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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 4, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas FORUM Our Opinion One small step for county voters County ludge Sherman Krause should be praised for moving the public comment portion of Commissioners’ Court to the beginning of the meeting, but the change goes only so far. Unfortunately, Comal County commissioners still meet at 8:15 a.m. — despite repeated pleas from taxpayers for evening meetings. Comal County commissioners' early morning Thursday meetings are convenient for commissioners and county employees, but annoyingly inconvenient for most working citizens. Most people who want or need to attend commissioners' court must take time off from their jobs. And until a couple weeks ago, not only did they have to take time off from work, if they wanted to comment on an issue, waiting hours was the routine because public comments were restricted to after the commissioners' had conducted the county's business. When County Judge Sherman Krause took office in January, things began to change immediately for the better. When a member of the public approached the court at one of Krause's first meetings at the dais and asked that the public comment period be mewed to the beginning of the meeting — the county judge said “yes." The change was swift and welcomed. And for all those watching, it seemed like an obvious step that should have been taken long ago. It's a breath of fresh air to also hear the Commissioners' Court look into ways to get more information out to the public through its website. Unlike the City of New Braunfels, which publishes its agendas and 200-page-plus packets online for the public to read, the county only posts its agendas. In 2010, the Herald-Zeitung struggled to get the county to release its packets to us before each meeting. But in 2011, the county is actively working to figure out a way to post the entire packet on its website for the public. The final change on the horizon — though no one is holding their breath — is the off chance that commissioners could consider holding meetings in the evenings when working taxpayers could actually attend. In January, when the commissioners voted on their meeting schedule for the year, they discussed the idea and agreed they would try to hold some evening meetings. But when the approved meeting calendar for 2011 came out, all the meetings were set for 8:15 a.m. Though there is still much to be done, Krause should be applauded for the changes that have been made to make the Comal County Commissioners’ Court more accessible to the public. It’s a promising beginning to a new chapter. Herald-Zeitung Serving New Braunfeh end CM County itttcf ISS2. New Braunfels Ztrtung was founded 1852, New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged ir, 1957 and printed in both German and fngltsh until 1958 SMHÍER. cnmnete t^arot zow Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Director Business Manager Advertising Director Doug Toney Autumn Phillip« Jeff Fowler Rosie Willingham Timothy Tergeoglou " United States MHflimMi. Government umilimi Letters to the Editor Today in History Today is Friday, Feb. 4,2011. On Feb. 4,1861, delegates from six Southern states that had recently seceded from the Union met in Montgomery, Ala., to form the Confederate States of America. In 1789, electors chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States. Rolling blackouts: Something doesn’t make sense I know my utility bill may increase for writing this, but 1 have a question. Why is it in the extremely hot South Texas summers, which usually last seven or eight months, can almost all people and businesses run A/C units that use 220 current, and we are all fine, except for very high utility bills? Now, we have two days of extremely cold weather (which we all knew was coming, including the utility company) and we have rolling blackouts! 1 know I am not a utility expert, and probably not real knowledgeable about the inside details of utilities, but it really seems to me, that with some proper planning, this could have been minimized or prevented all together. Just a question and opinion. Frank Forshage New Braunfels There’s another way to look at health care law We live in America. Our Congress is empowered to make laws and to enforce them. This is how our government works. Today, a new law is being criticized. “Judge rules Obama Health Care Law is unjust because it forces Americans to buy health insurance..." I heard these words on the radio this morning, and I wondered. I wondered how it was just to “force” people to pay taxes for things they don’t support — like wars and earmarks for expensive projects in other people’s areas in order to live free in America. 1 wondered how it was just to “force” people to pay property taxes in order to live on that property in America. I wondered how it was just to “force" people to pay sales taxes on things they buy in order to purchase items in America. And I wondered how it was just to “force" people to pay for the health care of strangers who are financially able but refuse to buy insurance for themselves in order to live healthy in America. Understand this: if they refuse to buy their own insurance, you and I will pay for their health care ... in America. How is forcing you and me to pay for health care of solvent citizens just? Jackie De Hon New Braunfels Thank you to New Braunfels for reaching out in a time of need The family of Devin McCartney would like to thank Zoeller Funeral Home, Jackie Larson at the Herald-Zeitung, the staff at Morning Star Elementary — who by with food, air mattresses and pillows and offered so much support — the neighbors and all the strangers who sent cards and food. Also, thank you to all Zach’s friends who reached out. The community’s kindness helped us get through it. What a nice community of people who didn’t even know us. Thank you for your care and support during this tragic time. The McCartney Family Montrose, Colo. PRESIDENT ■ Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fan: (202) 224-0776 Wet»: (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 2409 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: 615 E. Houston St. San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 GOVERNOR HOW TO CONTACT Texas Government Racial identity no longer a ‘black’ and ‘white’ issue Weary of partisan bickering? Here's an anodyne topic sure to stimulate lively conversation among your friends. Which boxes should Pres-ident Obama have checked to identify his race on the 2010 census form? As the world knows, Obama’s mother was a white woman from Kansas, his father an exchange student from Kenya. But there's no box labeled “African-American." So the president checked “black.” He could also have checked “white” but chose not to. This decision disappointed a unique student group at the University of Maryland, although most understood it. Recently profiled in The New York Times, the self-styled Multiracial and Biracial Student Association could with equal accuracy be called “Students Whose Mothers Were Asked Insulting Questions by Busybodies at the Supermarket." Questions like the one my sainted mother actually put to my wife's mother at our wedding: "What nationality are you people, anyway?" A real conversation-stopper, that GENELYONS Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President."E-mail Lyons at [email protected] com. identity, Vice president Michelle Lopez-Mullins, age 20, says, "It depends on the day, and it depends on the options." Lopez-Mullins, The Times reports, is a one-woman United Nations: "Chinese and Peruvian on one side, and white and American Indian on the other. " As a child, she says even friends constantly asked her hurtful questions, such as "What are you?" and "Where are you from?" She and her fellows in the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association play a "who's what?" guessing game among themselves to lessen the sting. Now when people ask what I am, I say, How much time do you have?'" Lopez-Mullins told a reporter. "Race will not automatically tell you my story." My view is that absent extreme circumstances, race never tells you anybody's story. But then I'm a guy who once got summoned into the registrar's office for identifying my race as "1,500 meter freestyle" on an official form. They explained that Civil Rights laws made an accurate response necessary. « «    ---- -.—v uwuiuH. i^opuiiac ucv^socuy. But I m getting ahead of myself, rhe    Anyway, in other contexts I might have idea behind the Maryland group    answered, "1 only look white. I’m seems to me entirely benign. Asked    Irish." Reading 18th- and 19th-cen- how she fills out forms seeking racial    tury accounts of life on the Emerald Isle had taught me that every single bigoted generalization made about black slaves in America, was also made by the English about Irish Catholic peasants. The native Irish, their overseers thought, were physically powerful, gifted at singing and dancing, but also dumb, lazy, insolent, sexually promiscuous and bad smelling. These shortcomings, as Swift made clear in his immortal satire "A Modest Proposal," in which he proposed fattening Irish children like piglets for slaughter, made their virtual enslavement inevitable. But that was long ago and far away. Anyway, back to President Obama, who has made no secret of his mixed inheritance. He's even written books about it. Indeed, it seems to me that along with his great intelligence, Obama's background helped make him a kind of intellectual and emotional counter-puncher - watchful, laconic, leery of zealotry, a bom mediator. Like a man behind a mask, Obama watches people watch him. Checking the "black" box on the census form, however, was the politically canny choice. Americans aren't far enough from the days when absurd categories like "mulatto," "quadroon," and "octoroon" had the power to determine people’s lives. Sadly, had he checked the "white" box too, many African-American voters would have resented it Probably more than white racists, if the truth were told. More’s the pity. Raised to think of myself as Irish before American — a legacy of 19th-centiuy immigrants greeted much the way illegal Mexicans are today, and who reacted by hunkering down in ethnic enclaves within walking distance of salt water—I was taught that there was a proper "Irish" opinion on every imaginable topic. To dissent was to risk being labeled inauthentic, a traitor to one's heritage. Over time, however, I realized that if there's one single overriding "Irish" trait, it's yelling at the dinner table. In fact, my kinfolk disagreed passionately about dam near everything. Meanwhile, back in the Old Country, people were still killing each other over 17th-century religious disputes. I once asked a (Catholic) correspondent in Belfast how the antagonists could tell each other apart, as they all resembled my cousins. It was the shoes, she said, and the accents. The shoes! Sorry, Grandad, it's a foreign country. Obviously, it's easier to declare independence from some traditions than others. People don't know these things about me unless I tell them. Even so, demands for racial and ethnic group-think are crippling no matter the source. All racial arguments are reactionary in effect — indications not of strength but weakness. It’s not only possible to honor one's heritage without denigrating anybody else's, in the world we live in, it's essential. In that sense, those ldds in Maryland with their Heinz-57 genes aren't in any way victims. They're far ahead of us. 11 i i i i 11111111 ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Doug Miller EXT E1.216 RO. Box 2910 Austin TX 78768-2910 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512) 463-5896 ■ Edmund Kuempel Rm. CAP 3N.06 Austin TX 78701 Telephone: (512) 463-0602 E-mail address: edmund.kuempel @ STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 925 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: 888-824-6984 E-mail address: jeff. wentworth NEW BRAUNFELS CITY COUNCIL 424 S. Castell Ave. P.O. Box 311747, New Braunfels, TX 781 SI-1747 (830) 221-4000 ■ Mayor Bruce Boyer [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4507 ■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4501 ■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4502 ■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4503 ■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4504 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueger [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4505 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Digges [email protected] Telephone: Extens i o n 4506 Comal County Commissioners Court 199 Main Plaza New Braunfels,Tx 78130 (830) 221-1100 ■ COUNTY JUDGE DANNY SCHEEL [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1105 ■ PCT. 1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLES0N [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1101 ■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER JAY MILLIKIN [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1102 ■ PCT. 3 COMMISSIONER GREG PARKER [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1103 ■ PCT. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1104 ;