New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 7, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4A New Braunfels Hecald-Z«fu/>0 Friday, October 7,1983
Andy RooneyWord transmission is a real problem for me
It it often more difficult to address, stamp and mail a letter than it is to write it
This column ia sometimes more difficult to transmit then it is to write, too. My problem is to get it quickly to the Tribune Company Syndicate offices on 42nd Street in New York City from my home in Connecticut or from my office.
When I spent the month of May transverses the country in a helicopter, I had a new problem and I was talked into taking with me a magic new machine called a Teleram Portabubble word processor. It's basically an electronic typewriter that doesn’t produce anything on paper. It'sall on a little screen in front
of you. The good part of it is that by pressing a few buttons and putting die telephone in the cradle provided on top of it, you can send what you’ve written anywhere in the world in a very few minutes.
The Teleram is unique in that it stores what you’ve written on a memory that doesn’t involve any disc or moving parts. It’s portable, too, weighing only 18 pounds and can be plugged in anywhere.
I had no natural aptitude for the word processor but after four months, I’m thoroughly familiar with it I’ve written five books and hundreds of radio and television broadcasts on my Underwood No.5 typewriter, circa 1920, and I continue to use it as my
basic writing tod. It was given to me by my uncle who was a lawyer. He had used it for 20 years before me. In the past 35 years I spent $12 on it once to have it oiled and denned.
Although I’m embarrassed to tell you, it’s important to the story to say that I paid $5,640 for my word processor.
Yesterday, I got a letter from Aribin D. Walpole, Manager, Sales Administration, the Teleram Corporation. The letter biformed me that my warranty was almost up and asked if I wanted to sign up for their annual flat-fee service contract.
I have written the following letter:
Dear Miss Walpole:
I have some questions regarding the
letter you sent informing me that the fee for the annual service contract for my Teleram Portabubble-81 is $660.
Do I understand that $660 is the Teleram Corporation’s best estimate of what it will cost to keep one of their machnes in operating condition for one year?
Could you please advise me what type failure I can expect within a year of my purchase of the word processor? I had a demonstration model belonging to your salesman for abut five weeks and some kind of logjam occurred that made it necessary for me to erase and lose everything bi the memory to make it operative again. Is this common? I now have the Teleram with the 260,000
character memory. What is the likelihood that I can complete the storage of that amount of material without another breakdown bi your machine that would necessitate total erasure?
According to your letter, your charge for straight tune, on-site field repair is $73 an hour. Your only repair depots are in Randolph, N.J., Washington, D.C. and Dallas, Texas. None of these is bi my neighborhood. Travel time for your repair men is $53 an hour, plus costs. Weekday overtime is $90 an hour and Sunday and holiday on-site double time is $120 an hour. I estimate that if one of your repairmen works a 40-hour week plus four hours overtime and four hours doubletime, he could make $3,760 a
week or $195,520 a year. In the event one of your repairmen worked a straight 40-hour week at your factory (at $53 per hour) with no travel and no overtime, he would only make $110,240 a year. Do you have any openings?
I have enjoyed owning my Teleram. However, if it ceases to operate, I will simply abandon it and conclude that word processors have not reached the state where they are reliable enough to be economically feasible for me to own.
I do not want the service contract you offer for $660 a year. “Prices subject to change without notice.”
Sincerely Andrew A. Rooney
Justice officials keep trying to hide
WASHINGTON — New evidence keeps bubbling to the surface of the ABSCAM cesspool, and Justice Department officials keep trying to submerge it.
The story needs to be told from the beginning: It started in 1978 with the employment of Mel Weinberg, a convicted con man, to lure some sleazy politicians into an FBI net. While he was on the FBI payroll, he continued his misbegotten ways and engaged in chicaneries of unbelievable magnitude and pettiness.
The FBI agents who were supposed to control Weinberg were drawn bito bb machinations. They found it expedient to cover up for him. Then the FBI covered up for its agents, and the Justice Department laid a web af concealment over the whole ABSCAM operation.
But two federal prosecutors assigned *o the case, Edward Plaza and Robert Weir, refused to join bi the cover-up. They reported to their superiors in 1960 that Weinberg was out of FBI control, that he had perjured himself before grand juries and that he may even have siphoned off some of the bribe money intended for ABSCAM targets.
By this time, the unhappy superiors had ventured so far wit on a limb with Weinberg that they couldn’t saw it off without risking their own careers. So instead of cracking down on the incorrigible Weinberg, they retaliated against the two whistleblowers.
I publicized what had happened to Plaza and Weir, who were then summoned before a House Judiciary subcommittee in June 1982. They not only repeated their allegations under oath, but Plaza challenged Congress to cite hun for perjury if he had lied.
The Justice Department’s internal ethics unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility, conducted its own independent investigation. The conclusion was that Plaza and Weir were right and had been unjustly harassed.
Later the chief of the ethics unit, Michael Shebeen, was questioned by House investigators. A staff summary, reviewed by my associate Indy Badbwar, reports when Shebeen told them:
— After the two prosecutors complained of Weinberg’s criminal misconduct. Deputy Attorney General Charles Renfrew Bred off a blunt memo to the ethics unit. The memo made “an absolute and categorical fbiding of miaconduct” against the
whistleblowers and asked the unit to recommend punishment.
— But Shebeen “characterized the Renfrew memo as alarmingly weak' and found his conslusions ‘unacceptable.'” Never before had the ethics unit “received such a complaint coupled with an absolute finding of guilt,” said Shebeen. He refused to be intimidated by the deputy attorney general, rejected Renfrew’s preconceived finding and went ahead with an objective investigation.
— Meanwhile, still another superior, Irvin Nathan, then deputy assistant attorney general, “authored his own memo (attacking the two prosecutors) and sent copies to the courts and defense attorneys. Almost simultaneously the Nathan memo was leaked to the press.” Plaza and Weir were subjected to “a barrage of press calls concerning the Nathan memo they had never seen and knew nothing about”
— Shaheen characterized the Nathan memo as “libelous and slanderous” bi its attacks on the two whistleblowers and “not an accurate analysis.” Shaheen concluded it was “our finding that Plaza and Weir were not guilty of any improper conduct.”
— Shaheen concluded that the Justice Department’s position was a “twisted analysis,” adding tersely: “Plaza and Weir obviously felt they had been given the shaft and we agree with them.”
— The problem, Shaheen told House investigators, was that the Justice Department “had consistently failed to see to it that persons without a conflict of interest investigated complaint about FBI and (Justice) misconduct during ABSCAM.”
This is not the end of the cover-up. The Justice Department refused to released the Shaheen report to the House Judiciary subcommittee, though it bas been commissioned by Congress to investigate the department’s handling of the ABSCAM case.
Then a reference to the brief big that Shaheen gave House investigators, summarized above, was mysteriously deleted from the public record. Subcommittee chairman Don Edwards, D-Calif., explained that the briefing was confidential and that an agreement had been made with the Justice Department not to make it public. He blamed a former sub-commitee staff member.
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Political climate kills hopes of natural gas price decontrol
JOHN TOWER United States genets
During the past year, natural gas consumers and producers alike have experienced problems caused by too much gas being produced at too high a price. Now Congress is grappling with this issue to determine solutions.
But before we deckle upon a solution, we must understand the causes of the problem. During the mid-1970s, severe shortages of natural gas resulted from years of federal price controls which kept the price of gas so low that time were no incentives to f bid and produce adequate
In response to this problem, Congress passed the Natural Gas Policy Act in 1978. It was advertised as a “decontrol” measure, but actually it created an incredibly complicated regulatory system with dozens of price categories. Its purpose was to phase out price controls for most gas by January 1985, with the price at that time to be roughly equal to the predicted cost of other fuel, particularly ail.
Most people believed that oil prices would remain at the high level! of the late 1970s. This assumption and memories of earlier shortages led producers end purchasers to agree to long-term contracts for high-priced IM.
When the price of crude oil dropped drastically last year, and the recession rimed s sudden deer mod demand for natural gas, havoc reigned. There was too much high-priced gas tied to contracts that would not allow prices to follow the drop bi oil prices.
In short, federal regulations caused shortages which hurt consumers bi the 1970s, and then forced prices to remain artificially high, again hurting consumers during the 1910s.
The message here, bi my view, is that the bast long term solution is full, phased decontrol of natural gas prices. This would assure that there would be enough gas supplies to meet the needs of industrial and individual consumers — and that prices would reflect actual demand for the product. Aa a practical matter, the price of gas
could be expected to stabilize at a lower level than most consumers are paying now.
Unfortunately, achieving this goal this year in the current political climate is virtually impossible.
Instead, the Senate Energy and Natural Gas Resources Committee recently reported legislation on the subject. This bill’s bitent, in essence, is to bring all gas prices to market level over a period of time. That which currently is above that level would be reduced bi price, and gas which currently is less expensive would rise in price. The bill also includes provisions which would limit enforcement of “take or pay” contracts which require purchasers to take more natural gas than they need.
This legislation deserves serious consideration, but it does raise two questions. Could the private sector do a better job of evening out the market dislocations without government interference? And, would enacting another set of government regulations — and extending the time for most controls — crests more problems
than it would solve?
Already, producers, pipelines and purchasers are developing creative approaches to handling the problems of oversupply and price. Many observers believe that the private enterprise system will be successful in bringing prices into line within a fairly short period of time.
If this is the case, I would have serious questions about whether we should create still more federal regulations to deal with a problem which already is being solved. Perhaps we should consider simply allowing most price controls to expire in 1985 as scheduled, and then addressing the questions arising from the remaining controls.
I might note that the committee which reported the legislation currently before the Senate did so without endorsing the product of its labors.
This is an issue which will require much careful study bi order to determine the approach which will best assure adequate supplies of natural gas at fair prices.
Sen. Lloyd Benison
Rep. Tom Loeffler
Rap. Edmund Kusmpel
United States Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
Texas House of Representatives
Room 240 Russell Building
1212 Longworth House Office Building
P.O. Box 2910
Washington, D.C. 20610
Washington, D.C. 20616
Austin, Texas 78769
Sen. John Tower
Gov. Mark White
Sen. John Traeger
United States Senate
Room 142 Russell Building
Room 200 State Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20610
Austin, Texas 78701
Austin, Texas 78711