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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 12, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A— Herald-Zeiti jng — Sunday, January 12, 2003Forum Contact Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland 625-9144, ext. 220 Nkw Braunfels 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 Gary E. Maitland, Managing Editor (830) 625-9144 Editorial Be an active part of legislative process The 78th Texas Legislature convenes Tuesday and many political observers believe this biannual session will be one of the most difficult since the end of World War II. For the first time since Reconstruction, both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives will have a Republican majority. Hopefully, that will help build consensus as lawmakers face the difficult task of overcoming a projected $5 billion to $12 billion budget shortfall. ; Legislators have 140 days to take care of the State’s business. That leaves precious little time for partisan politics, especially in a climate where money is short and public demands are increasing. Besides balancing the budget, you’ll hear a lot about public school financing, property taxes, water rights and insurance. We encourage all residents in Comal and Guadalupe counties to stay abreast of what’s happening in the Legislature this session. The better informed you are about the issues, the better able you are to address concerns with your state senator or representative. Each day we will publish the addresses and contact numbers for your state lawmakers. Use that information during the session to make calls to your lawmakers, or send them faxes. This is especially important before votes on major issues. Good government stewardship doesn’t end on voting night. Be an active part of the legislative process this session.Today In History- By The Associated Press Today is Sunday, Jan. 12, die 12th day of 2003; There are 353 days left in the year. Today’s history highlight: On Jan. 12, 1773, the first public museum in America was established, in Charleston, S. C. On this date: In 1519, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I died. In 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.Policy Letters To The Editor In 1932, Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1942, President Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board. In 1945, during World War II, Soviet forces began a huge offensive against the Germans in Eastern Europe. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against law-school applicants because of race. In 1964, leftist rebels in Zanzibar began their successful revolt against the government. Demand reform from legislators Not too long ago a woman won a huge lawsuit judgment against a business because she fell and broke her ankle in their establishment. Was this just? Further examination of the facts reveals the reason she fell is she tripped over a child. The child she tripped over was her own uncontrolled, undisciplined child. Why, then, was the business bable? Because greedy trial lawyers loot our economy at every opportunity for their own personal gain. Every product you buy has an inflated price because of the greedy lawyer tax created by bogus lawsuits. Home insurance rates have skyrocketed. One hundred counties in this state have no OB/GYN doctors. Auto insurance chmbs. Many counties have no neurosurgical services. This is because of greedy trial lawyers. Lawyers coined the phrase “mold is gold” in home insurance. That should tell ab of usWrite ’Em U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas Room 284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio Room 2231 Rayburn House Office Building something. Now we have a chance to fix this problem. The Democrat Party — which is in the pocket of sleazy trial lawyers — no longer controls our Legislature. Write your legislator. Demand reform. I suggest the following reforms: ■ End legabzed jury tampering by lawyers. Lawyers admit their case is won or lost in jury selection. Their selection is not based on what is fair or right, but rather only on winning their case. In the federal system impartial judges select the jury — not lawyers who are only interested in winning their case at the expense of justice. We should do the same. ■ Put a reasonable cap on jury awards. This is not a lottery. Huge irrational jury awards affect the price and even availabihty of every product or service you buy. Lawyers have even degraded your abibty to be immunize against deadly diseases. ■ Lawyers and plaintiffs who file bogus lawsuits should be prosecuted for a felony just like any other criminal who attempts to commit fraud. ■ Lawyers and plaintiffs who lose should be required to pay all legal fees of the defendant. The plaintiff has no fees. That is wrong. ■ Enact strict requirements for filing a suit. There should be a real wrong, not an imagined one in an attempt to win money. ■ Above all, never vote for a lawyer for a state or federal legislative position for the same reason we don’t want child molesters in charge of day care centers. The proba-bihty of legislative misconduct and conflict of interest is entirely too great. In Texas, a convicted rapist was able to sue his victim for the indignity of him having to go to jail for his crime. The only reason that happened is we have too many sleazy lawyers in the Legislature that pass laws that allow those asinine lawsuits to occur. This must stop. Write your legislator. Donald Baker Lampasas Washington, D.C. 20515 (202) 225-4236 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 (210) 821-5024 Governor Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711 (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 Texas State Representative Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin PO. Box 911 Seguin 78155 (830) 379-8732 Fax: (830) 463-5896 Texas State Senators Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 The Herald-Zeitung encourages the submission of letters. Letters must be 250 words or fewer, and the Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. An address and telephone number, which are not for pubbcation, must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor c/othe Herald-Zeitung PO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax: (830) 606-3413 e-mail: [email protected] ’Em City Council Mayor Adam Cork 608-2100 city hall 609-1958 home mayor @ District 1 Sonia Munoz-Gill 608-2100 District 2 Larry Alexander 609-1242 home District 3 Debbie Flume 629-2496 home/work District 4 Robert Kendrick 643-1177 home (281) 686-7480 work District 5 Lee Rodriguez 629-4901 work District 6 Ken Valentine 625-7384 home tuberkdv @ aol .com Comal County Judge Danny Scheel 150 N. Seguin Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130 620-5501 Fax: 608-2026 Precinct 1 Commissioner Jack Dawson 620-5504 (830) 899-2948 home Precinct 2 Commissioner Jay Minikin 620-5509 (210) 651-9672 home Precinct 3 Commissioner Cristina Zamora 620-5503 606-9208 home Precinct 4 Commissioner Jan Kennady 620-5508 (830) 625-6739 homeKeep an eye on municipal league lobby work The Texas Legislature is gearing up and the onslaught of thousands of bills is under way. The 78th Session begins this week. Two years ago, more than 5,700 bills or resolutions were filed. More than 1,500 of these laws and resolutions were passed. The corridors and rooms are already transforming into dens of deal-making. Lobbyists invade by the hundreds, hired by special interests for two general purposes: Stop any legislation that hurts their interests, and promote and push legislation that can help their interests. Road builders, restaurants, teachers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, even television and radio stations and newspapers, district attorneys, lawyers and convenience store owners — the list goes on and on. Influence and connections are the names of the game. It’s how the system, for better or worse, operates. One such group that should be of particular interest to taxpayers is the Texas Municipal League. DOUG TONEY The TML is an organization with offices in Austin that lobbies on behalf of municipal bureaucracies and the people who are appointed and elected to run them. The TML, in ‘The Handbook of Texas,” is purported to represent 98 percent of the urban population of the Texas and more than 1,000 Texas cities and towns. The TML is very influential in the legislature. City and county governments, such as Comal County government and the city of New Braunfels, take some of the taxpayers’ dollars they collect and give it to TML to lobby at the Legislature. And that’s why this group should be of interest to you as a taxpayer. Here are some examples how the money taxed from your pocket is used. These legislative “initiatives” were taken from the TML’s internet site The TML plans to support legislation that will: ■ Increase from 8 to IO percent the amount local government could raise your property taxes without triggering a rollback vote. ■ Authorize public school impact fees (This sounds like another tax.) ■ Remove from the general law city annexation statute that portion that allows for annexed residents to petition to be disannexed. ■ Prevent citizens from having access to audit working papers of auditors of political subdivisions. (Maybe they can get some unemployed former Enron employees to help.) ■ Require fire sprinklers for all new homes. (So much for affordable housing.) ■ Exempt the purchase of art and interior decorations from the competitive bidding process. ■ Allow government bodies to receive and question sales tax information behind closed doors, excluding public participation and scrutiny. Now, here’s a partial list of initiatives that TML will use your tax dollars to stop. The TML is: ■ Against any effort to enact any substantial property tax exemption ■ Against any effort to enact a ceiling on the amount of property taxes that could be assessed against the elderly. ■ Against any effort to raise the standard 20-percent homestead exemption. ■ Against any effort to reduce the IO percent annual cap on appraisal increases. ■ Against any effort to weaken a city’s power to annex. ■ Against any effort that would require the value of natural resources to be included in calculating the value of private property that the government is condemning for public use. ■ Against any effort to allow residents of an extra jurisdictional territory the right to vote on any ordinance that would affect them. Allowing local governments to divert local tax dollars to a lobby ing organization that promises to fight for more taxes and oppose tax breaks just is not right. If you would like to review TML’s legislative agenda, here’s the web site: www.tml.orgAegis_program.htm The TML organization performs many appropriate and helpful services to local governmental agencies and the benefits to taxpayers through these programs are probably significant. But local government agencies should not be allowed to take tax dollars from their communities and pool them together through TML to lobby for tax increases and against tax breaks. Tax dollars also should not be used to lobby the Legislature to further limit the rights of citizens to examine, observe and question the operations and deliberations of local government. What the TML seems to think is in the best interests of local governments is not always in the best interests of the citizens themselves. (Doug Tbney is editor and publisher of the Herald-Zeitung. ;