallen on deaf ears. We all want this to be a tourist destination where people have a good time while acting responsibility. This can be achieved without a wristband ordinance. The fact is, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the Texas Water Code and the Attorney General’s office say that the Comal and Guadalupe rivers belong to the state. The city council has no authority to pass ordinances or collect fees regarding the use of these resources by citizens of the state. If it takes legal action to make them realize this, than that’s where we’ll go, no matter how much hate mail we receive. ‘Amigo’’ Mel Polk New Braunfels 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. Preference is given to writ ers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor do Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328Trace energy crisis back to investor-owned utilities BOULDER, Colo. — Here at the annual World Affairs Conference at the University of Colorado, the assorted experts from around the globe might sometimes be wrong, but they are rarely in doubt. This lends a happy, “But the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes,” simplicity to much of the discussion. Shibboleths are ignored, obligatory bows to those who are only partially informed are skipped entirely, and folks get right down to the lick-log. Thus, Harvey Wassertnan, a longtime leader of the anti-nuclear movement, cutting to the chase: “Anyone who advocates nuclear power as a solution to our energy problems should be shut up in a padded cell.” Wasserman can, of course, discuss the details of nuclear plant design, risk, insurance, regulation, waste disposal, etc., ad nauseum. It’s just that he’d rather not waste his time on the obvious. One session I attended here not expecting to learn much new (but it’s always nice to have your prejudices confirmed) was titled “Our Fake Energy Crisis: What Really Kl Molly Kl Ivins Happened in California.” Tile aforementioned Wasserman waded in with a will, describing the dastardly tale of ruthless utility companies determined to unload the “stranded costs” of their monumental folly in building nuclear plants — $20 billion worth in California’s case — on the ratepayers. Given that utility lobbyists literally wrote the California deregulation bill, it’s quite a reach to blame it on anyone else. This is a familiar tale to those who have read beyond the basic coverage of the California situation. Wasserman tells the story well, with a fine contempt for the greed and stupidity behind it all and for the politicians now seeking cover. But he presents a media mystery that has me stumped — one of those cases of the media overlooking the obvious so completely that one is bereft of a handy explanation. Some parts of California are not suffering from power problems of any kind. In Los Angeles and Sacramento, the fights are still on and the rates have not doubled or tripled. As it happens, the people of Los Angeles and Sacramento own their own power plants. This glaringly obvious fact has, for some reason, escaped media attention, except in California. The history of how utility ownership and regulation came about is crucial to this story. Wasserman quoted a 19th-century mayor of Cleveland, Ibm Johnson, who said, “If we don’t control the electric utilities, they will control us.” As is often the case with business and government regulation, it was the utilities themselves that asked for regulation, knowing full well that they easily could dominate state public utility commissions. “Regulation” evolved so that utilities were permitted to make 15 percent on invested capital — a tidy sum. This lasted until the early 1990s, when wholesale prices fell, tempting the utilities into deregulation. They dumped the stranded nuke costs on the ratepayers and made a promise in exchange — no rate increases — which they promptly broke when wholesale prices went up. Ask the people of San Diego. The performance of the suppliers in this case — Enron, Reliant, etc. — is already the subject of public inquiry. But the California utility companies were meanwhile shipping the recovered nuke costs to their parent companies. (“We’re still checking the DNA on those parents,” said Wasserman.) And then, in a truly sublime move, the major California utility gave its executives huge bonuses just before it went into bankruptcy. Wasserman’s suggested solution is that Californians should simply get themselves out of the grid by setting up municipally owned power companies. In rural areas, this can be done by counties or electric co-ops. He believes that what held the old system together for so long was not government regulation, which was always bla tantly subject to manipulation by the utilities (as anyone who has ever covered a PUC can tell you), but rather the tension between the for-profits and the municipals. In the current issue of Business Week, the cover story is on Exxon Mobil’s plan to take advantage of the “energy crisis.” This would normally be funny, given that Exxon is in the oil business and (as most people outside the Oval Office are aware), the oil business has nothing to do with electricity. However, Exxon’s acquisition of Mobil, which is rich in natural gas, unleashes a corporate behemoth of unprecedented size. Exxon also has a corporate culture that would give nightmares to “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap of business fame. Here are some interesting facts from the Rocky Mountain Institute: The cheapest source of new electricity is efficiency; the next cheapest is burning soft coal, which is a gross polluter; and the next cheapest after that is wind power — 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. (Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Thlegram.) / ;