Commissioner still has say in insurance ratesYour...


Commissioner still has say in insurance rates

Your Oct. 6 article, "Law change leads to rise in premiums," on competitive rating in the insurance industry, contained a few misperceptions that begged for clarification.

The headline is incorrect. Premiums change in response to changes in the cost and/or frequency of losses, not, as the article incorrectly implies, because the role of the insurance commissioner has been reduced to a "formality."

In fact, the commissioner maintains absolute oversight on the competitive rating system. Rates cannot be excessive or inadequate and may not be unfairly discriminatory. If the commissioner finds a rate too high or too low, he can order the insurer to discontinue using the rate and return to the previous rate. The fact that no action was taken on recent filings leads to the conclusion that the commissioner felt the rates fairly met these standards.

What competitive rating merely does is change the mechanism for adjusting rates, allowing insurers to respond more quickly to market pressures. Just as deregulation of airfares ultimately resulted in lower fares, an effective competitive rating law squeezes out any inefficiency in insurer expenses. In the long run, the result will be a better deal for the consumer.

Don Preston

Washington, D.C.

The writer is the mid-Atlantic regional manager for the Alliance of American Insurers.

Not surprised lottery sales dipped

That was an interesting (but not surprising) article in The Sun (Oct. 8, "Lottery sales down sharply") concerning the $24 million decline in lottery sales since July 1. Reminds me of two old, but wise, sayings: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "You only get what you pay for."

Apparently, the lottery officials, in their infinite wisdom, chose to change companies to run the state lottery in order to save $50 million over five years. They forgot to factor in that you only save this money if lottery sales remain constant. If the current trend in sales continues, that $50 million "savings" will be eaten up in six months to a year.

My wife and I used to enjoy going out every few weeks and playing a few games of Keno. We are very unimpressed with the new displays for selecting numbers, so now we have become display watchers, but not players. I also used to buy three to five Lotto tickets when the pot got up to several million dollars, but then they froze the pot at $1 million for several drawings, so I have lost interest in playing that also.

As far as the "Big Game" goes, odds of 53 million to one are not even worth a $1 gamble. As far as I'm concerned it's, "Goodbye, Maryland Lottery."

And they blamed it on rainy weather. Yeah, right. Perhaps we should start saving our "ex-lottery money" for the probable tax increase to cover the budget shortfall.

Herman W. Koletschke


Clinton has a way with the numbers

The president deliberately misleads the people of this country by utilizing numeric manipulation. His statement during the debate that the "deficit has been reduced by 60 percent" is a lie, as the national debt has increased not decreased in total dollars.

Mr. Clinton seems satisfied to feed the American public half-truths, with the intent to deceive the uninformed.

This deliberate action calls into question the president's integrity and honesty on all issues.

Scott Airey


Jewish growth in northwest corridor

Your Oct. 11 editorial on "Living Jewish in suburbia" quite correctly highlights the recent growth of Jewish communities in Baltimore's outlying suburbs.

By glossing over the development of a Jewish presence in Baltimore County's northwest corridor, however, you have missed part of the story.

The Jewish community in Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Glyndon did not spring up overnight, nor is it simply an extension of the Pikesville community.

Back in 1971, a few families came together to form the Reisterstown Jewish Center (RJC). This pioneering group held meetings and services in members' homes, school cafeterias and the firehouse social hall.

It was not until 1984 that a second congregation, Kol Tikvah, was formed in Owings Mills. In 1985, Kol Tikvah and RJC merged to form the Conservative Adat Chaim, the Congregation of Life.

Adat Chaim continued to serve Jews in the northwest corridor, making do with temporary facilities, part-time staff and enthusiastic volunteers.

In 1993, the congregation built a synagogue in Reisterstown; in 1995, a classroom wing was added to house the Beth Tfiloh at Adat Chaim Community Hebrew School.

This year has brought a full-time rabbi, Aaron Gaber, and membership of over 200 families. Services are held regularly throughout the week, and a variety of programs for families, youth and adults is offered.

Adat Chaim is now part of a thriving Jewish community that includes Beth Israel Congregation, Temple Emmanuel and, soon, Har Sinai.

Members hail from as far as Westminster and Randallstown. All contribute to the energy and uniqueness of Jewish life beyond the Beltway.

Elanore Lampner


Kevin O'Malley's art is community resource

I am familiar with the Kevin O'Malley satire, "Froggy Went A-Courtin,' " and am one of those adults, noted in Elise Armacost's Oct. 20 column, intrigued by the art.

With children in Baltimore County schools, I am not in favor of books being banned from library shelves and hope this will not start a new trend after a 27-year hiatus.

It was the Church Lane School performance cancellation (news story, Oct. 17) that struck a nerve.

I am honored that Mr. O'Malley is a member of our community and area schools should take full advantage of having such a marvelous, accessible resource. And they do.

Many children in public, private and parochial schools in the area have been fortunate to experience the magic of Kevin O'Malley through performances, both paid and volunteer. He is one artist your children come home and tell you about.

Mr. O'Malley's talent, quick wit, enthusiasm and instantaneous rapport with his audience inspire both children and adults.

I am saddened by the fact that these Randallstown youngsters will not have an opportunity to see Mr. O'Malley in action. Money spent by the PTA to bring Kevin O'Malley into the lives of children is money well-spent.

It is important that we separate one issue from the other. Having one book banned from Baltimore County library shelves (temporarily, hopefully) and having a local artist offer fabulous programs for our schools are two very different things.

Let's not blow this Froggy thing out of proportion. There are many ills in today's world from which we need to protect our children. Kevin O'Malley is not one of them.

Patricia J. White


Low test scores bring in money

If phonics, as Bess Altwerger suggests in an article in the Oct. 11 Sun, is "part of the conservative agenda" aimed at keeping our children "passive," then it would seem that "whole language" is the liberal agenda aimed at keeping our children underachieving. What better way to keep money flowing into the already bloated, bureaucratic education budget than low test scores. Our liberal politicians will call for additional funding for education and in return will receive additional campaign funds from their friends at the National Education Association.

Lisa Penman Cohen


Pub Date: 10/23/96

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