Subways YoungerOn June 24 Gallimaufry wrote that...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Subways Younger

On June 24 Gallimaufry wrote that "New Yorkers continue to use underground subways built well over a century ago."

According to Brian J. Cudahy, author of "Under the Sidewalks of New York," that town's first subway train left City Hall station under the control of Mayor George B. McClellan at precisely 35 1/2 minutes after 2 o'clock on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 27, 1904.

That was well under a century ago.

John B. Reid

Baltimore

Garbage

Jeannette Bernstein (letter, June 19) complains that, because her garbage smells, Baltimore County should resume garbage pick-ups twice a week as it did before providing recycling service. I disagree.

I've lived comfortably in Illinois, California, D.C. and Virginia with trash service once a week. In the spirit of less government (read "curbing taxes") and more individual responsibility, I make a few suggestions.

Try composting. It is gratifying to spread rich, dark soil in your yard knowing you helped reduce land fill consumption, didn't pay anything, and didn't smell up your garbage can.

Also, try using a garbage disposal if you don't use a septic system for your waste water. Not having a garbage disposal, I keep a plastic-lined container in my refrigerator for food waste to control odors indoors.

I also either rinse organic waste residues from packages and containers or seal them before throwing them away.

If a neighbor's waste is the problem, your options are diplomacy or a military solution. If the problem is a common waste storage bin, you probably rent from a property management company and the problem should be solved by them.

Options include trying to get the waste stored further away, having management install garbage disposals in all units, using an odor-control substance in the bin, hiring a private trash hauler for supplemental pickups, or moving.

I think Baltimore County is doing a decent job balancing costs and benefits in providing solid waste management services. It is time for citizens to think and act like citizens.

Jim George

Chase

Area Code Woes

Your June 13 story about the possibility of more telephone area codes for Maryland took me back to about three years ago, when I watched my staff clear the shelves in our office stockroom.

We were having to throw away large amounts of our letterhead, billhead, invoices, brochures and various other advertising materials and customer giveaways. All of it showed our area code as 301 when the telephone company was changing it to 410.

We didn't move, but our area code was moved right out from under us, and that made it necessary and expensive to redo all of our stationery and advertising items.

And now, according to your story, there is a recommendation that Maryland receive two more new area codes within the next few years. Here we go again.

The moment I read that I called our advertising supplier and canceled an order for 5,000 giveaway writing pens that would show area code 410 next to our telephone number. They weren't too happy about losing that order.

We will also dramatically reduce the size of our stationery orders. All for the same reason, the possibility of another area code change.

The telephone company is prospering in this situation, so I have a suggestion.

If we business and professional people in Baltimore are soon required to adjust to another area code, then the telephone company should reimburse us for our resultant stationery reprinting and supplies replacement expenses.

Dave Mason

Baltimore

The writer is president of Lawyers Insurance Agency Inc.

Bring Him Back

I am deeply disappointed that you have discontinued Michael Himowitz's column on computers.

His columns were very informative and well written. They usually included topics that the average non-technical computer user such as myself could benefit from.

I saved many of them for future reference. The replacement column is not as good nor as helpful.

I hope you will reconsider and bring him back.

Irving Goldstein

Baltimore

New State Program

I felt compelled to respond to a June 20 letter to the editor that was critical of Gov. Parris Glendening's decision to establish the Transitional Emergency, Medical and Housing Assistance program (TEMHA).

This new program will combine the efforts of three state departments to provide a safety net of assistance for low income, disabled adults.

These three departments, (Maryland Department of Human Resources, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Housing and Community Development) are working in partnership with local governments and community agencies such as Action for the Homeless, Maryland Food Committee, Catholic Charities, in an effort to meet critical needs for eligible participants.

There has been much written about TEMHA which asserts that it will require more bureaucracy to administer than did the former entitlement program.

In fact, TEMHA will emphasize a more person-centered approach to delivering services to citizens, while at the same time more efficiently targeting the use of state dollars and staff to assist the disabled population with the highest priority of needs.

The governor has said that no one will fall through the cracks or become homeless. We will continue to refine our calculations as TEMHA is implemented to make sure we keep that commitment.

In that light, the governor understands that there will be an unmet need of approximately $1.2 million. However, he plans to submit a deficiency appropriation in mid-Fiscal Year 1996 to cover these unmet needs.

In addition, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Housing and Community Development will provide for administrative costs over and above the TEMHA allocation.

Furthermore, every local jurisdiction is currently in the process of soliciting funds and assistance to compliment their local plans.

They are also attempting to use TEMHA funding to leverage other public and private funding . . .

Alvin C. Collins

Baltimore

The writer is Maryland secretary of Human Resources.

Losing Votes

One reason for President Bush's defeat in the 1992 election was that he was perceived to be under the thumb of the religious right. When he addressed anti-abortion rallies in Washington, millions of voters believed he was insincere.

This year, citizens feel even more strongly about government control over their lives.

Sen. Phil Gramm demonstrated on television, for all to see, that he has placed himself under the collective thumb of the same crowd that controlled Mr. Bush and the Republican Party in 1992.

For a majority of voters, Senator Gramm disqualified himself as a candidate for president of the United States.

He won a block of votes, while losing a lot more.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Fix the Radar

On June 24 I was aboard a plane that had to wait to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport because its radar was out of order.

It was a rainy day, with thick clouds and turbulence, and it occurred to me that our position relative to other air traffic was being monitored by nothing more sophisticated than voice contact.

Indeed, that was a chilling thought as we rumbled blindly about through the summer storm.

The next day I learned that the radar had malfunctioned at BWI as recently as several days before that Saturday incident.

I have always felt confident when landing in Baltimore because of the airport's great track record. Now I'm wondering if we're an air disaster waiting to happen.

Stephanie Palulis

Ellicott City

Who's Confused?

In his Opinion * Commentary piece of June 19, "Tapping Pensions for Social Goals," Neal Peirce outlined Clinton administration amendments to pension law that would "allow" pension fund managers to consider "collateral benefits" and invest in "economically targeted investments" (ETIs) such as infrastructure, medical clinics, etc.

Mr. Peirce sang the praises of these changes, but they are more likely to create sour notes than sweet music.

According to Mr. Peirce, "The prevailing law -- ERISA, Employee Retirement Income Security Act -- has left some pension managers confused about what they can invest in."

The managers, however, are not confused. They know that their responsibility, according to ERISA, is to "discharge their duties with respect to a plan solely in the interests of the participants and beneficiaries and for the exclusive purpose of (1) providing benefits to the participants and their beneficiaries; and (2) defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan."

What exactly does Mr. Pierce find confusing? The language is both clear and concise -- two qualities rarely found in government documents.

The only confusion is in the minds of people like Mr. Peirce who support these changes. They are confusing a pension plan with social spending policy.

A pension plan exists solely for the purpose of providing retirement income to its participants at the lowest possible cost.

Investments are made with the objective of attaining the highest possible yield at the lowest possible risk. There is no such thing as "collateral benefits"; an investment either provides a competitive rate of return or it does not.

Social spending policy, on the other hand, is driven by other considerations. Risk and return are largely immaterial, as evidenced by the failed social investments made by pension systems in Kansas and Connecticut.

Mr. Peirce dismisses these failures as aberrations. But what will happen when such failures occur -- as they most surely will -- in the future? Will the federal government be forced to step in and rescue pension systems which have failed after losing money in ETIs?

There also seems to be some confusion about pension fund investments. Each year, the pension funds invest huge sums of money in companies both large and small. This money allows businesses to expand and create jobs.

The people hired by these companies support not only themselves, but their communities through taxes. What better "social investment" could there be? . . .

Jim Cole

Baltimore

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