RealtorsThe letter from Frank Soltis (March 13) regarding...


March 22, 1992


The letter from Frank Soltis (March 13) regarding real estate commissions contained several misconceptions, to one of which am particularly sensitive.

Real estate trade groups, such as the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, do not monopolize the industry or ''discourage competition and lower commission rates.''

Indeed, as a condition of memberships, GBBR requires all of its members to take instruction on antitrust laws on a continuing, periodic basis. Members are educated to conduct themselves professionally and in accordance with the law.

The GBBR program for compliance with the antitrust laws is similar to those operated by associations of Realtors who are members of the National Association of Realtors. By educating our members, enforcing the Realtors' code of ethics, and providing professional standards education, we actually encourage competition in the marketplace by giving buyers and sellers a choice when they enter the real estate market.

Real estate may not be a ''profession'' in the traditional sense. But Realtors do -- and we encourage them to -- act professionally. Since fewer than half of all real estate agents in this state belong to trade associations we, in organized real estate, hardly monopolize the market.

However, we do believe that our members, because of their training and experience, offer the public much more and better service than those licensees who don't spend the extra time and effort to participate in their local associations of Realtors.

William H. Hesson, Jr.


The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.

Was Peter Jay Duped by Jesse Helms?

Peter Jay's March 15 column, an ill-informed attack on the National Endowment for the Arts, revealed the power of the coalition of the religious right and the political right to influence apparently mainstream opinion-makers. To find Mr. Jay duped by self-righteous and intolerant hatemongering is disappointing indeed.

To describe the National Endowment for the Arts as a ''disaster'' and to call for its dissolution because it provided grant funds to a handful of projects, parts of which were offensive to a segment of the population, is sheer demagoguery.

The facts are that in its 27-year existence the NEA has awarded more than 25,000 grants to arts institutions throughout the nation, ranging from established art museums and theaters to more experimental groups. Of these grants perhaps 25 have been controversial in any way. Measured by Mr. Jay's standards, then, the NEA has made appropriate decisions 99.9 percent of the time, a success record that must surely stand as the highest of any government entity in history.

L Mr. Jay, tutored by Jesse Helms, has misframed the argument.

The salient issue is that America's arts institutions are in the vanguard of the ongoing experiment we call democracy. They foster creativity and essential human understanding and, most important, seek to make the benefits of the arts available to all.

In their commitment to the latter, our arts institutions are engaged in a noble and unprecedented endeavor to provide public accessibility to the pleasures and benefits of the arts, which in most earlier societies were available only to an aristocratic class. This is the true foundation stone of government funding for the arts on any level and more than justifies the pittance of support provided the arts by the federal government.

The $175 million NEA budget represents less than one percent of the aggregate budgets of our arts groups. To suggest that even this modest allocation be eliminated is to support a return to truly elitist hoarding of the arts that has no place in our country.

Because of NEA funding, virtually every major art museum, regional theater, symphony orchestra, ballet and opera company can sustain a higher level of achievement and serve a much broader segment of our society. Organizations promoting more avant-garde work add a crucial dynamic to the total mix. A grant risk factor of .001 would seem tolerable considering the many benefits that derive from our small investment in the NEA. Or would Mr. Jay hold up the efficiencies of the Defense Department or NASA as models to be emulated?

Robert P. Bergman


The writer is director of the Walters Art Gallery.

House Bank Furor

So what if a number of House members wrote bad checks and the American public is having a temper tantrum?

Let's try to remember that this particular fiasco did not cost the taxpayer one dime.

Too bad the same public outrage was not forthcoming when the House and the Senate gave themselves fat pay increases, which did cost taxpayers.

?3 Our furor might be more appropriately directed.

Anne Buffington


Gridlock City

I disagree with a letter by W. Scott Ditch (March 7) about banning "Heavy Trucks Downtown."

I am a Baltimore City resident and a property-owning taxpayer. I also drive extensively in downtown Baltimore and if I wanted to ban something in downtown Baltimore, it would be the Bureau of Traffic.

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