New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 24, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4 New Braunfels He\a\&Zeitung Thursday, February 24, 1983OpinionsHerald-Zeitung
Dave Kramer, General Manager Robert Johnson, EditorJack AndersonFree-spending bureaucrat raises some eyebrows
For years, Americans were amused by the television antics of Sgt. Bilko, the scheming Army topkick created by comedian Phil Silvers.
Sgt. Bilko, meet Administrator Bibko of the Environmental Protection Agency. Tall, rugged-looking Peter Bibko bears no physical resemblance to the bald, over-weight Bilko, but he seems to have the sergeant’s knack for bending government regulations to his own advantage.
Bibko is the EPA regional boss for Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. But his behavior is more like that of a Byzantine satrap than of a mere bureaucrat.
Tipped off by a written complaint from a Bibko subordinate, the EPA’s inspector general investigated the official’s high living. The IG’s still-secret report, obtained by my assoicates Tony Capaccio and Lucette
I>agnado, confirms the allegations.
The report recommends “that Mr. Bibko be admonished for the use of poor judgment in not following EPA regulations and for inefficient use of government resources.” Under this sugar coating, the report lays out this bitter pill of particulars:
— Bibko advanced himself some sick leave to make a three-day weekend visit to Florida last August.
— During his first year in office, Bibko was driven 15,000 miles by his government chauffeur, who racked up 220 hours of overtime and $1,200 in per-diem expenses. This included 89 trips between home and office, an apparent violation of rules restricting such service to Cabinet secretaries and a handful of other top officials. Yet the IG report said “no evidence was obtained to show that Bibko used the government car or driver purely for personal reasons.”
— Bibko chose to be driven to
Washington from Philadelphia on 19 occasions instead of taking a train or plane. Evidently his choice was based largely on the superiority of his car’s reading lamps over those provided by cheaper public transportation. “The government vehicle is equipped with reading lamps.” the IG report notes. “and Bibko stated that he accomplishes much work while being transported, thus resulting in value to the agency in excess of the cost to the government.”
— The IG auditors documented 176 personal phone calls Bibko charged to his government credit card — $708.90 worth. Actually, Bibko admitted having made more than 300 such calls, including 25 from his home telephone. He told the auditors he intended to reimburse the government when he got the billings.
— Because his family was still living in Pittsburgh, Bibko wrote a memo stating that he would schedule
no trips there on Mondays and Fridays, to avoid “the appearance of personal advantage." Yet six of his 15 trips to Pittsburgh during that first .' ear were on either a Monday or a Friday.
— Bibko took a five-day trip to New Orleans last April at government expense to give a single speech to the environmental law section of the Louisiana Bar Association.
— Though he was entitled by regulations to only 106 hours of annual leave and an equal amount of sick leave, Bibko’s records showed that he actually used 117 hours of annual leave and 140 hours of sick leave as of last September. The auditors found no evidence that Bibko had tampered w ith his records or ordered them to be altered.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald P. Egan declined to prosecute Bibko due to lack of evidence of criminal intent.” Egan noted sympathetically
that “after years of working in the private sector, Bibko...may not have recognized the impropriety of his actions."
So the inspector general recommended the Bibko be admonished and ordered to make restitution for all the personal telephone calls.
Footnote: Through his public affairs office, Bibko declined to comment.
WINTER IN WONDERLAND: It s
no secret that Washington was a disaster area on Feb. ll, the day of the city’s third-biggest snowfall in living memory, and that the disaster was caused largely by the decision to call the capital’s thousands of federal employees in to work that day.
What is still a mystery, though, is what led Donald Devine, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Craig Fuller, an assistant to the president, to make the decisions against the earnest advice of the
Weather Service and District of Columbia transportation officials.
One guess is that the White House was still smarting over criticism of the decision a week earlier to give the city’s federal workers two hours off for a Washington Redskins parade.
At any rate, the poor federal employees fought their way in through the blizzard, only to be told — those of them who made it to the office — that they were being sent back home because of the snow. Gridlock developed as cars skidded into each other, ran out of gas or into snowbanks and were abandoned. Public transportation came to a virtual halt.
The cost of towing away abandoned cars in the district alone came to some $22,000. The cost of retrieving buses was even more. The total cost of the fiasco is incalculable. But at least no one can say the administration was coddling federal workers.
U.N. heading push for more regulations
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On lowering one's standards
By WALTER R MEARS
AP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON — While President Reagan prunes away at federal regulations he says have fettered the American economy, his ambassador to the United Nations is warning of a world regulatory push that has become “a veritable explosion.”
Jeane Kirkpatrick says the U.N. regulation drive is a struggle in which the West, and particularly the United States, seem destined to defeat.
Ifs not the kind of loss that would be binding — the rules are not like those imposed iomestically by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission and the rest. But it does have the makings of an international political problem.
“These U N. regulatory initiatives extend quite literally from the depths of the oceans to the heavens, from the I,aw of the Sea Convention to an agreement - and this is a formal title
an Agreement Covering the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,” Mrs. Kirkpatrick writes in a journal on regulation published by the American Enterprise Institute. “Nor are the more mundane economic activities in between neglected."
The United States balked at signing the Law of the Sea Convention, which requires that mining companies and other undersea ventures be licensed t . a new international authority, pay what would amount to royalties and be bound by its decisions on production and the like.
Not that Mrs. Kirkpatrick sees all international regulation as bad; she says some of it necessary to smooth operation of world markets and to *< ‘anomic development.
But she says the big push within the United Nations stems from a sort of
lass warfare, poor nations vs. rich, with regulation a weapon for the redistribution of wealth.
And, she says, “the consequence is hodge-podge of ideological, political, bureaucratic and national practices and theories — that frequently distorts the regulatory process in the U N. context beyond anything dreamed of in the national regulatory context.”
As a result, she says, proposed agreements that are supposed to benefit all nations “often turn out to be, above all, instruments for global redistribution of wealth and a new global paternalism.”
She doesn’t suggest a way out. She suggests only that as consumers have a valid need for protection against unscrupulous corporations, so “all of us need protection against the arrogance of the internaional ‘new class.’”
Reagan emphasizing foreign policy
By JAMES GERSTENZANG Associated Press
Reagan is in the midst of a series of steps that are turning a spotlight on his foreign policy.
During his first two years in office, Reagan’s focus was clearly on the economy, while he also made quick foreign trips and occasional speeches on arms control. Central America, and the U.S. relationship with the European allies.
In recent weeks, there has been a surge in public diplomatic activity, marked by foreign travel by Reagan’s advisers and speeches by the president.
Reagan devoted one of the longest speeches of his presidency, with the exception of his State of the Union addresses, to foreign policy Tuesday. And he is likely to turn to the same subject next week when he addresses the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
Foreign policy? “Some people have said we don’t have one,” the president said, as he took the delegates to the American legion annual conference on a round-the-world tour of trouble spots.
The president focused on the travels of his aides, arms control, ties with China Taiwan and Central America and his promise to “not allow Marxist terrorism and subversion to prevail” there.
Then, he came to the Middle East.
“This administration is prepared to take all necessary measures to guarantee the security of Israel’s northern borders in the aftermath of the complete withdrawal of the Israeli army,” the president said.
In that, Reagan guaranteed something else: that his spokesmen would have a busy day.
The address that was intended to clear up questions but raised questions instead. The bottom line was this: Reagan was offering a guarantee of secure northern borders, but that did not mean U.S. troops were being offered.
As I.arry Speakes, the chief deputy White House press secretary, j ut it, “the president was underscoring the continued U.S. concern for Israeli security in the context of the ways to achieve the withdrawal of foreign forces” from Lebanon.
Does that mean the United States is prepared to intervene militarily? “I wouldn’t say that,” said Lyndon Altin, another deputy press secretary.
“The use of troops is an option and would not be used unless there was a specific request” from Israel, Speakes said. He said it would also have to be decided that U.S. troops were an essential element in an overall agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization troops from lebanon.
Yesterday, for the first time, I noticed I’ve been using two tissues or paper handkerchiefs instead of one. I think I’ve been using two more often than one for some time but I never thought about it until yesterday. Its a sign of the times.
Will we ever reverse the present trend in which everything gets smaller, of less quality and more expensive? Is there a company in America that has improved its product and given us more for our money this year than it did last year? There are some, of course, but they’re far outnumbered by the ones giving us less for more.
Each of us has his or her own scale on which the past economy is measured against the present. We have our own personal equivalents of the government’s gross national product and economic indicators. It may be the price of a cup of coffee, a bus ride or a pair of stockings. I hate to tell you but 35 cents for a movie is one of my standards. That’s what we used to pay when we went to a cowboys and Indians double feature at the Madison when I was a kid.
I can understand having to raise the price of a product when the cost of labor and materials goes up, but how do they explain the deterioration in the quality of the product? That shouldn’t have anything to do with inflation. And why is it that when the economy is good and everyone’s working, prices go up, but when the economy’s bad and people are out of work, prices still go up?
When a well-known watch company
first started making something other than the old-fashioned spring watch, I bought one. They had obviously put a lot of research and technique into it. It was the first watch I ever had that operated on a tiny battery and it was just great. It kept near-perfect time and the quality of the workmanship was first-rate. I retired my trusty old Hamilton railroad watch with a few tears and gave way to progress. The new watch gave me IO years of good service before I finally left it in a loc ker by mistake and lost it.
From loyalty to the company and because I wanted another good watch, I went back to the jeweler. Well, they don’t make that model anymore. The jeweler conceded their new equivalent isn’t as good.
You can’t tell me razor blades last as long as they did IO or 20 years ago. How in the world does a company make razor blades that aren’t as good? That must take real technical know-how.
The gasoline we buy for our cars isn’t as powerful as it used to be. Forget about the increase in price. Maybe they had to raise the price from the ridiculously low 33 cents a gallon we were paying not so long ago, but did they also have to lower the octane rating so that one gallon of gas won’t push a car as far? A lot of gas now is sold at 87 octane and the highest you can buy is 93. An octane rating in the 90s used to be regular gas and high test could be 99 octane.
For the past IO years I’ve had a popular brand-name suitcase. It’s been the best suitcase I ever owned,
even though, for a while, it looked like everyone else’s suitcase. It’s been all over the world and back, so last month I decided to retire it. I was going to stay at an expensive hotel and I didn’t want to embarrass the bellboy who would have had to carry my battered bag to the room, so I went to a luggage store to buy another like it. Three guesses. They don’t make it any longer. The one they do make to replace it is shoddy by
Every time a big company takes over a smaller one in this country in order to promise its stockholders a bigger return on their investment, tile product suffers. They raise the price and make it cheaper. I’m not a Communist, I’m a stockholder, but I’d settle for a little more quality as a consumer and a smaller dividend as an investor.
Sen Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Russell Building Washington. D C 20610
Gov Mark White Governor s Ottice Room 200 State Capitol Austin Texas 78701
Sen John Tower United States Senate Room 142 Russell Building Washington. D C 20610
Rep Edmund Kuernpel Texas House ot Representatives PO Box 2910 Austin Texas 78769
Rep Tom I nettler U S House of Representatives 1213 longworth House Oftice Building Washington. D C 20616
Sen John Traeger Texas Senate Capitol Station Austin. Texas 78711