Shearson's PainAnother article discussing the brokerage industry...


Shearson's Pain

Another article discussing the brokerage industry has appeared and, as has so often been the case, the headline

featured Shearson Lehman Brothers (April 30).

Did the article herald our rejuvenated profitability; our renowned, talented research staff; our innovative service departments; or the myriad of inventive programs we offer clients both large and small (ex: the Consulting Services Division, which offers institutional money management to Main Street)? No, those things seem not to be worthy of discussion in The Sun.

The Sun prefers to capture reader attention via the April 30 snappy headline trumpeting the earth-shaking hike from $2.85 to $3.85 of our confirmation service fee. Nowhere was it stated that Shearson's fee ranks among the lowest of the national firms that charge it.

It has been noted that Shearson is frequently a target of negatively slanted Sun stories. Observation shows other firms, both local and national, receive more balanced, if not downright laudatory coverage.

An example is that in the same April 30 article was buried a real nugget: the institution by Merrill Lynch of a $40 annual account charge on top of its industry-high $4.85 confirmation service fee. How is it that our corporate name is the headline while similar news from other firms is buried somewhere in the fourth paragraph?

What conclusion can one draw from The Sun's consistent ignoring of the many positive innovations and investor-friendly services Shearson has pioneered, seeking rather to report on less client-friendly news? Considering we are the second largest full-service brokerage firm in this country, it would seem we must be doing something right.

The space used to trumpet the relatively unimportant service-fee increase might have been better used to discuss issues of real import to the economy and personal finances of Marylanders in general, Baltimoreans in particular.

Though we remain mired in the most prolonged recession since World War II, it is curious how petty the selection is of topics chosen to illuminate and assist The Sun's readership.

Marlane R. Buckner


The writer is vice president and financial consultant at Shearson Lehman Brothers.

Money Troubles

There are many men and women in our state and around the country who possess the talents and skills to solve our nation's problems.

What they lack is the money to run against deeply entrenched incumbents who rely on their position and all the perks associated with it having been continually re-elected.

Alan Keyes, the GOP contender for Barbara Mikulski's Senate seat, is a perfect example of an individual who is articulate, intelligent and more than qualified to guide our state and our country. In declaring for the U. S. Senate seat, Mr. Keyes essentially gave up his livelihood.

His past endeavors and successes have given Marylanders numerous examples of the leadership talents he possesses.

In recent weeks Mr. Keyes has had to defend himself for paying himself a salary from campaign funds, a practice which is neither illegal nor unethical.

Why should we expect challengers in major political races to bankrupt themselves for trying to make a difference in our society? Mr. Keyes came out above board on his financial disclosures.

We need honest, forthright, dedicated people of principle in positions of leadership. We need Alan Keyes in the U.S. Senate.

Wayne A. Liberati


Cyclist Helmets

Your travel section recently carried an informative article on recreational cycling opportunities in Maryland with accompanying photographs. Except for one man in the background, none was wearing a helmet. I would respectfully request there be more sensitivity in the selection of photographs for the future.

Placement of a story on cycling on the front page of a section focuses deserved attention to this growing sport. Had it been accompanied by photographs that showed helmeted cyclists, it would have spoken volumes. As it is, the absence spoke a message that is discouraging to those who advocate this safety protection.

Maryland is in the vanguard of helmet legislation for the country, having two counties with mandatory use rules. Cycle Across Maryland Corporation, in cooperation with First National Bank of Maryland, distributes over 1,000 helmets each year to students throughout the state to encourage helmet use. And statistically, there are powerful arguments for helmet use.

If we lead by demonstration, then I hope future photographic selections will better illustrate the use of helmets.

Pat Bernstein


The writer is executive director of Cycle Across Maryland


Fairness and State Employees

A May 13 editorial in The Sun was very misleading and a disservice to both state employees and the public. Contrary to your editorial, H.B. 1567 would save taxpayers $20.9 million, according to research done by the Department of Fiscal Services.

Concerning S.B. 252, you claim removal of the final authority of the secretary of personnel regarding suspension appeals would "compound the difficulties . . . in trying to make the bureaucracy efficient." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Secretary Hilda Ford currently has the authority to reverse decisions rendered by administrative law judges on suspensions and removals of state employees. According to information Ms. Ford supplied to AFSCME last summer, she reversed 49 percent of the cases that management appealed on behalf of management and 4 percent of those appealed by the employee between July 1990 and Feb. 1991.

Further, the bill allows the secretary to change the severity of the disciplinary action imposed by a judge. It just doesn't allow her to change a decision from "innocent" to "guilty."

The fundamental issue absent from your editorial is fairness. State employees have endured furloughs, increased health insurance costs, layoffs with no bumping or reinstatement rights and no pay raises for two years in response to the budget crisis and cries to "downsize" state government.

Early retirement, especially since it will result in a reduced number of positions, is finally a fair way to downsize. Yet, you oppose it.

William Bolander


The writer is executive director of AFSCME Council 92.

I found your editorial to be misleading.

The General Assembly's fiscal note, which was prepared for H.B. 1567, clearly states "that the state's actuarial liability could increase by approximately $39.3 million." The fiscal note also stated this additional cost could be authorized over five years, at which time the state would have met its obligation.

The same fiscal note estimates the state would realize a salary savings of $20.9 million in the fiscal year 1993. Since this savings accrues from positions which would be abolished, the state would continue to save that amount of money year after year.

Your editorial gave the impression that state employees who take advantage of this bill would gain everything and give nothing in return. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that those employees who do not meet the normal retirement requirements would have their retirement allowance reduced by up to 30 percent in the employees retirement system or 42 percent in the employees pension system.

If the governor does not sign H.B. 1567, he is required to eliminate 600 positions from the state budget. Since the Department of Personnel carries the average salary of a state employee as $28,000, the state would save just $17 million a year.

I also take exception to your urging Governor Schaefer to veto a bill which would strip from the personnel secretary the right to make final decisions on employee suspensions.

S.B. 252 was introduced at the request of the Maryland Classified Employees Association because of the unfair decisions and treatment state employees had been receiving in the past at the hands of the secretary of personnel.

It is our sincere belief that the judges in the Office of Administrative Hearings are better trained and equipped to render fair and impartial decisions.

Lance R. Cornine


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

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