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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 12, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Court hears arguments on Bush v. Gore By Ron Fournier--1-- AP Political Writer    _    w Key Dates ■ Monday: U.S. Supreme court hears arguments in Bush v. Gore. ■ Today: Deadline for states to select presidential electors. ■ Dec. 18 — Electoral College meets ■ Jan. 6 — Congress counts electoral votes. Holding nine crucial votes in America’s election saga, U.S. Supreme Court justices quizzed campaign lawyers Monday about a muddle of Florida recount laws and the judicial branch’s power to settle Bush v. Gore — the case that might determine the 43rd president. “We’ll await the outcome,” Texas Gov. George W. Bush said, and the nation joined him in suspense after 90 minutes of historic oral arguments. No timetable was set for a ruling that could end Democrat Al Gore’s quest for the presidency or throw open the state to recounts, jeopardizing Bush’s officially certified, razor-thin lead. Florida’s 25 electoral votes would put either man in the White House. In case the court rules against Bush, Florida’s GOP-led Legislature moved closer Monday to naming its own slate of electors loyal to the Texas governor. Separate House and Senate panels recommended the GOP slate after a constitutional scholar told lawmakers “the buck stops here.” The Supreme Court rushed against a Tuesday deadline for states to select presidential electors. The Electoral College meets Dec. 18, and Congress will count electoral votes Jan. 6. If left unsettled for much longer, the 2000 presidential election could spill into a GOP-controlled Congress, where House Majority Whip Tom DeLay vowed that Republicans would “stand up and do our constitutional duty.” The candidates watched from afar. Bush, who has been certified the victor by 537 votes out of 6 million cast, talked to his legal team from Texas and said the lawyers were cautiously optimistic. “If they are, I am,” he said. Gore was at his official residence in Washington, while three of his children — Karenna, Kristin and Albert III — attended the session. Chief Justice William Rehnquist gaveled the session open: “We’ll hear argument now in number 00949, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney v. Albert Gore et a1.” And off they went. “Where s the federal question here?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Bush attorney Theodore Olson less than two minutes into arguments over the Gore-sought recounts ordered by the Florida Supreme Court on Fnday. In a 5-4 decision on Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the counting. Justice David Souter, who voted against the Saturday stay, seemed to ponder the See COURT/3A OOQZ 2 I 030 New herald-Zeitung Vol. 150 No. 26    12    pages    in    2    sections    December    12,    2000    f    I    \    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents Tuesday in? Playing It Cool School Closures For NBISD school closures, call 643-5720. CISD parents can call (830) 904-4636 for a toll-free list of closed schools. Protecting pipes . • Keep constant heat in the home. • Open cabinets to make sure that warmer air gets to pipes that might go into or through outside walls. • Leave water 4 trickling from a vulnerable faucet or fixture. Home safety • Install, maintain and periodically check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries twice a year. • Vacuum cobwebs and dust from smoke alarms and test them monthly. • Have a working fire extinguisher. • Consider installing an automatic sprinkler system in the home. Who let the cold CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Two New Braunfels’ ladies take a walk Monday through Landa Park during the dropping temperatures. Weather forecasters are predicting frigid, wet weather today and Wednesday. Arctic mass brings freezing rain into Hill Country forecast From Staff Reports An arctic cold front that slammed into South Texas Monday and dropped temperatures by 20 degrees in the space of a wind-whipped hour was expected to bring much colder weather today. Robert Blaha, National Weather Service forecaster in New Braunfels, said rain expected Monday night or early today could turn to freezing rain. “We have a really good chance of getting rain, and a good chance the temperatures will go to freezing or just below freezing,” Blaha said. Blaha said New Braunfels and the Hill Country had not seen this kind of frigid, potentially icy weather since Christmas week, 1998, when ice storms raised havoc on South Texas roads and resulted in a number of traffic deaths statewide. The forecaster blamed an arctic air mass for the frigid, wet weather expected today and Wednesday. “It’s going to spill down over us and give us a very cold day (today),” Blaha said. “Wednesday, we can look for decreasing cloudiness and rain or freezing rain ending. Look for high temperatures near 40 Wednesday.” Comal County Road Department and public safety personnel reported they were braced late Monday, preparing for possible weather-related problems. Comal County Engineer Tom Homseth said the road department was ready late Monday. “We’ve got our people all geared up and ready to go,” Homseth said. “We’ve been watching the weather. We know we’re in for freezing temperatures mixed with precipitation.” In this kind of weather, bridges freeze first, Homseth said. “We’ll be checking those and places where we could have problems,” Homseth said. Road crews were prepared to sand bridges, and if conditions warranted, they would sand roads as well. If the Texas Department c f Transportation requires sand or support on state highways, county crews are ready to do that as well, Homseth said. Comal and New Braunfels independent school districts said bad weather could affect some schools. Officials recommended parents listen to local radio stations or San Antonio television stations for possible school closure information. For a current list of NBISD school closures, call the public information office at 643-5720. CISD parents can call (830) 904-4636 for a toll-free list of closed schools. Parents of CISD students also can check the district’s web site at However, information updates could come more slowly on the Internet, so officials recommend See COLD/3A Mail-strom: Post office gears up for holidays By Jo Lee Ferguson Staff Writer After Dec. 20, even Santa Claus will have trouble delivering packages before Christmas through the Unites States Postal Service. Monday marked the beginning of the two busiest weeks for post offices, with people rushing to get Christmas packages and cards mailed before it’s too late. In New Braunfels Monday, cars backed up as they entered the post office parking lot on Seguin Avenue and waited for a spot to come open. Some people avoided the bottleneck by just parking on the street. Long lines of people stood with piles of packages and letters Monday morning and later that afternoon as people got off work and rushed to the post office. Postal workers hurriedly processed mail. “It’s a zoo here,” said Frank W. Christensen, supervisor of customer service at the New Braunfels post office. “This Monday and the 18th will be our two biggest days.” People normally tend to ship more items on Mondays anyway, he said, but it gets even busier as Christmas draws closer. “Please drive carefully in the parking lot,” he said. “People are in a hurry.” Christensen advised postal customers to budget an extra two or three days of delivery time into their package and card-mailing schedule. He said one of the postal office’s best services at this time is priority mail. Prior-See POST OFFICE/3A Charles Chadwell, of Gruene, mails off a stack of packages Monday at the post office on Seguin Street during The busiest day” for shipping Christmas gifts. CHRIS PACE /Herald-ZeitungInside Abby................... .............5 A Classifieds............ ...........2-4B Comics................. ..............8A Crossword........... .............5A Forum................... ..............6A Local/Metro.......... ..............4A Movies................... ..............5A Obituaries............. ..............3A Sports.................. ..........1-2B Today...................... ..............2A Key Code 76Cheer Fund Contributing to the Herald-Zeitung Cheer Fund were: Richard and Arelene Buhl — $50 • Dorothy Johnson— $50. The Herald-Zeitung seeks donations for its annual Cheer Fund to provide holiday meals for needy residents. Mail or drop off donations at 707 Landa St. in New Braunfels. Council votes on ‘pay-as-you-throw’ By Jo Lee Ferguson Staff Writer New Braunfels moved a step closer Monday to stricter enforcement on the amount of trash the city will collect. City council gave its initial approval to an ordinance implementing a “pay-as-you throw” plan for residential trash collection in New Braunfels. The ordinance must be approved twice more before it becomes law. Council members Robert Kendrick and Debbie Flume voted against the ordinance while Mayor Stoney Williams, Mayor Pro Tem Juan Luis Martinez and council members Larry Alexander, Lee Rodriguez and Juliet Watson supported it. Assistant to the City Manager Don Ferguson presented the plan developed by the city’s recycling advisory committee. “This will not require really any change in the receptacles customers are using now,” he said. It will make customers pay extra for trash above what the city allows at each collection, he said. Residents pay $8.15 a month for garbage collection twice a week, with trash limited to the equivalent of three 30-gallon containers each collection. Recyclables are collected once a week for $1.85 per month. The proposed plan would continue to allow residents to leave the equivalent of three 30-gallon cans, bags or containers at the curb for the twice weekly collections.See COUNCILy3AMonday’s Action In other action Monday, the city council: • gave final approval to an ordinance prohibiting council members from attending closed sessions of any city board or commission meeting unless invited by the board;• gave first approval to an ordinance requiring tertiary containment for all new underground storage tanks. ;