The Galveston Daily News from Galveston, Texas on July 4, 1999 · Page 10
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July 4, 1999

The Galveston Daily News from Galveston, Texas · Page 10

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Galveston, Texas
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Sunday, July 4, 1999
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Page 10
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GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS SUNDAY, JULY 4, 1999 l)\n.vM:\\s All / ' J .r-JlJ _„ THE WEEK IN REVIEW Our readers speak out on some of the week's hottest issues Today is Independence Day. "U.S. Flag" The U.S. flag It is our right, With seven red stripes And six that are white. A symbol of freedom We fly it with pride, But some do not care And take it in stride. Some have burned and repeat'ly Stomped it, on the ground, Those of you who don't care Another country, should be found. Many have fought in wars And for it, proudly died, Whether men or women They went with the tide. Some came home badly injured Many came in a box, Some are still missing All with emotional knots. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines Have always been accepted, And the U.S. flag Should always be respected. Shirley Cole Santa Fe Be it resolved: I will no longer allow my name to be considered as that of an upstart and fledgling among the eagles of power and longevity. I will continue to be generous and support the human resources of nations needing my help, but not to the degree of having that generosity used as a lever for future favors. I will withstand the abuses of a generation of my malcontents and unworthy inhabitants, as I have withstood such harshness in the past and have proved myself above such childish mutterings. I will bear fruit of a generation of industrious, trustworthy, deserving resources, the like of which have not been seen before, to right the wrongs done and continue to spread freedom and justice over the sphere we call universe. I will continue to have my banner shown with pride everywhere there is life, still standing for bravery, honesty, freedom and a way of life known in no other entity. I am and will continue to be a symbol of all man holds dear in freedom, justice and the pursuit of happiness. I am respectfully but without any doubt the bearer of strength. I am the flag of the United States of America. Ciaudette Holder Houston American flag a symbol of citizens' freedom The U.S. House thrice passed a flag-protection constitutional amendment and the upcoming U.S. Senate vote will be close. ' Heber Taylor ("Flag Protection Amendment Dangerous," June 25) might not understand why the amendment might pass, but most Americans do, including my 2.8- million member American Legion, which founded the 30-million- strong Citizens Flag Alliance to advocate in favor of the amendment. Taylor writes "... the only way to really damage the flag is to undermine the freedoms it stands for." One freedom the flag stands for is the amendment process, Article V, that protects the people from judicial and legislative repudiation of their values. Forty-nine state legislatures passed resolutions petitioning Congress to send them a flag-protection amendment for ratification. Another freedom the flag stands for is the people's First Amendment right to a "redress of grievances." The people disagree with a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in 1989 that invalidated laws against flag desecration in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Since the high court, by a 5-4 margin, struck down a flag-protection statute passed by Congress, leaving a constitutional amendment as the only flag-protection avenue, numerous polls have shown four out of five Americans support the amendment. Since ratification of the Bill of Rights, the people never viewed flag desecration as free speech. Only since 1989 has the Supreme Court deviated from the people's interpretation of where flag desecration belongs in our legal universe. And that vote was 5-4. The people must have the final say; that's one thing the flag stands for. Butch Miller, National Commander The American Legion The island has seen a bumper crop of seaweed on its beaches this year. Why must we try to clean up seaweed? I keep reading we can't keep up with getting rid of the seaweed. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe Mother Nature is saying, "I am sending a big hurricane, and I'm sending the seaweed to help protect your beaches?" The seaweed does hold the sand, and I never remember all the fuss about removing it until the visitors complained. Growing up, we went to the beach with the seaweed, and we had a lot more beach than we do now. Cellna Quyewskl Galveston Marie Noe, 70, pleaded guilty in Philadelphia last week to murdering eight of her children. The deaths of the infants between 1949 and 1968 previously had been written off as a bizarre repetition of crib death. Mother who killed kids deserves harsh punishment For religious and practical purposes, I am unalterably opposed to the death penalty, but it is an outrage that someone like Marie Noe, who murdered eight of her own children by suffocation, was given only 20 years probation "so researchers can study her to learn more about why new mothers sometimes kill their newborns." How about sparing the life of Timothy McVeigh so we can study the mind set of terrorists who kill innocent people. Terrorism is in. How about sparing the life of serial killers so we can find out more about the motives and minds of such people? More books can be written. Noe is the perfect argument against the death penally. If society can spare her (I think it should), it can spare anybody, even serial killers. Her punishment was so absurd that they even gave her probation. After Noe, the notion of "retributive justice" (an eye for an eye) is as dead as the proverbial doornail. Peter J. Riga Houston School board warned of present problems This statement was made by David H. O'Neal Jr., vice president of the Galveston school board, at the board's June 19 meeting. T rustees must make good decisions based on all the facts. These facts are derived from mountains of information that must be sifted through to make sure they are complete and true facts. The process of making good decisions takes time, effort and money. Recently, as usual, the public has been bombarded with misleading information of half-facts and half- . truths. Misinformation is worse than no information. Over 10 years ago, a previous school board foretold of the dilemma the school district would be in today. They accurately foretold of a poor and declining tax base, poor athletic facilities, declining academic facilities, enormous and escalating costs of antiquated facilities and systems and enormous and escalating transportation expenses since all activities — home and away — require transportation. That school board additionally foretold of not being able to build or expand anything adjacent to existing facilities without decreasing an already declining tax base. That previous school board continued to foretell of the district losing teachers to other districts that offered larger salaries. That school board gave the only immediate solution to eliminate the forthcoming problems: Build a new high school that had an Olympic- sized swimming pool, eight tennis courts, regulation-sized track, three soccer/football fields, two baseball fields, two softball fields, five gymnasiums, state-of-the-art cooling and heating system, 21st-century wiring for new and future technology, adequate parking for school and sporting events and enhanced a DAVID H. O'NEAL JR. entry/exit security. Problems arose when a few people, with a few facts, convinced masses of the people with no facts, to disregard the sound judgment of the school board with all the facts. The result was voting down the only immediate opportunity to have everything that was needed and requested in the district. The result is the present dilemma. Now some of the same few people that previously disregarded the sound judgment and foreboding of a previous school board are currently critical of the facilities and the current board. It appears that they want us to make bricks without straw. We are back to square one. These are the facts — and they have been carefully stated in previous school board meetings and workshops: • The district has a $50-million budget, but $42 million is for wages and benefits. • The remaining $8 million has: (1) some grant money that can only be spent for those purposes indicated by the grant. The remainder is for (2) enormous maintenance and operations costs of $6.5 million and (3) enormous transportation costs of $1.5 million. • Sporting programs are extracurricular activities and not required in order to be an accredited school. The state doesn't care if we play games, matches or tournaments. • The state provides no money for sports programs. • When one has little or no money, and no adequate property, one must align oneself with someone who has money and property. • The district is, and has been, trying to form a consortium to build an Olympic-sized pool. • The designated area is on city property adjacent to the existing football practice field. Therefore, any renovation of the football field house must be upward (two-story) in order to keep any practice area. • The district is trying to secure land for a track. • The average age of GISD schools is about 40 years. • All building construction must be done to last at least 40 years. • Priority building construction must be for the academic arena. • Inspection and awareness of facility needs were made before this past year. When the whole truth does not support one's particular cause, one has to be man or woman enough to accept the truth. The window of opportunity for immediately solving all facility problems has closed. Currently, a poor segment of GISD history is trying to repeat itself. Again, a few people with a few half- facts and half-truths are trying to persuade the majority of the people with no facts to disregard the sound judgment of the school board with most all of the facts. A recent example is the school board meeting of April 21. Keep in mind that the school board agenda must be posted at least 72 hours before the meeting. The agenda is posted by Friday afternoon before the Wednesday meeting. The agenda also is published in the county newspaper. Addi- tionally, the agenda is posted and placed at the front door of the boardroom. From Friday afternoon through Wednesday evening is more than five days. The night of April 21, five citizens addressed the board. The five citizens accused the board of not moving on an effort to form a faculties committee. Yet agenda item No. 8 clearly stated the forming of a facilities committee. A logical person would conclude that either these people don't want to see the truth or that they are being blindly led. I applaud, respect and encourage concerned parents and citizens to come to the meetings and express their concerns, desires and expectations of the district, but also I expect them to accept true, researched facts. I have no problem with anyone coming and making the same requests at every meeting. Likewise, if the facts don't change, I have no problem with the board giving the same answers at every meeting. It is apparent that the basis of the district's problem is a monetary one. If \ve had a lot more money, we could solve a lot more problems. This money can be raised by increasing the tax base and increasing the tax collection rate. So if you can help generate affordable housing on the island or peninsula, or if you can generate a business that can pay people a salary that would allow them to buy a house — do so. Or if you know of anyone who has not paid their full, current or back taxes — encourage them to pay. These things could generate more than $1 million a year. I'm hoping that I don't offend anyone by telling them the truth. But if I do, so be it. Remember, I was not elected to make good friends; I was elected to make good decisions. • MARSHALL STEIN Voters had control of school board A great many articles have been written about the problems concerning our Galveston Independent School District school board members. The many points raised about travel and self-dealing scholarships have great merit, and I believe some of the members should voluntarily leave the board. The point of this article, however, is not to pile on further but to discuss an additional source of the problem, perhaps the most important one. The members we are criticizing have been duly elected by the voters. The school board controls $50 million to $60 million a year, and elections to the board should be treated by the voters as a serious issue, at least as serious as elections to city council. Galveston citizens (myself included) are correctly quick to criticize the board but don't seem to take responsibility for electing them. For whatever reason — districts, isolated elections, etc. — the voters don't seem to take an interest in electing competent board members and very few competent and skilled people choose to run. To point out the severity of public apathy, I would like to summarize the results of school board elections in 1997. Three districts-were up for election 1A, 3C and 4D. • District 1A had two candidates — the winner receiving 20- votes, the loser two. • District 3C had two candidates — winner 33 votes, loser 12. • 4D had only one candidate (unopposed) with 20 votes. A total of 87 votes elected three people to control a $50-million to $60-million budget. To paraphrase Pogo, "I have seen the enemy, and he is us." It might help to stop having school board elections run independently of city council elections. Running them simultaneously would not only save money but allow for a larger voter turnout. The citizenry is right to criticize the current board for its failures, but until many of us take the school board election seriously and decide to run for office and vote, we all must share the blame. © Marshall Stein lives In Galveston. "It's hard to think of a better way to celebrate the birth of a nation than to celebrate the rebirth of our national symbol." — President Clinton speaking Friday about the American bald eagle and plans to remove It from the endangered species list. ® $ © "Down with Milosevic! Where is the money? Where are the bridges? Where is fuel? Where is electricity?" — A banner at an anti-government rally Friday night !n Pristine, Yugoslavia. ©@@ "Don't let this thing come apart now." — President Clinton speaking Friday about efforts to preserve the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland. © ?• ^ "The year 2000 is right around the corner. We have a responsibility to do what we can to help people solve Y2K problems before anything goes wrong." — Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif. T one of the chief House sponsors of legislation aimed at shielding businesses from a potential flood of Y2K computer- related lawsuits. The Associated Press

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