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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 21, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Our Opinion Don’t let influenza bug get you down I Health officials arc naming the influenza hug would reach epidemic t’s hard to think about flu season when the weather has been so perfect lately. But cases have already been reported in San Antonio and two other Texas cities, signal-proportions this I ing an early start to the in-winter. So now ; fluenza season. would be a    Health    officials are warning good time to I <he flu hu« could r“ch ep*-cS 4 n i demic proportions this winter. ge your Jill ; nQW woujcj a gOOCj tjme vaccination. \ to get yOUr pu shot. l;or the past two years, influenza vaccines were in short supply, but health officials said there should be plenty of vaccines available. But getting those most at risk to take flu shots is the big challenge. Flu can be life-threatening for those younger than 2, those over 65, and those with chronic health conditions. Because it’s so contagious, most residents could benefit by taking the flu vaccine. Fortunately, local health departments make it easy to get a flu shot. Staff nurses are visiting some businesses to give the shots. Citizens also can call the health department at 608-2015 to make an appointment to get their shots. Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2003. There are 71 days left in the year. Today’s I lighlight in I listory: ()n (Jct. 21. 1879, Thomas Edison invented a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. On this date: In 1797, the U.S. Navy frigate (Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides," was launched in Boston's harbor. In 1805, a British fleet commanded by Adm. I loratio Nelson defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson was killed. hi 194 ll <lu ring Worldwar II, U.S. troops captured tile German city of Aachen. In 1945, women in France were allowed to vote for the first time. In I960, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon clashed in their fourth and final presidential debate. In 1966, more than 140 people, mostly children, were killed when a coal waste landslide engulfed a school and several houses in southern Wales. In 1967, tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters marched in Washington, IXC. LETTERS POLICY ■ Letters must be 250 words or fewer. ■ The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be less than 500 words and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Addressed telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail letters to: Letters to Editor cia Herald Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131 1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 e-mail them to: [email protected] Herald-Zeitung Serving New Braunfels and Comb! ( aunty since 1852. New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852, New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957and printed in both German and English until 1958 WM MR I MMM i 5    Mi    MMMMMMMM Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland News Editor Brady Craal Features Editor Brian Grant Editor and Publisher Doug Tonoy Circulation Director Craig Pauling Advertising Director Courtney Abernathy Business Manager Heather Grant MM I HANON RIBBLE ■too Ufiff to prompt FOR Hts WE* WPS" rot spry too VRJNKro prompt paRHesreuNQsre'S' 'mmm too wsf to promt* POR HtS4 MtlUOH SCHOOL CHtlPPEN* Letters to the Editor Comal County’s Web site is a great resource for citizens I read with interest your article about the county’s Web site and had already discovered this great* resource. Working in the legal field, I often have occasion to check on judicial records. This usually entails going to the particular county courthouse and looking up information on a single public access computer. Ironically, of the four counties in this area, I can only access the closest one (Comal) from home. One must travel to check the others (Bexar, Guadalupe, I lays). Bexar will provide the records if you call and pay to have them mailed. I have also explored other aspects of the Web site here and in other counties, Comal, by far, surpasses the others; it is great. Everyone should check it out. Cynthia Riffe New Braunfels Pork-barrel politics alive, well in decisions on Bulverde streets City council employed an engineer with some 50 years in road maintenance to establish the 2003 road maintenance program. The report cost the taxpayers $3,000. It did not include any work to be performed on Barton Hill Drive. (bougar Bend, Bulverde Road or Circle Oak Drive. All of these streets are in the construction contract to be chip sealed. These four streets were put in the package when the engineer did not recommend any work on them this year. Included in the report were repairs of pavement failure for Taylor Point, kuntz Run, Blue Skies, C^asey Road and I Aline Drive. Yet none of these are in the contract. A lot of the damage to our streets is caused by ptxir drainage. The engineer specified some improvements at Taylor Point, Bulverde I fills Drive, I honeysuckle Branch and I lawk Eye Drive, but these items were omitted. You (council] employed an engineer for the survey, then refused to follow his recommendations. You chose instead to pick out the streets that met your agenda. I think these kind of shenanigans are morally reprehensible and demand an expla nation of the irresponsible actions taken in the fiduciary responsibility of the taxpayers’ money and assets. Not only is taxpayers’ money being wasted on the chip sealing of streets that do not need it, but safety items are being ignored. The last time a chip-seal project was done by the city, a present alderman was then mayor and acting as the chairman of the Road Commission. The project was poorly handled, and quite a few streets that he designated received treatment that should not have been done. There was considerable waste of tax money then, and it seems to me this project is doing the same old song and dance of self-serving political expediency and pork-barrel politics. Philip Thomason Bulverde Life’s ruts aren’t always bad; they can stop mental mishaps Mike F'itsko wrote in Oct. 12 Life Section that if you keep digging a rut, you’ll bury yourself, admonishing us to be open to new ideas and to read things we don’t necessarily agree with. I’m not against trying new things. Reading pieces like his, and merely turning on the television, exposes me to many things with which I disagree, not to mention getting a college degree in biology, where the dogma and religion of Darwinism are so forcefully and singularly inculcated. He seemed particularly upset in his little storyline with the elderly couple that “invariably” went to church every Sunday. 'Hie fact is that there are absolutes, despite the theories of relativism and humanism that have replaced such thought in our educational and theological institutions to an alarming degree. The mind that is open at both ends is usually empty. I know Mr. Fitsko doesn’t like proverbs and old sayings (according to a recent column he wrote, they confuse young people). However, relativism leads to double-mindedness and, according to lames 1:8, “the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Is it not possible that a rut can keep the wagon from going over the cliff? William Jones New Braunfels NOHE TO CONTACT MM MM MM ■ MMP.    W    .. United States Government PRESIDENT ■ George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 8023 Vantage Drive, Suite 460 San Antonio 78230 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate Courtyard 5 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202 ) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (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 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2231 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE; 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 •San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210*) 821-5947 NOW TO CONTACT Texas Government GOVERNOR ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E. Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 Toll Free: (866) 687-4961 Fax: (830) 627-8895 WHILE IN AUSTIN: P.O. Box 2910 Austin 78768-2190 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fex: (512) 473-9920 E-mail address: [email protected] STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: (512) 463-0125 Fex: (512 ) 463-7794 E-mail address: [email protected] ■ Judith Zaffirini P O Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627Pay attention folks to what’s happening on economic front New Orleans, city officials who had expected to make money by selling bonds in late 2000 now find they will cost the city over $280 million. While financial service companies are running more and more heartwarming ads about how they five to make our dreams come true, I’m starting to wonder if the whole structure isn’t what economists call “control fraud” — rotten from the head down. For reasons never clear to me, Enron, Ty co, Worldcom and the rest of the first wave of corporate disasters were written off in jig time as “a few rotten apples.” We seem to have forgotten the old saw about the rotten apples spoiling the whole barrel. One warning flag is that the financial services industry is one of the largest campaign contributors of any special interest in the country. When industry bigwigs kick in contributions al that level, they want something. They wanted repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and got it. They wanted to deregulate the S&1.S, and they got it. One of my long-held theories is that bankers, as a group, are quite stupid. I believe I can prove this with more than the S&L mess. At various times, American banks have gone nuts lending money to Latin American countries that then needed bailing out. They still stupidly resist regulation of hedge funds, which might yet bring down the entire banking structure. One of their recent brainstorms was to mail out credit cards to a whole lot of people with bad credit records. Amazingly enough, these citizens had trouble keeping up the payments, which then caused the banldng industry to go to Congress and demand bankruptcy reform, making it more difficult for citizens to get out of financial trouble. Not only are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in hot water, as The Wall Street Journal keeps reminding us, but so are the Federal Home Ixian Banks. Now, I’m no economist, so I leave it up to Paul Krugman, Jamie Galbraith, Allan Sloan and others as to whether all this means we should put our money under our beds, but I do know politics — and what I hear are alarm bells ringing, big-time. We are so not ready to face the fact that we could well have huge.systemic problems. As we know from Round One with Enron, the Securities and Exchange Commission is anemic from years of being bled by underfunding. The New York Stock Exchange, recently the subject of much bad publicity, has barely started to get a grip on its own problems. One telling point is that greed continues to rule in the boardrooms. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth over greed out of control, and still these folks are cutting themselves mind-boggling pay packages. Above all, we are stuck with an administration that believes self-policing can solve all these problems. True, we have heard some heart-rendering (as they say in the Texas Lege) vows about how never again will the “firewall” between banking and stocks be crossed (what did they think was going to happen when they repealed Glass-Steagall?), but notice how it plays out in practice. As per Quat-trone’s trial, the perps apparently feel free to destroy e-mails and other records, consider it “legal mumbo jumbo” when they’re about to be subpoenaed and otherwise feel free to waltz on their merry way. People tend to take their cues from the top. I heard an alarm bell when I read, concerning the outing of GLA agfent Valerie Plaine, that it took 12 hours for the White House counsel to send out an advisory to the staff about not destroying relevant records after the Justice Department took over the investigation. The whole point of e-mail is that it’s instantaneous. I never root for bad things to happen, and I’m sure not hoping for a fiscal meltdown. On the other hand, the Boy Scouts are right. Whether or not there is any leadership from the Bijsh administration, it is time for those creaky regulatory agencies to bestir themselves before something awful does happen. Let’s pay attention here, team, before it all gets out of control. Al IS I IN — Fascinating as all this inside-IXC. stuff is about Rummy and Cheney, and who leaked the (JA agent’s name, theres some major stuff being buried in the business section. The manipulation of mutual funds — nice, safe, comfortable old mutual funds — is a story heating up nicely. In addition, if you are following the trial of Frank Quattrone in the nasty case of manipulating high-tech IPOs, you already have been whomperjawed over the goings on. Add The New York Times Sunday account of how states and municipalities have been talked into bond issues by investment hanking firms to cover pension costs, with highly unfortunate results, and you have a creepy and getting-creepier picture of the entire financial services industry. “On a risk-adjusted basis, the only people who can make money on this are the investment bankers,” Robert C. North, chief actuary for New York City's five pension funds, told the Times. In MOLLY IVINS Molly Win is a columnist for (Ire-ntots Syndicate. Her freelance work ims appeared in Esquire, Atlantic, The Nation, Harper's, TV Guide (intl numerous other publications. She also does occasional commentary for National Public Radio aud the McNeil/Lehrer program. ;