Pension QueriesEditor: The recent vote of the board of...


March 12, 1992

Pension Queries

Editor: The recent vote of the board of trustees for the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Systems authorizing $15 million for an "investment" in the present administration's venture capital scheme reflects probable prima-facie evidence of breach duty. One needs only to read the retirement regulations dealing with a trustee's fiduciary responsibilities. In short, a fiduciary may not:

"(1) Use the assets of the several systems in the fiduciary's own interest . . .

"(2) Act on behalf of or represent a party in any transaction . . . where the interests of the party are adverse to the interests of the several systems or the participants."

In the first instance, it's clearly in the interest of the trustee to vote with the interests of the appointing authority via approval to use the assets (invest $15 million).

In the second instance, the trustee who voted to support the $15 million "investment" is indeed representing a party in a transaction "where the interests of the party are adverse to the interests of the several systems or the participants."

The regulations are clear regarding the standard of care the trustees shall be obligated to provide, namely; "skill, prudence and diligence . . . that a prudent man . . . would use."

Where are the "prudent-man" investigations for minimum risk or past history of success or failure? What skills are reflected in voting for this "investment"? Not only is there probable cause to conclude a breach of duty has occurred, an uncontested precedent of access to the retirement system's assets has been accomplished -- clearly a violation of the stated purpose of providing benefits to the participants.

& Russell D. Weaver. Queenstown.

Too Far

Editor: It is interesting to note that The Sun editorial of Feb. 27 which states that the Fraternal Order of Police has gone too far ''. . . when the FOP tries to convince Marylanders that criminals are running rampant through the streets of their communities . . .'' is printed in the same issue that reports, ''Bail set in school shooting'' and, ''Two city abduction-robberies reported,'' and, ''Two men slain in separate incidents,'' and ''Two robbed, then taken to banks,'' and, ''Her name on bogus ID used to steal $129,000'' and, ''Man gets 15 years for torching theater.''

. David and Michele Eastman. Monkton.

Protests Cater to Buyers' Market

Editor: I have been a vegetarian since 1975.

I have organized and participated in animal rights protests and ,, have been involved in actions involving farm workers, the homeless problem, environmental issues and apartheid. I believe that eventually most people will be vegetarian because of economic, health, environmental and ethical reasons.

However, I agree with The Sun that vegetarianism or any other issue cannot and should not be forced on people. Throwing a pie in someone's face teaches the public that violence is acceptable, not about the issues of animal rights or civil rights.

The media need to realize that it is part of the problem. The Sun gave front-page coverage to this incident while often ignoring peaceful protests.

I have heard reporters from different media say they could not cover an event unless someone got arrested. The unfortunate pie-throwing incident is a result of this type of media coverage, which must be done to satisfy the public's buying habits.

If people buy papers that feature sleaze, that is what the media has to produce, and then activist groups perform inappropriate acts to get out their message.

$ Charles Stahler. Baltimore.

The Military's Stockpile

Editor: Your Feb. 21 story provides a misleading and inaccurate picture of my role and that of the U.S. Congress in the management of the National Defense Stockpile.

The article implies that the Department of Defense maintains outdated and militarily obsolete materials in its stockpile at my ''insistence.'' Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact the exact opposite is true.

First, the article states that, ''the stockpile continues to bulge JTC [and] that's largely at the insistence of [Representative Bennett].'' The fact is that during each of the last five years I have sponsored and passed laws that have allowed the Department of Defense to dispose of almost $1 billion in excess and outdated materials from the stockpile. However, a recent Department of Defense inspector general's report which monitored the Pentagon's compliance with those laws states that over a three-year period (1988-91) the department has sold only $231 million in excess materials.

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