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Legislators Look Elsewhere - No Tax Increases!
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Press Release

Legislators Look Elsewhere - No Tax Increases!

It is no surprise that Senator Albertson is losing support of other Senators for his proposed sales tax increase for school programs for at-risk children. Senator Albertson, an opponent of the lottery, but a supporter of raising taxes is obviously looking for a substitute for the controversial and doomed lottery proposal, but raising sales taxes is not the answer.

04/04/2001
Make Education Look More Like America
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Press Release

Make Education Look More Like America

Thank you, Dick. It was three years ago, here at the National Press Club, that I announced the formation of the Children’s Scholarship Fund. It has exceeded our fondest hopes as we have been able to help 40,000 low income children escape failing public schools and seek a quality education in the school of their choice. Personally, I have evolved from a person with simple charitable objectives into someone who has become painfully aware of the real facts of the education system in America.

04/03/2001
Sales Taxes on the Net Eyed by Congress
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Sales Taxes on the Net Eyed by Congress

BY David Clarke

WASHINGTON -- With the moratorium on Internet sales taxes ending in October, Congress is once again trying to resolve how state sales taxes should be assessed on products bought online. Three pieces of legislation proposed in the Senate propose two approaches to interstate sales via the Internet: A new uniform system for states to use in assessing sales tax on goods bought through the Internet, and a ban on sales taxes except when the customer and the company are in the same state.

04/03/2001
Potemkin Competition
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Press Release

Potemkin Competition

Editor The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty St. New York, NY 10281 Dear Sir: In the light of the California electricity catastrophe, we are surprised by Michael Armstrong’s continued support of forced structural separation of Bell company wholesale and retail services (Break Up the Baby Bells!, March 28, 2001). As was discovered in California, whenever regulators forcibly dismantle an integrated network enterprise, they ignore the law of unintended consequences at their own peril.

04/02/2001
Letters
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Letters

THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND OUR CHILDREN'S TEXTBOOKS Textbook irony The irony about the would-be textbook censors at Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy -- whom the editorial board correctly excoriates -- is that they profess, on the one hand, a commitment to free markets, yet, on the other, want to increase the monopoly power of government, through the State Board of Education, to edit and select textbooks. The reason is obvious: If the know-nothings had to defend their views in an open marketplace, going from community to community pressing their censorship campaign, they would be doomed to failure. Far better to exploit centralized government power in an effort to impose their backward views on a diverse population of more than 18 million Texans as a whole. BRIAN LEITER Director Law & Philosophy Program The University of Texas at Austin Good science It's no wonder that Texas ranks near last in public education when the state board appointed to oversee it couldn't pass a seventh-grade science test. Many believe the word "fact" implies that something can be known with absolute certainty to be true, when science teaches us the exact opposite. Absolute certainty is a pipe dream; a fact is "true" only to the extent that the most objective evidence has been presented to confirm it. Science regards biological evolution as fact only to that extent, and Darwin's explanation about its mechanisms dominates the paradigm only because all other competing theories have paled in comparison. Opponents of good science often ignore the best truth detector ever devised -- the scientific method. Of course, the fundamentalists on the State Board of Education are dead against teaching the type of critical thinking that good science requires, as it threatens their narrow view of the world and the foundations of their ideology. PAT DOYLE Austin Doing what's right The editorial of Nov. 14, where the editorial board tried to rally legions of liberals in Austin (assuming that there are legions of liberals left in Austin) to go to the hearings of the State Board of Education on textbook revisions, could have been written by the Texas Freedom Network. The editorial's biased characterization of Citizens for a Sound Economy was exactly how the TFN would have phrased it. Why would you put the word citizens in quotation marks? CSE is truly composed of citizens. I am a member, and I am indeed a "citizen." Like thousands of members of CSE in this state, I do not have a "religious" agenda, but I am concerned about the liberal bias that has existed in the textbooks that my children have read over the years. Thank God that the American-Statesman editorial board cannot intimidate, much less influence, the State Board of Education. ANGEL ABITUA Round Rock Honorable action I was gratified to read in the Nov. 15 American-Statesman that University of Texas President Larry Faulkner was recalling the university's official phone book due to "inappropriate advertisements." I am glad to see a man of his position in the community have the faith and integrity to publicly stand-up for what he believes is the right thing to do. Perhaps he will bring more of us out of the closet. Perhaps, some of our college students will learn from his example. Perhaps faith and integrity will return to the American way of life. W. H. "BILL" WIGGINS Coupland Classy lady I'm pretty sure I'm insulted by University of Texas President Larry Faulkner's "way too late" criticism of the Crazy Lady's ad in UT's phone directory. I am an old friend and admirer of Sid Tregre, owner of the Lady. I am also a woman who was not able to keep my own business going after the loss of my husband. Tregre helped me. She has not only managed to keep a business alive through Sept. 11, but is well-studied on many subjects she studied at UT. I wonder why Faulkner doesn't have the sense to admire this business owner? It seems to be the height of insult, and I'm not sure what Faulkner views as the way to treat a lady but he needs to study up. YO NEWBY Volente Hurting business Each time that I read about a city government proposing a public smoking ban, I am reminded of how fragile and cheap our personal liberties have become at the hands of these petty politicians. Whenever a ban of any product or service is imposed, our choices are diminished. A smoking ban is no exception. With no smoking ban in place, business owners have a choice as to whether to allow smoking in their establishments or not. Customers have a choice to smoke or not to smoke, or whether they will patronize an establishment that allows smoking or not. Nyle Maxwell, Round Rock's mayor and owner of several automobile dealerships throughout Texas, claims to preside over a pro-business City Council. Pro-business people do not diminish consumer choices. Considering that many more people have been injured or killed in automobiles than will ever be harmed by secondhand smoke, perhaps a limit on the number of units that he can sell would be in order? JACK C. MCKINNEY Cameron Mind your business Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell thinks it's "fabulous" that "Gus (Garcia) is considering a leadership role in promoting a smoke-free environment in his restaurants." ("City inspired to revisit public smoking rules," Nov. 19). Since when did Austin bars and restaurants become the property of Gus Garcia and the City Council? Last I checked, they belonged to the people who owned and managed them. Anti-smoking ordinances may seem like a fine idea on the surface, but in fact they represent a serious assault on basic property rights. Our bureaucrats and public-health busybodies appear to know little about free enterprise and even less about fundamental liberties. If they don't like smoky restaurants they should patronize those that voluntarily offer a smoke-free environment -- and they should leave the rest of us alone. JAMES WERNER Austin Ready to help I thank the mayor and City Council of Round Rock for the courage to offer citizens an ordinance allowing them to breathe clean, safe, indoor air in all public places. Mayor Nyle Maxwell stated we should promote the positives of this ordinance and look -- he has already begun by working with Austin's Mayor Gus Garcia. He has offered to work with other mayors in the metropolitan Austin area. Now, that shows a progressive leader. Youth and Adults for Safe Air members would be more than proud to help the mayor and council promote Round Rock as a positive, progressive, proactive, probusiness, health-educated, family-first city. Wouldn't you be proud to have these words used to describe the city in which you reside? SUE PETERSON Austin No fighting, please As a Buda resident, I was appalled to read about a physical attack made on City Council Member Chuck Murphy (Nov. 16 "Former Buda mayor charged with assault"). A city planning meeting is an official gathering of professionals concerned over the city's affairs. Physical brutality has absolutely no place at such meetings. Keith Thornsberry's comparison with school-yard bullies lacks mature reasoning and adult responsibilities that ensue once we have left our youth. The article mentions Murphy receiving an award for his water-quality efforts. Murphy's track record reveals he has been instrumental in reviving and actively managing Buda's Master Plan. Some would rather discard the plan and, apparently, their frustration gets the best of them. JEFFERY S. BARNETT Buda

04/01/2001
Letters
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Letters

WEIGHING IN ON PUBLIC SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS Textbook selections I applaud the efforts of State Board of Education member Dan Montgomery to address the issue of the state's textbook selection process (Nov. 26, "Education board isn't doing things by the book"). As Montgomery points out, publishers are caught between proposing a factual text that meets the state's curriculum standards and, at the same time, not offending the sensibilities of those who would prefer that we not teach facts they don't like. Unfortunately, our current textbook selection system is driven by money, and publishers who want their books selected must satisfy some very vocal groups. Legislation requires that the SBOE select textbooks that are factually correct and adhere to Texas' curriculum standards. It's then up to the local school districts to determine which books to use from the state-approved list. The SBOE blatantly violates its duty and defies legislative intent. Why should we continue to entrust our children's education to a group of people who willfully ignore the law? DONNA HOWARD Austin Howard, a Democrat, unsuccessfully challenged Montgomery in the Nov. 5 election. Correcting errors I am the reviewer who recommended rejection of a textbook on American government, to which Dan Montgomery seems to be referring, that taught that the Constitution could be "amended" by acquiescence to practices that violate it. The publisher did not agree to correct that error until the day of adoption because the author withheld his consent until that day. The publisher finally agreed to the change, nearly at the last minute. The State Board of Education would have had to reject the textbook or allow it to continue to misinform our students. The SBOE has enabled expert citizen reviewers to discover errors in textbooks and suggest corrections. Some have mischaracterized this process as yielding to demands by social conservatives for content changes that support their ideological agendas. The reviewers have been focusing on real errors, which have been numerous and serious. In this case, the misrepresentation of how the Constitution is amended was not just an error; it was a deception. It will now be corrected. JON ROLAND Austin Facts over ideology Citizens for a Sound Economy's Peggy Venable made some good points about educating school children (Nov. 27, "Giving our children right tools for learning"). She said parents should be involved in education. However, parents should not override scientific knowledge because of religious ideology. Parents who don't like the geological fact that the Earth is millions of years old or that fossils formed millions of years ago should be educated on the subject instead of having that idea removed from textbooks. Parents need to be involved in education, but experts should be the ones to decide what is a factual error and what is not. MARK JOHNSON Austin Most charter schools good As a private educator and a father who chose several charter schools over the local school system for my children's education, I have seen the positive difference between charter schools and public schools. The Austin American-Statesman's ongoing campaign elucidating the failure of a few charter schools is an attack on a decent solution to a terrible problem: the politicization of education by the public school technocrats and the gradual distraction from true education that has come from it. The charter school movement is one a solution that works. It should come as no surprise that a percentage of charter schools will fail. Those examples of financial failure on which the American-Statesman hangs its ideological hat are a small fraction of the charters. Most are successful. I would like to see comparable figures of Texas' public school mismanagement touted by the American-Statesman's editors. KEVIN TAYLOR Austin Idea for a courthouse One of the greatest eyesores downtown -- next to the Intel shell, the Comptroller's Office and the Post Office -- is the half-block due north of the existing Federal Courthouse. What a novel idea. Condemn that half-block, and build an annex onto one of the better-looking buildings in downtown. Naw, that's too logical and probably less expensive for taxpayers. KENNETH E. HOUP JR. Austin Giving to Israel Once again in the name of anti-terrorism, Israel asked the United States for an additional $4 billion in military aid and more in loan guarantees to bolster its economy. Since we know that the financing of the settlements on the West Bank and Gaza is done with American money, will this administration tell the Israelis that any aid to Israel must carry the stipulation that none of it directly or indirectly can be used to finance, maintain or otherwise support any Israeli settlement on the West Bank and Gaza? The United States is obligated to do this under international law and under a whole slew of U.N. resolutions, which it hypocritically demands be observed in Iraq but not in Israel. PETER J. RIGA Houston More pressing dangers Is anyone angry about the Department of Public Safety's "Click It or Ticket" campaign but me? They can just go ahead and mail me the traffic ticket. We all know the greatest cause of traffic accidents is a combination of high speed and tailgating, or drunks. So what are our law officers doing about this? They're writing more seat belt violations, of course. The "Click It or Ticket" campaign is absurd in protecting us from ourselves instead of from those really out to hurt us. Those sworn to Serve and Protect have turned instead to Nag and Harass. Sure, children should always be buckled in. But, wearing seat belts as adults in a land of purported liberty, we adults get to choose. So just mail me the ticket right now. And if a summons to sit on jury in a case of seat belt violation, I will acquit. Police need a reminding that there are real dangers to confront. R.F. MASON Lewisville Better places for events Why does every little event in Austin have to take place be in the middle of the street? We have a city coliseum, parkland all over across town, an exposition center, and even an unused airport. There are other places in Austin These are all places to have book fairs, marathons, hoop nights, etc., other rather than in the middle of some a street. I read recently that there are even was some fools that want to have a marathon on an active runway at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Why can't they run on the perfectly good unused runway at the old airport? What is it about showing off in the middle of the street and blocking traffic that is so attractive? The City of Austin needs to learn to say no to these idiots. What next? Are they going to shut down Interstate 35 for tailgate party? RODGER BARNES Austin

04/01/2001
Letters
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Letters

Legal doesn't always mean right Re: U.N. conference on arms trafficking: The small arms trade is a profitable $12 billion a year business that the United States justifies under the ruse of our right to bear arms.

04/01/2001
Letters
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Letters

When more than $500,000 of state funds were discovered to have been stolen at Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office last year, I wondered why no investigation was conducted by appropriate external authorities. I wondered if an investigation would be made about how a playroom was set up for Rylander's grandchildren in a state government building while other state employees have to pay for child care.

04/01/2001
Letters
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Letters

More about Ashcroft The Senate hearings on the confirmation of John Ashcroft are not following the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment states that a man's religion should not be considered in the election or appointment of any federal office. Yet these same senators on this panel swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is not a "living" document susceptible to change, but a contract protecting, not granting, our rights.

04/01/2001
Letters
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Letters

Austinites can help Mexican Indians Austinites can help Tarahumara Indians by buying their arts and crafts at the International Pavilion of Texas Wildlife Expo, an annual event held in Austin the first weekend in October. The Tarahumaras who come to Texas Wildlife Expo also provide tourism information about their community ecotourism projects.

04/01/2001

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