AUSTIN ‘ Lost in the billowing black smoke from lower Manhattan that changed America is a document released annually by the FBI’the Uniform Crime Report. Though New York City recorded some 5,000 homicides inside an hour on Sept. 11, crime in the United States’and Texas’was down slightly in 2000 compared with 1999. Among Texas’ 27 metropolitan areas, fast-growing Laredo saw the greatest increase in crime with a crime rate of 6,800 reported offenses per 100,000 population. For 2000, FBI statistics showed that crime was down nationally by 0.2 percent. In Texas, the total number of crimes was up 2.3 percent, from 1,009,253 in 1999 to 1,032,670 last year. Though the terrorist attacks will seriously skew the 2001 crime data for the nation, it remains to be seen what happens elsewhere. Border arrests down The number of undocumented immigrants arrested along the border since Sept. 1 was down 30 percent as of last week, the U.S. Border Patrol reported. In real numbers, that is 37,966 arrests this year compared with 53,855 arrests during the same period last year. Why’ Theories range from the recessionary economy to fears of anthrax. Another reason fewer aliens are trying to get into Texas is the increased level of security along the border. They may be thinking they have a greater chance of being caught and deported than they did before Sept. 11. Budget blues Gov. Rick Perry said last week he does not have any ‘great concern’ about the state’s budget. ‘I’m still optimistic that the Texas economy and its diverse nature will be strong when we come back here in 2003 to deal with our budget.’ But Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander said that Texas might take a $90 million hickey in sales tax revenues in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The comptroller also has said that Texas could face up to a $5 billion budget shortage by the time the next session of the legislature convenes. The causes are higher than expected expenditures, population growth and an economy that already was feeling puny before Sept. 11. Rural Affairs office organizes The executive committee for the new Office of Rural Community Affairs met for the first time last week. Created by House Bill 7, the office is charged with studying economic and quality of life issues affecting rural Texas. The new agency also will administer the federal Community Development Block Grant program, support rural health care and work to develop leadership in Texas’ rural areas. On the agenda for the executive board’s first meeting on Oct. 31 was starting the process for selecting an executive director, financial officer and human resources director for the new agency. Right flag, wrong uniform Look closely at the four-page advertising layout in the latest Texas Monthly and you’ll see that the military man in front of the U.S. flag is wearing a German Air Force uniform. The error in Land Commissioner David Dewhurst’s political ad was discovered too late to change. The boo-boo in the Dewhurst for lieutenant governor’s campaign ad did generate a few laughs (depending on one’s political perspective) at a time when there has not been all that much in the news to laugh about.