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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 29, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas 4A Q Herald-Zeitung □ Friday, November 29, 1996 Opinion ■ To talk with Interim Managing Editor Jim Denary about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, Ext. 221. Herald-Zeitung Opinion Onlino contact ■ To submit letters and guest columns electronically by way of online sen/ices or Internet, or to simply contact staff members, the managing editor's address is QUOTABLE “It takes a heap of sense to write nonsense. Mark Twain author, 1879 EDITORIALShop where you drop To stay a viable, independent community, New Braunfels merchants need your help Traditionally, today kicks off the Holiday buying season. With the cold, rainy weather and congested highways, it’s important to be careful and cautious. Another consideration should be staying in New Braunfels and Comal County to do your Holiday shopping. New Braunfels is a charming community with a rich sense of purpose. Though the city has changed much, New Braunfels continues to keep its identity separate from San Antonio as that city’s suburban sprawl continues to march north. Many other nearby towns and cities have succumbed to having their towns turned into bedroom communities. New Braunfels, though changed, continues to cherish its separate past and work for a unique future. Many of this community’s newest residents understand this dilemma and have added to the cultural fabric of our community without weaving it into Bexar County. One important aspect of maintaining a healthy community is supporting the local merchants and businesses. The next five weeks are important to our friends and neighbors involved in providing New Braunfels and Comal County residents with goods and services. We cannot afford to let our local business community decline because we failed to patronize our local businesses. Without these merchants and services, no matter what else we do, our community becomes nothing more than a place for fulltime residents to sleep. Though many in our business community have become dependent on the summer tourist trade, we full-time residents must remember our part in making sure New Braunfels has a diversified year-round business culture. If we don’t, then we will lose the battle to preserve a separate identity. If we do not shop locally first, then eventually we will not have a choice. Remember, we’re all in this together. (Todays editorial was written by Publisher Doug Toney.) Write us ... The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung welcomes letters on any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to 250 words. We publish only original mail addressed to the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung bearing the writer's signature. Also, an address and a telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included. Please cite the page number and date of any article that is mentioned. Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mall letters to: Letters to the Editor do the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 3U328 New Braunfels, Texas 78131-1328 Fax: (210) 625-1224 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung Editor and Publisher, Ext. 301........................................Doug    Toney Director of Advertising, Ext 308.........................Debbie    Banta-Scott Retail Advertising Manager, Ext. 209............................Jack    Osteen Classified Advertising Manager, Ext 214...............Karen Reininger Business Manager, Ext. 202.......................................Mary    Lee Hall Circulation Director, Ext 228 ..............................Carol Ann Avery Pressroom Foreman, Ext. 205.........................................Billy    Parnell Interim Managing Editor, Ext 221....................................Jim    Denery Published on Sunday mornings and weekday mornings Tuesday through Friday by the New Braunfels Herald-Altun* (USPS 377-8*)) 707 I anda St., or P.O. Drawer 311328. New Braunfels, Comal County, Tx. 78131-1328. Periodical postage paid by the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels, Texas Carrier delivered in Comal and Guadalupe counties: three months, $20.50; six months, 137; one year, $66. Sailor Citizen Discounts by earner delivery only: six months, $33; one year. $62. Mail delivery outside Comal County in Texas: three months, $30.30; six months, $55; one year, $103.50. Mail outside Texas: six months, $78, one year, $118.25. Subscribers who have not received a newspaper by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday ar by 7:30 a.m. on Sunday may call (210)625-9144 or by 7 p.m. weekdays or by 11 a.m. on Sunday. Postmaster: Send address changes to the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, P Q. Draw-m 311328, New Braunfels. Tx. 78131 -1328Medical savings accounts draw interest By a resounding margin, Texans say they support an innovative plan to provide small business employees a new way to cover health care expenses. My questionnaire, which this newspaper graciously published this summer, invited Texans to consider Medical Savings Accounts (MSA). The question asked: “Do you support implementation of tax-deferred medical savings accounts (accounts that allow employees of small companies to establish a tax-free savings account reserved exclusively to pay medical expenses and purchase insurance, similar to ‘medical IRAs’) to cover your health care needs?” Eighty seven percent of the respondents said they favored the idea. Texans repeatedly said health care reform should expand options, not add to the long list of intrusive federal regulations already in place. “The tax-free savings plan sounds like a very good plan for medical care,” said one constituent from Perryton. “The program now in place penalizes people who want to save for medical emergencies by taking anything you put in and haven’t used by year end. “How could anyone think that’s a fair plan?” she said. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Contrary to the limited options employees have today, MSAs offer the flexibility and security lacking from many of today’s managed health care agreements. Let .me offer some background. MSAs were included as a provision of the Balanced Budget Act approved by the 104th Republican Congress in 1995 and represented TRUE health care reform. Unfortunately, the president vetoed this bill, and we went back to the drawing board. One man in Pittsburg wrote that he thought it best if MSAs were first tested before being “set in concrete.” In the final analysis, so did Congress. When Congress approved the Kassebaum-Kenned Health Care Reform bill this year, we included just such a test. From January 1997 to 2000, the Department of Treasury will set up MSAs in a pilot study of employers of 50 or fewer and the self-employed. Individuals and small business employers will have the option of making tax-free deposits to MSAs, which remain the properties of the employees. Participants can also use the money to pay for Kay Bailey Hutchison Guest Column medical expenses or health insurance premiums. One aspect I really like is that any money not spent for those purposes accrues interest and can be used in other ways - for medical expenses after retirement, a “rollover” into an IRA or pension plan, or a hind left in the individual’s estate. . Let me answer a concern from a small business owner in Grapeland. He wrote: "As a small business owner, what will this cost me? The small business owner is getting hit from too many sides.” He spoke for millions of Texans. The good news is that MSAs cost nothing for a small business owner. Over and over, Texans said that the federal government besieges small business owners with “inane ... stupid... outright nutty” regulations and mandates from, as (me respondent said, “the center of confusion known as Washington, D.C.” No one knows that better than I, sir. I can promise him and all Texans that I am working hard to try to curtail the intrusion of the federal government in your everyday lives. Medical savings accounts provide more options and greater security to Americans in the most important area of their lives — keeping their families safe and healthy. (Kay B. Hutchison is a U.S. senator from Texas.) CMWflED I CIA wa} Hi I> 9It I I c*t quite flit mfffogsron ft.bur agertr Quigiyf?) acting sutplciou&lY.'' Does electing judges politicize the death penalty? By RICHARD CARELLI Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — Penny White, once the Tennessee Supreme Court's only woman, now is a symbol for two distinct groups of activists — those who think electing judges is a bad idea and opponents of capital punishment. White was voted off her state’s highest court in a retention election in August, after a conservative group attacked her as a death-penalty foe. The evidence? In the one and only capital case of her two-year tenure, White had joined in a 3-2 decision that overturned a convicted murderer’s death sentence. The court ordered a new sentencing trial. White’s fate, says a recent report, is similar to that of a growing number of elected judges across the nation who, fairly or not, get labeled as “soft on crime” because of their votes in highly publicized death penalty cases. The Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center suggests that Today in History some judges may be succumbing to the political pressure as they make decisions about the lives of convicted murderers. “The infusion of the death penalty into political races is reaching new extremes and distorting the criminal justice system,” says the report written by the group’s executive director, Richard Dieter. “When judges who will decide whether a defendant is to live or die, and who even have the power to reject the unanimous vote of jurors, run for office by proclaiming how tough they will be on criminals, fairness is threatened,” said the group, which opposes the death penalty. Judges are elected in 32 of the 38 states with death penalty laws. While Tennessee justices are appointed by the governor, a 1994 law requires that every eight years voters decide whether to retain the jurists. The report tells of Alabama’s Judge Bob Austin and Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jack Watson, who as candidates“prominently mention their toughness on the death penalty.” In Texas, Supreme Court candidate Rene Haas advertised her “strong support for the death penalty” even though that court doesn’t handle such appeals. Dieter conceded in an interview that the report is largely anecdotal. ’The evidence suggesting that death-penaJ-ty politics affects judges has been growing in recent years, but we still are talking about isolated examples.” At least one highly placed jurist also has voiced concerns about elected judges and the death penalty. “A campaign promise to 'be tough on crime' or to ‘enforce the death penalty’ is evidence of bias that should disqualify a candidate from sitting in criminal cases,” Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told an American Bar Association audience two days after White’s defeat in Tennessee. Stevens believes electing judges is “profoundly unwise.” “Persons who undertake the task of administering justice impartially should not be required — indeed, they should not be permitted — to finance campaigns or to curry the favor of voters by making predictions or promises about how they will decide cases before they have heard any evidence or argument,” he said. “Moreover, making the retention of judicial office dependent on the popularity of the judge inevitably affects the decisional process in high-visibili-ty cases, no matter how competent and conscientious the judge may be,” he said. The American Judicature Society, an organization that works to improve the nation's courts, shares Stevens’ views on judicial elections. “Electing judges is not congruent with their role as neutral and independent decision-makers,” says Kathleen Sampson, the society’s acting executive director. ‘The danger is that people will come to see a judge as just another politician who should be voted out of office if he or she doesn’t happen to agree with you.” By The Associated Press Today is Friday, Nov. 29, the 334th day of 1996. There are 32 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight In History: On Nov. 29,1962, President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower kept his campaign promise to visit Korea to assess the ongoing conflict. On this date: In 1530, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, one-time adviser to England's King Henry VHI, died. In 1004, s Colorado mibakied at leaet 150 peaceful Cheyenne Indians in what became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. In 1834, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini died in Brussels before he could complete his final opera, Turandot.” (It was finished by Franco Alfano.) In 1938, Navy Ii. Cmdr. Richard E. Byrd radioed that he had made the first airplane flight over die South Pole. In 1840, Ore monarchy was abolshsd in Yugoslavia and a republic proclaimed. In 1847, the U N. General Assembly passed s resolution calling for the partitioning of Palestine between Arabs and Jews. In 1900, the musical “Bells Are Ringing," starring Judy Holliday, opened on Broadway. In 1881, “Enos" the chimp was launched from Cape Canaveral aboard the Mercury-Atias 5 spacecraft, which orbited Earth twice before returning. In 1903, President Johnson named a commission headed by Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1867, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced he was leaving the Johnson administration to become president of the World Bank. In 1881, actress Natalie Wood drowned in a boating accident off Santa Catalina Island, Calif., at age 43. Ten years ego: Actor Cary Grant died in Davenport, Iowa, where he had scheduled a public appearance, at age 82. Five years ago: Seventeen people were killed in a 164-vehicle pileup during a dust storm on Interstale 5 near Coalinga, Calif. Actor Ralph Bellamy (tod in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 87. One year ago: President Clinton opened a five-day European trip in London, where he met with Prime Minister John Major and addressed the British Parliament. Today’s Birthdays: HaU-of-Fame sportscaster Vin Scully is 69. Sen. Paul Simon, OIB., is 68. Blues singer-musician John Mayall is 63. Composer-musi-dan Chuck Mangione is 56. Pop singer Denny Doherty (The Mamas & the Papas) is 56. Country singer Jody Mitier is 55. Actress Diane Ladd is 53. Pop singer-musician Felix Cavaliere (The Rascals) is 52. Skier Suzy Chaffee is 50. Comedian Garry Sharpening is 47. Actor-comedian Howie Mendel is 41. Actor Jeff Fahey is 39. Actress Cathy Mortally is 36. Actor Andrew McCarthy is 34. Actress Kim Delaney is 32. Pop singer Jonathan Knight (New Kids on the Block) is 28. Thought for Today: “I am not sure that God always knows who are His great men; He ie so very careless of what happens to them while they live." — Mary Hunter Austin, American novelist and playwright (1868-1934) ;