New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 20, 1987, New Braunfels, Texas
Dave Kranwr. Editor and Publisher Jim Webrc, Managing Editor
HeraldZeilung Now Braunfels Texas
Wednesday May 20 198/Editorial
Discipline management by taxpayers is in order
Surprise New Braunfels Independent School District is considering a tax increase Some of the district’s trustees stopped just short of rudeness when City of New Braunfels wanted to cancel funding of a school crossing guard program The program is the city’s responsibility, they said The city got itself into this position, they said We shouldn’t have to pay for it. they said.
We wound up with a cost sharing agreement for the upcoming fiscal year, one that certainly did not break NIMS!) and caused the city nothing but grief from a public relations standpoint in a year when the underfunded city needed to make hard decisions NBISI) only made that hard decision tougher to make Now NBISI) is considering an increase in ad valorem property taxes to cover what they think might be a shortfall if the state changes its public school funding formula Well, that’s foresight on the school district’s part. They are doing what the city didn't NBISI) has expelled students for possession and use of drugs but not referred them to any treatment or counseling programs It opposed the city’s request that the school district pay for its own crossing guards. It has taken the posi tion that a parent’s accepted standard of hair style is something the school district can decide and thereby limit a boy’s involvement in athletics.
What would be the result of asking teachers and staff to not have a pay increase in this shortfall year, assuming it is indeed a shortfall year? NBISI) teachers generally make more than the minimum prescribed by state law In fact, NBISI) carries some $750.(KH) in "local overscale.” although NBISI) claims its teachers are paid less on the average than San Antonio teachers But there is a big difference between New Braunfels and San Antonio teaching conditions Would NBISI) administration be willing to "bite the bullet” and limit its expenses like the city has had to do? Such action would be in the best interests of its students, the very reason the school district exists at all lf NBISI) wants more money from property owners, it should have to justify every penny just the way the city has had to do And then ask for a tax hike only after its own fat has been trimmed and not before.
the Her.lid Zed un ti welcomes correspondence All letters should In* sign cd and include an address or telephone number The newspaper reserves the right to edit
ladlers should Ik* sent to Forum. .Yew Hr nun (els Herald Zeitunt*. PO Drawer 311328. New Braunfels, Texas THI M 1328, or brought to our offices at I mis Casten
To the Kditor
I would like to thank all of those here in New Braunfels who con tributed so generously to the Al/afar Shrine Hospital Benefit Day Saturday, May 9 These funds go to the Houston Orthopaedic I rut and the Galveston Burns Institute. txith of which treat patients from all over the Southwest
Hick Ammine. President Guadalupe Valley Stu diers I nit of Al/afar Temple On later bar hours Kditor.
Local bar ow ners currently seek lug extended serving hours seem to have one argument with several ap plications The bottom line seems to be... the bottom line. money Maybe (as they say) they would make more money if they were allowed to serve alcohol later Maybe other businesses would prosper from having more visitors in New Braunfels Maybe I would make more profits (since I work for restaurants and motels) Maybe New Braunfels would get more tax revenues, but at what price9 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has compiled some sobering facts about the price: "Each year 26,000 Americans die and 1.5 million are injured by drunk drivers The death toll equals IOO jumbo jet crashes with no survivors
I S Sen Lloyd Benison inned Steles Senate 03 Hart Senate Bldg Yerington, D C 20510
tate Rep Edmund Kuempei exes House of
» 0. Box 2910 austin. Texas 78769
ap Lamar Smith States House resentatives noon House ngton, O C. 20515
Gov Bill Clements Governor s Office State Capitol Austin, Texas 71711
State Sen Judith Zaffirini Capitol Station P O Box 12068 Austin, Texas 78711
State Sen William Sims Capitol Station P O Box 12068 Austin, Texas 78711
U S Rep. Mac Sweeney (Guadalupe County) United States House of Representatives 1713 Longworth House Office Bldg. Washington, D C 20515
U S. Sen Phil Gramm United States Senate 370 Russell Senate Bldg. Washington, O C 20510
Ronald Reagan The President of the United States The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D C. 20500
Hospitals are amazing places to be sick
"More than ll million American families have had a member killed or seriously injured by a drunk driver in the past lo years
"Society's loss in wages, pro ductivity, medical and legal costs, purchasing power, etc . caused by deaths and injuries in drunk driving crashes exceeds $24 billion each year
"More than 25 cents of every auto insurance insurance premium dollar goes to pay for damage done by the drunk driver
"On any given night, one out of every 50 drivers on the road is legally drunk On a weekend this figure may increase to one in IO” One might reasonably conclude that the longer people sit and drink the more likely some of them are to drink too much From the time most people get off work until the bars close at midnight is six hours or more How much time does it take to drink to one’s tolerance level9
While recognizing that people do buy alcohol to consume after the bars close. I think closing the bars before the early morning hours was a good mave and should not be changed. I hope New Braunfels’ business people, the City Council and other residents will consider the evidence and place people over profits and tax revenues.
Respectfully David L Green New Braunfels
What follows are some hospital notes, set down m moderate pain two days after surgery
The first person who came into my room after I had checked in was the man who rents the little television set that hangs over the tied I said I d only be in for two days He said. "That'll Ik- $6 95 "
That whole control tower over a good hospital lied is magnificent I'd like to have the world at my touch in my bed at home The phone is handy The television set is there You can call the nurse or adjust the tied into all sorts of dif ferent positions That's what I want for Christmas
For those of you who have never been operated on or who haven't tieen operated on in years. Fin pleased to tx* able to report some pro gress They no longer shave you before a hernia operation or at least my doctor didn t This is a great technological advance I always thought shaving was nonsense in some cases anyway
Hospital care must vary all th** way from great to terrible This hospital in Norwalk,
Conn . must lie one of the best I ve been inGuest Column
hospitals .is a patient and as a visitor where you couldn't attract the attention of a nurse by lying on the buzzer Here everything I could possibly have asked for has been anticipated by them The man next door and tin* woman across the hall are getting absolutely the same attention I ve already paid my toll so that commercial wont cost me any less
I had two complaints about the hospital loo many form fillers asked me the same questions and I couldn't get breakfast or even coffee until 9 a rn They must tx* overreacting to all the hospitals that used to serve breakfast at ti a rn lunch at 11 a rn and dinner at 4 to p rn
I wanted to have a cup of coffee before I was wheeled downstairs for a gallstone sonar in spection I was lying there at 8:55 a rn craving a nip of coffee, when a nurse came and said. "Good luck They can take you downstairs at 9 a m " I went without my coffee
The gallstone review was interesting I was positioned so I could see the screen It was only supposed to take a few minutes, txit the sonar technician kept going over and over the same area, shaking his head I know bad news when I
see it I figured I had huge gallstones "('an't see anything," he said finally "Your gallbladder is in a strange position Maybe that’s the problem "
I realized then that the technician s defeat was my victory Ile had tx*en unable to get a positive result on his magic machine and felt very frustrated I felt delighted elated
I know it suggests men anil women have dif ferent qualities and my comment might therefore tx1 considered sexist, but women make great nurses For all I know, women might make better doctors, t<x> They seem to care
Most patients leave their elixirs open in hospitals I m not sure why I like my dex>r clos ed lf I m in pain or discomfort. I m not in terested in sharing it For one thing. I enjoy moaning Moaning is a great solace to me when I'm sick but I don’t want anyone to hear me and think I'm dying I think people close their dexirs in hospitals because hospitals can tx* fearful and lonely places Patients don't want to tx* cut off from the sound of the world going on just in case this is their last chance to hear it
Attack on the rights of ratepayers
By JIM MATTOX Texas Attorney General
Utility rate increases have become a fact of life for Texans, a fact that sometimes seems to be as inevitable as changes in the weather The inex orable petitioning by utilities for increases, accompanied by ream upon ream of highly technical supporting material, makes it appear as though we can do no more about rising utility costs than we can do about the weather
The fact is that advocates for the interests of ratepayers can participate in the rate setting process. although we are severely handicapped in terms of the resources we can command as com pared to those mounted by the utilities
Sen Ike Harris of Dallas has introduced a bill that proposes to weaken significantly what abilities interveners now possess for voicing the interests of utility consumers.
SB 1221, and its House companion. HB 1770 sponsored by Patricia Hill, also of Dallas, would, among other things, reinstate the right of utilities to add costs of construction while in progress and automatic fuel adjustments to their monthly bills.
In addition, and even more serious from the ratepayer's point of view, the Harris bill would do away with the present requirement that utilities pay municipalities’ legal fees when they appeal cities’ decisions in rate cases It would also prohibit the Attorney General from representing state government as a utility consumer in Public Utilities Commission hearings.
All would be major setbacks for consumer rights.
When the Public Utilities Regulatory Act went into effect in 1976, municipalities retained their right of original jurisdiction over electric and
telephone rates and the PUC obtained original jurisdiction in the environs, that is, everywhere else
Utilities were permitted to appeal local rate decisions to the PUC and from the PUC to the courts If a utility opted to make such an appeal, it had to pay for the city’s lawyers, expert w itnesses and other expenses
The reasons for this provision are obvious
Rate case litigation is complex and expensive For example, the cities of Southeast Texas involved in current Gulf States Utilities rate case have already hung up $500.OOO in fees and expenses Few cities have the resources to mount a defense on their own If utilities are to be inhibited from making a mockery of the local rate setting process, that is, if they feel they have a legitimate grievance, they should be willing to see that the arguments on the other side are heard Otherw ise, the utilities will win by default
The Harris bill amounts to a de facto abolition of the municipalities’ right of original jurisdiction
Similarly, the prohibition against the AG’s representation of state government as a utility consumer amounts to an abolition of.the state's right to be heard in a rate case. •
The state is the single largest utility ratepayer in Texas, paying almost $250 million in telephone and electric bills during PY 1986 Those bills were paid out of tax revenues and that means that every taxpayer in the state had to chip in
Removing the AG from the process removes another advocate representing the interests of all Texans
What about the PUC? It’s a state body, isn t it?
Yes But it is charged by statue to balance the interests of the utilities with those of all classes of ratepayers In addition, the PUC staff is overworked, understaffed and underfunded When fac
ed with the phalanx of lawyers, engineers, economists, and rate and tariff specialists mar shaled by the utilities who routinely budget from $2 5 to $3 million for a rate case the staff usually balances their decision by recommending a • split the baby" compromise This is more than ratepayers think justifiable and less than utilities want, as a result, both sue for judicial review
What about the Office of Public Counsel? It s a state body, isn t it9
Yes, but its statutory mandate charges it with representing the interests of residential and small business utility customers only The OPC cannot represent the state And even if it could, it suffers from chronic underfunding and staffing shortages
The interests of state governments and municipalities are distinct, although happily, they coincide at some points As the cities are concerned only with their jurisdictions, any benefits state governments might realize from a municipality’s participation in a rate case must be regarded as a windfall Assuming, that is, that municipalities would be in a position to participate if the Harris bill passes
Utility bills affect every Texan in both overt and covert ways We all must pay for our residential utilities lf we are in business, we must pay those utility bills And we must all pay local and state taxes from which local and state governments must pay their utility bills.
The Harris bill is diametrically opposed to the interests of everyone but the utilities Every municipality that has ever appeared before the PUC has passed a resolution opposing the Harris bill.
I urge everyone to follow suit and see that your senators and representatives keep this proposal from becoming law.