New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 26, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 4A — Herald-Zettunc — Saturday, March 26, 2011
This editorial was previously published in the Dallas Morning News.
Texas should kill its especially bad driver policy
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program, passed in 2003 as part of an omnibus legislative bill, was never good public policy. In short, it tacks on surcharges of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for selected driving offenses, including DWI and failure to produce valid insurance.
The money was supposed to go to trauma care centers and highways, which would have been fine goals if the state actually collected much of it. Instead, far too many Texas drivers proved too poor or too irresponsible to pay these on-top-of-everything-else penalties.
How many? According to the Department of Public Safety — which receives 1 percent of the surcharge cash to administer the program — Texas had billed drivers for $2.2 billion in surcharges through January 2010.
Amount collected: $871 million. Tap your calculator keys, and you find that’s less than 40 percent.
And since drivers who refuse to pay lose their licenses, some legislators rightly worry that Texas is "creating a new class of criminals each day” by adding to the states estimated 1.2 million unlicensed and uninsured drivers.
Legislation is moving through both houses to repeal the law, which is a start. The state also put in an amnesty program for drivers cited between 2004 and 2008 to settle their fines at a sharp discount, which sounds good unless you’re like Ann Sutter of Waxahachie.
She says she paid hundreds of dollars in surcharges to keep her son — cited for no insurance when driving a friend’s car — street legal. Sutter, a single mother, swallowed hard and followed the law, no matter how difficult. Amnesty obviously does her no good, since she paid up as the state demanded.
"I want my money back,’’ she says.
On a human level, it’s hard to argue with her. She’s among the four-in-10 penalized for being law-abiding citizens. It must gall her to see the other six get a sweet deal for refusing to pay. (And it must doubly gall her that fewer than 10 percent of the more than 700,000 eligible drivers have bothered to sign up for amnesty.)
We might be inclined to insist the state return all surcharges collected under an obviously flawed statute, except we recognize that this might not be the right time to blow a new $1 billion hole in the state budget. It might be the right thing to do on a simple fairness level, but with Texas grappling with a shortfall up to $20 billion and painful cuts ahead, this isn’t the time.
What the state could do is immediately stop collecting the surcharges and extend the amnesty to everyone cited, not just those within the 2004-08 window.
Aid it almost goes without saying that the Legislature should kill the Driver Responsibility Program and, hopefully, learn something valuable from the experience. If not, our lawmakers make it increasingly difficult to respect any laws they might pass in the future.
The program, passed in 2003, adds surcharges of hundreds or even thousands of dollars to selected driving offenses, including DWI and driving without insurance. Statistics since 2003 (through January 2010):
• Number of drivers cited for surcharges: 1.8 million
• Surcharges billed: $2.2 billion
• Surcharges collected: $871 million
• Drivers licenses suspended for failure to pay: 1.2 million
Today in History
The Associated Press
Today is Saturday, March 26, the 85th day of 2011. There are 280 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History On March 26, 1911, American playwright Tennessee Williams ("The Glass Menagerie,” ”A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) was bom in Columbus, Miss.
On this date:
• In 1804, the Louisiana Purchase was divided into the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana.
• In 1827, composer Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna.
• In 1874, poet Robert Frost was bom in San Francisco.
• In 1892, poet Walt Whitman died in Camden, N.J.
• In 1958, the U.S. Amy launched Americas third successful satellite, Explorer 3.
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New Braunfels Zeifung was founded 1%?:
New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German
and English until 1956
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City Manager Morrison addresses issues surrounding New Braunfels Aero Services
C )ver the last few months, much has been written about the City and its relationship with one of its airport tenants, New Braunfels Aero Services, Inc. (NB Aero).
As an airport tenant, NB Aero is responsible for properly maintaining its facilities and conducting its operations in a safe manner that is in compliance with all applicable federal , state and local regulations and codes, as well as the airport’s own operating procedures. The City, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Federal Aviation Administration has had ongoing concerns about N B Aero’s compliance with these regulations, codes and operating proce-dures and the City has sought to resolve these concerns with NB Aero.
compliance with applicable environmental, safety and building codes and regulations before the City was forced to shut down the fuel farm for environmental and safety violations. It also could have leased a temporary fuel tank that meets TCEQ regulations so as to allow it to continue fueling operations while making a diligent effort to repair and remedy the poor conditions and violations at the fuel farm.
Michael Morrison is the city manager of New Braunfels. He can be reached by e-mail at mmorrison@ nbtexas.org or by phone at (830)221-4280.
As a result of an NB Aero fuel truck crossing an active runway on Sept. 30, 2010 and again on Oct. 28, 2010, the City was notified of an FAA investigation of the incident and directed to take corrective actions. As a result, the NB Aero employee has been banned from crossing active runways or taxi ways.
NB Aero’s fuel farm
On Sept. 9,2010, the City received notification from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that NB Aero was considered to be a poor performer in its management of a fuel farm (an aircraft gas station) that is operated by N B Aero, but owned by the City. The City, as owner of the airport and the fuel farm, commissioned an independent assessment of the fuel farm to determine the extent to which NB Aero had com-plied-or failed to comply-with environmental regulations governing the operation of the fuel farm. That report and subsequent follow up reports identified a number of environmental violations at the fuel farm.
During this same period, the Fire Marshal was inspecting all buildings and facilities at the airport, including those operated by NB Aero. Upon inspecting the fuel farm, a number of fire and building code violations were observed. After allowing NB Aero to transfer the stored fuel into an available fuel tanker, the fuel farm was shut down until NB Aero brings the farm into compliance with applicable building, fire and safety codes.
NB Aero is fully aware of its options and responsibilities with regard to its fuel farm operations. It could have brought the fuel farm into
Fuel delivery on March 5
Recently, NB Aero accepted delivery of unidentified fuel for transfer into its 100LL (Avgas) refueling truck. There were serious concerns about the fact that the federally-required paperwork certifying the nature and quality of the fuel apparently did not accompany the fuel, the delivery came in an unauthorized vehicle, the delivery was made in a location behind an NB Aero hangar out of view of airport officials, no verification as to the composition or quality of the fuel appears to have been made by NB Aero, and representations were made by NB Aero that the fuel had not been sold and would not be sold to customers when the fuel had, in fact, been sold to customers at the airport.
The use of improper or contaminated fuel in the type of small aircraft that use 100LL (Avgas) can cause engine malfunction and even seizure that can have catastrophic consequences. Because the City could not verify that the fuel delivered to NB Aero on March 5th was certified 100LL (Avgas), it was forced to go to court to gain NB Aero’s cooperation in determining the nature of the fuel and to prohibit NB Aero from continuing to use the unidentified fuel in its flight school operations.
There is presently an ongoing criminal investigation of the firm that supplied the questioned friel to NB Aero. The criminal investigation does not involve NB Aero.
The City stands ready to work with anyone to ensure the safe operation of the airport. It does not take its responsibility to the aviation community and the general public lightly, and will continue to take steps to ensure the safety of all who use the airport and those in the surrounding community.
The TCEQ letter, associated third party inspection reports, the FAA correspondence on NB Aero’s runway safety violations, and the documents submitted to die district court are all available for public review at the City Secretary’s Office at 424 S. Castell.
Gambling vote may be set in Texas
From the Anuirillo Globe News:
Texas legislators are under some pressure to take action on gambling. Should they send a measure to the ballot this November and ask Texans to amend their state constitution to allow casino gambling in Texas?
It s not clear what legislators will do on this one. But the issue does cause some conflict.
Many Texans want casino gambling here. They like the thrill of pitting their luck against the “house.” Texas government, they say, needs a new revenue stream.
Many other Texans believe gambling is no way to fund state government, that it preys on those who can least afford to spend money on the chance of winning big.
Gambling is a loser for Texas. But as easy it is to say that legislators should kill this idea before voters have a chance to vote on it, the decision rightly ought to belong to Texans.
Republicans who control both legislative houses might be less inclined to support gambling than Democrats. That clearly appears to be
the case among Panhandle House Republicans, who have indicated a reluctance to support legalized gambling in any form.
Pro-gambling Texans note that residents of this state are traveling to neighboring states — New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma—where casino gambling is allowed. They ask: Why not keep that money in Texas? That's the same logic that propelled the state lottery to victory in 1991.
Indeed, legislators and the governor play with fire when they decide for themselves whether Texans should be able to vote on measures. The late Gov. Ann Richards, for example, paid a huge political price by vetoing a bill in 1993 that would have allowed Texans to vote on concealed handgun carry legislation; she lost her bid for re-election die next year.
Would a gambling bill prompt the same kind of enthusiasm among Texans? Well, that remains an open question.
The best way to answer it is to let Texans decide this issue for themselves.
United States I Government
■ Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500
■ Kay Bailey Hutchison
Russell Senate Office Building Room 284
Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: http://hutchison.senate.gav/ (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: http://cornyn.senate.gov/ (Send e-mails through Web site.)
221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701
Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fox: (512) 469-6020
SAN ANTONIO OFFICE:
600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569
C O N G R E SS M A N
■ Lamar Smith
Rayburn House Office
Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address:
http://lamarsmith.house.gov/ (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: http://www.house.gov/cuellar
SAN ANTONIO OFFICE:
615 E. Houston St.
San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671
NOW TO CONTACT
■ Rick Perry
State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711
Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849
■ Doug Miller
EXT E1.216 RO. Box 2910 Austin TX 78768-2910 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512) 463-5896
■ 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 @senate.state.tx.us
424 S. Castell Ave.
P.O. Box 311747,
New Braunfels, TX 78131-1747
■ Mayor Bruce Boyer [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4507
■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata rzapata @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4501
■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner mgoodner @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4502
■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4503 B Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4504
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueoer kkrueger @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4505
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Diqoes sdigges® nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4506
199 Main Plaza
New Braunfels,Tx 78130
■ COUNTY JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE
Telephone: (830) 221-1105
■ RCT.1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLESON [email protected]
Telephone: (830) 221-1101
■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOn HAAG
Telephone: (830) 221-1102
■ PCT. 3 COMMISSIONER GREG PARKER [email protected]
Telephone; (830) 221-1103
■ PCT. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected]
,cornel,tx.us Telephone: (830) 221-1104