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GOP operative aims to get Nader on N.H. ballot

AUSTIN – A Republican operative with ties to the Bush family and Republican Gov. Rick Perry is helping collect signatures in New Hampshire to put independent candidate Ralph Nader on the November ballot. Dave Carney hired more than two dozen temporary workers to gather signatures for Mr. Nader, saying he believes the effort will boost President Bush's chances for re-election. More from the campaign trail Across the miles, an early debate for Bush, Kerry GOP operative aims to get Nader on N.H. ballot McCain gets rare ranch invite

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GOP operative aims to get Nader on N.H. ballot

BY WAYNE SLATER

AUSTIN – A Republican operative with ties to the Bush family and Republican Gov. Rick Perry is helping collect signatures in New Hampshire to put independent candidate Ralph Nader on the November ballot. Dave Carney hired more than two dozen temporary workers to gather signatures for Mr. Nader, saying he believes the effort will boost President Bush's chances for re-election. More from the campaign trail Across the miles, an early debate for Bush, Kerry GOP operative aims to get Nader on N.H. ballot McCain gets rare ranch invite

08/12/2004
Exxon Mobil Holds Support

Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders overwhelmingly voted down each of a dozen resolutions presented Wednesday during an annual meeting marked by tight security and stricter controls on shareholder remarks. But several proposals - related to the environment and gay rights - gained votes over previous years, thanks to support from environmental groups and institutional shareholders. Exxon Mobil has maintained its challenge of scientific claims on global warming and the viability of renewable energy technologies that many of its major competitors have pursued. The world's largest publicly traded energy company has focused on fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, because wind and solar power are unlikely to exceed 1 percent of the world's energy supply by 2020, chairman and chief executive Lee Raymond said. "Our track record demonstrates that we know the difference between good and bad investments," Dr. Raymond told shareholders at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, during a meeting that lasted more than three hours. "We won't jump on the bandwagon just because others may have a different view," he said. "And we don't invest to make social statements at the expense of shareholder returns." Shareholder resolutions at public companies rarely garner a majority of votes, and the sponsors of several proposals said they were pleased by their returns. Show of support The most heavily pushed was a new resolution calling on the Irving-based oil company to prepare a more detailed report about how it plans to address financial risks from climate change. It received 22 percent of the 5.5 billion shares cast. A resolution calling for a report on renewable energy received 21 percent of the votes cast, up from 20.2 percent last year and 8 percent the year before. "Every increase is just moving the issue further into the public arena," said the Rev. Michael Crosby, corporate responsibility agent for the Midwest Capuchin Franciscans, who sponsored the renewable energy proposal. Remarks from throngs of shareholders have become a tradition for the Exxon Mobil annual meeting, which has long been a target of environment and human rights activists. On Wednesday, Dr. Raymond fielded more than 50 comments - most taking about two minutes each - for and against the proposals. Some shareholders objected to new meeting rules alternating the comments from supporters and opponents on each proposal, at separate microphones and monitored for time limits by a system of green, yellow and red lights. Critics said Exxon Mobil changed the procedure to give its supporters - including company-backed groups - more leverage. Dr. Raymond said it was designed to provide both sides of each issue. "I thought there was a new level of mockery for the shareholder process," said Sister Pat Daly of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, N.J., the lead filer on the climate change resolution. "The company spent a great deal of lobbying resources to try to diffuse support." The highest vote came for a resolution on an anti-takeover "poison pill" provision, which received 32.3 percent of the vote, down from 44.9 percent. A resolution to include sexual orientation in Exxon Mobil's anti-discrimination policies received 27.1 percent of the votes, up from 23.9 percent last year and 13 percent the year before. The two environment proposals and the nondiscrimination proposal gained greater support last year and this year in part from a recommendation by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., an influential firm that advises corporate investors. But Exxon Mobil was unfazed by the increase. "The track that the company and the board are on is very consistent with where we've been and consistent with our views and philosophies," Dr. Raymond told reporters after the meeting. "There's nothing I've seen in the vote so far that would suggest that there should be a significant change." No tiger suits Shareholders at the meeting were greeted by an escalated police presence and tight security after 36 protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace - including some in tiger costumes - stormed Exxon Mobil's Irving headquarters Tuesday morning and disrupted operations there. A third of those arrested had posted bail by Wednesday afternoon, and the rest were awaiting arraignment, Irving police said. Exxon Mobil obtained a temporary restraining order Tuesday barring Greenpeace from interfering with its meeting. State District Judge Charles Stokes granted the order. With many Exxon Mobil critics away, the view outside the symphony center appeared more like a wild company celebration than a critique of its policies. Several dozen Exxon Mobil supporters marching on one side of the building entrance outnumbered environmental protesters on the other side. "We're sick and tired of the radical left agenda using our boardrooms to promote their own leftist agenda," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, one of several groups countering the protesters. "What they're really trying to do is promote a one-world government," she said, referring to the Kyoto protocol on global warming. Dressed in "God Bless America" T-shirts and even a Statue of Liberty costume, the company supporters chanted, "We love free enterprise," "Show us the science" and "Go back to France." Referring to the controversial proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Exxon Mobil supports, they chanted: "Drill ANWR, lay pipe, keep the caribou warm."

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Exxon Mobil Holds Support

BY Sudeep Reddy

Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders overwhelmingly voted down each of a dozen resolutions presented Wednesday during an annual meeting marked by tight security and stricter controls on shareholder remarks. But several proposals - related to the environment and gay rights - gained votes over previous years, thanks to support from environmental groups and institutional shareholders. Exxon Mobil has maintained its challenge of scientific claims on global warming and the viability of renewable energy technologies that many of its major competitors have pursued. The world's largest publicly traded energy company has focused on fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, because wind and solar power are unlikely to exceed 1 percent of the world's energy supply by 2020, chairman and chief executive Lee Raymond said. "Our track record demonstrates that we know the difference between good and bad investments," Dr. Raymond told shareholders at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, during a meeting that lasted more than three hours. "We won't jump on the bandwagon just because others may have a different view," he said. "And we don't invest to make social statements at the expense of shareholder returns." Shareholder resolutions at public companies rarely garner a majority of votes, and the sponsors of several proposals said they were pleased by their returns. Show of support The most heavily pushed was a new resolution calling on the Irving-based oil company to prepare a more detailed report about how it plans to address financial risks from climate change. It received 22 percent of the 5.5 billion shares cast. A resolution calling for a report on renewable energy received 21 percent of the votes cast, up from 20.2 percent last year and 8 percent the year before. "Every increase is just moving the issue further into the public arena," said the Rev. Michael Crosby, corporate responsibility agent for the Midwest Capuchin Franciscans, who sponsored the renewable energy proposal. Remarks from throngs of shareholders have become a tradition for the Exxon Mobil annual meeting, which has long been a target of environment and human rights activists. On Wednesday, Dr. Raymond fielded more than 50 comments - most taking about two minutes each - for and against the proposals. Some shareholders objected to new meeting rules alternating the comments from supporters and opponents on each proposal, at separate microphones and monitored for time limits by a system of green, yellow and red lights. Critics said Exxon Mobil changed the procedure to give its supporters - including company-backed groups - more leverage. Dr. Raymond said it was designed to provide both sides of each issue. "I thought there was a new level of mockery for the shareholder process," said Sister Pat Daly of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, N.J., the lead filer on the climate change resolution. "The company spent a great deal of lobbying resources to try to diffuse support." The highest vote came for a resolution on an anti-takeover "poison pill" provision, which received 32.3 percent of the vote, down from 44.9 percent. A resolution to include sexual orientation in Exxon Mobil's anti-discrimination policies received 27.1 percent of the votes, up from 23.9 percent last year and 13 percent the year before. The two environment proposals and the nondiscrimination proposal gained greater support last year and this year in part from a recommendation by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., an influential firm that advises corporate investors. But Exxon Mobil was unfazed by the increase. "The track that the company and the board are on is very consistent with where we've been and consistent with our views and philosophies," Dr. Raymond told reporters after the meeting. "There's nothing I've seen in the vote so far that would suggest that there should be a significant change." No tiger suits Shareholders at the meeting were greeted by an escalated police presence and tight security after 36 protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace - including some in tiger costumes - stormed Exxon Mobil's Irving headquarters Tuesday morning and disrupted operations there. A third of those arrested had posted bail by Wednesday afternoon, and the rest were awaiting arraignment, Irving police said. Exxon Mobil obtained a temporary restraining order Tuesday barring Greenpeace from interfering with its meeting. State District Judge Charles Stokes granted the order. With many Exxon Mobil critics away, the view outside the symphony center appeared more like a wild company celebration than a critique of its policies. Several dozen Exxon Mobil supporters marching on one side of the building entrance outnumbered environmental protesters on the other side. "We're sick and tired of the radical left agenda using our boardrooms to promote their own leftist agenda," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, one of several groups countering the protesters. "What they're really trying to do is promote a one-world government," she said, referring to the Kyoto protocol on global warming. Dressed in "God Bless America" T-shirts and even a Statue of Liberty costume, the company supporters chanted, "We love free enterprise," "Show us the science" and "Go back to France." Referring to the controversial proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Exxon Mobil supports, they chanted: "Drill ANWR, lay pipe, keep the caribou warm."

05/29/2003
Dallas Officials Lobby Legislators for Convention Center Hotel

Mar. 13-AUSTIN, Texas-Dallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee.

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Dallas Officials Lobby Legislators for Convention Center Hotel

BY Colleen McCain Nelson

Mar. 13-AUSTIN, Texas-Dallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee.

03/13/2003
Officials Lobby for Hotel Measure

AUSTIN - Dallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee. Groups that don't give Dallas a second look could be coaxed to come to North Texas if the convention center had an adjoining hotel, the Dallas Democrat said. And spillover from large conventions would benefit other downtown hotels, he said. The committee is considering a bill that would allow the city to build a hotel and use the new occupancy taxes to finance construction. City officials have discussed building a $ 265 million hotel and hiring a private company to manage it. Opponents argued that the project would be a bad deal for taxpayers and that the city should stay out of the hotel business. The project would siphon travelers from existing hotels, they said. After hearing four hours of testimony, the committee took no action on the legislation. Mr. Wolens, who wrote the hotel bill, and his wife, Ms. Miller, who testified in support of the legislation, provided the city's one-two punch at the hearing. Officials from Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, as well as Hilton and Marriott executives, also lobbied for the bill. Houston officials successfully sought similar legislation a decade ago. The city's new hotel is scheduled to open in November. Mr. Wolens' legislation would have permitted only Dallas to use occupancy taxes to pay for a convention hotel. But a substitute bill would include any city with a population of at least 250,000. Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the hotel has given the city a leg up in luring conventions. Fourteen groups signed on with Houston the day the city broke ground for the hotel, he said. A convention center hotel has become a necessity for a number of organizations, said Greg Elam, senior vice president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. At least 60 groups won't even consider coming to Dallas simply because conventioneers must trek from the center to hotels scattered across downtown, he said. "This is the most important single step we can take for the viability of Dallas for some conventions," Mr. Elam said. But some committee members questioned whether Dallas would really be on equal footing with cities such as Las Vegas and New Orleans by virtue of having a hotel. "I'm wondering what other attractions besides the hotel are going to be able to bring people to Dallas," said Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston. That's a familiar refrain in Dallas, Ms. Miller said after the hearing. "We understand that we've got to provide more things for people to do in Dallas," she said. The planned Trinity River project is evidence that city leaders are thinking big, Ms. Miller said. Opponents of the hotel bill argued that it's bad business to build a hotel on the backs of taxpayers. If a convention center hotel were likely to make money, "for-profit hotel chains would be beating down the doors at City Hall," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. She said the state should not submit to pressure to keep pace with other cities' tax-subsidized projects. "If Las Vegas builds the Taj Mahal, do we have to do the same to compete?" she said. Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies Inc., presented lawmakers a study that he said shows definitively that convention center hotels do not attract more travelers. "Convention center hotels do not create their own demand," he said In Dallas, there's no evidence of need for additional hotel rooms, Mr. Walker said. "A new hotel is going to steal from other hotels," he said. Mr. Walker, who has also worked for Holiday Inn, studied 16 large Texas hotels. Proponents of the bill disputed his findings because he examined hotels that were simply near - and not necessarily adjacent to - convention centers. Hotels attached to convention centers have been more successful than those even a block or two away, they said.

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Officials Lobby for Hotel Measure

BY Colleen McCain Nelson

AUSTIN - Dallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee. Groups that don't give Dallas a second look could be coaxed to come to North Texas if the convention center had an adjoining hotel, the Dallas Democrat said. And spillover from large conventions would benefit other downtown hotels, he said. The committee is considering a bill that would allow the city to build a hotel and use the new occupancy taxes to finance construction. City officials have discussed building a $ 265 million hotel and hiring a private company to manage it. Opponents argued that the project would be a bad deal for taxpayers and that the city should stay out of the hotel business. The project would siphon travelers from existing hotels, they said. After hearing four hours of testimony, the committee took no action on the legislation. Mr. Wolens, who wrote the hotel bill, and his wife, Ms. Miller, who testified in support of the legislation, provided the city's one-two punch at the hearing. Officials from Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, as well as Hilton and Marriott executives, also lobbied for the bill. Houston officials successfully sought similar legislation a decade ago. The city's new hotel is scheduled to open in November. Mr. Wolens' legislation would have permitted only Dallas to use occupancy taxes to pay for a convention hotel. But a substitute bill would include any city with a population of at least 250,000. Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the hotel has given the city a leg up in luring conventions. Fourteen groups signed on with Houston the day the city broke ground for the hotel, he said. A convention center hotel has become a necessity for a number of organizations, said Greg Elam, senior vice president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. At least 60 groups won't even consider coming to Dallas simply because conventioneers must trek from the center to hotels scattered across downtown, he said. "This is the most important single step we can take for the viability of Dallas for some conventions," Mr. Elam said. But some committee members questioned whether Dallas would really be on equal footing with cities such as Las Vegas and New Orleans by virtue of having a hotel. "I'm wondering what other attractions besides the hotel are going to be able to bring people to Dallas," said Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston. That's a familiar refrain in Dallas, Ms. Miller said after the hearing. "We understand that we've got to provide more things for people to do in Dallas," she said. The planned Trinity River project is evidence that city leaders are thinking big, Ms. Miller said. Opponents of the hotel bill argued that it's bad business to build a hotel on the backs of taxpayers. If a convention center hotel were likely to make money, "for-profit hotel chains would be beating down the doors at City Hall," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. She said the state should not submit to pressure to keep pace with other cities' tax-subsidized projects. "If Las Vegas builds the Taj Mahal, do we have to do the same to compete?" she said. Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies Inc., presented lawmakers a study that he said shows definitively that convention center hotels do not attract more travelers. "Convention center hotels do not create their own demand," he said In Dallas, there's no evidence of need for additional hotel rooms, Mr. Walker said. "A new hotel is going to steal from other hotels," he said. Mr. Walker, who has also worked for Holiday Inn, studied 16 large Texas hotels. Proponents of the bill disputed his findings because he examined hotels that were simply near - and not necessarily adjacent to - convention centers. Hotels attached to convention centers have been more successful than those even a block or two away, they said.

03/13/2003
Community News

CEDAR HILL Library to host youth art party March 1 An art party will be from 2 to 4 p.m. March 1 at Zula B. Wylie Library in celebration of Texas Youth Art Month. The event will feature face painting, refreshments, art activities and artwork from Cedar Hill ISD students. The library is at 225 Cedar St. DeSOTO Alternative rock concert for youths is today Amos Fest, an alternative rock concert for area youths featuring bands from southwest Dallas, Ellis County and Arlington, will be Friday at the DeSoto High School Auditorium, 600 Eagle Drive. The band Amos will also perform music from its debut album, For Life the Dream to Live. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets may be purchased for $ 12 online at www.amos.tv. Tickets are $ 15 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Young Life. Young artists program is Saturday The Dallas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will present its sixth annual Young Artists Renaissance program, sponsored by the DeSoto Arts Council, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdayat the DeSoto Civic Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. Call 214-428-7400 or Chandra Dozier at 972-409-9554 or log on to www.dallasalumnae.org for more information. Gardening group holds first meeting Thursday The first meeting of a new DeSoto gardening group will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bluebonnet II room at the DeSoto Civic Center. Monthly speakers will be provided in cooperation with the Dallas Council of Garden Clubs. Local art league meeting monthly The DeSoto Art League meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at DeSoto Presbyterian Church, 212 W. Pleasant Run Road. Each month, members bring their artwork to be judged by the attending members. January winners were Rudy Amato, first; Ava Freeman, second; and Carol Cull, third. Members provide refreshments. At the last meeting, David Dotter demonstrated various methods of throwing pots. A juried art show is planned for June to coincide with the DeSoto Toad Holler Creekfest. The league's next meeting is Thursday. Guests are welcome. Call Dotty Germino at 972-224-2209 or Ken Reese at 972-217-1546 for more information. Black photo series is being displayed The Ester Davis Distinguished Art Series is on exhibit through February at the City Hall atrium in the DeSoto Town Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. The exhibit features vintage photographs of blacks in all walks of life. Call 972-230-9648 for group tours. The series places the spotlight on three black art legends. Robert Jackson and Michael Mann from the "Art on the Boulevard" program publish and distribute fine-art prints by top local and national artists. Mr. Mann will present selected pieces from his collection. Akua Scott Rahsaan, a scholar and authority on African artifacts, will show pieces from her collection, as well. As an educator for more than 20 years, the native New Yorker-turned-Texan is a frequent visitor to her hometown and Africa. Production company offers theater classes ACT 1 Productions, under the direction of Maureen McDonald and Dennis Gilmore, offers after-school classes at DeSoto's Corner Theatre. The two directors have a combined 40 years' experience teaching youth theater and drama classes. The one-hour classes will run for six weeks. Classes are broken down by age and run from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays. Each class will culminate in a final presentation for family and friends. Call 972-223-0139 for details. Arts commission seeking talent The DeSoto Arts Commission is sponsoring the first DeSoto Star Search at 8 p.m. April 12 in the Corner Theatre, in DeSoto Town Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. The DeSoto Arts Commission is seeking singers, dancers, musicians, comedians and other performers. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in each of the following age groups: 8 to 12, 13 to 18, adults, and seniors, 55 and older. Winners will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges featuring Burton Gilliam, national spokesman for Pace Picante Sauce and actor in numerous movies including Honeymoon in Vegas. All performers must audition before the event. Auditions will be from noon to 5 p.m. March 29 at the Corner Theatre. Appointments are required. Call 972-230-9648 to schedule an audition. All singers and dancers must bring their accompaniment music. A piano is not available. Animal acts, pyrotechnics or lewd behavior will not be allowed. There is a 5-minute maximum per act. Kite festival will be April 19 and 20 Eden Kites, in conjunction with the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Kite Fliers Association, will present the annual Lone Star Kite Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 19 and 20 at Meadow Creek Park in DeSoto. The two-day festival will feature sport kite demonstrations, buggy rider exhibitions, parasails, food, an outdoor children's kite making class and Easter worship service on Sunday. The event will be one of more than 700 events held nationwide in celebration of National Kite Month. DUNCANVILLE Library presents black history exhibit A black history display will run through Feb. 28 at the Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd. The exhibit will feature letters from the days of the Civil War and various books. IRS help offered Wednesdays, Saturdays The Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd., is hosting free tax help. Sessions will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. AARP provides the Wednesday help. Internal Revenue Service volunteers staff the Saturday sessions. Call 972-780-5061 for more information. Hockey match to benefit area women's shelter The Duncanville Dr Pepper StarCenter and the Duncanville Police Department will host a Best of the Southwest Hockey Match between police and fire departments in the southwest area of Dallas County at 4 p.m. Saturday at the StarCenter, 1700 S. Main St. The event will benefit the Brighter Tomorrows women's shelter. The public is invited. The cost is $ 8 for adults and $ 2 for children 12 and under. Library to host events, Dad's Night Out series The Duncanville Public Library will host the Dad's Night Out entertainment series, which takes place at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. The library also will host other programs through March 29. The programs include Nursery Rhyme Time at 10:15 a.m. Mondays, home school videos at 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Spanish story time at 10:15 a.m. Wednesdays, library story time at 10:15 a.m. Thursdays and group story times. Groups of five or more should make appointments for the free programs. Call 972-780-5044. Citizens Police Academy to start Tuesday The Duncanville Police Department is sponsoring its 15th Citizens Police Academy. The 11-week course will run from 7 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday beginning Tuesday at Duncanville City Hall, 203 E. Wheatland Road. Participants must be at least 21 and live or work in Duncanville. A criminal background check is required. Call Pug Pagliara or Officer Eddie Edwards at 972-780-5027. Women's business group hosts annual scholarship Duncanville and Cedar Hill high school seniors are invited to apply for the annual scholarship offered by the Duncanville Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association. The application deadline is March 17. All applicants must be U.S. citizens who live in Duncanville or Cedar Hill, attend Duncanville or Cedar Hill high schools or be a daughter of an ABWA chapter member. A degree or career objective in business is not required. The scholarship will be awarded in May. For more information or to receive an application, call Evelyn Duncan at 972-296-7188. Library presenting Spanish story times Former teachers Valois Hounsel and Carmen Boyle are presenting Spanish Story Times at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays through March 29 at the Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd. The library's weekly video presentation on 13 subjects from the series Animal Life for Children allows home-schooled students, ages 4 to 10, an opportunity to observe animal behavior and habitat. The videos are presented at 2 p.m. Tuesdays through March 29. Nursery Rhyme Time is 10:15 a.m. Mondays through March 29. Library Story Time for groups are at 10:15 a.m. Fridays. Programs and tours for groups of five or more are by appointment only. Call 972-780-5061 for more information. LANCASTER Library to celebrate Black History Month Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library, at 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway, will host a program featuring a black history video festival and cultural and historical performers every Saturday in February. The schedule is: film Sojourner Truth at 11 a.m. Saturday and jazz trio Daddy's Chair at 2 p.m. All programs are free and open to the public. Call 972-227-1080. Meeting at library to feature actor Friends of the Lancaster Library will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The event will feature actor Bob Heinonen, who brings historical characters to life. The library is at 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Preschool story hour offered on Tuesdays Preschool story hour starts at 10 a.m. Tuesdays at Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library, 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Valli Hoski, children's and youth services librarian, leads the storytelling, songs, puppetry and movie activities. All programs are free and open to the public. Call 972-227-1080, e-mail camil@lancastertxlib.org or visit www.lancastertxlib.org. AREAWIDE Sock hop to benefit Bryan's House St. Anne Episcopal Church, 1700 North Westmoreland Blvd., is sponsoring an evening of '50s music, dancing and light refreshments from 7 to 10 p.m. SaturdayFeb. 15 to raise money and supplies for Bryan's House. Admission to the Sock Hop is a donation of either cash or supplies to Bryan's House. Needed supplies include baby food and formula, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, bibs and children's clothes. Bryan's House provides services to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. About 600 children and 250 families are served annually. For more information, call the church at 972 709-0691. Grief support group offered for parents Charlton Methodist Hospital offers a bereavement support group for parents who have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death. The group provides a place to talk with others who have experienced a similar loss. Counselors are available. The free sessions are from 7:30 to 9 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month in the main auditorium of Charlton Methodist Hospital, 3500 W. Wheatland Road in Dallas. Call 214-947-7127. Comptroller to speak to Pachyderm Club The Southwest Dallas County Pachyderm Club will host its 2003 officer installation banquet and fund-raiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Melrose Hotel 3015 Oak Lawn Ave. in Dallas. The featured speaker is Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Mrs. Strayhorn was the first recipient of the Friends of Texas Taxpayers Award from the Citizens for a Sound Economy. Supreme Court of Texas Associate Justice Dale Wainwright will swear in the new officers. Call 214-232-2381 to make reservations. Hospital to host technology fair Charlton Methodist Hospital is hosting a free technology fair to share information on the latest technologies for people with diabetes from 6 to 9 p.m. March 10 at the Outpatient Center, 3550 W. Wheatland Road. The technology fair is open to the public, and will feature vendors for all of the latest products used to manage and treat diabetes. The fair will also have Ask-a-Doctor and Ask-a-Dietician sessions so participants can ask questions. Call 214-947-0000 for more information.

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Community News

CEDAR HILL Library to host youth art party March 1 An art party will be from 2 to 4 p.m. March 1 at Zula B. Wylie Library in celebration of Texas Youth Art Month. The event will feature face painting, refreshments, art activities and artwork from Cedar Hill ISD students. The library is at 225 Cedar St. DeSOTO Alternative rock concert for youths is today Amos Fest, an alternative rock concert for area youths featuring bands from southwest Dallas, Ellis County and Arlington, will be Friday at the DeSoto High School Auditorium, 600 Eagle Drive. The band Amos will also perform music from its debut album, For Life the Dream to Live. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets may be purchased for $ 12 online at www.amos.tv. Tickets are $ 15 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Young Life. Young artists program is Saturday The Dallas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will present its sixth annual Young Artists Renaissance program, sponsored by the DeSoto Arts Council, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdayat the DeSoto Civic Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. Call 214-428-7400 or Chandra Dozier at 972-409-9554 or log on to www.dallasalumnae.org for more information. Gardening group holds first meeting Thursday The first meeting of a new DeSoto gardening group will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bluebonnet II room at the DeSoto Civic Center. Monthly speakers will be provided in cooperation with the Dallas Council of Garden Clubs. Local art league meeting monthly The DeSoto Art League meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at DeSoto Presbyterian Church, 212 W. Pleasant Run Road. Each month, members bring their artwork to be judged by the attending members. January winners were Rudy Amato, first; Ava Freeman, second; and Carol Cull, third. Members provide refreshments. At the last meeting, David Dotter demonstrated various methods of throwing pots. A juried art show is planned for June to coincide with the DeSoto Toad Holler Creekfest. The league's next meeting is Thursday. Guests are welcome. Call Dotty Germino at 972-224-2209 or Ken Reese at 972-217-1546 for more information. Black photo series is being displayed The Ester Davis Distinguished Art Series is on exhibit through February at the City Hall atrium in the DeSoto Town Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. The exhibit features vintage photographs of blacks in all walks of life. Call 972-230-9648 for group tours. The series places the spotlight on three black art legends. Robert Jackson and Michael Mann from the "Art on the Boulevard" program publish and distribute fine-art prints by top local and national artists. Mr. Mann will present selected pieces from his collection. Akua Scott Rahsaan, a scholar and authority on African artifacts, will show pieces from her collection, as well. As an educator for more than 20 years, the native New Yorker-turned-Texan is a frequent visitor to her hometown and Africa. Production company offers theater classes ACT 1 Productions, under the direction of Maureen McDonald and Dennis Gilmore, offers after-school classes at DeSoto's Corner Theatre. The two directors have a combined 40 years' experience teaching youth theater and drama classes. The one-hour classes will run for six weeks. Classes are broken down by age and run from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays. Each class will culminate in a final presentation for family and friends. Call 972-223-0139 for details. Arts commission seeking talent The DeSoto Arts Commission is sponsoring the first DeSoto Star Search at 8 p.m. April 12 in the Corner Theatre, in DeSoto Town Center, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road. The DeSoto Arts Commission is seeking singers, dancers, musicians, comedians and other performers. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in each of the following age groups: 8 to 12, 13 to 18, adults, and seniors, 55 and older. Winners will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges featuring Burton Gilliam, national spokesman for Pace Picante Sauce and actor in numerous movies including Honeymoon in Vegas. All performers must audition before the event. Auditions will be from noon to 5 p.m. March 29 at the Corner Theatre. Appointments are required. Call 972-230-9648 to schedule an audition. All singers and dancers must bring their accompaniment music. A piano is not available. Animal acts, pyrotechnics or lewd behavior will not be allowed. There is a 5-minute maximum per act. Kite festival will be April 19 and 20 Eden Kites, in conjunction with the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Kite Fliers Association, will present the annual Lone Star Kite Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 19 and 20 at Meadow Creek Park in DeSoto. The two-day festival will feature sport kite demonstrations, buggy rider exhibitions, parasails, food, an outdoor children's kite making class and Easter worship service on Sunday. The event will be one of more than 700 events held nationwide in celebration of National Kite Month. DUNCANVILLE Library presents black history exhibit A black history display will run through Feb. 28 at the Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd. The exhibit will feature letters from the days of the Civil War and various books. IRS help offered Wednesdays, Saturdays The Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd., is hosting free tax help. Sessions will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. AARP provides the Wednesday help. Internal Revenue Service volunteers staff the Saturday sessions. Call 972-780-5061 for more information. Hockey match to benefit area women's shelter The Duncanville Dr Pepper StarCenter and the Duncanville Police Department will host a Best of the Southwest Hockey Match between police and fire departments in the southwest area of Dallas County at 4 p.m. Saturday at the StarCenter, 1700 S. Main St. The event will benefit the Brighter Tomorrows women's shelter. The public is invited. The cost is $ 8 for adults and $ 2 for children 12 and under. Library to host events, Dad's Night Out series The Duncanville Public Library will host the Dad's Night Out entertainment series, which takes place at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. The library also will host other programs through March 29. The programs include Nursery Rhyme Time at 10:15 a.m. Mondays, home school videos at 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Spanish story time at 10:15 a.m. Wednesdays, library story time at 10:15 a.m. Thursdays and group story times. Groups of five or more should make appointments for the free programs. Call 972-780-5044. Citizens Police Academy to start Tuesday The Duncanville Police Department is sponsoring its 15th Citizens Police Academy. The 11-week course will run from 7 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday beginning Tuesday at Duncanville City Hall, 203 E. Wheatland Road. Participants must be at least 21 and live or work in Duncanville. A criminal background check is required. Call Pug Pagliara or Officer Eddie Edwards at 972-780-5027. Women's business group hosts annual scholarship Duncanville and Cedar Hill high school seniors are invited to apply for the annual scholarship offered by the Duncanville Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association. The application deadline is March 17. All applicants must be U.S. citizens who live in Duncanville or Cedar Hill, attend Duncanville or Cedar Hill high schools or be a daughter of an ABWA chapter member. A degree or career objective in business is not required. The scholarship will be awarded in May. For more information or to receive an application, call Evelyn Duncan at 972-296-7188. Library presenting Spanish story times Former teachers Valois Hounsel and Carmen Boyle are presenting Spanish Story Times at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays through March 29 at the Duncanville Public Library, 201 James Collins Blvd. The library's weekly video presentation on 13 subjects from the series Animal Life for Children allows home-schooled students, ages 4 to 10, an opportunity to observe animal behavior and habitat. The videos are presented at 2 p.m. Tuesdays through March 29. Nursery Rhyme Time is 10:15 a.m. Mondays through March 29. Library Story Time for groups are at 10:15 a.m. Fridays. Programs and tours for groups of five or more are by appointment only. Call 972-780-5061 for more information. LANCASTER Library to celebrate Black History Month Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library, at 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway, will host a program featuring a black history video festival and cultural and historical performers every Saturday in February. The schedule is: film Sojourner Truth at 11 a.m. Saturday and jazz trio Daddy's Chair at 2 p.m. All programs are free and open to the public. Call 972-227-1080. Meeting at library to feature actor Friends of the Lancaster Library will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The event will feature actor Bob Heinonen, who brings historical characters to life. The library is at 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Preschool story hour offered on Tuesdays Preschool story hour starts at 10 a.m. Tuesdays at Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library, 1600 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Valli Hoski, children's and youth services librarian, leads the storytelling, songs, puppetry and movie activities. All programs are free and open to the public. Call 972-227-1080, e-mail camil@lancastertxlib.org or visit www.lancastertxlib.org. AREAWIDE Sock hop to benefit Bryan's House St. Anne Episcopal Church, 1700 North Westmoreland Blvd., is sponsoring an evening of '50s music, dancing and light refreshments from 7 to 10 p.m. SaturdayFeb. 15 to raise money and supplies for Bryan's House. Admission to the Sock Hop is a donation of either cash or supplies to Bryan's House. Needed supplies include baby food and formula, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, bibs and children's clothes. Bryan's House provides services to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. About 600 children and 250 families are served annually. For more information, call the church at 972 709-0691. Grief support group offered for parents Charlton Methodist Hospital offers a bereavement support group for parents who have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death. The group provides a place to talk with others who have experienced a similar loss. Counselors are available. The free sessions are from 7:30 to 9 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month in the main auditorium of Charlton Methodist Hospital, 3500 W. Wheatland Road in Dallas. Call 214-947-7127. Comptroller to speak to Pachyderm Club The Southwest Dallas County Pachyderm Club will host its 2003 officer installation banquet and fund-raiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Melrose Hotel 3015 Oak Lawn Ave. in Dallas. The featured speaker is Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Mrs. Strayhorn was the first recipient of the Friends of Texas Taxpayers Award from the Citizens for a Sound Economy. Supreme Court of Texas Associate Justice Dale Wainwright will swear in the new officers. Call 214-232-2381 to make reservations. Hospital to host technology fair Charlton Methodist Hospital is hosting a free technology fair to share information on the latest technologies for people with diabetes from 6 to 9 p.m. March 10 at the Outpatient Center, 3550 W. Wheatland Road. The technology fair is open to the public, and will feature vendors for all of the latest products used to manage and treat diabetes. The fair will also have Ask-a-Doctor and Ask-a-Dietician sessions so participants can ask questions. Call 214-947-0000 for more information.

02/21/2003
Campaign of Ideas

What the candidates for lieutenant governor say is their most creative idea: Republican David Dewhurst Wants to curb insurance premiums by placing new restrictions on civil lawsuits, limiting attorney fees and establishing new state supervision of insurance rates. It would require legislative approval. HOW IT WOULD WORK A cap would be established for punitive, non-economic damages in lawsuits brought by homeowners against insurance companies and by medical patients against doctors. Those damages would be limited to a maximum $ 300,000, including $ 250,000 to the homeowner and $ 50,000 to a new state fund to monitor insurance industry practices. The same limits would apply to medical malpractice cases, but the $ 50,000 would go to a new state fund to pay premiums for doctors in underserved and low- income areas. Also, state supervision of rates would be established for auto, homeowners and medical malpractice insurance, with all premium increases subject to approval by the state insurance commissioner within 120 days of a rate filing. THE COST No estimates are available. CRITICS SAY "This plan will not solve the insurance crisis in Texas," said Dan Lambe of Texas Watch, a consumer group. "It is largely the insurance industry that has caused the crisis, and to reward them by limiting their responsibility to homeowners is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have heard. The only people you punish are consumers, and the only people you help are insurance companies." THE CANDIDATES SAY "There is a crisis in homeowners insurance and in medical malpractice insurance. The rates are spiraling out of control. It is threatening the right of Texans to own a home and to have access to affordable health care." Democrat John Sharp Wants to offer a free college education to every Texas student who graduates from high school with a B average. The program also would offer a free college education to children of veteran public school teachers. It would require legislative approval. His proposal is aimed at middle-class students who sometimes have a more difficult time financing a higher education than students from high-income families and low-income families - who often have access to numerous grant programs. It is patterned after the Hope Scholarship program in Georgia, where thousands of students have taken advantage of it. Students would have to maintain a B average to keep their scholarship, which would pay tuition and fees for up to 120 credit hours at any state university or college. The scholarships would pay part of the tuition at private schools. For children of teachers, the teacher would have to agree to work in a public school for at least 10 years. About $ 850 million. Mr. Sharp said the program would be considered only after legislators deal with the projected deficit in the state budget. "We would support and like to see more people go to college, but there has to be a better way than paying for it out of taxpayers' pockets," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a self-proclaimed conservative group active in textbook selection and other education issues. "I am not sure Texas can afford it. We should be shrinking government programs, not expanding them." "Nobody is doing anything for middle-class kids. Nowhere is that more true than paying for a college education. After we fix this financial mess we're in, we're going to do this for middle-class kids in Texas."

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Campaign of Ideas

BY Terrence Stutz

What the candidates for lieutenant governor say is their most creative idea: Republican David Dewhurst Wants to curb insurance premiums by placing new restrictions on civil lawsuits, limiting attorney fees and establishing new state supervision of insurance rates. It would require legislative approval. HOW IT WOULD WORK A cap would be established for punitive, non-economic damages in lawsuits brought by homeowners against insurance companies and by medical patients against doctors. Those damages would be limited to a maximum $ 300,000, including $ 250,000 to the homeowner and $ 50,000 to a new state fund to monitor insurance industry practices. The same limits would apply to medical malpractice cases, but the $ 50,000 would go to a new state fund to pay premiums for doctors in underserved and low- income areas. Also, state supervision of rates would be established for auto, homeowners and medical malpractice insurance, with all premium increases subject to approval by the state insurance commissioner within 120 days of a rate filing. THE COST No estimates are available. CRITICS SAY "This plan will not solve the insurance crisis in Texas," said Dan Lambe of Texas Watch, a consumer group. "It is largely the insurance industry that has caused the crisis, and to reward them by limiting their responsibility to homeowners is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have heard. The only people you punish are consumers, and the only people you help are insurance companies." THE CANDIDATES SAY "There is a crisis in homeowners insurance and in medical malpractice insurance. The rates are spiraling out of control. It is threatening the right of Texans to own a home and to have access to affordable health care." Democrat John Sharp Wants to offer a free college education to every Texas student who graduates from high school with a B average. The program also would offer a free college education to children of veteran public school teachers. It would require legislative approval. His proposal is aimed at middle-class students who sometimes have a more difficult time financing a higher education than students from high-income families and low-income families - who often have access to numerous grant programs. It is patterned after the Hope Scholarship program in Georgia, where thousands of students have taken advantage of it. Students would have to maintain a B average to keep their scholarship, which would pay tuition and fees for up to 120 credit hours at any state university or college. The scholarships would pay part of the tuition at private schools. For children of teachers, the teacher would have to agree to work in a public school for at least 10 years. About $ 850 million. Mr. Sharp said the program would be considered only after legislators deal with the projected deficit in the state budget. "We would support and like to see more people go to college, but there has to be a better way than paying for it out of taxpayers' pockets," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a self-proclaimed conservative group active in textbook selection and other education issues. "I am not sure Texas can afford it. We should be shrinking government programs, not expanding them." "Nobody is doing anything for middle-class kids. Nowhere is that more true than paying for a college education. After we fix this financial mess we're in, we're going to do this for middle-class kids in Texas."

09/08/2002
Plans Pitched to State Voters

AUSTIN - Better schools and bigger insurance bills - two surefire topics for politicians wanting to get the attention of voters this year. And in the hotly contested race for lieutenant governor, those subjects have become the central themes of the two major candidates seeking that post. Democrat John Sharp and Republican David Dewhurst are trying to sell voters on their respective plans to improve educational opportunities and reduce insurance rates - though each has a different emphasis. Mr. Sharp, the former state comptroller, is pitching a program to offer a free college education to every Texas student who graduates from high school with a B average and who maintains at least a B average in college. He also wants to offer a free college education to the children of any teacher who works in a public school for a least 10 years - a proposal designed to ease the state's teacher shortage "A high school diploma used to be enough for most Texas jobs. Today, more than half of all new jobs demand at least some college or post-secondary training, and half of those require a college degree," he said. Mr. Dewhurst, the state land commissioner, is promoting his plan to curb runaway insurance premiums by a combination of lawsuit restrictions and new state supervision of rates. His main targets are homeowners insurance and medical malpractice insurance, which have become much more expensive in the last year. "There is a crisis in homeowners insurance and in medical malpractice insurance. The rates are spiraling out of control. It is threatening the right of Texans to own a home and to have access to affordable health care," he said. Mr. Sharp's scholarship proposal is a holdover from 1998, when he narrowly lost his bid for lieutenant governor. "We have one group of politicians that does a lot of good things for rich kids and another group of politicians that does a lot of good things for poor kids," Mr. Sharp said. "And nobody is doing anything for middle-class kids. Nowhere is this more true than paying for a college education. "Their families earn too much to qualify for needs-based scholarships and not enough to shoulder the costs of college on their own." His plan, based on the similar Hope Scholarship program in Georgia, would cost about $ 850 million in the next two-year budget. He would pay for it using proceeds from the Texas lottery - money that already is dedicated to public education. Mr. Sharp also has a proposal to reduce insurance rates, and Mr. Dewhurst has a plan to offer interest-free loans to college students. But Mr. Sharp identified the college scholarship proposal as his best idea, and Mr. Dewhurst tapped his insurance proposal as his leading idea. Mr. Sharp said a better educated workforce is key to Texas' future and that "it's up to us to decide if the Texas of this new century will be an economic dynamo or an economic backwater." Proposal criticized A self-proclaimed conservative group active in textbook selection and other education issues sharply questioned his proposal. "We would support and like to see more people go to college, but there has to be a better way than paying for it out of taxpayers' pockets. I am not sure Texas can afford it," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. Ms. Venable said that with the state budget as tight as it is, "We should be shrinking government programs, not expanding them." Nick Voinis, a spokesman for the Dewhurst campaign, raised doubts about the funding source, because lottery proceeds go to public education. "How will he repay public schools after he raids their funds?" Mr. Voinis asked. "He has offered no proposals to replace the money he takes away from public schools." Mr. Sharp disputed that, saying he has made clear that if elected he first wants to deal with the projected $ 5 billion deficit in the next state budget. After that, he said, he will talk about new programs, such as his college scholarship plan. "After we fix this financial mess we're in, we're going to do this for middle-class kids in Texas," he said. Mr. Dewhurst is pitching a plan to cap jury awards in certain civil lawsuits, which he said have fueled rising insurance costs. "If there is one issue that might set me apart, it is my focus on driving down insurance rates," he said. Dewhurst's plan He wants to limit punitive, non-economic damages to $ 300,000 in lawsuits filed by homeowners against insurance companies and in medical malpractice lawsuits filed against physicians. The other major part of his plan would set up state supervision of insurance rates - including auto and homeowners - until the market becomes more competitive. The insurance commissioner would have to approve all rate increases. "We are seeing way too many frivolous lawsuits," he said, claiming that 60 percent of all medical malpractice suits are thrown out of court. "We can solve this problem by passing a fair tort reform act that protects the rights of people who are legitimately injured." Critics say the idea would punish consumers and help big insurance companies. 'Ridiculous' idea Dan Lambe of Texas Watch, a consumer group, said the lawsuit restrictions "sound like an idea that would be on the wish list of insurance company executives." "It is largely the insurance industry that has caused the crisis, and to reward them by limiting their responsibility to homeowners is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have heard," he said. The Sharp campaign declined to comment on the Dewhurst proposal. Mr. Dewhurst said there is a link between higher insurance rates and lawsuit judgments, such as the $ 32 million award won by an Austin-area family against Farmers Insurance Group. The suit was filed after the family's home was devastated by toxic mold. The same is true for medical malpractice insurance, where premiums have skyrocketed because of the large number of lawsuits filed against doctors, Mr. Dewhurst said.

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Plans Pitched to State Voters

BY Terrence Stotz

AUSTIN - Better schools and bigger insurance bills - two surefire topics for politicians wanting to get the attention of voters this year. And in the hotly contested race for lieutenant governor, those subjects have become the central themes of the two major candidates seeking that post. Democrat John Sharp and Republican David Dewhurst are trying to sell voters on their respective plans to improve educational opportunities and reduce insurance rates - though each has a different emphasis. Mr. Sharp, the former state comptroller, is pitching a program to offer a free college education to every Texas student who graduates from high school with a B average and who maintains at least a B average in college. He also wants to offer a free college education to the children of any teacher who works in a public school for a least 10 years - a proposal designed to ease the state's teacher shortage "A high school diploma used to be enough for most Texas jobs. Today, more than half of all new jobs demand at least some college or post-secondary training, and half of those require a college degree," he said. Mr. Dewhurst, the state land commissioner, is promoting his plan to curb runaway insurance premiums by a combination of lawsuit restrictions and new state supervision of rates. His main targets are homeowners insurance and medical malpractice insurance, which have become much more expensive in the last year. "There is a crisis in homeowners insurance and in medical malpractice insurance. The rates are spiraling out of control. It is threatening the right of Texans to own a home and to have access to affordable health care," he said. Mr. Sharp's scholarship proposal is a holdover from 1998, when he narrowly lost his bid for lieutenant governor. "We have one group of politicians that does a lot of good things for rich kids and another group of politicians that does a lot of good things for poor kids," Mr. Sharp said. "And nobody is doing anything for middle-class kids. Nowhere is this more true than paying for a college education. "Their families earn too much to qualify for needs-based scholarships and not enough to shoulder the costs of college on their own." His plan, based on the similar Hope Scholarship program in Georgia, would cost about $ 850 million in the next two-year budget. He would pay for it using proceeds from the Texas lottery - money that already is dedicated to public education. Mr. Sharp also has a proposal to reduce insurance rates, and Mr. Dewhurst has a plan to offer interest-free loans to college students. But Mr. Sharp identified the college scholarship proposal as his best idea, and Mr. Dewhurst tapped his insurance proposal as his leading idea. Mr. Sharp said a better educated workforce is key to Texas' future and that "it's up to us to decide if the Texas of this new century will be an economic dynamo or an economic backwater." Proposal criticized A self-proclaimed conservative group active in textbook selection and other education issues sharply questioned his proposal. "We would support and like to see more people go to college, but there has to be a better way than paying for it out of taxpayers' pockets. I am not sure Texas can afford it," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. Ms. Venable said that with the state budget as tight as it is, "We should be shrinking government programs, not expanding them." Nick Voinis, a spokesman for the Dewhurst campaign, raised doubts about the funding source, because lottery proceeds go to public education. "How will he repay public schools after he raids their funds?" Mr. Voinis asked. "He has offered no proposals to replace the money he takes away from public schools." Mr. Sharp disputed that, saying he has made clear that if elected he first wants to deal with the projected $ 5 billion deficit in the next state budget. After that, he said, he will talk about new programs, such as his college scholarship plan. "After we fix this financial mess we're in, we're going to do this for middle-class kids in Texas," he said. Mr. Dewhurst is pitching a plan to cap jury awards in certain civil lawsuits, which he said have fueled rising insurance costs. "If there is one issue that might set me apart, it is my focus on driving down insurance rates," he said. Dewhurst's plan He wants to limit punitive, non-economic damages to $ 300,000 in lawsuits filed by homeowners against insurance companies and in medical malpractice lawsuits filed against physicians. The other major part of his plan would set up state supervision of insurance rates - including auto and homeowners - until the market becomes more competitive. The insurance commissioner would have to approve all rate increases. "We are seeing way too many frivolous lawsuits," he said, claiming that 60 percent of all medical malpractice suits are thrown out of court. "We can solve this problem by passing a fair tort reform act that protects the rights of people who are legitimately injured." Critics say the idea would punish consumers and help big insurance companies. 'Ridiculous' idea Dan Lambe of Texas Watch, a consumer group, said the lawsuit restrictions "sound like an idea that would be on the wish list of insurance company executives." "It is largely the insurance industry that has caused the crisis, and to reward them by limiting their responsibility to homeowners is one of the most ridiculous ideas I have heard," he said. The Sharp campaign declined to comment on the Dewhurst proposal. Mr. Dewhurst said there is a link between higher insurance rates and lawsuit judgments, such as the $ 32 million award won by an Austin-area family against Farmers Insurance Group. The suit was filed after the family's home was devastated by toxic mold. The same is true for medical malpractice insurance, where premiums have skyrocketed because of the large number of lawsuits filed against doctors, Mr. Dewhurst said.

09/08/2002
Sculptures In Photo Open a Textbook Cover-Up Case

AUSTIN - The male sculptures atop the New York Stock Exchange building facade have never looked so - clothed. The publisher of a new economics textbook for Texas schools has decided that nude male sculptures are inappropriate for high school students - even the ones that adorn the nerve center of U.S. business and commerce. On the cover of Holt, Rinehart and Winston's new high school economics book is a photograph of the front of the New York Stock Exchange, including the sculptured relief that rests on top of the building's marble columns. Some of the actual male figures in the relief are naked - but not in the photograph, which depicts the sculptures covered with skirts. Inside the book, a smaller picture shows the male images as they really are - au naturel. A spokesman for Holt, Rinehart and Winston played down the book cover, noting that the sculptures in question are less than an inch high in the photograph. "It wasn't a big issue with us. We considered this a minor change," said Rick Blake, vice president of communications and government affairs for Harcourt Education, which owns Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Mr. Blake said the book's editors wanted the well-recognized entrance to the stock exchange building on the cover because it is such a "strong image," particularly for students studying the U.S. economy. At the same time, he said, they felt that "nude figures on the cover of a high school textbook was not such a good idea. There would always be the temptation for kids to damage the cover." The company has received no complaints about the book cover. "As things now stand, we have no plans to change it," Mr. Blake said. A group that has accused social conservatives of censoring textbooks said the altered photograph should come as no surprise. "The flap over the statues may be humorous, but the power that would-be censors hold over Texas textbooks is dead serious," said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network. "For decades now, a handful of activists from the far right have had a stranglehold over textbook approval in Texas. Because they can credibly threaten to raise a stink and have a book rejected, some publishers are turning to self-censorship to appease these groups." Taking issue with the freedom network was Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative organization whose members have reviewed textbooks under consideration this year. "I don't know of anyone who has even mentioned this book," Ms. Venable said. "But it is true that textbook publishers are paying more attention to citizens and parents because we are their customers. "When teachers and a small elite group like the Freedom Network squeal about our efforts, it just means they have lost control of the situation," she said. The high school economics textbook is one of several proposed social studies books up for adoption in Texas this year. The State Board of Education will make a final decision in November.

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Sculptures In Photo Open a Textbook Cover-Up Case

BY Terrence Stutz

AUSTIN - The male sculptures atop the New York Stock Exchange building facade have never looked so - clothed. The publisher of a new economics textbook for Texas schools has decided that nude male sculptures are inappropriate for high school students - even the ones that adorn the nerve center of U.S. business and commerce. On the cover of Holt, Rinehart and Winston's new high school economics book is a photograph of the front of the New York Stock Exchange, including the sculptured relief that rests on top of the building's marble columns. Some of the actual male figures in the relief are naked - but not in the photograph, which depicts the sculptures covered with skirts. Inside the book, a smaller picture shows the male images as they really are - au naturel. A spokesman for Holt, Rinehart and Winston played down the book cover, noting that the sculptures in question are less than an inch high in the photograph. "It wasn't a big issue with us. We considered this a minor change," said Rick Blake, vice president of communications and government affairs for Harcourt Education, which owns Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Mr. Blake said the book's editors wanted the well-recognized entrance to the stock exchange building on the cover because it is such a "strong image," particularly for students studying the U.S. economy. At the same time, he said, they felt that "nude figures on the cover of a high school textbook was not such a good idea. There would always be the temptation for kids to damage the cover." The company has received no complaints about the book cover. "As things now stand, we have no plans to change it," Mr. Blake said. A group that has accused social conservatives of censoring textbooks said the altered photograph should come as no surprise. "The flap over the statues may be humorous, but the power that would-be censors hold over Texas textbooks is dead serious," said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network. "For decades now, a handful of activists from the far right have had a stranglehold over textbook approval in Texas. Because they can credibly threaten to raise a stink and have a book rejected, some publishers are turning to self-censorship to appease these groups." Taking issue with the freedom network was Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative organization whose members have reviewed textbooks under consideration this year. "I don't know of anyone who has even mentioned this book," Ms. Venable said. "But it is true that textbook publishers are paying more attention to citizens and parents because we are their customers. "When teachers and a small elite group like the Freedom Network squeal about our efforts, it just means they have lost control of the situation," she said. The high school economics textbook is one of several proposed social studies books up for adoption in Texas this year. The State Board of Education will make a final decision in November.

07/26/2002
School Textbook Debate: Just the Facts or Rewriting History

AUSTIN - Their line-by-line review is done, and textbook critics say they want these "facts" added to proposed history books for Texas students: *Indian tribes were as much to blame as fur traders and tourists for wiping out the great buffalo herds of the Plains by shooting the animals for sport. *John and Robert Kennedy did very little to help the cause of civil rights in the early 1960s - and actually took actions that undermined the movement. *All prayer in public schools was not really banned by the U.S. Supreme Court decades ago. Students still can pray in school. Those and hundreds of other changes should be made to new social studies books that will be used in Texas schools over the next six years, say conservative textbook reviewers who will press their arguments at a public hearing Wednesday. Their opponents are marshaling forces as well, saying groups seeking the revisions are trying to inject political biases into the books by misusing a state law that requires all textbooks be "free from factual errors." "These are groups that are determined to control what Texas kids are taught, based on their own personal beliefs and political ideology," said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that frequently squares off with social conservatives on textbooks and other education issues. Wednesday, the State Board of Education - made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats - will hold the first of three public hearings this year on textbooks, and the proceedings are drawing national interest. That's because textbook decisions in Texas reverberate across the country. Among the states, only California buys more textbooks, and publishers whose books are adopted in the Lone Star State market them in dozens of other states. Lots of money is on the line. Texas alone is scheduled to spend nearly $ 345 million on social studies and other textbooks that will be adopted this fall and used in classrooms beginning in the fall of 2003. Ms. Smoot's group is leading a statewide campaign to urge the education board to leave the new textbooks alone - except for correcting what members call real factual errors - when they come up for final adoption in November. That would be a mistake, say conservative groups such as Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, which has called on its members and other residents to pore over the new books, seek out mistakes and take their findings to the state board. "I think there has been a general frustration with the liberal academia who are writing our textbooks," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. "This is one way for people to get involved and also express their frustration." Textbook battles were commonplace in Texas through the 1980s and early '90s when special-interest groups and board of education members argued over evolution, sex education and other politically sensitive subjects. But the Legislature stepped in and sharply limited the board's authority over textbooks in 1995, shifting more responsibility to local school boards. "I never believed that all the wisdom on textbook selection was embodied in these 15 people [on the State Board of Education]," said acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a Republican who as a senator in 1995 wrote the massive school reform bill that stripped much of the board's power over textbooks. Then last fall, members of the board's GOP majority took a step to restore some of their authority by rejecting an environmental science book targeted by social conservatives. The book, given good marks by a review panel of professors at Texas A&M University, was criticized over passages that praise the Endangered Species Act and warn about global warming. History repeats This year, board members scheduled extra hearings, and with scores of textbook critics and supporters ready to testify - 70 have already signed up for Wednesday's hearing - it seems like old times have returned. State board members such as Republican David Bradley of Beaumont contend that the panel has always had broad authority over textbooks despite the 1995 law, which says the board can reject textbooks only for factual inaccuracies, not meeting physical specifications or not covering the required curriculum in a subject. "We're winning the battle," Mr. Bradley said recently, referring to those who want to see the board take a more active role in reviewing textbooks. Mr. Ratliff, who has been at odds with Mr. Bradley on the issue, said he is increasingly concerned about misuse of the law to "police" textbooks for political correctness. "The language in the law was not intended to allow these groups to police opinions," he said. "The law refers to factual errors - and that is meant in the true sense of the word. For example, if a book says the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1775 instead of 1776, that needs to be corrected." Perhaps the most ambitious review of this year's textbooks was performed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a group founded by San Antonio millionaire businessman James Leininger, a big GOP contributor and supporter of social conservatives on the state board. The foundation spent nearly $ 100,000 to hire 16 textbook reviewers - mainly college professors and classroom teachers - who examined 28 social studies books up for adoption. They say they discovered 533 factual errors in the books and also cited the publishers for hundreds more omissions - facts that the reviewers say should have been included. "Finding factual errors was a secondary mission of the project," said Michael Quinn Sullivan, a foundation spokesman. "Our primary mission was to find what the textbooks are lacking, what they are missing." Clinton vs. Nixon The group's review of one high school history book accused the publisher of showing favoritism to Democrat Bill Clinton when comparing his presidential impeachment proceedings with those of Republican Richard Nixon. The foundation did not give high marks to any of the proposed social studies books, but did indicate it will not seek to have any of the books rejected. "We have not, and will not, ask for content to be removed. Rather, we want content added to ensure that every topic is treated fairly and presented accurately," said Chris Patterson, director of education research for the group. Opponents said the group's suggestions, such as those dealing with the Indians and buffalo and the Kennedy brothers, are off base. The Texas Freedom Network also is having its members, including parents and teachers, review the textbooks so they can answer the criticism of the conservative groups. One of those is Phil Durst, an Austin laywer who said he is concerned that the critics are using their political clout to censor viewpoints they disagree with. "My children assure me that their textbooks can be made long and boring enough without the religious right's dogma on evolution, gender roles and their view of Christianity," Mr. Durst said. Publishers are sensitive to the criticism, but they contend that the books up for adoption this year have a high level of accuracy, particularly when one considers how much information they include. "We are always willing to correct any errors that are discovered," said Joe Bill Watkins of the Association of American Publishers. "But sometimes there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes an error."

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School Textbook Debate: Just the Facts or Rewriting History

BY Terrence Stotz

AUSTIN - Their line-by-line review is done, and textbook critics say they want these "facts" added to proposed history books for Texas students: *Indian tribes were as much to blame as fur traders and tourists for wiping out the great buffalo herds of the Plains by shooting the animals for sport. *John and Robert Kennedy did very little to help the cause of civil rights in the early 1960s - and actually took actions that undermined the movement. *All prayer in public schools was not really banned by the U.S. Supreme Court decades ago. Students still can pray in school. Those and hundreds of other changes should be made to new social studies books that will be used in Texas schools over the next six years, say conservative textbook reviewers who will press their arguments at a public hearing Wednesday. Their opponents are marshaling forces as well, saying groups seeking the revisions are trying to inject political biases into the books by misusing a state law that requires all textbooks be "free from factual errors." "These are groups that are determined to control what Texas kids are taught, based on their own personal beliefs and political ideology," said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that frequently squares off with social conservatives on textbooks and other education issues. Wednesday, the State Board of Education - made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats - will hold the first of three public hearings this year on textbooks, and the proceedings are drawing national interest. That's because textbook decisions in Texas reverberate across the country. Among the states, only California buys more textbooks, and publishers whose books are adopted in the Lone Star State market them in dozens of other states. Lots of money is on the line. Texas alone is scheduled to spend nearly $ 345 million on social studies and other textbooks that will be adopted this fall and used in classrooms beginning in the fall of 2003. Ms. Smoot's group is leading a statewide campaign to urge the education board to leave the new textbooks alone - except for correcting what members call real factual errors - when they come up for final adoption in November. That would be a mistake, say conservative groups such as Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, which has called on its members and other residents to pore over the new books, seek out mistakes and take their findings to the state board. "I think there has been a general frustration with the liberal academia who are writing our textbooks," said Peggy Venable of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. "This is one way for people to get involved and also express their frustration." Textbook battles were commonplace in Texas through the 1980s and early '90s when special-interest groups and board of education members argued over evolution, sex education and other politically sensitive subjects. But the Legislature stepped in and sharply limited the board's authority over textbooks in 1995, shifting more responsibility to local school boards. "I never believed that all the wisdom on textbook selection was embodied in these 15 people [on the State Board of Education]," said acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a Republican who as a senator in 1995 wrote the massive school reform bill that stripped much of the board's power over textbooks. Then last fall, members of the board's GOP majority took a step to restore some of their authority by rejecting an environmental science book targeted by social conservatives. The book, given good marks by a review panel of professors at Texas A&M University, was criticized over passages that praise the Endangered Species Act and warn about global warming. History repeats This year, board members scheduled extra hearings, and with scores of textbook critics and supporters ready to testify - 70 have already signed up for Wednesday's hearing - it seems like old times have returned. State board members such as Republican David Bradley of Beaumont contend that the panel has always had broad authority over textbooks despite the 1995 law, which says the board can reject textbooks only for factual inaccuracies, not meeting physical specifications or not covering the required curriculum in a subject. "We're winning the battle," Mr. Bradley said recently, referring to those who want to see the board take a more active role in reviewing textbooks. Mr. Ratliff, who has been at odds with Mr. Bradley on the issue, said he is increasingly concerned about misuse of the law to "police" textbooks for political correctness. "The language in the law was not intended to allow these groups to police opinions," he said. "The law refers to factual errors - and that is meant in the true sense of the word. For example, if a book says the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1775 instead of 1776, that needs to be corrected." Perhaps the most ambitious review of this year's textbooks was performed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a group founded by San Antonio millionaire businessman James Leininger, a big GOP contributor and supporter of social conservatives on the state board. The foundation spent nearly $ 100,000 to hire 16 textbook reviewers - mainly college professors and classroom teachers - who examined 28 social studies books up for adoption. They say they discovered 533 factual errors in the books and also cited the publishers for hundreds more omissions - facts that the reviewers say should have been included. "Finding factual errors was a secondary mission of the project," said Michael Quinn Sullivan, a foundation spokesman. "Our primary mission was to find what the textbooks are lacking, what they are missing." Clinton vs. Nixon The group's review of one high school history book accused the publisher of showing favoritism to Democrat Bill Clinton when comparing his presidential impeachment proceedings with those of Republican Richard Nixon. The foundation did not give high marks to any of the proposed social studies books, but did indicate it will not seek to have any of the books rejected. "We have not, and will not, ask for content to be removed. Rather, we want content added to ensure that every topic is treated fairly and presented accurately," said Chris Patterson, director of education research for the group. Opponents said the group's suggestions, such as those dealing with the Indians and buffalo and the Kennedy brothers, are off base. The Texas Freedom Network also is having its members, including parents and teachers, review the textbooks so they can answer the criticism of the conservative groups. One of those is Phil Durst, an Austin laywer who said he is concerned that the critics are using their political clout to censor viewpoints they disagree with. "My children assure me that their textbooks can be made long and boring enough without the religious right's dogma on evolution, gender roles and their view of Christianity," Mr. Durst said. Publishers are sensitive to the criticism, but they contend that the books up for adoption this year have a high level of accuracy, particularly when one considers how much information they include. "We are always willing to correct any errors that are discovered," said Joe Bill Watkins of the Association of American Publishers. "But sometimes there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes an error."

07/17/2002
In Quest to Update, State Puts Social Studies Texts to the Test

"History repeats itself," Karl Marx famously wrote. "First as tragedy, second as farce." He might as well have added: Third as a high school textbook. Once a decade, Texas adopts new social studies texts for its schools. The politically charged process is upon us again, and the books up for approval are now available for public scrutiny. In the coming months, they're certain to receive it.

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In Quest to Update, State Puts Social Studies Texts to the Test

BY Joshua Benton

"History repeats itself," Karl Marx famously wrote. "First as tragedy, second as farce." He might as well have added: Third as a high school textbook. Once a decade, Texas adopts new social studies texts for its schools. The politically charged process is upon us again, and the books up for approval are now available for public scrutiny. In the coming months, they're certain to receive it.

05/21/2002

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