New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 2, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
Friday, Juna 2,1995 ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ 3 w
rLabor leader lauds legislature
AUSTIN (AP) — Texas workers were winners in the just-ended legislative session and will benefit from several major bills adopted by lawmakers, the president of the Texas AFL-CIO says.
“We had our best year for several years,” Joe Gunn said Thursday in an interview during the group’s 35th statewide convention.
Prior to the legislative session, the 200,000-member organization selected 11 issues it planned to target either for passage or defeat.
The final scorecard? All but three issues ended in victory — or at least partial victory — for labor, Gunn said.
One of the biggest wins was a measure added to the welfare reform bill to consolidate 30 different work force
development programs into a new agency.
The new agency will be charged with training workers to meet business demands for highly skilled labor and helping people on public assistance make the transition into the job market.
It will be composed of three members appointed by the governor, one representing labor, one representing employers and one representing the public.
“That’s extremely important to us. We came out with what we intended to,” said Gunn, who added that the proposal initially would have placed the program in the hands of one gubernatorial appointee.
The legislation is awaiting the sig
nature of Gov. George W. Bush.
Another measure that will benefit workers is the new telecommunications law, Gunn said. -
Signed by Bush last week, the law is aimed at bringing competition to local telephone service. The measure also includes several infrastructure commitments by telephone companies, which Gunn said would create an estimated 70,000 jobs.
“Our major legislation was... great,” Gunn said.
Among the defeats for labor were proposals to cap hiring of state employees and their salaries and reform the state’s civil justice system. Gunn said the civil justice revisions will keep injured Texans from collecting adequate damage awards.
Bush signs inmate release law
AUSTIN (AP) — Gov. George W. Bush says Texans will be safer under a new law to prevent the automatic early release of prisoners with a violent history.
The measure signed into law Thursday by Bush also will give the State Board of Pardons and Paroles power to veto the early release of convicts in the so-called mandatory supervision program.
That program has required some prisoners to be released automatically after the g'ood-conduct time they earned, when added to their tijne served, equaled their sentence.
Under the new law, inmates with a previous conviction for a violent offense won’t be eligible for the program, Bush said. Other inmates’
release under the program could be denied if they arc considered a public danger.
The measure will apply only to people serving sentences for crimes committed on or after Sept. 1, 1996. The starting date was determined for fiscal reasons, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said.
“The Legislature acted in the best interests of the people of Texas when it acted to protect the public safety within the confines of available dollars,” Bush said.
During the 1994 campaign, Bush said the mandatory early release of prisoners should be ended.
“He didn’t get everything he wanted, but this is a major step,” Ms. Hughes said.
Bush said he wanted to ensure that the parole board and “not some automatic mathematical formula” would determine when and if prisoners could be safely released.
“This new law gives the parole board the authority to deny release for any prisoner it believes might endanger the law-abiding citizens of Texas,” he said.
Bush signed the bill — which was sponsored by Rep. Peggy Hamric, R-Houston, and Sen. J.E. “Buster” Brown, R-Lakc Jackson — in Houston at a ceremony attended by crime victim representatives. Among them was a woman whose family had been attacked by a man released on mandatory supervision, said Ms. Hughes.Texas Briefs
Aquifer Alternative Presented To Bunion’s Court
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A Edwards Aquifer water conservation proposal, newly submitted to a federal judge, would provide no benefits in the event of a drought this summer, an official says.
A panel of five lawyers submitted to Senior U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton III on Thursday a plan for conserving Edwards Aquifer water in drought conditions.
The plan covers emergency drought conditions that might arise during the summer, before new state aquifer legislation takes effect Aug. 28.
“There’s just no provision for this summer,” said Raymond Suire, law clerk to Bunton. “So any problem that arises is still within the purview of the court.”
The proposal is an alternative to a management plan devised by court-appointed special master Joe Moore Jr. that met with criticism from all sides in a long-running San Antonio regional water dispute.
Opinions Vary On Pilots’ Docision To Alod Bsf or# Crash
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) — Sidewalk spectators at the scene of a fatal plane crash offered mixed opinions on the pilots’ decision to eject and save their own lives.
A T-38 training jet from Sheppard Air Force Base careened Wednesday into an apartment complex — killing an elderly couple — after the two pilots parachuted out. About 20 people at the Amber Falls Crossing apartments were hurt.
“It’s either get out of the plane or go down with it,” said a man named Bull at the Salvation Army van. “I’d have done the same thing myself.”
An Air Force accident investigation team arrived Thursday to interview the pilots and inspect the met
al debris scattered over several blocks. The investigation was expected to take several months.
Officials at Sheppard Air Force Base said the twin-engine plane was on a training flight when it apparently developed mechanical trouble minutes after takeoff.
Trials To Procood Against Dow Chomical In Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Dow Chemical Co. says it will appeal a Texas appeals court ruling that will force the comany to appear in court this summer for a series of breast implant suits.
The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston rejected a request from Dow Chemical, co-owner of breast implant maker Dow Coming Corp., which sought to remain out of court during implant suits.
Dow Chemical spokesman Dan Fellner said the company will be taking the matter to the Texas Supreme Court.
“We don’t believe it was appropriate for us to have to defend in court the product of another company,” Fellner said. “ “But we will be prepared to represent our case if there are trials and remain confident that we will ultimately prevail.
“Dow Chemical never designed, tested, manufactured or distributed breast implants,” he added.
Red Dot Special: Kmart to Close 72 Moro Discount Stores
DETROIT (AP) — Kmart Corp.’s decision to close 72 underperforming stores — the third wave of massive closures since last year — should combine with other improvements to help boost the troubled retailer earnings, analysts say.
The list of stores to be closed includes 13 in Texas. They are located at Bay City, Brownsville, Corpus
Christi, Dallas, Euless, Fort Worth, Houston, Lake Jackson, Lewisville, Spring, Stafford, Texarkana and Webster.
“I expect stronger earnings gains in the second half of the year,” said Ron Petrie of Roney & Co. “Their sales performance has been pretty good this spring.” Kmart reported same-store sales through May up 5 percent this year over last.
The retail chain’s sales and profits have lagged in recent years partly because its aging stores have been unable to compete with its rivals’ newer branches. Kmart also has had major inventory problems.
Kmart reported a $28 million loss in this year’s first quarter, its ninth consecutive quarter of lackluster earnings amid tough competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Target chair of Dayton-Hudson Corp. and others.
New Fort Worth Customer Service Center to Create 1 fOOO Jobs
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — United Parcel Service has announced plans to open a new customer service center in Fort Worth that will employ about 1,000 people by the end of 1996.
UPS said Thursday it is consolidating its customer service operations nationwide, condensing 65 telemarketing offices nationwide into eight to 12 larger calling centers over the next 18 months.
The Fort Worth facility will be one of three in the first wave of consolidations for UPS. The other two are planned for Virginia and North Carolina.
Starting in September, the Atlanta-based cargo company said it will begin hiring about 120 telemarketers a month for the Fort Worth operation.
The center will handle incoming calls, package tracking requests and questions concerning shipping rates and package pickup sites.
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Clinton urges westerners to disagree without being disagreeable
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — From a schoolgirl frightened for her father’s safety to a woman uneasy about promilitia colleagues, anxious Westerners confided their concerns about growing anti-govemment sentiment to President Clinton in a very public forum.
The president used his first TV town hall in more than a year to exhort them to fight back, suggesting: “You ought to stand up and double your fist and stick it in the sky and shout ’em down.” Clinton’s hour-long conversation Thursday night with the people of Billings produced little in the way of confrontation and plenty of opportunities for him to hone a message that Americans need to learn to disagree in less hostile terms.
“The answer is not to join the militia and opt out,” he said. “The answer is to ... opt in and be a vigorous voice of citizen responsibility.”
Montana’s strong militia movement made the state a fitting setting for Clinton to decry increasingly vocal critics of government even as he admitted there was a need to rein in regulatory excess
One woman told Clinton that three of her eight co-workers were leaning toward the “militia mentality” because of dissatisfaction with government. Another lamented the “incendiary rhetoric” of the National Rifle Association and other groups critical of Washington. A young girl said that since the Oklahoma City bombing, she had been worried about the safety of her father, who works for the Bureau of Land Management.
“What can you do to protect my dad?” 12-year-old Crystal Frisby asked Clinton in a calm, clear voice.
Clinton acknowledged that “we do have to change the way the government works” but said it was time to “shout down” those who condemn and threaten federal workers.
He said critics of government too often are “listening to people who tell them just what they want to hear.... I would urge them to open their ears and eyes to different points of view.”
Clinton also took a swipe at unidentified public officials who he said are
quick to criticize the culture of violence promoted by the media and in rap lyrics yet are “stone cold silent when these others folks are ... making violence seem like it’s OK.”
The president said he had resolved to temper his own language from past days when he spoke disparagingly of federal workers as “bureaucrats.”
“We all have to realize that we have to change the way we talk and the way we think about this,” he said. “We don’t have to quit disagreeing. We don’t have to quit arguing. But this whole climate is bad.”
Ronald Moser, a retired farmer, lightened the mood somewhat by joking to Clinton that on his way to the studio, “We saw more sheep on the road than we have actual revolutionaries with guns and wild ideas in the mountains. And ... I think those sheep exhibited better manners.”
None of Clinton’s questioners advocated the militia movement, although several questioned government policies on specific issues. Participants were selected by the TV station KTVQ
from among 500 people who submitted proposed questions.
Clinton said it had been too long since he last faced Americans in a “town hall” type of forum, suggesting he had abandoned the format because it too often produced a focus on some confrontation or another.
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