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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 10, 2007, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A - Herald-Zeitung - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Herald-Zeitung FORUM Our Opinion Speaker race ends; lawmakers should get to real business Clock is ticking \ A divisive vote for the on legislative ! A Texas Hous,e of ReP" .* r , ; j- JLresentative s speaker session as jirst \ pos( was avoided Tuesday day ceremony \ when Rep Jim Pitts of fades and work \ Waxahachie stepped aside of making laws I in the two-way race with begins. \ two-term Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland. Craddick has been criticized by some as as too heavy-handed and undemocratic in his reign as speaker, touted as the most powerful job in Texas politics. The two Republicans had been locked in a seemingly close battle for the post, but Craddick seemed to draw ahead when his supporters defeated attempts to have the contest decided in a public vote of representatives. The third-term speaker should take notice of the challenge and not take the Legislature for granted in the months ahead. Not everyone supports his style, and Pitts came close to toppling his fellow Republican. The slicing of the Republican party's majority contributed in part to this leadership challenge; however, unlike their federal counterparts, Texas Republicans still have the upper hand in making laws. Craddick guided the legislature through its challenge two terms ago to survive a $10 billion shortfall. With money in hand, this session might be an easier run, but with school textbooks that to be bought, a Trans-Texas Corridor that has opponents fuming and jails overflowing, lawmakers have their work cut out for them. Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Wednesday, Jan. 10, the 10th day of 2007. There are 355 days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: On Jan. 10,1776, Thomas Paine published his influential pamphlet, "Common Sense." On this date: In 1861, Florida seceded from the Union. In 1870, John D. Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil. In 1920, the League of Nations was established as the Treaty of Versailles went into effect. In 1946, the first manmade contact with the moon was made as radar signals were bounced off the lunar surface. In 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations convened in London. In 1947, the musical fantasy "Finian's Rainbow," with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by E.Y. Har-burg, opened on Broadway. In 1957, Harold Macmillan became prime minister of Britain, following the resignation of Anthony Eden. In 1967, Massachusetts Republican Edward W. Brooke, the first black person elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, took his seat. In 1967, National Educational Television (forerunner of the Public Broadcasting Service) operated as a true network for the first time as it carried President Johnson's State of the Union address. In 1984, the United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than a century. Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. 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. Managing Editor Gerard MacCrossan Editor and Publisher DougToney Circulation Director Jeff Fowler Advertising/Marketing Director Chuck Evers Business Manager Valerie Shields News Editor Keri Kirby JA TU NUAf W TH 2 3 H 9 10 11 16 17 18 23 25 Ar- te. F 4- 19 HJq i T 7 ,v HE Z? FULLY 0M4imDTDANDi!WNS AF1VEWWEEK-HE'S JUST TOO CHEAP TO BUY A NEW GXLENDnR/" Physician says other ventures distracted from medical mission I have lived in New Braunfels since 1978 and have seen many changes in our medical community. I know many of you and have been involved in the surgical care of thousands of people in this area. I have always been a strong supporter of our hospital and have donated money to various fund drives, whether to the hospital or to McKenna Health Link ventures. I am not very satisfied with the recent decision of the McKenna Board and Mr. Brierty to offer the hospital for sale. In retrospect, I feel that there was too much restructuring of administrative positions at our hospital and too much overlap of hospital business with other Foundation activities. There is much to be said for simplicity. When health care organizations begin to expand into ventures like a children's museum and retirement community, administrative attention becomes divided. The health care field is complex, but we nonetheless provided excellent care and utilized our existing facilities effectively. It was frustrating for many of us to have to transfer patients for services we could not provide. I feel like the community would have given willingly to expand our services, and I also feel that a hospital bond offering would have been successful had these avenues been more carefully explored. Dr. Karbach wrote a letter recently and mentioned that who could be in better touch with the community than the people who live in it. 1 agree with this statement. We are now in a situation where an outside entity with no ties to our community may be dictating health care to our citizens. Whether such an organization will be willing to provide a sophisticated cardiac care facility, dialysis center, and other improvements remains to be seen. I cannot help but feel that our hospital board and administrator/CEO failed in what was their primary responsibility to the com- Letters to theEdjtor munity - to provide a medical facility that was capable of keeping up with the population growth and services required for this area. I feel like too much effort was focused on ventures that did not have much to do with the health care services we needed. Respectfully submitted, Michael L. Tilly, M.D., FA. C.S. New Braunfels Why hasn't Gruene Road park property not been developed? I must comment on the following statement: As the community continues to expand, additional parkland is needed to provide an escape for local residents from urban hustle and bustle. It's been more than 30 years since the last park was added to the New Braunfels parks system. Officials say Fischer Park will ease pressure on the existing parkland open to the public. In addition to buying the land, money must be set aside to develop it appropriately. The city of New Braunfels purchased park property during the late Robert Kindricks' term on the Council. The purchased land is at the corner of Torrey and Gruene Road. Of course, NO improvements have been made to this park. Irene Allen New Braunfels LETTERS POLICY � Letters must be 250 words or less. �The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. � Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo. � Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail letters to: Letters to Editor c/o Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830)606-3413 e-mail them to: [email protected] HOW TO CONTACT United States MOW Government PRESIDENT � George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE � Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C, 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) � SAN ANT0N|0 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 Raybum House Office Building Room 2184 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) ; SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: j 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 ! San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 | Fax: (210) 821-5947 I � Henry Cuellar i 1404 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-1640 Fax: (202) 225-1641 { Web address: SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1149 E. Commerce St., Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 HOW TO CONTACT^ Texas Government MDBMIipi GOVERNOR � Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE � Nathan Macias 1100 Congress Ave., Rm. E2.704 Austin TX 78701 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 E-mail address: [email protected] 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 � Judith Zaffirini RO. Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627 Pork-barrel spending should be the first target of Senate ethics reform W! hen one is "converted," people look for changes in behavior that testify to a transformation of heart and mind. The new House Democratic majority has announced its "conversion" on matters of institutional and individual ethics. Now comes the watching and waiting to measure the depth of their sincerity. Initial , signs leave room for cautious opti-m\\y^'; mism, or pessimism, depending IW \ 1 V on one's faith, in people who have created the problem to provide the solution. Liken it to how much trust one might place in an embezzler who is put in charge of bank security, or a serial liar who is asked to devise an honor code. House Democrats touted their ethics reform package, which, among other things, requires lawmakers to attach their names to the "earmarks," also known as "pork," they slip into spending and tax measures. In addition, members would be required to reveal if they have any personal interest in the measure. c THOMAS Cnl Tliomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services International. Direct all mail for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1500. Chicago, 1L 606)1, or leave an e-mail at Suspicion as to whether Democrats, who have long engaged in bipartisan pork barrel spending with Republicans, are serious about going on the wasteful spending wagon quickly were raised when Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, "You have to assume that everything we have done is subject to a revisit.... These tilings are not locked in cement." The earmark legislation is also tied to the Democrats' proposed "pay as you go" rule that would keep the House from adding to the deficit with new tax cuts or entitlement spending without offsetting them with spending cuts or tax increases. Republicans see that as stealth tax hikes. The New York Times reported that the earmark measure "could prevent the kind of corruption that led to several big scandals in recent years, including former Representative Randy Cunningham's sale of earmarks to government contractors for cash, gifts and campaign contributions." Not exactly. According to Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), which has published a "Guide to Earmark Reform," "Projects such as digitization of Department of Defense manuals, which helped land former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in jail, would not require sponsor identification because the funds were directed to DOD, not a specific company. In that situation, the company that eventually received funding for the project had bribed Cunningham." This is not the only potential loophole in flie ethics rules change. "The ultimate goal of earmark reform," writes CAGW, "should be the elimination of all pork-barrel projects from the federal budget." That is not likely to happen, so CAGW proposes the ultimate in transparency and accountability in order to reduce the number and overall cost of such projects. The new House rule defines a congressional earmark as a "provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or actminishaiive formula driven or competitive award process." Clear now? / CAGW says the House definition of an earmark falls short in two ways. In addition to the one mentioned above regarding the Pentagon and Randy Cunningham, "It omits projects earmarked for more than one state and those designated for federal agencies. For example, the fiscal 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes $6,435,000 for wood utilization research in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. The House rules would not require the identification of a sponsor of this earmark." Republicans will have little credibility advocating that these or tougher rules be placed in cement. They have been at the spending trough as much as Democrats. Neither will President Bush have much influence calling, as he has, for spending reforms, because he has refused to veto a single spending measure. The Senate this week considers revising its ethics rules. Don't look for the "king of pork," Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to take the anti-pork pledge. That would be like asking Britney Spears to "convert" to responsible behavior. Any real reform will be up to "we the people." A good beginning can be found in the CAGW guide. ;