A FEW centuries from now, an archaeologist...


A FEW centuries from now, an archaeologist sifting through the remains of the former Baltimore, Md., United States of America, will come upon an amazingly preserved set of minutes from the city Board of Estimates.

This will be a breakthrough. It will be so helpful in explaining Baltimore government back in the 20th century.

The minutes of May 20, 1992, for example:

". . . The president asked: 'About these ballpoint refills. We are paying $10,000 to buy refills for ballpoint pens?'

"Ms. Ella Pierce, city purchasing agent: 'Well, bear in mind that this is going into our warehouse, and this covers all of the refills that are used by any city agency that has city pens -- the orange and black pens, that have the inserts. If you use a pen . . .'

"Comptroller: 'If this were the orange and black pens, I would have voted against that.'

"President: 'I know this is picayune, but it just seems like a large sum.'

"Ms. Pierce: 'This is for the warehouse . . .'

"Comptroller: 'How many are you purchasing for $10,000?'

"Ms. Pierce: 'They run approximately 3 cents to 4 cents apiece, and when you consider that it is better to buy the refill than it is to buy a whole pen . . . And there are a multitude of pens throughout the city. We buy tens of thousands of pens every year.' "

At the same meeting, "the comptroller presented the mayor with gold-rimmed porcelain dish from Mory's, a favorite spot of Yale students. The comptroller was recently at Yale University attending a course for governmental financial officers and had -- had dinner at Mory's where she obtained the dish. Knowing the mayor was a graduate of Yale University, she felt he would appreciate it as a memento.

"The mayor thanked the comptroller and commented that it brought back nostalgic memories of a happy time."

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