Proud of University FoundationEditor: I am compelled to...


April 02, 1991

Proud of University Foundation

Editor: I am compelled to respond to your March 24 story, ''UM fund gets big money, spotty results.''

As vice chairperson of the University of Maryland System Board of Regents and as a member of the executive committee of the University of Maryland Foundation Inc., I am extremely pleased with the operation of the foundation.

And I am extremely outraged at the gross misrepresentations in your article. To list all of the inaccuracies would require an article of equal length. Instead, I will cite a few of the more egregious examples. Sadly, in each of these cases the correct information was provided to, and ignored by, the reporter.

First of all, the foundation did not -- and could not -- ''create $12.5 million in new debt for the University of Maryland.'' The University System has an option to buy (at cost) from Montgomery County the building which houses its Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology at Shady Grove. The foundation simply assisted in the process of securing the land for the project. Furthermore, the foundation never ''intended to lease the building to the UM central administration at a profit.'' Its written agreement with the county precludes making a profit.

The repeated allegation that the foundation invested heavily in real estate deals is patently false. The foundation does not purchase real estate; it accepts donations of property. Such was the case with the Bowie research park, where the foundation holds a 25 percent undivided interest in 466 acres at a location well suited for high-tech development.

The reporter asserts that payments to University of Maryland Baltimore County President Michael K. Hooker for baby-sitting were determined to be taxable ''after The Sun discovered this practice.'' Foundation records clearly indicate that the determination predates the reporter's inquiries. They also indicate that the payments were below the level required to be reported.

The reporter complains that the foundation ''operated without a list of priorities.'' The foundation states its general priorities in its widely distributed annual report. Beyond these broad goals, the foundation exists to respond to the priorities of the University of Maryland System and its constituent institutions, as well as the interests of donors. It would be wholly inappropriate for the foundation to predetermine the specific projects it will support.

Finally , I think any sophisticated reader will recognize that the reporter's ''charges'' generally relate to matters of judgment, not matters of propriety. As one who sits with an eminent and responsible board of directors in making those judgments, I am comfortable with and proud of our decisions.

Roger R. Blunt.

Oxon Hill.

The writer is chief executive officer of Essex Construction Corp.

A 45-mph Limit

Editor: I recently moved to Maryland from Iowa and read with interest your editorial entitled, ''Unsafe at 65 mph.''

The Interstate highway speed limit in Iowa is 65 miles per hour, and the vast majority of drivers there stay within five mph of that limit. Maryland is another story; the vast majority of drivers here drive at least 10 mph over the current limit of 55, with many routinely driving 70-80 mph.

Your signs, which read something like ''55 -- It's still the law!'' are a joke. With next-to-no enforcement, there might as well be no law.

It seems to me ironic that a law designed to promote safety (the 55 mph limit), if adhered to, actually reduces the level of safety, when such a vast majority of drivers have no respect for either the law itself or the state's ability to enforce it.

Count me in with those opposed to increasing the limit. For those who would like the masses to have the ''legal'' right to safely drive 65 mph, a more practical alternative, in Maryland, at least, would be to reduce the speed limit to 45 mph!

John C. Horning.


District Changes

Editor: Councilwoman Vera Hall states that the communities had a chance to speak about the redistricting plan beforehand.

That is untrue. The only plan offered at those meetings was the mayor's plan, which would not have affected the communities of Northeast Baltimore.

The Stokes plan may have upset the ''good ol' boys,'' but it has also disrupted the good and old communities and neighborhoods of Northeast Baltimore whose taxpayers, black and white, have sustained the city for years. No matter how well-intentioned the First District council people may be, common sense says that it will be physically impossible for them to adequately cover the needs of such a large geographic area.

Redistricting will cause other problems as well. Community groups rely heavily on their district planner to notify them of changes in zoning, new building, etc. Now, the First District planner will have more territory to cover. Things are going to get by him and, consequently, the community, too.

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