New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 26, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels Herald Zeitung
Friday, April 26, 1985
IRS investigates destruction of business records
AUSTIN (AP) — A superviser at the Internal Revenue Service regional center here ordered tax documents from as many as 6,000 businesses in six states destroyed because of what a union attorney called an “obscene emphasis on quantity and speed,” the Austin American Statesman reported today.
Bob Branson, public affairs officer for the center, said Thursday that an investigation of the destruction, which took place late last year, is under way.
“A first-line supervisory employee instructed another employee to destroy certain taxpayer-related correspondence," an IRS statement said. “Management confronted the supervisory employee with the charges, and the employee resigned.”
Branson told the American-Statesman he didn’t know how many documents were destroyed.
Employee union officials put the number between 5,000 and 6,000 separate case files — some with as many as 20 pages of attachments such as receipts.
“It's this obscene emphasis on quantity and
speed,” said union attorney Ann Ellzey. “They’re actually generating extra work to get errors undone. I The supervisor) had too much to process so she threw the excess away. It may be she did it without authorization, but we wonder about that.”
The incident came to light in the wake of reports earlier this month of the shredding of as many as 20,000 income tax returns and checks by overworked IRS employees in Philadelphia.
Roscoe Egger, commissioner of the IRS in Washington, angrily denounced the reports as “sheer, utter nonsense."
Thursday’s statement identified neither the supervisor who ordered the destruction nor the employee who did it. Branson said he would have no further comment until an investigation is complete.
The Austin center is one of IO regional IRS centers in the United States. It serves Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kansas.
Thousands of businesses in the six states may have increased problems with the IRS because their requests for adjustments of their taxes were
destroyed, the American-Statesman reported.
Darla Pittman, president of local No. 72 of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents a third of the center’s 5,500 employees, said union officials were told there is no way to find out to whom the destroyed documents belonged.
She said the supervisor had ordered the destruction during a late-1984 shift in computer hardware, and that the computer tracking system was shut down.
“We think that’s probably how she thought she could get away with it,” Ms. Ellzey said of the supervisory employee who ordered the destruction.
Ms. Pittman said the supervisor apparently was trying to keep her unit of the center’s Business Master File section first in efficiency by reducing an overwhelming backlog.
“To get her volume down,” Ms. Pittman said of why the employee did it. “To look good. We work under constant pressure out there. It’s a terrible thing that she felt she had so much pressure on her to do something like that.”
White unconcerned about 1986 election
AUSTIN (AP) - Gov. Mark White, while declining to officially declare himself a candidate for reelection, says he gets a chuckle from Republican efforts to find a challenger for him.
‘‘It’s good to see them scurrying about. It’s amusing to watch them trying to handpick their candidates," White said Thursday.
Republican Bill Clements, ousted by White in 1982, has traveled the state looking for a good GOP gubernatorial prospect. If one doesn’t surface, Clements has indicated he may run again.
White said that doesn’t worry him.
“We’ve had an opportunity once before, a rematch wouldn’t bother me,” he said.
White told his weekly news conference that last year’s controversial school reforms and $4.8 billion tax hike are so popular with Texans that he fears no challenge
“I’ll be pleased to contest any opponent, Democrat or Republican, on those issues. Primary or general election,” White declared.
“You may think they’re widely unpopular, but I think you’ll find they are extremely popular with the people of this state.”
Earlier this week, state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Slagle said White could be vulnerable on some issues next year, including the school reforms and the $4.8 billion, three-year tax increase that funded those reforms and highway improvements.
But White staunchly defended both, rejecting any suggestion that most voters disapprove.
“They want good schools for their children ... The no-pass, noplay rule. I’m firmly committed to see that continues,” he said.EPA threatened about dumping toxic wastes in Gulf of Mexico
BROWNSVILLE (AP) — Amid a bombardment of speeches, skits and songs opposing toxic-waste burning in the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials were also warned they would be sued if the Gulf isn’t eliminated as a proposed site for at-sea incinerations.
Gov. Mark White and Attorney General Jim Mattox, stressing the Gulf's importance to Texas, said Thursday they would sue the federal government if the Environmental Protection Agency approves plans to burn toxic wastes there.
The EPA has designated two sites for the burning of liquid toxic wastes. One is 200 miles off the Texas-Louisiana coast and the other off the New Jersey-Delaware coast.
But Mattox and White, testifying before EPA hearing examiner Edwin Johnson Thursday, said companies wanting to do off-shore burning are not held fully liable for any accidents.
“The only reason these people want to do it offshore is that they have limited liability in federal statutes and that they won’t be
having to respond when an accident occurs,” White said.
About 3,000 other people attended the hearing, including area congressmen, state legislators, farm workers, students and officials of companies wanting to burn the toxic wastes.
A group of Texas Southmost College students performed a skit to the theme of “We Are the World," and student body president Clifford Gillard told the EPA that the message was clear.
"We are the children of this area."
he said. “We’re the only ones that can make this a brighter place. Our choice is no more PCBS and nothing
One man put his opposition into a Spanish song, but most of the opposition was through speeches.
“I have already filed a lawsuit on this matter and the EPA should understand and know that I am prepared to act again unless EPA listens to the peole and gives us fair treatment,” Mattox said. “There must be no rush to judgment.”
Mattox tried suing once before to
stop at-sea incineration, but a judge rejected the suit as premature.
The EPA is proposing to grant 10-year permits to companies, such as Chemical Waste Management Inc., for ocean incineration. White urged the EPA to consider three-year permits with annual reviews.
“These people are trying to avoid the law of liability and they’re doing it for profit,” White said. “The profiteers of this operation are putting this nation and our government at risk.”
But Bill Brown, director of marine
affairs for Chemical Waste Management, tried to calm fears of the opponents who heckled him when he began talking.
“It’s been said. No more PCBS.’ I agree. No more dumping. I agree." he said. "Let’s not dump like a decade ago. But ocean incineration is not ocean dumping.”
Opponents of ocean incineration, including Gulf Coast Coalition for Public Health, had hoped that attendance at the hearing would be around 6.000.
Court upholds Blue Law
HOUSTON (AP) — A state appeals court has upheld the Texas Blue Law, rejecting arguments by Handy Dan hardware stores that the the 24-year-old Sunday closings statute is unconstitutional and vague.
The 1st Texas Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a lower court’s ruling in finding the law does not violate the state and U.S. constitutions.
The statute bans the sale of 42 items on consecutive weekend days. Violators can be assessed up to a $200 fine. The state Supreme Court has upheld the law as constitutional three times.
[.ast October, state District Judge Thomas Philips of Houston ruled in a lawsuit filed by Handy Dan that the Blue Law was unconstitutional.
Philips’ decision was appealed by the state attorney general’s office and Houston’s Retail Merchants Association, a group of representatives from local businesses.
The merchants group sent shoppers to several Houston area businesses to collect evidence showing the shops violated the Blue Law.
The appeals rejected Handy Dan’s arguments that the law is the due process and equal protection clauses of both constitutions, Assistant Attorney General John Miner said.
Miner said the three-judge appeals panel rejected Handy Dan’s arguments that the merchants’ group enforced the law selectively.
“The main issue was whether evidence produced by Handy Dan during the trial established that the statute was unconstitutional,” Miner told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. “The appeals court found the evidence was insufficient.”
The court also ruled the 24-year-old law does not violate the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, Miner said.
last November, Academy Corp. of Houston successfully challenged the Blue Law in court.
But Miner said the attorney general’s office and the merchants' group last week appealed the Academy case to the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston.
Miner said he expects the appeal to be successful.
Judge to decide fate of abandoned children
CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) - A judge was to weigh countering claims from parents and police today before deciding whether six children allegedly found with nothing to eat but birdseed will be returned home.
The children were found in a Corpus Christi dwelling April 19 after a school nurse told the City-County Health Department that they were being left alone for long periods of time.
Police and health department workers say they found toddlers eating seed that had fallen from two parrot cages, and that a 15-year-old boy was in a shed behind the house because he couldn’t speak English.
The children are currently in Texas Department of Human
Resources foster care, said Michael Mankins, assistant Nueces County attorney. Today’s hearing is on a DHR petition for temporary custody of the children pending further investigation.
But an attorney representing the parents said the children are not neglected.
“The children are healthy. They’re not malnourished,” said Ceiso Rodriguez, who represents leonardo Alfonzo Hernandez and Victoria Hernandez. “Mr. Hernandez feels the news coverage has been exaggerated and is unfair to him."
Rodriguez said Hernandez is a mechanic and his wife works at a refinery, but the family has had “some extra expenses" recently that
made hiring child care impossible.
Reports describing the building where the children were found said oil-covered clothes covered the floor, mattresses were propped against the wall and the building looked like a mechanic’s shop
According to the petition on file in state district court in Corpus Christi, the 15-year-old, two boys aged 7 and IO, and three girls ages I h, 2 ‘a and 5. were found alone and “without adequate supervision."
The children were allegedly left alone last September for several days when their parents went to Mexico, and again more recently. the doc uments state.
Governor doesn't foresee new taxes
Colonial Manor I
AUSTIN (AP) — The way he reads it, Gov. Mark White says the $36.4 billion, two-year state budget approved by the Texas House won’t require any tax increase.
“I’m very pleased that they were able to reach the compromises to permit a balanced budget without any new taxes,” White said.
Although some lawmakers have said a tax hike may yet be needed to balance the budget, House Speaker Gib l^ewis said a $106 million increase in fees and a quadrupling of college tuition will cover state government operations.
The House voted 135-11 preliminary approval of the budget on Wednesday and sent it to the Senate on a voice vote Thursday. The Senate is working on its own spending plan, so the final state budget will be written by a House-Senate conference committee.
The House-approved budget, tightest in IO years, would add money for welfare, prisons, mental hospitals, public schools and highways. Higher education would
receive average decreases of 4 percent, and many state agencies would suffer heavy cuts.
The governor said the budget “is not exactly the way I would have drafted it,” and indicated he will wait on the conference committee version before making any final decisions.
White indicated he could support a compromise proposal that would quadruple state college tuition over the next two years, then allow the 1987 Legislature to consider possible future increases.
“It’s a compromise I would be in a position to support. I’m pleased to see that there is going to be additional money for scholarships and for needy students,” he said.
“Even with the increases, we’ll still be the least expensive tuition of any of the states in the nation.”
White discounted complaints of some students, particularly medical
and dental students who will face even larger tuition hikes, that the increases will cost them their educations.
“I dare say, there will not be a single soul who will have to drop out of their school because of any change in the tuition pattern," he said.
State employees have been angered at the failure of lawmakers to approve a pay raise for them.
The House bill includes a possible 3 percent raise for the 180,000 state workers — if seven revenue-raising bills also pass. Senators say there is no money to fund a raise.
“I like what they (the House) have done. But the Senate has not,” White said, adding that he will work with the conference committee “actively trying to help them find a way to at least make some provision for increased salaries.”
Senate debates shrimp, oysters
AUSTIN (AP) —- A two-hour debate over regulating shrimp and oyster fishing, which appeared to be the start of a filibuster, convinced the Senate to quit for the weekend and try again Monday.
The deck is stacked against the coastal senators who oppose the measure as they could never muster more than ll votes for any amendment on Thursday.
Since the Senate recessed, rather than adjourning, the bill presumably would be up when the Senate returns at 9 a.m. Monday.
Asked what shape the bill was in, sponsor Tati Santiesteban said, “It depends on the stamina and desire of the opposition.”
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By Dr. Henry Hull THE PARTIALLY SIGHTED/SIMPLE AIDS
The simplest theory for improving sight is to make objects bigger and bolder. Non-optical aids such as large-print-edition books and newspapers are available in most local libraries. Large number dials can be put on traditional telephones. There are playing cards with extra-sized numbers, needles that have especially large eyes and a variety of other practical aids available from organizations like The Lighthouse.
in general, older people need more light in order to see clearly. Adjustable lamps which concentrate light on small areas may help for near-vision tasks A well-lit room will also improve distance vision.
Younger partially sighted people can bring reading material closer to the eyes, or walk up close to objects, to make them appear clearer. But, older people usually have focusing loss which makes this difficult. Microscopic glasses, simple magnifiers, or loupes attached to glasses very often compensate for the focusing loss and altow clearer vision at closer distances.
It s wise to have eyes re-examined regularly by an optometrist. Brought to you as a community service by Dr. Henry Hull 147 Fredericksburg Road, To. 625-5716
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