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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 2, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4 — Herald-Zeitung — Tuesday, August 2, 2005 FORUM Our Opinion Residents, businesses will pocket benefits of tax-free weekend Herald-Zeitung Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. 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. Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland Editor and Publisher Doug Toney Circulation Director Jeff Fowler Advertising Director Neice Bell Business Manager Valerie Shields News Editor David Rupkalvis The tax savings are not chump change, especially for parents and guardians who must shop for more than one child. T exas shoppers get a three-day break (Aug. 5-7) this weekend from state and local sales taxes. This year’s sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends at midnight Sunday. I he law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend. Area retailers are gearing up for the start of the states seventh tax-free weekend. In Comal County, the sales tax is 8.25 percent. State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said she expects Texas shoppers to save $69.2 million this weekend in state sales taxes and up to $15.5 million in local sales taxes. That’s not chump change, especially for parents and guardians who must shop for more than one child. The shopping experience is not for everyone. Store aisles are expected to be crowded as parents eager to pocket some savings are drawn to stores. But for those who don’t mind the busde, enjoy the shopping and the savings. And don’t forget to spend your money with local businesses. Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Tuesday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2005. There are 151 days left in the year. Today’s I Iighlight in I Iistory: On Aug. 2,1945. President Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee concluded the Potsdam conference. On this date: In 1776, members of the Continental Congress began attaching their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. In 1876, frontiersman “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. In 1934, German President Paul von Oldenburg died, paving the way for Adolf Hitler’s complete takeover. In 1939, Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging creation of an atomic weapons research program. In 1943, during World War II, Navy boat PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, sank after being rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands. In 1964, the Pentagon reported the first of two attacks on U.S. destroyers by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. In 1985,137 people were killed when a Delta Air Lines jetliner crashed while attempting to land at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. LETTERS POLICY ■ Letters must be 250 words or less. ■The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. asSfc'    ,    . \v> www GUESTCOLUMN Casteel set an example that other legislators should follow Mail letters to: Letters to Editor do Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 e-mail them to: news@herald- Given all of the arm-twisting, backroom negotiations and political gamesmanship at the Capitol, it is not uncommon for lawmakers to cast votes that make you scratch your head. Therefore, when an elected official withstands the pressures of partisan politics and rises in spite of bruises to vote her constituency, we must recognize her actions as a feat. Rep. Carter Casteel (R-Nevv Braunfels) should be applauded for her actions July 26 in Austin. The representative voted in favor of an amendment that would have tripled the homestead exemption for every homeowner in the district, thereby providing real tax relief for homeowners. She also stood up for Texas students by voting to raise Texas teachers’ pay to the national average and to restore school employees’ healthcare benefits. Such changes would help Texas address its looming shortage of professionals willing to work in public schools. Casteel also authored an amendment that ensured educators retain the right to govern their profession through their licensing board (State Board for Educator Certification). The alternative in I louse Bill 2 would have abolished the board and given all regulatory authority to the commissioner of education. The right for professionals to self-govern a licensed occupation in Texas is currently granted for law, medicine, engineering and numerous other professions and is the very definition of a profession. Casteel exemplified professionalism and common sense in her advocacy for public education. Casteel stood with the public education community in her support for local control of public schools in the planning of teacher bonus programs and she listened to the parents and teachers in her district who are tired of the state boiling education down to one test. Casteel voted to allow each district to customize teacher bonus programs to meet community needs. Test scores would be considered, but they wouldn’t have to be the only success indicator considered. Casteel showed strength and character in voting her conscience and her constituency. She was joined in her actions by a bipartisan group of representatives who were all interested in listening to the needs of their local constituents, not just voting to promote a narrow ideology of state control over local innovation. All who stood for education are worthy of praise. Their actions are a positive sign for what could come out of future education debates. Unfortunately, after democracy reigned for a brief moment, the legislative leadership regained control and forced a vote to kill the bill outright, thus ending a fleeting moment of good government before something beneficial for students resulted from it. Casteel set an example July 26 that others should follow — vote your conscience and your constituency. If this all-too-simple ideal of democracy is followed by other members of the Texas I louse and Senate, we might get a public education bill and real property tax relief that is in the best interest of the children and all of our citizens. We hope the public will be watching and actively participating in this debate. MELODYE PINSON Melodye Pinson is the president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. jl^HOWTO ||j United States npiflfil Government PRESIDENT ■ George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE: 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fax: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2184 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ■ Henry Cuellar 1404 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-1640 Fax: (202) 225-1641 Web address: SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1149 E. Commerce St., Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 GOVERNOR NOW IO CONTACT / Texas Government olll ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E. Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 Toll Free: (866) 687-4961 Fax: (830) 627-8895 E-mail address: [email protected] STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 Ne Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: (512) 463-0125 Fax: (512) 463-7794 E-mail address: jeff. Wentworth® ■ Judith Zaffirini SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 12702Toepperwein Road #214 San Antonio 78233 Telephone: (210) 657-0095Americans owe a debt to people who work with their hands CHARLEYREESE Charley Reese is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. You can write to him at PO. Box 2446. Orlando. Fla. 32802. The space shuttle, like all human technological achievements, is a tribute to the human brain and the opposable thumb. Because most people who write and talk deal only with their heads, they often forget that opposable thumb. That is what allows the human being to grasp things and to make tools. After something has been dreamed of and designed, which is what the scientists and engineers do, then other people have to take the blueprints and actually build the thing itself. I have great admiration for construction workers of all types. In part because I have such a low mechanical apti-tuue, what they do seems to me to be almost magic. The space shuttle is so highly complex that my own brain simply stalls out at the thought of trying to construct something so complicated, so precise and yet so strong and powerful. I’m wary of changing a light bulb, so wiring something with miles of wire and tens of thousands of connections seems to me an impossible task. I’ve often thought it must be gratifying for a construction worker to be able to take his children and point to a skyscraper and say: “You see that, kids? I helped build it.” That to me seems like so much more of a substantial contribution than putting words on paper (and now on a computer screen). These men and women who work with their hands are an essential part of this country’s greatness and prosperity. Too often, they are forgotten or ignored or looked down upon by the intellectuals — a fact that is just another proof that a lot of intellectuals are stupid. Don’t forget, “intellectual” is a vocational classification. It is not a synonym for intelligence. A lot of poor countries are long on college graduates and short on people who can build and repair things, lf we lived in a world of only lawyers, writers, dreamers and designers, we’d be living in caves. You can’t have a transportation system unless you have people who can build the cars, the trains, the airplanes and the trucks, as well as the tracks and highways and airports. You can’t have housing without carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians. You’d be defending yourself with rocks and sticks except for the machinists and other skilled workers who build those airplanes, computers, bombs and guns. In fact, these skilled workers play so large and so vital a part in our country that it is amazing that we in the media so often ignore them. A machinist is one of the most important people in an industrial society, and it takes a long time to become a skilled machinist. If the politicians with their stupid trade policies allow America’s machinists to be thrown out of work, they will be doing more damage to the nation than any terrorist. Unfortunately, that is what is happening. I am happy to see the Teamsters and the Service Employees unions break with the AFL-CIO. I’m hoping that the new organization will prove to be so effective that other unions will join it. The trouble with the AFL-CIO in recent years is that it’s been headed by socialists more interested in politics and government programs than in protecting American workers. I saw that years ago when I was in Washington, and noted that there were just as many chauffeured, black limousines pulling in and out of the AFL-CIO headquarters as there were at the White House. “Blue-collar socialist’’ has becomi a contradiction in terms. I was an admirer of the late Jimmy I lol fa, and I hope his son proves to be just ai tough as his old man. Living in the South all my life, I was never in a union, but if any of you white-collar workers think you’d have the salaries and benefits you do without unions, you’re ignorant of thi facts. Things got better for nonunion workers only because hotshot consultants warned corporate America that the way to keep the unions out was to pay decen wages and benefits. Now that the politicians and multinational corporations have pretty much weakened the union movement, corporate big shots are start ing to put the squeeze on their workers. With rare, rare exceptions, capitalists have never done one damned thing to improve the lives, health and safety of their workers that they weren’t forced to do. Every American owes a debt to the people who work with their hands and ti the American union movement. I I ;