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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 6, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — HERALD-ZEITUNG — Saturday, January 6, 2001Opinions Forum Letters New tyjfiuNFELS 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 Editorial Redistricting will mean big changes for Comal County If anyone is expecting a lot of legislation to wend its way through the Capitol this session, think again. Lawmakers have got their sights set on the awesome task of redistricting, and this year’s endeavor poses some considerable changes for Comal County. First of all, Comal County likely will no longer be part of Rep. Edmund Kuempel’s district. Kuempel has represented Comal and Guadalupe counties since 1982, and because he lives in Seguin, he will have to let Comal County go. “Just looking at the handwriting on the wall, it’s going to happen,” he said as early as November. Kuempel predicted Comal County would be combined with one of the counties the northwest such as Kendall or Blanco counties. Others say we could wind up as part of a northside San Antonio district. Obviously, that would not serve Comal County’s interests. Joining forces with Kendall County would give us some leverage in terms of facing similar problems: limited water, growing population at the edge of a metropolitan city and building barriers to keep that city from encroaching in our territory. On the other hand, being put in a district with Blanco County would give Comal County a greater chance of electing one of its own to the legislature. Either^ thpsejtwo options would be much more favorable to being folded into a district represented by someone from San Antonio. At the national level, Texas will pick up two new congressional seats, and we urge lawmakers to put the people’s interests first. When carving up the state’s districts, they should draw one along the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio. We all are facing similar needs and problems, and we need a representative to protect our interests in Washington, D.C. Big changes are in store for Comal County in terms of who will represent us in Washington and Austin. We must keep a close eye on the process to make sure our interests are served. Today in History By the Associated Press Today is Saturday, Jan. 6, the sixth day of 2001. There are 359 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 6, 1412, according to tradition, Joan of Arc was bom in Domremy. On this date: In 1540, England’s King Henry VHI married his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. (The marriage lasted about six months.) In 1759, George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis were married. In 1838, Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated his telegraph, in Morristown, N.J. In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state. In 1919, the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, died in Oyster Bay, N.Y. at age 60. In 1941, President Roosevelt delivered his “Four Freedoms” speech outlining four goals: freedom of speech and expression; the freedom of people to worship God in their own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. Letters To The Editor We need to widen Walnut Avenue now Dear Editor: I must commend the city council, and Mr. Lee Rodriguez in particular, who at a recent meeting brought up the subject of Walnut Avenue, that is — widening it, designating no parking areas and of the desperate need of doing this quickly. The money now available through the recent vote for street improvement could certainly not be used in a better way than to carry out this project as Walnut Avenue continues to be the main artery into the city and across the city. I speak of experience because I have been a home owner in that area for 50 years and have watched the many changes occurring during this time. Actually this should have been done 20 years ago, but it is never too late to make a change of this kind for everyone concerned, both citizen and visitor. Let us use our heads instead of our hearts and proceed with the project of widening Walnut Avenue. Thank you, and I wish to encourage the council to keep up their good work. You are doing a great job of many thankless tasks. Florence K. Riedel New Braunfels Residents unite to fight proposed trash policy Dear Editor: Well, our city council and mayor think that most of our people here have just too much money. Why can’t we get a decrease in our electric bill? New Braunfels can’t be a city of industry and a tourist city at the same time — one thing or the other, please. Schlitterbahn never should have been built in town; three miles out would have been much better. What happened to our mall? We lost that because it was built in such a way that it could not expand. Sports and business attractions should be built outside town and can then be taken in by the city. Now we come to the latest, and that is our trash. Well, I have a wonderful suggestion, and that is very simple. Why don’t we citizens all unite. Not everybody has three cans of trash out every time our trash gets collected. Why don’t we allow the people with more trash in our street just to put one or two extra bags, or cans, beside ours. That is legal and much cheaper. I hope that all you good people of our city follow my suggestion. Mrs. L. Mourn New Braunfels Whose vote really counts here, anyway? Dear Editor: A letter to the editor from a person who has a radical idea. In a democracy, your vote ought to count. What really matters are not the contenders for the Presidency but the citizens who cast their votes in the innocent belief that their ballots would be counted. Thousands of its citizens were disenfranchised. For example, some 3,000 Jewish voters in Palm Beach “voted” for Pat Buchanan. The way those ballots were constructed, even Buchanan said the count was wrong. These people meant to vote for Gore, but the punch-card ballot was so confusing that those who punched the hole next to Gore’s name actually voted for Buchanan. In Daytona Beach, nearly 10,000 presidential votes there inexplicably ended up in the column of the candidate of the Socialist Workers Party. That would be like New Braunfels having thousands of votes for the Socialist Workers Party. Bush trusts the people, he says, but he doesn’t trust them to recount questionable ballots. One of the most incomprehensible statements was made by Bush who claimed that machines don’t make mistakes like humans do. Wouldn’t it be nice, never having to deal with one’s own phone and credit card bills? I gather he never has to do that. For those who say they should have recounted the counties in the entire State of Florida but that Gore only wanted a few counties counted, it might help for them to recall that when Gore suggested that the counties of all of Florida be counted, Bush said no. How disingenuous it was then of the Bush Camp to say Gore only wanted to count a few counties. Why didn’t Bush want all the counties of Florida counted? Was it because he knew he would lose the State of Florida? All it took were five votes to win the election — it only took the five votes of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those were the votes that really counted. So whose vote does count? I gather it’s a radical idea that says in the democracy, the people’s vote should count. Robert Bergthold New Braunfels Got Something To Say? The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung encourages letters on any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to 250 words. We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung bearing the writer’s signature. Also, an address and a tele phone number, which are not for publication, must be included for confirmation purposes. Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor clo the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax: (830) 606-3413 e-mail: [email protected] seek moratorium on executions Recent questions about the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty have led to a growing consensus across the nation that our criminal justice system might be punishing the wrong people. After years of imprisonment, a troubling number of inmates have been exonerated by evidence that brings the true criminal to justice and highlights the glaring inadequacies of the American criminal justice system. Wrongful convictions, questions about the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants, and reports of racial and ethnic bias in sentencing led several of my colleagues in Congress to join me in co-sponsoring legislation which would impose a moratorium on state and federal executions. Despite our efforts, the legislation languished in the 106th Congress, and under a cloud of doubt, the executions continue. And evidence continues to mount. ACIRO D.Rodriguez report by the Justice Department found that racial bias and a less than vigorous defense were among other factors responsible for an disproportionate number of death sentences given to minorities. After the Justice Department study, the Texas State Bar’s Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters highlighted the gaping disparities in the criminal justice systems which vary dramatically from county to county. Deficiencies in the appointment process, inadequate compensation levels, and a lack of access to appropriate resources, such as DNA testing, varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A subsequent report issued by the Texas Defender Service, an organization that provides free legal aid to condemned inmates, echoes similar fundamental flaws in the death row conveyor belt. With so many indicators, it is painfully apparent that we must methodically review the capital punishment system — in Washington, in Austin, and around the country. Advances in technology, especially in DNA sampling, forensics, and ballistics have already proven the innocence of a startling number of death row inmates. And many states have already recognized their system’s flaws. A moratorium on the death penalty would suspend executions until we have the opportunity to implement the necessary precautions to ensure that our criminal justice system does not execute the wrong people. Meanwhile, after a record breaking year which witnessed 40 executions, Texas quietly prepares for its first execution of the new year. In death row’s shadow, the state legislature readies for its upcoming session and several legislators, including State Senators Rodney Ellis and Eddie Lucio and State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, have drafted legislation designed to more fairly dole out punishment where punishment is due. State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon has sponsored sensible legislation that would provide an alternative to jurors, the authority to sentence a defendant to life without parole. Although 42 other states have implemented a life without parole option, the Texas judicial system provides jurors with only two options: to sentence the defendant to death or issue a life sentence which, in Texas, includes the option of parole. Faced with this grim decision, jurists are reluctant to choose an alternative which might release a convicted murderer into society. Although I support the death penalty, the moratorium I proposed in the last session of Congress would give the appropriate state and federal agencies an opportunity to set standards for a more reliable system. I applaud State Rep. McClendon, Senators Ellis and Lucio and their colleagues for fighting for justice in Texas. As both the Texas State Legislature and United States Congress gear up for their respective legislative sessions, we must make every effort to ensure that our criminal justice system places justice first. (Ciro D. Rodriguez represents District 28 in the US. House of Representatives.) ;