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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 6, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas 4 (I Herald-Zeitung Q Thursday, February 6, 1997 Opinion ■ To talk with Managing Editor Micah Boyd about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, Ext 220. Herald-Zeitung Opinion Ontino contact B To submit letters and guest columns electron fealty by way of online services or Internet, or to simply contact staff members, the Herald-Zeitung's address is QUOTABLE “The freedom of speech and the freedom of the press have not been granted to the people in order that they may say the things which please, but (that they have) the right to say the things which displease.” Samuel Gompers labor leader, 1908 EDIT O Ft I A L Good intention, bad idea Relocating animal species hasn’t always been successful Grass Carp to kill off the hydrilla — it sound like a good idea, but is it? Mankind has a pretty bad record of relocating animal species into new ecosystems. Whether done on purpose or accidentally, the results of these transplants have been unpredictable. In the 19th century, some misguided individuals thought it would be a clever idea to introduce all of the bird species that were mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America. Now the starling has become a serious threat to less aggressive cavity nesters like woodpeckers. When rabbits were introduced to Australia as game animals, they lived up to the cliche, and multiplied. They competed with the livestock that were the backbone of the ccononty, and had a devastating impact. Feral hogs arc now threatening what little rain forest is left in Hawaii. I have spoken with more than one farmer who voices regret that they introduced grass carp into their stock tanks. The fish soon cat away the vegetation that is important protection for smaller fish. When the baitfish go, the predators that depend on them are not far behind. These carp eat away at the bottom of the food chain. There is now evidence that the fish may be making their way down stream toward the coast. How will they affect that fragile ecosystem? It seems reasonable that the introduction of a wildlife species to a new environment should be last on our list of solutions to such problems as hydrilla, not because we necessary know it is bad for the environment, but because of the uncertainties. It is risky, and the stakes are too high. (Todays editorial was written by Herald-Zeitung News Editor Steve Brigman). Write us Th** New Braunfels Herakl-Zeitung welcomes letters an any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should Im kept to 200 words. We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels Herald-Zsitung lawing the writer's signature. Also, an address and a telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included. Please cite the page number and date of any article that is mentioned. Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mail letters to: letters to the Editor do the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, Texas 78131-1328 Fax: (210) 625-1224 New Braunfels Herald -Zeitung Editor and Publisher, Ext 301........................................Doug Toney Managing Editor. Ext. 220 .............................................Micah Boyd Director of Advertising, Ext 308........................Debbie    Banta-Scott Retail Advertising Manager Ext 209............................Jack    Osteen Classified Advertising Manager, Ext 214...............Karen    Reinmger Business Manager, Ext 202...............................   Mary    Lee Hall Circulation Director, Ext. 228...................................Carol    Ann Avery Pressroom Foreman, Ext 205  .................................. Billy    Parnell Published un Sunday mornings and weekday mornings Tuesday through I mlay by the Airn Braunfels Herald /mk (LISPS 377-8HO) 707 I anda Si., or P.O. Drawer ill 328, New Iiiuun(eh, Comal County, Tx. 78131 -1328. Periodical postage paid by the New Braunfels Herald-/einwx in New Untun felt, Texas. Carrier delivered in ( until and Guadalupe counties: three months, $20 50; six months, $37; une year, $66. Senior Citizen Discounts by earner delivery only: six months, $33; one year, $62. Mail delivery outside Comal County in Texas: three months, $30.30; six months. $55; one year, $103.50. Mail outside Texas: six months, $78; one year, SI 13.25. Subscribers who have not received a newspaper by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Fridsy or by 7:30 a rn. on Sunday may call (2 IO) 625-9144 or by 7 p.m. weekdays or by ll am on Sunday Piktmas na: Send address changes to the New Braunfels HeraldYet run#, P.O. Drawer 311328, New Braunfels, Tx. 78131 -1328.Time to change home equity statutes Imagine salting away a hefty chunk of your paycheck into a savings account every month, but being prohibited by the government from making withdrawals for major purchases such as financing your child's college education, going back to school or creating I small business. That’s exactly the situation many Texas homeowners face with an estimated $123 billion in equity assets tied up in their homes and out of reach due to a state homestead law that restricts second mortgages. I believe this constitutional limit on home equity loans should be modified because it restricts statewide economic development, hinders small business expansions and costs. Texans consume more when they borrow money. Under current law, liens cannot be placed on homesteads except to pay for the house, make home improvements or settle taxes due. This restriction’s roots go all the way back to the early 1800s when many early settlers were fleeing creditors and coming to Texas during a national economic depression to make a new start. Starting with a sweeping homestead exemption law recommended by Rick Stephen F. Austin to protect colonists’ land grants, the idea has continued to be legislated and enforced up until today. As we enter a new century in agriculture, opposition to changing the law remains strong among some farmers and ranchers, who fear that they will be pressured to use their homes, as they now use their land, as collateral for production loans. However with specific provisions to address this concern and others, I believe changing the exemption could open a new source of low-cost loans to Texas consumers and at the same time help boost the state’s economy. Like many working Texans, a large portion of my paycheck goes toward house payments. So it should be my personal choice and responsibility if I want to borrow against equity that I have built up in my home over the years. After all, it’s the fruit of my own labor. Borrowing against your hard-earned equity is a basic private property right in every state except Texas. If I am reliable enough to put a down payment on a home, maintain it in good shape and pay taxes and insurance, then I also should be responsible enough to know when I can borrow on its equity and repay a loan. A home equity borrowing program should be tailored to meet the needs of Texas. Safeguards should be included in any changes made to the law so that homeowners are not unduly pressured to borrow on their home equity. Ultimately, changing the homestead law would give many Texans access to lower cost loans. Unlike other loans, interest on home equity borrowing is tax deductible from federal income taxes and, on average, the interest rates are lower than on other types of loans, lf home equity borrowing were allowed, Texas consumers and businesses could save an estimated $382 million annually in interest costs and tax savings, according to an April report by the Texas Comptroller’s office. For example, annual savings on a four year loan could be $230 on a $30,000 educational loan; $383 a year on an auto loan and more than $ 1,600 a year over financing on credit card debts. Texas homeowners should be granted access to their home equity savings. The current ban is designed more to protect us from ourselves than to protect us from bankers. lf you as a homeowner fed that taking out a second mortgage on your home is too risky, you should simply not borrow against your equity. While consumer protection provisions should be placed in the law, borrowing against your home’s equity should be a choice that is up to each individual homeowner. Let’s open up those thousands of closed savings accounts across Texas. Let’s help boost our state's economy. Let’s give Texans access to money they need to finance dreams like earning an advanced degree, starting a small business or giving their children the best college education that money can buy. (Rick Perry is the Texas commissioner of agriculture.) Self-improvement a never-ending commitment To advance your career requires constant self-improvement. Knowledge paves the road to nchcs. Knowledge can be gained through experience, education and reading. Those people who have knowledge and continually improve themselves advance further than their peers. For example, a highly educated, articulate and attractive 38-year-old woman came to sec me because she was depressed and frustrated. Her husband had a successful career and her two teen-agers were gradually and appropriately pulling away from her, as they had their own normal teen-age lives to lead — school, sports, cheer leading, etc. My patient felt neglected and unimportant. “Is this all there is to life,” she asked. “Junior League and car pooling?” We made a career goal for her. to get a job. She decided she wanted to work for the local university but pickings were slim and the only thing she could land was a transcriptional job for the OB/GYN department at the medical school. She took the job to get expen-cnce and to learn about the inner work- Today in History John Walker ings of the university. After a while she felt confident that her talents lay in something different. And so she altered her goal: to get a job in the Development Office. Writing that goal down and reading it every day gave her the inspiration to spread the word that she was seeking a job in the Development Office. Several months later she got a call — there was a development job available. as secretary to the director of Special Events. She took the job and changed her goal: become director of Special Events. She worked hard at learning everything about Special Events. She was extremely helpful and cooperative with her boss. She began dressing better — like the director of Special Events. She set out to become indispensable. She decided to make herself unique. She began writing a memo a day on ways to improve things at the Development Office. Several months later, when the director of Special Events was promoted — to the director of Alumni Affairs, my patient became the new director of Special Events. She cultivated a steady devotion to self-improvement to develop a satisfying career. Here are some suggestions for self-improvement goals: I Read one book a month — you’ll learn more and be more effective in whatever you do. Here's a startling statistic — only 3 percent of adults have a library card. Start reading and you'll be in the top 3 percent, and you’ll have an enormous edge because most people read less than one book a year. 2. Listen to audio cassette learning tapes when you’re driving in a car. lf you drive 12,000 miles a year you spend approximately SOO hours a year in your automobile. This travel translates into the equivalent of a university semester. Spalding SOO hours a year listening to audio cassette programs in your car can provide the critical edge that can propel you toward success. 3. Join Toastmasters International to learn to speak more fluently, lf you can put your thoughts into wolds you'll no doubt advance your career. Joining Toastmasters can help you learn to set your words on fire — and fire others to action. 4. Build your vocabulary. Vocabulary testing done for innumerable business concerns indicates that your climb up the corporate ladder depends on the power of your vocabulary. The more words you know, understand and can use, the higher you'll be in the pay scale. The list of self-improvement goals can go on forever. Would you like to play a musical instrument? Learn a foreign language? Keep your list simple and achievable. No more than two or three self-improvement goals at a time. Keep a duly log of your progress. Have fun seeing yourself learning something new and accomplishing something worthwhile. (John Ingram Walker, M.D.. writes a weekly column for the Herald- The Associated Press Today is Thursday, Feb. 6, the 37th day of 1997. There are 328 days left in the year. Today's Highlight In History: On Feb. 6, 189$, baseball legend Babe Ruth was bom in Baltimore. On this date: In 1796, America's third vice president, Aaron Burr, was bom in Newark, NJ. In 1778, the United States won official recognition from France as the two nations signed a pair of treaties in Paris. In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1899, a peace treaty between the United States and Spain was ratified by the U.S. Senate. In 1933, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution — the “lame duck” amendment which moved the start of presidential, vice presidential and congressional terms from March to January — was declared in effect. In 1943, a Loa Angeles jury acquitted actor Errol Flynn of three counts of statutory rape. In 1952, Britain's King George VI died, he was succeeded by hit daughter, Elizabeth ll In 1999, the United States successfully test-fired for the first time a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile from Oft Canaveral. In 1978, Muriel Humphrey took the oath of office as a United States senator from Minnesota, filling the seat of her late husband, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Ten yean ago: Reporter Gerald Scib of The Wall Street Journal was released after being detained six days in Tehran. He'd been accused of being a spy for Israel. Iran said the detention was a result of misunderstandings. Five years ago: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton denied he’d tried to avoid the Vietnam draft, saying he gave up a draft deferment in the fall of 1969 because he "didn’t think it was right” to keep it. President Bush unveiled a heahh-care plan for most Americans. Sixteen people were killed when a C-130 military transport plane crashed in Evansville, Ind. One year ago: A Turkish-owned Boeing 757 jetliner crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from the Dominican Republic, killing 189 people, mostly German tourists. Patrick Buchanan won the Louisiana Republican caucus, upsetting Phil Gramm. Today's Birthdays: Former President Ronald Reagan is 86. Actress Zia Zsa Gabor is 80. Actor Patrick MacNee is 75. Actor Rip Tom it 66. Actor Mike Farrell is 58. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 57. Singer Fabian Forte it 54. Actress Gayle Hunmcutt is 54. Actor Michael Tucker is 53. Singer Natalie Cole is 47. Actor-director Robert Townsend is 40. Actress Megan Gallagher is 37. Rock singer Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) is 35. Country singer Richie McDonald (Lonestar) is 35. Singer Rick Astley is 31. Thought for Today: ’’Work is much more fun than fun ” — Sir Noel Coward, British actor, dramatist and songwriter (1899-1973). ;