New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 14, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
f*age 6A — HERALD-ZEITUNG — Friday, January 14, 2000Opinions FORUM Letters
New Braunfels Zcitung 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 Bill O’Connell, News Editor www.herald-zeitung.com
EditorialBetter to get something than nothing at all
All or nothing.
Apparently, it’s a gamble New Braunfels City Council is not willing to take.
Council made the right decision this week to unbundle the sports complex projects and list them as separate proposals on the May bond issue.
As the Feb. 14 deadline nears for finalizing the $38.6 million bond package, council will be deciding what the city needs versus what the city wants. In the case of the parks proposal, it appears council is willing to let the voters decide for themselves what they really need — an indoor pool, fields and gymnasium.
That means sports complex advocates stand a better chance of getting something, as opposed to nothing at all.
That’s exactly what council — and taxpayers — say could happen if the sports complex is presented as a single, all-or-nothing proposition.
“If we break it up, we’ll have a better chance of getting something passed” Mayor Stoney Williams said.
Supporters of the sports complex issue, particularly members of New Braunfels Youth Sports, argue that voters will not support the indoor pool if listed as a separate proposition. And they said they wanted to present a united front in support of the bond proposition.
“If you split this, you’ll kill it,” NBYS board member and parks board advisory member David Feltmann said. “You’ll literally kill it.”
The high price tag that comes with the current bond package might ;ill everything on the ballot. Council is taking the necessary steps to nake sure the necessary projects w ill be funded to improve New Iraunfels. Better streets, improved drainage, a communication system 'or emergency response personnel — all of these could be lost if coun-il does not change the current make-up of the bond issue.
As councilwoman Jan Kotylo said “Kids are a priority, but we need to lo a little at a time ... If we offer (the bond as is), we'll look irresponsive”
Council did not axe the sports complex altogether — it is just giving [he voters an opportunity to decide for themselves what they are w illing md able to pay for.
In this case, anything would be better than nothing.
Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Friday, Jan. 14, the 14th iy of 2000. There are 352 days ft in the year.
On this date:
On Jan. 14, 1900, Puccini’s opera “Tosca" got a mixed reception at its world premiere in Rome.
In 1639, Connecticut's first constitution, the “Fundamental Orders,” was adopted.Letters to the Editor
Holiday River of Lights was sight to behold
During the holidays I had the pleasure of seeing your “River of Lights.” I congratulate you on a very original, well-planned and constructed project. It was a beautiful sight to behold! A busload of senior citizens from Marriott Brighton Gardens Assisted Living Home all agreed it was the prettiest decorations we had seen. We hope you continue it in the future to bring much pleasure to many.
Lena B. Young
Don't roll the dice with our money
If a man gambles and loses, what does he do? Try again, luck will change. If he tries three times, and loses each time, what does he do? Try again? He’s now a compulsive gambler. It’s sad if he throws away his own money, but if its someone else’s money, that’s worse.
Take our River of Lights. It lost money the first year, but “we’ll make it up next
year.” It lost money the second year, “but we’ll make it up next year.” It lost money the third year, “but we’ll try again next year.”
I’d say, cut your loses and run. It’s not such a great show in the first place. You can see better light displays all over town, and for free.
Don’t try the dice with our money!
Albert Buhl New Braunfels
Trust truly fine columnist Molly Ivins to think of others and advise mammograms when she is confronted with breast cancer herself. Such compassion for others gives great wisdom to her insights about the U.S. federal election (“Watching the media pack turn on Dubya is sickening,” Herald-Zeitung, Dec. 15, 1999).
Here in Canada the soap opera of US politics rarely enters the popular consciousness. Partly it’s because Canadians realize that big business has replaced big government as the real throne of power, as evidenced by APEC, NAFTA, and the World Trade Organization. Global business, not the elected representatives of the people,
now dictates the agenda of nations, social policy, and moral values. Our own Prime Minister made this quite clear when he hosted the APEC chow down in Vancouver, including some of the worst tyrant and butcher world leaders, and then set the RCMP on the protesters with pepper spray and war measures.
And partly it’s because few candidates offer a believable vision of a viable alternative. Why, for example, are “the distinctly unbrilliant” George W. Bush and the “leader drone” Al Gore shoe-ins as the final contenders in this plodding process, when Rep. John McCain and Dem. Bill Bradley offer so much more to the American people?
The massive protest in Seattle against the WTO is a sign that people are fed-up with global business trashing their lives.
Similarly, the low voter turnout at the polls shows that Americans are equally fed up with lousy candidates who are incapable of good government which might be expected to protect their interests against global business exploitation.
Every blessing to Molly Ivins across the miles.
Roger W. Henning Vancouver, CanadaGot Something to Say?
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zeitung.comJustice system on trial: When the courts err
AUSTIN — Have you noticed that the system of justice in this country is shutting dow n, piece by piece by piece? We have long noted the deleterious effects of “tort reform” here in Texas, where insurance companies are ever bolder, and injured workers and consumers have fewer and fewer rights. But there is a shutdown in criminal justice, as well.
A “Frontline” documentary on PBS, “The Case for Innocence,” gives the most chilling case histories in a stupid and tragic trend in criminal justice.
DNA identification, which has become more sophisticated by the year, is the greatest advance in criminal detection since the fingerprint. It has enabled jhe system to put away criminals who otherwise would have gotten off scotfree and to find perps years after the crime when their DNA shows up after an unrelated arrest. Short of a truth serum, this is the best thing that could happen for the criminal justice system.
The problem is, DNA evidence sometimes shows that the system messed up and nailed the wrong person for a crime. In fact, it happens depressingly often.
The notorious inability of prosecutors to admit that they are ever wrong is a fact of life What is far more horrifying
is the refusal of judges and courts to look at evidence that proves innocence. Can you imagine how that must feel to be in prison for a crime you didn’t commit and to finally be able to prove it, only to have a court refuse to consider the evidence?
Most of this is a consequence of a noxious law that Congress rushed through after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Called the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the law- was aimed at the ability of federal judges to second-guess state courts and at the ability of prisoners to file endless habeas corpus claims challenging the constitutionality of their convictions. (’’Habeas corpus” is a Latin phrase meaning “you have the body” and goes back hundreds of years in common law as well as being in the Constitution. It means that if you can show you were
unfairly tried, you have a remedy through the courts.)
frue, the right has been abused for nitpicking purposes by some lawyers, but to effectively abolish the right is a dreadful abrogation of freedom. Where in the world are the militia folks now that we need them? Where are all those right-wingers who claim freedom as their most cherished possession?
The trouble with the ’96 law is that it was poorly written and has been subject to conflicting interpretations by the lower courts. The law says that a federal judge can reverse a state court conviction only if it was contrary to federal law or if it applied federal law in an “unreasonable” way.
The Fourth Circuit, one of the most conservative courts in the country, has ruled that this means state courts have applied the law in ways that “all reasonable jurists would agree is unreasonable.” As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, reasonable jurists always disagree on constitutional issues.
The new film “The Hurricane,” with Denzel Washington, is about a case in point. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a contender for the middleweight boxing title, was wrongfully convicted of a 1966
triple murder. He spent 19 years in prison before he was finally released.
The movie depicts the conviction as a frame-up by one racist cop, but as Selwyn Rabb, who originally covered the story for The New York Times, wrote: “The actual story is more harrowing because it exposes an underlying frailty in a criminal justice system that convicted Mr. Carter not once but twice. The convictions were obtained not by a lone, malevolent investigator but by a network of detectives, prosecutors and judges who countenanced the suppression and tainting of evidence and the injection of racial bias into the courtroom.”
Under current interpretations of the 1996 law, Hurricane Carter would not be free today.
The most thoughtful comment in the PBS documentary came from a law professor concerned about the criminal justice system’s refusal to consider its own errors. He pointed out that in most other systems, when something goes horribly wrong — a plane falls from the sky, a type of car begins bursting into flames, a hospital patient dies from gross malpractice — there is a system in place to deal with the error. There are investigations,
reports and ultimately corrections made to prevent recurrence.
In the criminal justice system, there are only denials and strenuous efforts to prevent the exculpatory evidence from being presented in court. The ease with which our criminal justice system can nail the wrong person has been painfully demonstrated time and again.
(Henry Lee Lucas, the serial liar, provided one of the most bizarre examples. He claimed to have committed more than 600 murders.Police in 26 states closed the books on 229 murders, and he was convicted of 11 of them before it occurred to anyone to wonder if he was telling the truth. Physical evidence against him was found in two cases. The state of Texas managed to convict him for a murder committed while he was quite demonstrably in another state and had to let him off Death Row.)
Perhaps the saddest and most terrifying finding in “The Case for Innocence” is that in the 60-some-odd cases in which innocence has been proved by DNA and the accused finally freed, none of the cases has been reopened.
(Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)