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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 30, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — Herald-Zeitung — Saturday, December 30, 2000Opinions Forum Letters —7    .—. • ".I’ .I1,-’11?'- ;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 (830) 625-9144 EditorialClennan made sure tax office met county’s demands Comal County Courthouse closed its doors on 2000 late Friday afternoon, and across the street, Gloria Clennan closed the door on a chapter in the county’s history. Clennan is retiring from her job as tax assessor-collector after a quarter century of serving Comal County. Clennan, a Democrat, had hoped to stay in office four more years, but she was defeated in the November general election by Republican Sherman Krause. Krause will become the new tax collector in a ceremony Monday at the courthouse. For 24 years, Clennan oversaw the county’s voter registration, motor vehicle registration and tax collection. During that time, Comal County’s needs have changed as much as the county itself. The population grew exponentially, and technology demanded the tax assessor-collector’s office grow and change as well. Clennan made sure the tax office met those demands and met the needs of her constituents. And she did it by remaining true to herself. The Democrat did not follow the advice of her Republican friends who told her to switch parties. “I can’t change who I am,” she said shortly after the Nov. 7 electron. Clennan served the county well for many years. We wish her only the best in the years to come. Today in History By the Associated Press Today is Saturday, Dec. 30, the 365th day of 2000. There is one day left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Dec. 30, 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On this date: In 1853, the United States bought some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase. In 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China. In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first sit-down strike, at the Fisher Body Plant No. I in Flint, Mich. In 1940, California’s first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened. In 1944, King George II of Greece proclaimed a regency to rule his country, virtually renouncing the throne. In 1947, King Michael of Romania agreed to abdicate, but charged he was being forced off the throne by Communists. In 1948, the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me, Kate” opened on Broadway. In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam. In 1993, Israel and the Vatican agreed to recognize each other. In 1998, weak but radiant with pride, Nkem Chukwu, the rribther of the Houston octuplets, went home. Letters To The Editor Smith staunch supporter of veterans Dear Editor: Mr. John T. Ragusa has exposed himself as a man who clearly doesn’t know who his friends are and sure doesn’t know how to treat them. In the process, he has also exposed himself as ignorant of the legislative process, misguided in his pursuit of vitriol and uninformed about the facts. In his attack letters in the Herald-Zeitung targeting Congressman Lamar Smith, Mr. Ragusa attempts to smear the congressman as somehow anti-veteran and anti-military. Look at the record, Mr. Ragusa! Congressman Smith consistently has been one of the staunchest supporters of a strong national defense in Congress. That’s why he’s regularly garnered the highest ratings from a variety of military and veteran organizations. He has fought long and hard for veterans, as well as military retirees, insisting that this nation stand by the promises it has made to those who have defended us all. He’s been willing — in fact, he’s been eager — to take on the hard fights for those causes. He hasn’t always come out on the winning side, but he’s worked consistently to try to make the pro-defense and pro-veteran side the winning one. Mr. Ragusa faults Congressman Smith for not being a member of the Armed Services , Committee or Veterans Committee. Smith is a member of three House committees, one more than usual for congressmen, and holds two chairmanship^. There are 17 House committees the congressman does not sit on. Does Mr. Ragusa propose to fault him for that as well? Congressman Smith’s record has always been both consistent and persistent, championing legislation supportive of a strong national defense and the men and women who do and have served in uniform. He' stepped in when the Veterans Department wanted to close the Kerrville VA Hospital and not only stopped that misguided effort, but worked to make sure the Kerrville VA has been expanded to continue to serve veterans in that area. Just in the past few months, he’s worked for laws that require the Veterans Department to help veterans file their claims for disability benefits, and he’s worked for several bills to make sure that military retirees of all ages get the health care they were promised and to allow retirees who also have disabilities to be compensated for both. He’s worked hard to turn around demoralizing actions that have had a negative effect on our active duty forces by making sure that our soldiers and sailors have the top-flight equipment, training and services they deserve and they need. As a combat veteran, I’m proud to call Congressman Lamar Smith my friend.Manuel Camareno New Braunfels Hike/bike trails should be No. I priority Dear Editor: In your paper, you reported about the Master Plan for the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department. A good story, but not the whole story. Some of the story was left out. I hope your oversight was unintentional. You reported on proposed plans by the parks department based upon its research of what is needed in the community. What you left out was the research. The parks department research came as a result of a phone survey of New Braunfels residents. The conclusions of that survey need to be made public before the Master Plan is adopted. My reading of the survey reveals some interesting information. For instance, when adults were asked what they do mostly in city parks facilities, hiking/walking/jogging was ranked No. 2 and biking No. 7 out of 30 choices they were given. And there is more. When these same adults were asked what activities they were most interested in, hiking/walking/jogging moved up to first place and biking up to third place. The survey also asked very specifically whether these adults were interested in a system of hiking/biking trails. Not counting those who had no opinion, nearly 70 percent said they were very interested or somewhat interested. Even more revealing and significant, when asked to indicate a definite need in the recreation arena, restrooms loomed large, but a hike/bike trail system ranked second out of 31 options. A full 49 percent chose this as the most important. And finally, when these citizens were asked their first priority for recreational development, hiking and biking trails ranked Numero Uno. Comal County Trails Inc., a non-profit grassroots citizens planning committee, has long suspected this — that New Braunfels citizens are aching for a good, safe, reliable system of hiking/biking/walking trails for multiple use and for people of all ages and capabilities. We have advocated, educated, proposed projects and worked to achieve results for nearly two years. We have published a “vision map” of a prospective network of trails, sponsored symposiums on biking and pedestrian possibilities, even attained funds for the restoration of hiking trails (Panther Canyon). We will continue to advocate on behalf of the very citizens who responded to the parks department survey with a clear mandate that trails are their first priority. So why aren’t trails the first priority of the parks department? We wonder. But we don’t just sit and wonder — we act. To those of you who feel the same way as those who responded to the parks department survey, to those who would really like to see a network of trails in our community suitable to the needs of all citizens, to those of you who want to make it happen, we invite you to join with us. Together we can get things done. Contact Comal County Trails Inc., 2431 Quail Ridge Dr., New Braunfels, TX 78130.Peter Olsen New BraunfelsProposed alcohol ban would hurt New Braunfels By Mel Polk Special to the Herald-Zeitung We keep reading about how “all of New Braunfels” supports the proposed alcohol ban. Bratwurst! Tourism provides jobs and tax revenue to our town. The people who come here to enjoy our rivers buy everything from gas to doughnuts to lip balm to bathing suits to newspapers, ad infinitum. The girl who works behind the counter at the Pit Stop doesn’t support the beer ban nor does the Mexican food restaurant or the owner of the pizza place or the woman who provides maid service at the hotel. Anything that encourages tourists to take their dollars elsewhere takes money out of these people’s pockets. This is why the chamber of commerce doesn’t support it. In fact, the supporters of this ordinance are a small but vocal group of riverfront property owners and their allies. Councilman Robert Kendrick is one of these folks. How much does the worth of his river front property increase if there are no more tourists? Whatever the number, I say it is not worth even one citizen losing a service job. Just slightly more than 2,000 of the petitioners’ signatures on the beer ban were qualified voters. In a town this size, that is a really small number. Now the Kendrick coalition wants to rewrite the petition to include whatever necessary to accomplish a beer ban. This is not the same petition people signed their names to or that was voted for by city council. What Kendrick is doing now requires that he obtain the designated number of new signatures for his new resolution and certainly a new vote from the council. Tourism is the engine that drives our local economy. It is responsible for a large part of the $4.6 million per year sales tax revenue that goes directly to the city’s coffers. That is $4.6 million that the residents won’t have to come up with. What a great thing for the people of New Braunfels. Mr. Kendrick would have you believe that this ordinance will magically transform all of our tourists into well-behaved families who don’t like to drink beer. The truth is that 85 percent of the river tourists are families families who like to float down the river and Dad/Mom like to drink a cold beer. If they cannot do it here, they will simply take their tourist dollars to a friendlier venue, costing New Braunfels revenue and jobs while-raising the property value of folks like Kendrick and the Kruegers. How do we solve these behavior problems? First, the behavior problems have been grossly exaggerated. Stoney Williams, mayor of the city, said in a council meeting that in 15 trips down the river this year, he did not witness any of the offensive actions described by the Kendrick coalition. I think that I could spend 12 hours with a video camera on a Saturday at Wurstfest and find something that was offensive to somebody. But if I were to chase anyone around with a video camera for the whole day, at some point they might have some offensive words or gestures • for me to record, regardless of whether they were drinking beer. It seems that these video people are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Secondly, do not blame the police for the lack of enforcement. Even with all the revenue these tourists generate, the city does not appropriate nearly enough money to handle enforcement, provide adequate bathroom facilities, or adequate trash disposal. Imagine this is a business that grosses $4.6 million per year. To maintain and grow this revenue, we need to invest back into our company $200,000 and some management time. Who would not do that? All these problems ye very solvable without passing ordinances designed to drive the tourists out of New Braunfels. Thought, planning and reinvestment just like they teach in business school is all that is required to solve our problems. Lastly, what is good for the tourist business is good for the working people of this town. That’s not what you’ve been hearing from the fortunate few who retired here and would prefer to keep the river views private and free of tubers or any other recreation enthusiast. For the vast majority of the people who make their home and living here, the beer ban is an ordinance that benefits a few at the expense of many. Please join me in calling on the city council to put a stop to this ordinance now. (Mel Polk is a New Braunfels resident.) ;