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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 23, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4 A— Herald-Zeitung — Thursday, June 23, 2005 FORUM Other Viewpoints TxDOT should release corridor contract details Houston Chronicle on Trans-Texas Corridor inquiry: The Houston Chronicle filed a freedom of information request with the Texas Department of Transportation seeking secret provisions of a state contract with a Spanish consortium to build and operate the Trans-Texas Corridor, a web of tolled transitways across the state. In response, officials from TxDOT and the consortium, Cintra-Zachry, appealed to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to allow them to withhold the documents from the Chronicle and other newspapers that filed requests. Even after a sweeping rejection of the claims in an opinion from Abbott on May 31, TxDOT officials are considering going to court to prevent the release of the information. The public has a right to know on what terms a consortium is being given a contract to build and operate toll roads in the state for the next 30 years. Abbott s opinion left no doubt that TxDOT and Cintra-Zachry s arguments lack a valid basis. The opinion said TxDOT failed to demonstrate how disclosing the contract terms harmed it. Although state officials claimed the pact with Cintra-Zachry was not completed, the opinion found that for legal purposes it was a final contract. Cintra-Zachry argued that trade secrets would be revealed by release of the contract provisions, but the Attorney General found that the company had failed to provide any evidence to back up its allegations. ... Instead of going to court and spending taxpayer dollars on an attempt to keep citizens in the dark about public business, TxDOT should immediately release the documents. Continuing to deny journalists the information only fuels suspicion that theres something in the Trans-Texas Corridor contract that state bureaucrats don’t want us to know. Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Thursday, June 23, the 174th day of2005. There are 191 days left in the year. Today’s I lighlight in I listory: On June 23,1969, Warren E. Burger was sworn in as chief U.S. justice by the man he was succeeding, Earl Warren. On this date: In 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his “Type-Writer." In 1888, abolitionist Frederick Douglass received one vote from the Kentucky delegation at the Republican convention in Chicago, effectively making him the first black candidate nominated for U.S. president. (The nomination went to Benjamin I larrison.) In 1892, the Democratic national convention in Chicago nominated former President Cleveland on the first ballot. 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. Herald-Zeitung 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 Editor and Publisher Circulation Director Advertising Director Business Manager News Editor Gary E. Maitland Dong Toney Jeff Fowler Neice Bell Valerie Shields David Rupkalvis GUESTCOLUMN Time to put some ‘teeth’ into punishment for drug offenders 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: news@herald- Recently, I discussed why the valiant efforts of law enforcement are thwarted by the implementation of certain policies. Additionally, I suggested that “we,” at least locally, if not state and nationally, should implement innovative steps to increase the risk of mere possession and use of illicit narcotics so as to reduce the demand for such illegal activity. Over the last 30 to 40 years, national policy has dictated that the “punishment” for illegal drug use concentrate on rehabilitation rather than retribution. Rehabilitation can be an awesome tool, but only if the person to be rehabilitated first possesses a positive attitude receptive of those efforts. As long as an individual wants to be rehabilitated, I agree that tax dollars are better spent toward such laudable goals rather than merely warehousing or incarcerating offenders. I lowever, my experience has demonstrated that a majority of offenders do not possess that prerequisite desire. Consequently, we are wasting millions of dollars trying to stick the proverbial horse’s nose into the water to force it to drink. In reality, the “drug” horses do not soak up the rehabilitative waters; they just blow bubbles. Paraphrasing what one drug offender literally told me face-to-face, “Man, all that rehab stuff is a bunch of bull. When they send me down there, I just snooze to cruise.” Recognizing this problem, higher-level policy makers have begun to rethink this “forced rehab” philosophy. Examples of how the punitive aspect of punishment is being reimplemented can be seen in laws establishing drug-free zones, increased punishments for repeat offenders or gang members, and limitations on parole for offenses committed with a deadly weapon. DIBWALDRIP Dih Waldrip is district attorney for Comal County. I have aggressively pushed the envelope to utilize these tools. For instance, I alleged and proved, and a jury of Comal County citizens as well as District Judge Gary Steel, agreed that the cocaine given by a defendant to his daughter as a substitute for child support payments could be a deadly weapon, thus, potentially limiting the offender’s eligibility for parole. Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals in Austin decided that my use of the "deadly weapon” law in this fashion was not what the Legislature intended. You can safely bet your money that I will keep trying. Instead of trying to force-feed drug offenders with rehabilitation, maybe we should revert, in part, to using jail sentences with rehabilitation as an optional incentive. If the offender seeks and successfully completes rehabilitation on his own initiative, maybe an appropriate “reward” can be fashioned. Otherwise, the offender can serve a term in a jail facility on weekends being required to obtain and keep a job during the week to pay for the incarceration costs. Time and space do not allow me to elaborate upon other viable alternatives. Suffice it to say that a number of great ideas should be explored to put some teeth back in to the “punishment” for drug offenders so that the demand for illicit narcotics will be reduced as a natural consequence of the implementation of our law enforcement efforts. NOW TO COMMOT United States 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 ANTONIO 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 Rayburn 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: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ■ Henry Cuellar 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 GOVERNOR NOW TO CONTACT Texas Government minimum ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E. Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 Toll Free: (866) 687-4961 Fax: (830) 627-8895 E-mail address: carter.casteel @ STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 E-mail address: [email protected] Media backs off Downing Street Memos MOLLYIVINS Molly Win is a columnist for Creators Syndicate. She abo does occasional commentary for National Public Radio and the McNeiULehrer program. AUSTIN — I hope this is not too inside baseball, but I am genuinely astonished by what the bloggers call "Mainstream Media.” (In my youth, it was called “the Establishment press.”) The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles l imes have all gone way out of their way to deny that the Downing Street Memos (its now plural) are news. Uke many of you, during the entire lead-up to the war with Iraq, I thought the whole thing was a set-up. I raise this point not to prove how smart we are, but to emphasize that I followed the debate closely and probably unconsciously searched for evidence that reinforced what I already thought. Most people do that. I read some of the European press and most of the liberal publications in this country. I read the Times, the Post, the Wall Street Journal and several Texas papers every day. Its my job. But when I read the first Downing Street Memo, my eyes bugged out and my jaw fell open. I could not believe what I was reading. It was news to me, and as I have tried to indicate, I’m no slouch at keeping up. Yes, it has long seemed to me the administration had been planning the war for months before it began its pubic relations campaign to scare a skeptical public. That was no easy task. Public opinion was still evenly divided at the time we invaded. The administration actually said it could invade another country without even consulting Congress or the United Nations. Pretty much everything that followed was a charade. It was always weird that the White I louse kept saying it knew Saddam I Iussein had WMD, but it would never tell the U.N. inspectors where. Yes, I suspected all that, but I was not the head of British intelligence in the summer of 2002 for pity’s sake. I lere are some aggravating factors. Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote that "liberals” no longer want to talk about die war because we were against it to start with and probably hope it ends in disaster. Good Lord, who does he think we are? Does this man actually think we are out here cheering every time another American is killed? Mr. Friedman, real, actual, honest-to-God American liberals are out here in the heartland, and we know the kids who are dying in Iraq. They are from our hometowns. We know their parents. That’s why we hate this war. That’s why we tried to tell everybody else it was a ghasdy idea. We are not sitting here gloating because it is the horrible mess we said it would be. We’re in agony. There is nothing pleasurable about being a Cassandra. I have said from the beginning that if this thing worked out the way Rumsfeld, Wol-fowitz and Cheney all said it would, I would be perfecdy happy to get down on my knees and kiss George Bush’s feet. The second aggravation is that the very prestigious papers that are now dismissing the Downing Street Memos have already themselves admitted that their prewar coverage was — I don’t know, you pick the adjective. Slack? Inadequate? Less than rigorous? Wrong? And now they’re saying, oh heck, this isn’t news, we knew it all along. Michael Kinsley out at the Los Angeles Times, which has certainly done some commendable reporting on this war and taken the heat for it, too, also dismisses the memos. I don’t get it. You suddenly get evidence — I don’t know if it proves or just strongly suggests — that this administration lied to all of us about war, and your reaction is not to go after the administration, but to dismiss the evidence? And to put down the people who are calling you screaming about why you haven’t bothered to mention it? What is wrong with this picture? Also aggravating, the Republicans in Congress refuse to allow hearings. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan held “Democratic hearings,” without the Rs, in a room described as a large closet, because they were not allowed to use an actual hearing room. Under these difficult circumstances, 30 Democratic representatives persisted in asking the important question, "Were Americans deliberately misled in the lead-up to this war?” When did we come to the point where the minority has no place? I don’t know if these memos represent an impeachable offense — although I must say, I don’t want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But they strike me as a heck of lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I’d settle for that again, over what we’re looking at now. The irony of Deep Throat surfacing after all these years in the midst of this memo mess is almost too precious. Does The Washington Post have any hungry young reporters on Metro anymore? ;