The Galveston Daily News from Galveston, Texas on October 14, 1993 · Page 6
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The Galveston Daily News from Galveston, Texas · Page 6

Galveston, Texas
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 14, 1993
Page 6
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OPINION Thursday, October 14,1993 Les Daughtry.^........, Dolph Tillotson^.. Doug Toney.^ «—«Editor and Publisher Emeritus ............ .—.........Editor and Publisher ««—^«« -M .« MW-l>MM -Managing Editor p Editorials - — - — - — Mixed bag Road, jail bonds worthy, but private jail questions remain G alveston County voters will be asked to approve Jkree "pnty issues Nov. 2: $9 million for road bonds; $8 million in jail bonds; and a proposition on the creation of a public facilities corporation to issue bonds and operate a proposed 500-bed private jail. Bonds for the private jail would be sold to private investors and would not add to the county's debt. Voters will have the option of approving any one or all of the proposals. The $17 million in road projects and jail expansion bonds deserve taxpayer support. But we believe there must be additional research and many questions answered before voters thoughtfully can consider the proposition about establishing another jail in the county that would be privately operated. Here are some of our reasons: _The private jail proposition merely authorizes commissioners to explore that option for solving the county's growing inmate population. Commissioners say they aren't convinced privatization is the right approach, but at the same time, they didn't want to add another $10 million jail bond issue to the ballot. As it is, $8 million is sought to bring the current jail up to state standards and pay for a 148-bed expansion. Clearly, the county's jail crowding crisis is real. Tuesday the jail population stood at 915 inmates, with a bed capacity of about 600. Some prisoners are sleeping on the jail gymnasium's floor; others are on cots in hallways; some are sleeping three to a cell. County officials say the local crowding is unlikely to change unless the state begins accepting more inmates into the state prison system, a scenario that is equally unlikely. Of those 915 inmates, at least one-third are so-called "paper ready" convicts awaiting transfer to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice unit. The entrepreneurial spread of jail privatization appears to be the new growth industry in Texas. Some companies must be making enough profit to encourage other groups to get into the competition. But in other counties that have contracted with private jails, unpleasant questions have arisen concerning staffing and standards, liability and the types of prisoners accepted into minimum security confinement. We hope the Commissioners Court will use this month before the Nov. 2 election to do more research into the private jail questions. We aren't against the concept of privatization, but we can't be for it until we get some more answers. Another item on the ballot seeks approval of $8 million for jails owned by the county. Without the repairs and additions, the County Jail risks sanctions from the state. The proposal includes renovations to the current County Jail that are scheduled for completion in January 1995 and bonds to fund the construction of a five-story addition to the jail complex. The construction will add 148 beds to the County Jail at about $5.9 million. The road projects proposed for $9 million in bonds include longstanding projects and new ones. With the county's contributions, area cities will be able to afford the necessary and costly repairs. Especially significant are the upgrading of Hughes Road in Dickinson Delany Road in La Marque, FM 2094 from South Shore Boulevard to state Highway 146, and Johnny Palmer Road in Texas City. These areas are top priority and would be first off the drawing board. Other road work that would come later includes Lake Road in La Marque and extensive construction along FM 1764. New construction is proposed for a new road between Algoa and Friendswood and an east-west thoroughfare in League City. Bonds would be issued as those projects fall into line. Also included in the road bond issue is $1 million to pay for right of way and utility adjustments in expectation of the construction of a bridge over Offatts Bayou in Galveston. The Offatts Bayou project also includes a fly-over lane from the causeway to Port Industrial Boulevard and widening the causeway. Offatts Bayou, FM 2094 and FM 1764 would be joint projects with the state. Paying out the $17 million in bonds over 15 years would add 1.8 cents to the county's property tax rate of 46.5 cent per $100 valuation. Over 20 years, the tax increase would be 1.6 cents. Annual tax bill increases would range from $8 to $18. Today's editorial was written by Wanda Garner Cash, mainland editor of The Galveston Daily News. Today in History Associated Press Today is Thursday, Oct. 14, the 287th day of 1993. There are 78 days left, in the year. Today's Highlight in History. On Oct. 14, 1960, the idea of a Peace Corps was first suggested by Democratic presidential candidate Narcotics cop: Dope worse than cancer Mike Land hates his job. He's a narcotics police officer, but he thinks of himself more as a disease fighter. Drugs are the disease and he says we're losing the fight. Land spoke to the Texas City Rotary Club this week, and as he stepped up to the podium, he plunked down a cloth bag of something that sounded heavy. "It's a sack of disease" Land said. "It's worse than cancer. Worse than AIDS." He loosened the sack strings and pulled out a wrapped and taped block of 90 percent pure cocaine. Undercover narcotics officers paid $18,000 for the kilogram of coke, which Land said can be cut and "stepped on" to yield a street value of three-quarters of a million dollars. Holding the 2-pound block of dope aloft, he said, "This is what makes people break into your house, steal your wife's purse, drive by and shoot innocent people." Drug deals happen every day in every com- munity in Galveston County, said Land, who is head of the 12-person state- and federally funded Narcotics Task Force. "Don't think it's not happening here. I'm sick of it. I work this job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My life is drugs and I hate it. I hate knowing what it does to people. I hate talking about it. "But I do it. I come to groups like this to wake them up to what's going on here and everywhere. "I don't have the answer. I don't have a clue how to solve the drug problem," Land continued. "But one thing I do know is that our hands are tied. Police are frustrated because we bust Wanda Cash criminals and they're back on the street before we finish the paperwork. "There aren't enough jail cella to hold them, and the laws aren't tough enough to keep 'em in jail if we do arrest 'em." Land said his task force officers are on the streets, undercover, buying and selling drugs, busting dealers, prostitutes and pimps. "We're trying. We do what we can. But sometimes it seems like we're butting our heads against a wall." Land doesn't see any relief in sight. "Getting high is just something- humans want to do. Since the beginning of time," he said. "Whether it's drugs or wine or whatever." He said one way to combat the drug trade might be to make it illegal to carry over $500 in cash. "Hey. What drug dealer is gonna take a check?" Wanda Garner Cash is mainland editor of The Galveston Daily News. Looking Back 50 years ago Oct. 14, 1943—An amendment to the federal child labor regulations, effective for the duration of the war emergency, permits employment under suitable conditions of children 14 and 15 years of age in the the heading and peeling of shrimp. 25 years ago Oct. 14, 1968 — The world's newest heart transplant recipient, an elementary school teacher, was listed in satisfactory condition Sunday at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Myrtle Schmidt, 54, received the heart of a 16-year-old traffic collision victim during a two-and-a-half hour operation Saturday night The heart transplant was the 17th performed in Houston, and the 58th in the world. Ozzie and Harriet's way of life is dead My generation, which came of age in the 1950s, is on a downhill economic slope and sliding fast. That may not sound surprising to younger Americans, who read the actuarial tables and misread the past, but it is a shock to us. What is even more important is that our situation is fast becoming the national rather than the generational norm. Everyone who reads the newspapers or watches television knows the raw facts and figures. America's giant corporations are "downsizing," going "lean and mean" to increase efficiency in order to meet foreign competition in the new global economy. With manufacturing employment dropping by 3 million workers between 1979 and 1992, blue-collar employees were the first to go. Then white-collar, middle-management types began to feel the ax. Today, it can be safely said that the only people who feel secure about their future are the super-rich and those who don't keep up with the news. Rolling adjustments to changed economic circumstances are nothing new in American or world history. Revolutionary changes in employment patterns and working conditions have been wrought periodically since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. But to understand history is not to minimize its effects in the here and now. As trends forecaster Gerald Celente told The Orange County Register, "The Industrial Age is ending. All the systems are breaking down and that means disappointment and disillusionment for the people who grew up in the '50s. These people believed in the Ozzie and Harriet way of life That concept is dead." Just how dead was illustrated in a recent membership survey by the American Management Association of New York. It found that almost half of its 870 member companies had cut their workforce this year, with the reductions averaging 10.4 percent. According to the association, more than half Doonesbury Hodding Carter III of those laid off were middle managers, supervisors and technicians, the kinds of workers traditionally protected from layoffs in past downturns. Move up the income scale a notch and the story is no less startling. As class secretary of my college class, I hear regularly from classmates around the country. Three who have been evicted from what had seemed to be safe perches in upper and middle management wrote within the past two months. Eight have done so over the past year. The following excerpts from one letter are illustrative (names are changed for obvious reasons): "As a result of the restructuring of US Widget, I left Widget on Aug. 31, 1993. Since the merger of Engulf and Widget in April 1992,12 of 13 Widget vice presidents are gone..." "Ain't we got fun," my classmate concluded. It's a kind of "fun" which has become very familiar to my generation. There are just over 21 million Americans aged 55 to 64. Of these, 13 million are working, 3 million are retired and about 5 million are in "other activities." "My generation wffl be the permanent victims of the restructuring of the American economy," a California man told his local newspaper. That helps explain why the United Auto Workers Union is concentrating its current contract talks with the big automakers on preserving the jobs and salaries of its current members rather than on preserving jobs for the next generation. Labor's crisis is in the here and now, as Detroit's Big Three keeps shedding workers in a never-ending struggle to become more competitive with Japan. Detroit is not alone. Manufacturers cut 275,000 workers over the past year, according to recent studies. Thanks in part to such cuts, with an attendant investment in new equipment and better methods, manufacturing productivity rose at a rate of 5.3 percent, compared to a fall in the overall business productivity rate of 1 percent. And thanks to those productivity gains, American products are competitive in world markets again. Against that background, more downsizing is inevitable. In the face of such projections, it is tempting to emulate the Luddities, those 19th-century Englishmen who believed the solution to their job woes was to wreck the machines that had displaced them. That wasn't and isn't the answer, but answers there must be. Throwing people on the ash heap while they are still productive is not morally or politically acceptable. If loyalty up no longer implies a reciprocal loyalty down in the job market, government must do more to take up the slack. In part, that is what a national health care system is all about. But there should also be other guaranteed bridges between forced early retirements and the kick-in of Social Security. The integrity and vesting of private pension systems must be more thoroughly insured or guaranteed by government than they are now. More attention and funds should be allocated to the retraining of displaced workers. Why? Because a nation that claims to care about all its people cannot stand by as millions are doomed to irrelevancy and despair by blind market forces. Call that the selfish bleat of an irrelevant generation, but understand that to ignore it is to gamble with the nation's future. The sound you hear all around is the shattering of the social compact. Once destroyed, it will be hard if not impossible to reconstruct. Hodding Carter HI, former State Department spokesman, is an award-winning reporter, editor and publisher. BY GARRY TRUDEAU OKAY, &eFOREYOU6ENT5 HEAP OFF TO PARTY, ARE THERE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS ? John Kennedy, before an audience of students at the University of Michigan. Today's birthdays: Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop is 77. Actor Roger Moore is 66. Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is 54. Actor Harry Anderson is 41. Golfer Beth Daniel is 37. SIR, I'M A NAVAL AVIATOR. EVERY PAY I PUT MY CAN ON THE 1MB FLYING Ht6H-PERFOf?MANC£FI6HTEKS> FOR. MY COUNTS! OF THE / ELITE! AFTER A HARP PAYATMACH2, AREN'T TEN- TfTLEPTDSOME ACJ1ONOH THE6POUNP? NO, LIEUTENANT, YOU AREWTSO EMITLEP. \ MACH2 eerzMz NOTHING? CLEAR. MACH2 ANP 504-

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