New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 19, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 4 — Herald-Zettung — Thursday, May 19, 2011
ON THE WEB
Read the text of SB 669 with the online version of this editorial at wwwherald-zeitung.com
SB 669 punishes everyone for the actions of the few
A curious thing is happening in the Texas D*gisla-ture this month. lawmakers who were elected to serve the voters are quietly and quickly building a wall between public information and the public.
Senate Bill 669 was authored by our very own "representative", Sen. Jeff Wentworth,
Ihe hill amends the Public Information Act in several ways:
• The hill allows governmental entities the right to charge taxpay-
------ers for “all costs of material, labor
and overhead” associated with making copies of public information that amount to 50 pages or more.
• If the request is fewer than 50 pages, the requestor can still be charged “all costs” if the pages to be photocopied are located in two or more separate buildings that are not physically connected with each other or a remote storage facility.
• A requestor can be charged "all costs" if that person has made seven or mom written requests for information during the preceding 31 calendar days.
•The governmental body is not required to produce public information until the requestor agrees in writing to pay the estimated costs of pulling the documents. (With this section, the current law, which allows a requester to view materials prior to payment, is being completely overturned. At a minimum, requestors should be allowed to "view” the information online at no charge - with confidential data shielded from public view.)
This hill was written in response to a miniscule number of “harassing” requestors across the state ofTexas and punishes all taxpayers across the state in the process.
This bill will discourage residents from accessing public information with they do not have the means to pay the potentially outrageous bills for information.
I his hill forgets that public information belongs to the public and not to the government entities that guard it — and feel inconvenienced by the requests for it. The average citizen already pays taxes, which go to pay governmental bodies to perform their jobs. If you force your constituents to pay again when a governmental employee performs their job in retrieving "public information." this is essentially double taxation.
Senate Bill 669 was passed with a vote of 31 in favor and 0 against in the Senate on May 10.
It is now making its way through the House. On Wednesday, it was voted favorably, without amendment, by the I louse State Affairs committee.
The next step is for it to go to the House Calendar committee to be scheduled to be heard on the House floor.
May this bill die in the Calendar committee and never make the floor. But if it does, our representatives must vote "no” to this anti-open government hill.
Contacted by phone Thursday, Hep. Doug Miller said that while he believes that taxpayers should not be burdened by the cost of people who make an excessive number of requests for information, he sees a flaw in SB 669. The imposition of fees for material, labor and overhead” seems intimidating and could keep the average citizen from requesting needed information, he said.
We are disappointed that Sen. Wentworth did not see the flaws in this bill he authored and championed — a hill that is not in the best interests of his constituents.
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Today in History
Today is Thursday, May 19,2011,
On May 19,1967, (he Soviet Union ratified a treaty with the United States and Britain banning nuclear and other weapons from outer space as well as celestial bodies such as the moon. (The treaty entered into force in Oct. 1967.)
In 1536, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's King Henry VIII, was beheaded after being convicted of adultery.
In 1780, a mysterious darkness enveloped much of New England and part of Canada in the early afternoon.
In 1909, the Ballets Busses (Russian Ballets), under the direction of Sergei DiaghUev, debuted in Paris.
In 1921, Congress passed, and President Warren G. Harding signed, the Emergency Quota Act, which established national quotas for immigrants.
In 1935, I.E. Lawrence, also known as "Lawrence of Arabia," died in Dorset, England six days after being injured in a motorcycle crash.
In 1943, in an address to die U.S. Congress, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged his country's frill support in the fight against Japan.
In 1962, during a Democratic fundraiser at New York’s Madison Square Garden, actress Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday to You" to guest-of-honor President john F. Kennedy.
In 1964, the State Department disclosed that 40 hidden microphones had been found in the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
In 1971, poet Ogden Nash, known for his humorous light verses, died in Baltimore at age 68.
In 1994, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in New York at age 64.
Hugs and taxes in California
SACRAMENTO — Pausing in his stniggle to solve, or to get others to solve, today's iteration of California’s recurring fiscal crisis, Jerry Brown, the recurring governor, recently approved a new contract for the prison guards union. Henceforth, guards can cash out at retirement an unlimited number of unused vacation days. Most California employees can monetize only 80 accmed days. Many guards will receive lump sums exceeding $100,000. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that guards possess time worth $600 million. The union contributed almost $2 million to Browns 2010 campaign.
In 1980, according to former Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 10 percent of the state’s general fund went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons: in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and 7.5 percent to higher education. The national average incarceration cost is $29,000 per inmate per year. California’s cost is $49,000, about $7,000 more than a year’s tuition at Dartmouth.
Brown says the union is cooperating with his plan to reduce state costs by transferring prisoners to county jails. But funding this would require extension of a vehicle licensing fee and other taxes due to expire next month. Which brings us to the importance of Bob Dutton.
Leader of the 15 Republicans in the 40-seat state Senate, Dutton is the un-Brown. Where Brown is lean, exotic and epigrammatic, Dutton is ample, Main Street and laconic. And he is an impediment to Brown’s plans to get voters to increase their tax burdens by referendum, or Republicans to enable the Legislature to increase them.
As a candidate, Brown said he would seek voters approval for any taxes to close the yawning budget deficit. He wanted a referendum this June on a five-year extension of “temporary” taxes and fees imposed in 2009 and due to expire soon. In an off-year referendum, turnout would be low — and dominated by pro-taxation public employee unions.
Because two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature must vote to put a measure on the ballot, Brown needed two Republican votes in each. As Republicans are doing in Washington about raising the debt ceiling, some Republicans offered support for a referendum conditional on Brown agreeing to various reforms, particularly regarding
George Will's e-mail address is
public employees’ pensions: This year, more than 12,000 state and municipal retirees will receive pensions of at least $100,000. Brown and the Republicans could not agree, so there is no referendum.
In his January inaugural address, Brown, 73, said: “At this stage of my life, I have not come here to embrace delay and denial.” Dutton embraces denying tax increases for a state whose total tax burden is one of the nation’s highest. He says that when Brown “pushed me for a plan” for balancing the budget, he replied: The state expects $90 billion in revenues, up from $82 billion in 2005. “Spend it any way you want — you set the priorities.” But don’t expect more.
“Hug a Republican, make them feel good,” Brown recently told an audience. “In fact, I’m going to go up and down the state to see if I can’t hug Republicans and... tell them, ‘We love you, but give us a break, let the people vote.”’ In March, Brown said:
“This is a matter that’s too big, too irreversible, to leave just to those whom you’ve elected. This is a time when the people themselves can gather together in a special election and make the hard choice.”
Dutton, evidently not the hugging sort, says making such choices is the Legislature’s job. And for the people to “gather together” — note the communitarian patina Brown puts on plebiscitary democracy — in an election about these taxes would be redundant: in two referendums, in 2009 and 2010, voters resoundingly rejected extending the taxes.
On Monday, Brown reported good news that actually is bad news for his agenda, which he has modified hardly at all.
An unanticipated $6.6 billion in tax revenues over the next 13 months will reduce the projected $15.4 billion deficit, but will also reduce the force of his dire warnings about a budget balanced only by spending cuts.
Yet he still insists on five-year extensions of higher sales and vehicle taxes. His only concession to the revenue windfall is to propose higher income taxes for four rather than five years.
So the revenue surge serves to underscore the state government’s metabolic urge to grow, and the unswerving devotion of Democrats to that project. Dutton’s response is economical: “Ridiculous.”
Letters to the Editor
Thank you for supporting civil service on the ballot
On behalf of the men and women of the New Braunfels Police Officers Association, we want to express our sincere appreciation to the citizens of New Braunfels for their support of Police Officer Civil Service.
We thank you for giving us your confidence in our efforts to pursue continued professionalism in the department.
We look forward to continuing our service to the community and “Making New Braunfels Great.”
New Braunfels Police Officers Association Board
Veteran continues his advocacy for flag display
On behalf of the veterans of the City of New Braunfels, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely than the veterans that donated the American flags. I had published a letter asking for donations in which they called on the same day that the paper published this letter with their generous offer. I would also like to thank the other citizens and veterans organizations that gener
ously offered to donate. I believe that now I can call citizens to help me on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves whom have passed to a better life.
On the second issue, I have it that a light pole was removed in Sts. Peter & Paul cemetery, which illuminated the American Flag. As I question why, the answer was that the light could be put back but they would put a meter on it. I got together with an official of NBU and asked him if they were going to remove all of the lights from the six cemeteries. I brought it up to him that the veterans didn’t have enough funds to pay for the lights in all six cemeteries and the question was who removed the light pole and who authorized it. To date, they have not informed me one way or another, so I sincerely believe that the veterans should be informed of anything that pertains to us. So as soon as 1 hear back I will inform the veterans of the situation.
On behalf of the veterans, we would like to thank Sts. Peter & Paul for allowing us to place a flagpole by the mausoleum in which they have a light and are paying for that meter. I will be available for any comments that you have regardless of what 1 had said. Thank you.
MSG Manuel Catnareno New Braunfels
Willi United States Wmiim Government
■ Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500
■ Kay Bailiy Hutchison
Russell Senate Office Building Room 284
Washington, D C. 20510 Telsphons: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: http://hutchison.3enate.gov/ (Send e-mails through Web site.)
SAN ANTONIO OFFICE:
145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Téléphona: (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.)
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
■ 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
HOW TO CONTACT
■ Rick Perry
State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711
Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849
■ Doug Millhr
EXT E1.216 RO. Box 2910 AustinTX 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
NEW BRAUNFELS CITY COUNCIL
424 S. Castell Ave.
P.O. Box 311747,
New Braunfels, TX 78131-1747
■ Mayor Bruce Boyer bboyer@ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4507
■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4501
■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner mgoodner@ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4502
■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra mybarra @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4503
■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected]
Telephone: Extension 4504
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueger kkrueger @ nbtexas.org Telephone: Extension 4505
■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Digges [email protected]
Telephone: Exte nsio n 4506
199 Main Plaza
New Braunfels, Tx 78130
■ COUNTY JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE [email protected]
Telephone: (830) 221-1105
■ PCT. 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]
Telephone: (830) 221-1104