The Baytown Sun (Baytown, Tex.), Vol. 76, No. 224, Ed. 1 Monday, July 20, 1998 Page: 4 of 14
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PAT ON THE BACK
...to Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District and local
employers who supported this year’s JTPA program.
FEEDBACK: To comment on this page, call the Newsroom, 422-8302.
Wqt paptoton ^un
The Baytown Sun is published Monday through Friday and Sunday at
1301 Memorial Drive in Baytown.
Gaiy Dobbs Nyree Doucette
Editor and Publisher Acting Managing Editor
PubGc has a r^hft to know
about government blunders
W MB hen a public entity, like the University of Texas, or the City of Hous-
s|5| ton, or the Texas Lottery Commission, spends our taxpayer dollars,
m m we have a right to know how that money is being handled — or
mishandled, as the case may be.
That most basic Democratic principal is so obvious, it seems almost silly to
point it out.. ■■ ■ ■■■ •' ... .________.—--
But there is a disturbing trend on the rise among some elected officials and
government bureaucrats who don’t have any qualms about hiding information
on expenditures — especially legal expenditures — from taxpayers.
Our own Goose Creek school district has failed to respond to official Open
Records requests from The Baytown Sun for information on the cost of legal
work associated with the abandoned Carver Elementary School site.
But Goose Creek isn’t the only public entity that would rather not talk about
In Freeport, city officials are under fire from our sister newspaper, The Bra-
zosport Facts, for refusing to release details on a recent settlement that the city
reached with a fired former police chief.
Many public entities today are quite skilled at using out-of-court settlements
to hide bureaucratic blunders and personnel problems from taxpayers. Why air
out an embarrassing (or illegal) incident, when you can just write a check and
make the problem disappear?
Is this attitude legal? Absolutely not!
But violations of Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Open Records Act
are routinely ignored by indifferent prosecutors and apathetic state officials. The
laws are so toothless that local officials can act with impunity when it comes to
ft’s shameful that so many public officials seem to be able to rationalize this
type of deception as “necessary.” But it’s even more shameful that we, as a sup-
posedly democratic society, allow our elected officials to get away with this.
Today in history
Today is Monday, July 20, the 201st day of 1998. There are 164 days left in the
Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 20,1969, Apollo XI astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz”
Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon as they stepped out of their lunar
On this date:
In 1861, the Congress of the Confederate States began holding sessions in Rich-
In 1881, Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little
Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops.
In 1944, an attempt by a group of German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler
failed as a bomb explosion at his Rastenbuig headquarters only wounded the Nazi
In 1944, President Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term of
office at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
In 1977, a flash flood hit Johnstown, Pa., killing 80 people and causing $350 mil-
lion in damage.
Ten years ago: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis received the Democratic
presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Atlanta.
Five years ago: White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster Jr. was found shot to
death in a park near Washington, a suicide.
One year ago: Seven people were arrested after New York City police found
scores of deaf Mexicans kept in slave-like conditions and forced to peddle trinkets
for the smugglers who had brought them to the United States.
Today’s Birthdays: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) is 62. Rock musician Paul
Cook (The Sex Pistols) is 42. Rock singer Chris Cornell is 34. Rock musician
Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam) is 32. Actor Charlie Korsmo is 20.
— The Associated Press
Thought for the day
“Courage without conscience is a wild beast.”
— Robert G. Ingersoll, American lawyer and politician (1833-1899)
Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me.
— Exodus 32:26
All Clinton critics aren’t right-wingers
Jonathan Turley is 37 years old, but
looks 25. He is a mild-mannered law pro-
fessor at,George Washington University
and a committed liberal. And he has
become one of President Clinton’s most
persistent critics in the Monica Lewinsky
In court, on countless TV shows and on
op-ed pages, he’s argued — successfully,
so far — that no “protective privilege”
prevents Secret Service agents from testi-
fying before a grand jury about presiden-
And lately he’s made the case that Clin-
ton’s own failure to answer charges of
nerjury and obstruction of justice ought
10 lead to his impeachment by the House
and a trial by the Senate.
This week, he’s received six separate
inquiries from the House Judiciary Com-
mittee since writing a Wall Street Journal
op-ed arguing that the House’s job would
not be to decide whether the president
had committed “high crimes and misde-
meanors,” but rather to “indict” him and
send the case to the Senate — a compara-
tively easy task if Clinton refuses to
. respond to charges leveled by indepen-
dent counsel Kenneth Starr.
Separately, Turley makes a compelling
argument that Starr nearly has Clinton
locked in a legal box from which he can’t
escape — although some of Turley’s col-
leagues and friends say the young profes-
sor hasn’t factored in politics, Clinton’s
expertise and an escape route.
One thing’s for sure: Turley proves that
opposition to Clinton is not exclusively a
“right-wing conspiracy.” His parents,
longtime liberal Democrats in Chicago,
detest his stance on Clinton. “My father
asked if I could stop using the family
name,” he said in an interview.
As a college student, he worked for the
presidential campaign of Sen. Ted
Kennedy, D-Mass. As director of the
Environmental Law Advocacy Center, he
proved that George Bush’s Justice
Department was systematically scuttling
pollution cases. One official branded him
“that lefty law professor.”
Turley voted for Clinton in 1992, then
for Ralph Nader in 1996. “I’m so far to
Clinton’s left that he can’t even see me,”
When the Lewinsky case hit in January,
Turley started doing commentaries as a
neutral analyst. “It wasn’t the merits of
the .case that got me; it was the president’s
silence,” he said.
“It’s shameful that a president would
not testify as to alleged criminal con-
duct,” he said. “And all these assertions
of privilege he’s litigated and lost will
limit future presidents. I get the impres-
sion there’s nothing this White House
won’t do to escape telling the truth.”
As Turley looks forward, he sees it as
all but inevitable that the House will vote
to impeach Clinton — though he doubts
that the Senate will convict and remove
Turley is convinced that Clinton is
determined not to testify in court about
the Lewinsky matter and wants Starr to
send a report to the House, believing that
Republicans lack the guts to impeach a
popular president based on “just sex” and
lying about sex.
But Turley thinks that, through a vari-
ety of stratagems, Starr has it in his power
to deeply wound Clinton before the
report goes to the House — and that the
House simply can’t duck allegations of
perjury by a chief executive sworn to
uphold the law.
One potential Starr move is to subpoe-
na Clinton to appear before the Lewinsky
grand jury. If Clinton refused and was
found in contempt of court, Turley thinks
the Supreme Court would rule — as it
did in the case of Richard Nixon — that a
president must obey the courts. It would
not help Clinton in the House to be found
An alternate Starr stratagem would be J-
to indict Lewinsky on charges of perjury
and witness tampering, name Clinton as1
an unindicted co-conspirator and call bitft
as a witness at her trial. Refusing to r -
appear in open court would be even hard-
er than before a grand jury.
If Clinton agreed to testify in either "
place, Starr would ask him the same _ “
questions put to him by lawyers for PalJi;
Jones about having sex with Lewinsky,“ "
which he denied under oath. If he repeat^
ed his denials, he could be accused of -.22
committing perjury yet again.
Alternatively, Clinton could plead thjj
Fifth Amendment — a politically embSfJ
rassing action in itself — whereupon
Starr would give him “use immunity” ’ “
from a perjury prosecution. But his “ :
answers could still be used in impeach-’"1'
Clinton’s only way out, according to Tw
Turley, would be to confess that he has ' ‘
lied saying he wanted to “correct his tes- -
timony.” This would be deeply embar- ......
rassing but might end the case. Turley
doubts Clinton will do this, however, or _
that he will even answer questions when .
the case gets to the House Judictary -”11
If that happens, Turley reasons, the -
House will have no alternative than to
vote articles of impeachment for adjudP" 1
cation by the Senate. Only a majority
vote is needed in the House; two-thirdsjs
required for conviction in the Senate. Tur-
ley expects some lesser punishment than ^
All this is quite logical. But it ignores
the White House’s success (with Starr’s<
help) in making Starr a pariah, maintain-
ing Clinton’s poll ratings and convincing" ,A
the public that sex with an intern is no big
deal. I think what the House does
depends on the strength of Starr’s evi-
dence — and who’s in the majority aftqr.
the election. - - -j
Morton Kondracke is executive editor,;».A
of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol 21
Bill Clinton (D-2000)
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-2000)
283 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phil Gramm (R-2002)
370 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2934/(713) 718-4000
Representative District 9
Nick Lampson (D-1998)
417 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515
t • Representative District 25
128 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-7508 or (713) 667-3554
Baytown - (281) 837-8225
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Dobbs, Gary. The Baytown Sun (Baytown, Tex.), Vol. 76, No. 224, Ed. 1 Monday, July 20, 1998, newspaper, July 20, 1998; Baytown, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1022955/m1/4/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Sterling Municipal Library.