OPINIONS by jennyyingdi


									                                                                                                              the beaumont enterprise
Thomas Taschinger, editorial page editor
                                                                                                             1880 2005                                                                         (409) 838-2887, TTaschinger@hearstnp.com

       NOVEMBER 4, 2005
                                                                                OPINIONS                                                                                                                     14A

Incentive pay
for teachers                                                                                                                                                                                             Christopher Clausen

can aid Texas                                                                                                                                                                                        Residents need
                                                                                                                                                                                                     friendlier action

T                                                                                                                                                                                                    on bills from city
         he teacher pay incentives unveiled
         Wednesday by Gov. Rick Perry aren’t as
         big as they should be, and they aren’t
         the only things that Texas schools                                                                                                                                                              Successful competitors in
need. But they can help more students learn,                                                                                                                                                         today’s economy often are those
and the proposal focuses on improving cam-                                                                                                                                                           who value their customers. They
puses that need it most and linking pay to                                                                                                                                                           know keeping them happy is easi-
progress that can be documented.                                                                                                                                                                     er and cheaper than finding new
   Perry’s executive order provides $10 mil-                                                                                                                                                         ones or reforming grumpy ones.
lion for grants up to $100,000 to 100 campus-                                                                                                                                                            It’s something Beaumont city
es with large numbers of at-risk students. He                                                                                                                                                        officials should work on.
also will ask the Legislative Budget Board to                                                                                                                                                            Less than 45 days after Hurri-
provide another $25 million for 250 more                                                                                                                                                             cane Rita left a trail a devastation
campuses. That extra money is needed in a                                                                                                                                                            of downed limbs and power lines,
state as big as Texas — and which has so many                                                                                                                                                        and neighborhoods redecorated
low-income students. Perry also ordered the                                                                                                                                                          with blue-tarped roofs, the city
Texas Education Agency to add $600,000 to a
pilot project at three Richardson schools that
                                                                         ◆ READERS WRITE                                                                                                             sent out October water bills with
                                                                                                                                                                                                     disconnect notices.
boosts pay for high-achieving teachers who                                                                                                                                                               Unfortunately, many of those
also serve as mentors to other educators.
   This focus is welcome. The state is proper-
                                                                         Beaumonter asks state to watch potential abuse by insurers                                                                  receiving the notices weren’t late,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     and city officials seem convinced
ly committing more resources to the areas                                                                                                                                                            they did no wrong.
with the greatest need.                                                     After Hurricane Katrina, consumers saw                       out. But please help us little people, and make
                                                                         evidence of widespread abuse by the insur-                      Allstate empty their “good hands” to what’s                     An attitude like that toward
   These incentives shouldn’t obscure the fact                                                                                                                                                       customers might be understood
that all teachers deserve pay increases, espe-                           ance industry. We should not let that happen                    owed to us.
                                                                         in Texas.                                                           We pay top dollar for our insurance and get             from different sources.
cially those in some smaller districts that have                                                                                                                                                         ◆ If the nasty notice had come
a hard time attracting high-quality applicants.                             As a victim of Hurricane Rita, I’m asking                    nothing in return. Come on people, wake up.
                                                                                                                                         Our leaders should punish any company that                  from an out-of-town company
The Legislature’s failure to approve a new sys-                          that my state leaders put the insurance indus-                                                                              that financed a home or car, well,
tem of school financing earlier this year also                           try on notice that if they engage in unfair                     tries to take advantage of families struggling
                                                                                                                                         to rebuild after Hurricane Rita.                            perhaps a customer could over-
cost teachers across-the-board raises.                                   practices, the state will pursue action against                                                                             look that. That company didn’t
   Turnover rates remain uncomfortably high                              them.                                                                                      ERIC HENDERSON                   understand what the hurricane
for Texas teachers. Without good teachers,                                  I know Gov. Rick Perry has been bought                                                            Beaumont               did to them and to this area.
school districts can be dogged with low test                                                                                                                                                             But most of these companies
scores no matter how much they spend on                                                                                                                                                              pledged early in the recovery that
buildings or extra-curricular activities.                                                                                                                                                            they’d work with customers rather
                                                                         Inmate at Rusk says judges disregarded law on confinement                                                                   than resort to something punitive.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         ◆ If it was a large-scale, pub-
                                                                             While a patient at Rusk State Hospital, I and               law? In January 2005, Judge Walker even resist-             licly traded utility, perhaps it could
                                                                         my family have written several letters to the                   ed the Appeals Court, which ruled that he had               be dismissed as bottom-line cor-

Region should seek                                                       court concerning my release from inpatient
                                                                         confinement. As proved to be the case with
                                                                         both judges Layne Walker and Leonard Giblin,
                                                                                                                                         erred in sending me back to a mental hospital.
                                                                                                                                            Without obedience to the law and its prin-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     porate cold-heartedness.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         The companies doing business
                                                                                                                                                                                                     here haven’t had that approach.
                                                                                                                                         ciples at the highest levels, how can we expect
generating project                                                       all our efforts fell on deaf ears. Both judges
                                                                         showed a complete disregard for the law.
                                                                             There are certain conditions that must be
                                                                                                                                         the common, everyday citizen to obey it?
                                                                                                                                         There should be some kind of control or high-
                                                                                                                                                                                                         CenterPoint Energy’s bills
                                                                                                                                                                                                     include a separate flier advising
                                                                                                                                                                                                     that since winter heating season
                                                                                                                                         er authority to see that judges like Walker and             — such as it is — has started, there
                                                                         met before someone can be committed as an                       Giblin uphold and abide by the law.

        outheast Texas should compete for the                            inpatient in a mental hospital. Since 1998, all                                                                             are procedures it will follow before
        chance to be selected as the site of a                           of my doctors testified I did not meet those cri-                  What is the U.S. Constitution for? What is               disconnecting service.
        new $1 billion Department of Energy                              teria. However, both judges Walker and Giblin                   the purpose of a legal system if judges are                     Entergy Corp., whose customer
        project to generate electricity. Despite                         disregarded the law, ignored recommenda-                        going to do their own thing, with complete                  service approach and manage-
problems caused by Hurricane Rita, opportu-                              tions of several highly qualified doctors, and                  disregard for the rules and conditions speci-               ment was changed as a result of
nities like this don’t come along that often.                            committed me as an inpatient anyway.                            fied by the law?                                            the 1997 ice storm, was polite, if
    The project would generate power from                                    If the law is not going to be upheld, what                                                                              firm, in its bill.
coal or petroleum coke and use the resulting                                                                                                                             MILLET HARRISON JR.             “Please continue to send pay-
                                                                         recourse does a patient or defendant have? Are
carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery. All 24                           certain judges in Jefferson County above the                                                                   Rusk         ments as usual,” it read in normal,
regional councils of government in the state                                                                                                                                                         letter-sized type. Several lines
have been invited to apply for the project, and                                                                                                                                                      later, in similar sized type, it
state officials expect only half or fewer to do                                                                                                                                                      advised: “Amount due considered
so. Other states are also competing for the                                                                                                                                                          delinquent after due date.”
project, called FutureGen.                                                                                                                                                                               It reads like a velvet glove-iron
    A spokesman for the project noted that this
region has two of the three main things need-
ed — old oilfields that could benefit from
enhanced recovery and refineries that could
                                                                         Big oil empties our pockets                                                                                                 fist approach, the hardness care-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     fully contained within the civil
                                                                                                                                                                                                     request to pay a bill.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         In contrast, the city’s water bills
treat that oil. This area doesn’t have coal, but                                                                                                                                                     for October included many that
that resource isn’t that far away in Central                                       By ELIZABETH SCHUETT                                     And that’s about how long the bargain last-              announced, in red, almost double
Texas. The project also could use petroleum                                        N.Y. TIMES NEWS SERVICE                               ed — one month.                                             the normal-sized type in all capital
coke, a byproduct of oil refining.                                                                                                          Natural gas companies have predicted bot-                letters         “DISCONNECTION
    Southeast Texas has one of the greatest                                  GIBSONBURG, Ohio — What a surprise!                         tom-line disasters unless, once again, their                NOTICE.”
concentrations of oil industry know-how in                               Oil companies are making money. Who would                       prices increase by 30 percent, some insist it’ll                Weary from the hurricane and
the nation. We have a good chance of getting                             have guessed after all of the poor-mouth sto-                   take as much as 56 percent.                                 resulting cleanup, some who
something like this. Besides, if we keep trying                          ries circulating about hurricanes, interrupted                     So, what was their excuse last year? And the             received the notices stormed City
to land a big fish, eventually we will hook one.                         pipelines and, oh my, the “unfortunate” effect                  year before that, long before Katrina and Rita              Hall on Tuesday. Several were
                                                                         all of this will have at the gas pumps.                         came sashaying into the oil belt with hurri-                amazed to see their water bills had
                                                                             Unfortunate? Yes. But for whom?                             cane conditions?                                            increased. They had evacuated
                                                                             Last quarter — wait, I have to sit down                        But I’m not worried because my gas com-                  prior to Sept. 24 and hadn’t
                                                                         before I write this — ExxonMobil Corp.                          pany feels my pain.                                         returned for several weeks.
                                                                         became the first U.S. company to ring up                           Along with last month’s zeppelin-like
◆ PAUSE TO PRAY                                                          sales within spitting distance of the $100 bil-                 inflated gas bill for a relatively warm month in
                                                                                                                                                                                                         City officials were resolute.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     They had done no wrong.
                                                                         lion mark; that’s 75 percent higher than the                    Ohio, came instructions on how to apply for                     No late fees had been added.
   Lord, may we not look at yesterday’s prob-                            same time last year.                                            aid after I go broke paying my gas bill.
lems, but instead focus on today’s blessings.                                                                                                                                                        Also, those disconnected were
                                                                             Royal Dutch Shell PLC also reported its                     Ungrateful wretch that I am, I returned the                 past due by at least 60 days, and
Amen.                                                                    best quarterly results ever with a 68 percent                   enclosure to sender with a note: “Thanks for                some who paid prior to the storm
                                                                         jump to a piddling $9.03 billion.                               your help. How about a job?”                                did so with bad checks.
                                                                             Politicians are fielding a whole lot of flack                  Like a good friend, the gas company also                     Mayor Guy Goodson, an attor-
                                                                         from constituents. DO SOMETHING!                                offers monthly tips on how to keep my house                 ney by trade, offered a more san-
                                                                             SOMETHING? Sure. Let’s begin by picking                     warmer in winter without burning an excess                  guine view.
                                                                         the pockets of a few of the oily bigwigs.                       of their gassy gold.                                            “I mailed my check the week of
                                                                             The average 2004 salary for oil executives                     New windows! What a great idea. If I could               the storm,” he said. “Then I got a
                                                                         was $17 million. Exxon’s CEO pulled down $38                    afford new windows, then I wouldn’t be hav-                 disconnect notice after the storm.
THE ADVOCATE FOR SOUTHEAST TEXAS SINCE 1880                              million.                                                        ing a problem paying my gas bill, would I?                  They crossed in the mail.”
                        Aubrey L. Webb                                       Last year Royal Dutch Shell had to sack two                    Heavy draperies, they suggest, help keep                     That does seem reasonable.
                              Publisher                                  of its top dogs for prevarication and general                   warm in and cold out. Clever, eh?                               And no one can deny the city its
                                                                         naughtiness. One collected a yearly salary of                      So far, the only thing that hasn’t been sug-             due. For local government to do its
     Timothy M. Kelly                     Thomas Taschinger              $3.2 million and a pension worth $851,232 a                     gested is setting fire to the family homestead
             Editor                          Opinions editor                                                                                                                                         work — in this case supplying
                                                                         year. The other, pretty much the same.                          and warming ourselves by the flames.                        clean water and functioning sewer
      The editorial is the opinion of The Beaumont Enterprise as             Do we know anyone who is now, or who                           But, listen, we really shouldn’t complain                and water treatment systems — its
determined by its editorial board. Columns, cartoons, letters and        ever has been involved in the oil business?                     about doing our patriotic duty for oil and                  customers must pay their bills.
other items in the Opinions Section are the views of the writers or          Naa-aah.                                                    country. All across our great nation, real
artists credited, and not necessarily the views of this newspaper.                                                                                                                                       But this incident is as much
      Letters must include the writer’s address and daytime tele-            But wait — the prices at the pump have                      Americans are, as I write, stepping up to their             about what city officials value as it
phone number so letters can be verified. Letters must not exceed         plummeted — all the way into the $2.40 per                      thermostats and lowering them to chilblain                  is the value of a bill.
250 words and must be the original words of the writer.                  gallon range. Gasoline really is getting cheap-                 setting. Not that it makes a damned bit of dif-                 They have bragged, rightfully,
      Letters may be edited for length, libel, grammar, clarity and      er by the day; aren’t we lucky?                                 ference other than consumers are less likely to
newspaper style, without changing the meaning and intent of the                                                                                                                                      about how friendly Southeast Tex-
letter. Readers are limited to one letter every 30 days to ensure a          Uh, no. Some of us, whose long-term                         complain if their jaws are frozen shut.                     ans are to visitors, including the
diversity and variety of viewpoints.                                     memories have not been impaired by the                             Meanwhile, winter’s on its way. Pretty soon              thousands of workers who rushed
      The Enterprise will not publish poetry, anonymous letters,         industry’s daily doublespeak, are pretty sure                   we’ll be shivering our rear ends off; Rover will            here to help after Rita.
"open" or "third-party" letters written to someone else, letters that    we can remember paying about $1.20 per gal-                     be wrapped in Junior’s old sweats and our hol-
constitute advertisements, letters about political candidates during                                                                                                                                     City officials should extend that
election campaigns, letters concerning private legal disputes or con-    lon less last fall.                                             idays will be warmed by the knowledge that                  same friendly courtesy to city resi-
flicts between individuals, letters that are part of organized writing       There was a time when electricity was the                   the “Big Boys” will be taking home a fat seven-             dents, especially after a hurricane,
campaigns and letters that include previously published material.        cheaper way to heat a home. Lots of folks paid                  figure bonus this Christmas.                                rather than send bills suggesting
                Opinions, The Beaumont Enterprise                        some big bucks to convert. Then what hap-                          Hoo! Ha! Let’s hear it for free enterprise and           they are deadbeats.
                           P Box 3071
                            .O.                                          pened? Electricity went sky high. So, we                        flummery.
                     Beaumont, Texas 77704                               switched back to gas because it was the bar-                    Reach this columnist at:                                    cclausen@hearstnp.com
        e-mail The Enterprise at: ttaschinger@hearstnp.com               gain of the month.                                              eschuett@woh.rr.com                                         (409) 833-3311, ext. 451
                                                                                        ◆ Pages designed and copy-edited by Julian Galiano, (409) 833-3311, ext. 447 ◆                                                                   ●

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