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Tuesday, October 1, 1996

County OKs raises, two cent tax rate cut

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Staff Writer

Raises and a two cent cut in the property tax rate were the happy
outcome of a hearing on the fiscal 1997 budget, held Monday afternoon by
the Reeves County Commissioners Court.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo offered a modified budget proposal
following a public hearing Monday morning on the third floor of the
courthouse, during which requests were made by various department heads
for employee pay raises.

"What I'm proposing that we do is to lower the tax rate by two cents and
restructure our spending in order to allow us to also give an increase
to general fund employees," said Galindo.

"What we must remember is that we have come a long way from deficit
spending, to positive cash flow and the opportunity to achieve the
objective that I set out to achieve, which was to reduce taxes in Reeves
County," he said.

"It has been a very difficult struggle to bring about change because
change is very difficult for people, but I think that people can now see
what we were trying to do," he said.

The tax rate was lowered from 57.916 to 55.196 for the following year.

Pecos' combined city, county, school and hospital tax rate is among the
highest in Texas, at $3.01 per $100 valuation during fiscal 1996. That
was cited by Galindo as a reason for cutting the county's tax rate.

"A good number of people have been meeting to discuss opportunities for
economic development and the consensus is that in order to achieve
economic development you have got to bring about property tax relief,"
said Galindo.

"Businesses and local residents are being choked by the high taxes and
in this discussion of tax abatement each elected official has been asked
to appoint a representative in the community to discuss tax abatement
and I have asked Mac McKinnon of the Enterprise to serve on my behalf to
look at tax abatements and this whole issue of taxes," said Galindo.

Galindo stated that the objective from a local taxing entity should be
tax reduction.

"After hearing a lot of the concerns, both from the employees here at
the courthouse and the public, and soliciting input from a lot of
people, it's apparent that there has been neglect for a long time," he

During the public hearing, most department heads were on hand to express
their concern over the pay scale and employee policy.

Galindo told the court that it was impossible to fix all the problems
within one day or one year, but hopefully this would be a step in the
right direction.

His proposal included a $1,000 a year raise for all county employees and
for Road and Bridge employees.

"If the individual has not been employed with the county for a year, the
raise would be implemented when the they have completed one year of
service," said Galindo.

Galindo's proposal was approved in a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Precinct 4
Bernardo Martinez made the motion to accept the proposal along with the
tax decrease of two cents, setting the tax rate at 55.196 per $100

Commissioner Precinct 2 Lupe Garcia seconded the motion with Precinct 3
Commissioner Herman Tarin voting for the motion and Precinct 2
Commissioner W.J. Bang voting against.

Bang told the court that his decision to vote against the motion stemmed
from the idea that he wanted the tax rate cut and salary increase
motions to be separated.

Bang also opposed the creation of a new position in the courthouse,
which was part of the motion. Along with the pay raises, some personnel
would be reclassified, allowing for a personnel director position, which
Galindo said is something the county is in dire need of.

"This motion should be divided because it concerns two major issues,"
said Bang.

In the reclassification, one employee from the treasurer's office will
be designated as the personnel director. Lilia Cazares will be the
personnel director for Reeves County and Sonja Nichols will assume the
position of department coordinator for the treasurer's office.

Galindo said the personnel position "is a function of government that is
already here, something vital that the county needs."

Bang argued that this was duplicating functions, since the county
treasurer takes care of all personnel business.

"The county treasurer will no longer be responsible for personnel
functions, but the duties will fall on the appointed personnel
director," said Galindo.

The personnel director's salary will be funded proportionately to the
number of employees in the three major funds.

Sixty percent of county workers are funded through the Reeves County
Detention Center, 25 percent are paid from the general fund, and 15
percent from Road and Bridge.

LEC officials, inmate testify about beatings

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Staff Writer

Testimony continued this morning in federal court in Pecos into the 1993
beatings of a two black inmates at the Reeves County Law Enforcement

This morning the seven-man jury heard testimonies from former LEC (now
Reeves County Detention Center) Associate Warden J.J. Garcia,
then-Federal Programs Manager Anna Ortega this morning, while Lieutenant
Lavaughn Garnto took the witness stand just before lunch.

Co-plaintiff Joshua Edigen's testimony ended Monday's court session at
6:30 p.m. He resumed testifying during this morning's session in Judge
Lucius D. Bunton's federal courtroom.

Edigen described the beatings of himself and Olu Akhigbe, which occurred
on July 19, 1993 in the prison's recreation yard.

He told the court that he did not see Garcia take any physical action to
close the yard. "He wasn't concerned about my safety," Edigen testified.

Edigen and Akhigbe are alleging that jail officials displayed an
indifference towards their safety and requests for protection during
their stay at the LEC.

Attorney Anthony Nelson, who is defending Reeves County and
co-defendants, Garcia, Garnto, Joe Trujillo, Hector Sanchez, asked
Edigen why he refused protective custody from jail officials.

Edigen responded that protective custody would meant he would have to
stay in an area deemed for disciplinary action and he did not want to
lose his privileges.

"And that was more important to you than your safety,?" asked Nelson
before dismissing the plaintiff.

Nelson questioned Edigen on why he decided to go out into the recreation
yard on the July the 19th considering threatening actions by Hispanic
inmates the previous day when he answered, "because I felt I could after
Garcia told me not to worry about it."

Edigen said he was knocked unconscious with an unknown object and picked
up by three men during the July 19, 1993 assault. He stated earlier that
he did not see any of the Hispanic inmates possessing weapons.

Akhgibe said during earlier testimony that he saw Hispanic inmates
surrounding the yard with bard and clubs in their hands.

Akhgibe gave an emotional account about his beating that same day Monday

He told jurors that he was stabbed in the back and he had bruises to his
knee and neck and his jaw snapped out of place.

The plaintiff said he now suffers from knee and lower back problems.
He's said he also had to attend therapy session for the matter, and for
the realignment of his jaw, and added that he now suffers from migraine

Akhgibe added that shortly after his beating he was taken to the
infirmary and later to Reeves County Hospital where he said doctors
suggested he remain, but jail officials insisted he go back to the

While at the hospital, Akhigbe said he was treated for blood poisoning
from the stab wound.

The man then said that he requested a transfer but was denied and told
that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was looking into it. He also stated that
he submitted written requests for medical attention to Ortega and Garnto.

The plaintiff said he was unable to come up with a number of his request
for assistance documents because he left them with Sanchez when he was
finally transferred to a Louisiana facility in August of 1993.

"It was a luxury to mail out letters," said Akhigbe in regards to the
defending attorney's question on why he hadn't mailed his requests
directly to BOP officials.

He accused jail officials of not allowing such materials to be mailed
out to BOP or any other documents that would, "implicate the facility."

Edigen who also complained of knee problems from his attack while at the
LEC, was asked by the defense why he signed a form before being admitted
into the local jail stating that he had a previous knee injury.

"The knee problem has gotten worse," he exclaimed.

Ortega testified that prior to the violent incident of July 19, 1993 she
did not receive any request or notice of threat from Edigen or Akhigbe.
She did mention that Edigen submitted a request to get married prior to
July, 1993.

Bunton denied Nelson's motion for a judgment on his defendants' behalf
on the basis that no proof of deliberate indifference was presented by
the plaintiffs through Edigen's accounts.

Mail-in ballots available;

registration deadline near

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Mail-in ballots are now available to persons not able to vote by
personal appearance for the upcoming November general election.

Applications to qualify for the special ballots are currently available
at the Reeves County Clerks Office. They can be picked up in person or
mailed out upon phone request.

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said that persons who qualify to vote
by mail can request the ballots by phone or pick them up through Oct.
29. Once votes have been cast, the ballots can be turned in by mail or
in person.

Early voting by personal appearance begins Oct. 16 and will go on
through Nov. 1. Mail-in ballots cannot be hand delivered and must be
mailed in to the clerk's office during this period.

Persons who have not yet registered to vote in the Nov. 8 general
election have until Friday to do so at the Reeves County Courthouse.

For more information interested parties can call Florez' office at
915-445-5467, or write to Reeves County Clerk's Office, P.O. Box 867,
Pecos, Texas 79772.

Higher minimum wage goes into effect today

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Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The minimum wage rose to $4.75 today, a 50-cent-an-hour pay
raise the government estimates will lift thousands of Americans out of

``The minimum wage is not going to cure poverty in one fell swoop,''
Labor Secretary Robert Reich said in an interview Monday. ``But clearly
this is a major step forward for hard-working people at the bottom rung
of our economy.''

The Commerce Department reported last week the number of poor Americans
had dropped 1.6 million to 36.4 million from 1994 to 1995. The poverty
threshold for a family of four in 1995 was $15,569.

The 50-cent an hour raise in the minimum wage is the first of two
increases that will boost it to $5.15 an hour next Sept. 1. The overall
90-cent raise means an additional $1,800 annually for a full-time worker
and, the government estimates, will remove 300,000 Americans from
poverty rolls.

The last increase was a 45-cent boost in April 1991.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said 3.66 million
hourly workers earned at or below the minimum before the new law became

A sharply divided Congress enacted the increase on Aug. 2 - a rare
Democratic legislative victory during 20 months of Republican control
that came only with the help of GOP moderates.

``I don't think there was a single issue in the 104th Congress on which
the sides were so opposed and the debate was so clear as this one,''
Reich contended.

Both sides used different studies to support their arguments.

Conservative Republicans argued vehemently that raising the minimum wage
would price many entry-level jobs out of existence. House Majority
Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, had pledged to fight the raise ``with every
fiber of my being.''

Democrats, on the other hand, said if the wage were not increased, its
inflation-adjusted value would fall to a 40-year low by January. They
argued that rather than destroy jobs, the raise would increase the
living standards of the poorest American workers.

In the end, the legislation included a $21 billion package of tax cuts
over 10 years, mollifying conservatives and their small-business
backers, who are getting more generous equipment write-offs and a new
type of simplified pension plan for companies employing 100 or fewer

The wage package partly excludes workers who receive tips. Their
employers will have to pay a minimum of $2.13 an hour, the same as
before, and provide more only if the employees don't collect enough tips
to earn the new minimum.

It also provides a ``training wage'' that holds the hourly rate at $4.25
an hour for employees younger than 20 during their first 90 days on the

Perot's lawyers take debate case to court

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Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Excluding Ross Perot and other third-party candidates from
the upcoming presidential debates is unconstitutional, Perot's attorney
argued in federal court today.

``This is a blatant violation of the First Amendment,'' Perot attorney
Jamin Raskin told U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in morning arguments.
Hogan said he would rule on the case today.

Perot's Reform Party and the Natural Law Party are seeking a preliminary
injunction that could clear the way for them to be included in Sunday's
debate in Hartford, Conn.

They are challenging a decision last month by the Commission on
Presidential Debates, which decided to exclude Perot from the debate
after determining he had no realistic chance of winning the November

``Seventy percent of the American people want Perot in this debate,''
Raskin said. ``Ten unelected members of the CPD say, `No.' The American
people know there's something wrong here, and this court cannot let it

Stephen Newmark, an attorney for Natural Law Party candidate John
Hagelin, also portrayed the debate commission as a clubby group of
self-interested elections officials.

``They are cartel members, and they have every interest in keeping the
cartel closed,'' Newmark asserted.

Both Newmark and Raskin stressed that their clients had satisfied
numerous ballot-access requirements designed to separate serious
presidential candidates from other pretenders; Raskin also argued that
Perot's receipt of taxpayer-backed federal matching funds further
legitimizes his candidacy.

Attorneys for the Presidential Debate Commission and the FEC argued
primarily that they complied with the rules of the system, which allow
candidates to be excluded on the basis of ill-defined ``objective

Those rules ``may be unfair, may be terribly unfortunate, and ... may be
frustrating,'' argued FEC attorney Stephen Hershkowitz.

``But the problem is with Congress,'' which Hershkowitz said was the
author of the rules setting up the debate commission.

Earlier, Perot blasted the debate commission, as he has been doing for
the past several weeks. Although the commission decided to limit the
debates to President Clinton and Republican rival Bob Dole, the two
candidates actually had the last word in deciding who would participate.

``It's kind of hard to compete if you're not in the game,'' Perot said
in advance of the court hearing he did not attend. ``I never thought I'd
live to see free speech throttled in the U.S.A.''

``Basically, what we wish to have the court rule is that Ross Perot met
all of the objective criteria laid down by the Federal Election
Commission and as such qualifies as a participant in these debates,''
Perot's running mate, Pat Choate added today.

``If the courts do not give us fair and equal treatment we will
immediately go to the appellate court in the District of Columbia,''
Choate said on Fox TV. ``We have been informed that if we win, that the
debate commission is saying that they would cancel the debates rather
than permit us in those debates. So we're simply saying that's not

The commission reasoned that the Reform Party's Perot had no
``realistic'' chance of being elected. But Perot countered that
``declaring the election essentially over for all candidates but two
before a single debate takes place will only deepen the nation's
cynicism about government.''

``It is ... a fact of modern political life that to have any chance in
the general election, a candidate must be included in the debates,'' the
Natural Law Party said in its suit. ``They are, in the words of one of
the advisors to the CPD, a job interview with the American people.''

Perot is also pleading his case with the Federal Communications
Commission, claiming the major television networks won't sell him air
time to broadcast campaign commercials in prime time.

He scheduled two 30-minute campaign commercials back to back today,
starting at 11 a.m. EDT on NBC, replacing a morning talk show in some
markets that was to have been dedicated to the topic of date rape.

Both the debate commission and the Federal Election Commission were
named as defendants in Perot's suit. Third-party candidates sued the
debate commission twice in 1988 and 1992.

After Hartford, a second presidential debate is set for Oct. 16 in San
Diego. A vice presidential face-off is set for Oct. 9 in St. Petersburg,


Curtiss Ryan

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Curtiss James Ryan, 51, of El Paso, died on Sept. 25 of a sudden illness.
Private services will be held by the family.
He was a businessman and a community activist in El Paso.
Survivors include his wife, Carole Henry of Austin; two daughters,
Catherine Ryan of Austin, Christy Ryan of El Paso.
The family requests that donations be made to a favorite charity in lieu
of flowers.


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High Sunday 84, low
this morning 45.

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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