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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 4, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A — Herald-Zeitung — Sunday, December 4, 2005 FORUM Our Opinion For lawmakers, time has come for leadership Ifs time that th state's lawmaker show some leadership and come up with at equitable school finance plan. Ti Ihe school Finance hot potato has been tossed out of the Texas court system, and the Texas Legislature is on the clock. Again. With the Texas Supreme Court having ruled that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional because it has become a de facto state property tax, the Legislature has been given a June I deadline to come up with an equitable, constitutional way of funding public education. All options should be on the table for legislators when they convene in special session some time in the coming months. Whatever die proposals are that come forth, property tax relief should be a net a result, and our schools should not be financed with higher taxation on the state’s poorest residents. Recent history makes it hard to have much faith in the legislature coming up with a plan, but the deadline offers some assurance that something will get done. With 2006 being an election year, no legislator wants to have “let schools go unfunded this year” on his or her resume come November. In the Legislature’s previous three sessions this year — one regular, two special — lawmakers could not come to agreement on proposals that would have lowered school property taxes, raised state taxes on consumers and businesses and provided slight funding increases for districts. In fact, after no agreement was reached in the regular session, it seemed legislators were content to run out the clock in the two special sessions and wait for the Texas Supreme Court’s decision for guidance. That’s shameful and shows a lack of leadership. As usual, some legislators seem to suffer from attention deficit disorder, as they also are throwing out ancillary school issues as well. State Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, did so last week by tossing up a trial balloon on the thorny notion of school district consolidation. Issues such as consolidation, merit pay for teachers and use of tax dollars by school boards to lobby the Legislature should be tackled at some point, but first things first. Finding an equitable way to fund schools is the top priority; bringing up subsidiary issues right now just muddies the most important task facing legislators. Formulating an equitable school finance plan isn t easy; it’s something Texas has struggled with for decades. But this is why we elect lawmakers — to provide leadership and ideas for governing and funding this state. For those elected few, this is their time — they’re on the clock. 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. Mail letters to: Letters to Editor c/o Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 e-mail them to: news@herald- 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 Jeremy Pafford Editor and Publisher Doug Toney Circulation Director Jeff Fowler Advertising Director Neice Bell Business Manager Valerie Shields News Editor David Rupkalvis QlSttOMQB. STUDENTS GUESTCOLUMN Veteran is an angel among us I am a teacher at an area high school. Several years ago, I was going through a very tough time. My heart was heavy with the burden I carried. One afternoon as I sat at my desk questioning the hand I had been dealt, a shadow fell upon my door and a gentle, quiet man entered my room. He looked at me with eyes that reached my soul and asked “Are you OK?” I knew this man — he swept our floors, emptied our trash and became a beloved friend to all. This man truly cared about all of us. As he and I sat there that afternoon, I remember sharing my concerns with him. The treasure chest of wisdom he offered brought peace to my heart. It never failed, when I needed a lithe boost, he magically appeared at my door, always a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face and a message for my heart., As we talked over the years, I learned a lot about Jerry. I learned about when he unselfishly served our country. I learned how he loves his family, and I learned how much he cares for each of us. Our students loved Jerry. They didn’t know he was a published author; they didn’t know the vast knowledge he held or the many trials he himself has been through. What they did know is that he was an individual who let each one of them know they were important. At our annual Veterans Day ceremonies, Jerry would take his place of honor with other veterans on the field. When his name was announced, the stadium would roar and goose bumps would send a shiver throughout my body. A few years ago, Jerry retired, but he still magically appears whenever he is most needed. And, of course, he still takes his place among our veterans during memorial ceremonies. Jerry has taken another important job. Around this time of year, he adorns a red suit and, one by one, listens to tiny wishes and concerns from young children, assuring each child that it is OK to dream. If you believe in Santa, or maybe in angels, take the time to go by and share your dreams and wishes with him. Don’t be surprised if you walk away with a new look on life and peace in your heart. Jerry can be found at the recreation center near the dam. You will recognize him by his red suit, gray beard and that famous twinkle in his eyes that will touch your soul. Thank you, Jerry Daugherty, for being an angel to so many. CYNTHIA NORRIS Cynthia Norris is a resident of New Braunfels. Letters to the Editor U.S. shouldn’t ‘bug out’ of Iraq “Mad Molly” Ivins, the Mother Bloor of Texas politics, wrote against our involvement in the war on terrorism and likened it to Viemam. About that conflict she wrote, “We stayed for years past reason in Viemam because they said there would be a bloodbath,” implying a bloodbath in Viemam hadn’t happened. Liberals shamefully ignore the bloodbaths their treacherous abandonment of Viemam caused. For political advantage they now argue for another precipitous withdrawal — this time in Iraq. Liberals conveniendy ignore what they and “useful idiots” on college campuses did to Vietnam and Cambodia. They should be reminded that hundreds of thousands were thrown into reeducation camps in Viemam where tens of thou sands perished. Millions fled in tiny boats to escape the totalitarian system that was imposed once our Congress took the advice of liberals and abandoned Viemam. The bloodbath in Viemam paled in comparison to Cambodia, where millions died in the Khmer Rouge killing fields. Liberals’ indifference to the fate of the Vietnamese and (Cambodians remains shameful. Now they want us to “bug out” in the war in Iraq where the stakes are infinitely higher. If we do not defeat the terrorists in Iraq, we will have to fight them later, and the killing of Americans will be far greater. Liberals hope “bugging out” in Iraq will win a few congressional seats for Democrats, but it will not end the war on terrorism. John IC Landry New Braunfels M NOW TO CONTACT United States Mil 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 mmmrn. HOWTO CONTACT Texas Government lllllilllllllll GOVERNOR ■ 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 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 E-mail address: jeff. Wentworth® senate, state.tx. us ■ Judith Zaffirini RO. Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 12702Toepperwein Road #214 San Antonio 78233 Telephone: (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657-0262Tackling assimilation, illegal immigration crucial to safety of country CALTHOMAS Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services International. Direct all mail for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services. 435 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1500, Chicago. 60611, or leave an e-mail at resident Bush has rediscovered illegal immigration as a political issue. After previously focusing on “welcoming” all who come to America by whatever means, the president spent most of his recent speech in Tucson, Ariz., sounding like Rep. Tom Tancre-do, a Colorado Republican who has been the most vocal proponent of sealing U.S. borders to illegal aliens. Ninety percent of the speech was about the president’s new “get tough” policy. The rest focused on his “guest worker” program, which is amnesty by whatever name he calls it. He says he wants to end the government’s “catch and release” policy in which non-Mexican illegals are apprehended, detained and then released, but that there aren’t enough beds in detention centers to hold all of those apprehended. By some estimates, sufficient housing won’t be available for at least six years. There are many “sounds good” proposals in the president’s speech, and his remarks might have more credibility had they come immediately after 9/11. An unknown number of people crossing our borders have no interest in building homes; they wish only to destroy America’s “home.” According to the Center for Immigration Studies, of the 94 foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States between the early 1990s and 2004, about two-thirds (59) committed immigration fraud before or in conjunction with taking part in terrorist activity. Of the 59 terrorists who violated the law, many committed multiple immigration violations. In 47 instances, immigration benefits sought or acquired prior to 9/11 enabled the terrorists to stay in the United States after 9/11 and continue their terrorist activities. In at least two instances, terrorists still were able to acquire immigration benefits after 9/11. The president acknowledged that "securing our border is essential to securing the homeland.” Absent from the speech were proposals to sanction businesses that knowingly hire illegals. As long as there is a demand for cheap labor and insufficient disincentives, they will continue to come. It is why the government has had minimal success curtailing illegal drug shipments. Demand produces supply. According to the Pew Hispanic Center and the Center for Immigration Studies, there are nearly 11 million illegal aliens in the United States, of which approximately 7 million are workers. In 2002, it was estimated that households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes. They cost California taxpayers $10.5 billion in education, medical and other expenses. There is another dimension to illegal and even legal immigration the president did not mention. We have failed to make Americans out of many of them. This is part of a larger cultural problem that tells immigrants they should hyphenate their heritage with “American," retaining their language, tradi tions and even loyalty to the country from which they originated. Immigrants need to be transformed into full Americans, not only by their citizenship, but also by their language (English), by their allegiance, voting habits and by their attitude. This was the profile of earlier immigrants who wanted to come to America to become Americans. In recent years, certain elites have taken the view that there is something better about other countries. In this view, immigrants should keep their allegiance and cultural heritage and not assimilate. This is a strategy for the death of any culture. While a nation cannot exist “half slave and half free,” in Abraham Lincoln’s words, neither can it exist in a state that is culturally subdivided. Along with a much stronger and workable border control policy and penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegals, attention to fully assimilating the non-native-born population would go far to fulfilling our national motto: E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. ;