All kinds of help. The United States wants to...


April 03, 1993

RUSSIA NEEDS all kinds of help. The United States wants to help, but doesn't want to run up the deficit.

But there are low-cost ways the U.S. could assist Russians. Bill Clinton might want to take notes before his Vancouver summit meetings today and tomorrow.

For instance, there's the stalemate between President Boris Yeltsin and the Congress of Peoples Deputies. Part of the problem, as pointed out by The Sun's correspondent Kathy Lally in a recent article, is that the Russians lack the skills needed in a democratic system.

Under Communism, decisions could be dictated from above; politicians didn't have to learn to build consensus. Willingness to compromise was seen as a sign of weakness in the Communist %% system.

But the United States has plenty of political deal-makers. Maryland's own lieutenant governor, Melvin A. "Mickey"

Steinberg, is one of the best, and is under-employed here. A lieutenant governor has little enough to do in the best of circumstances, and the circumstances have not been the best since Mickey found himself in a feud with Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who has refused to assign any duties to his Number 2, leaving him in our equivalent of Siberia.

Well, if Mickey doesn't like it here, he can just go to Moscow. In the 1,000-member Congress, we guarantee he can put together 501 votes for something.

* * *

THE ORIOLES had a terrific spring, posting a 15-9 record. Back home at Camden Yards, the Orioles ticket office looks like it's headed for another second-division finish.

It seems unfair to suggest that, since the club will go into opening day with nearly as many tickets presold as were sold in all of last season's record at the box office. (Wonder how many of them will turn up in scalpers' hands on the Camden Yards plaza each game day?)

But if the ticket office is judged by how many fans it has angered, not just how many tickets it sold, it doesn't stack up so well.

Fans who tried to get new season tickets, partial-plan or full-schedule, were told there would be a lottery of all applicants in late January or early February. Winners would be notified by phone, losers by mail.

By the end of March, many of the winners still had not received their invoices so they could pay for and obtain their tickets. The losers had not yet had the courtesy of a postcard telling them so.

Can it be that the O's ticket office is not sufficiently staffed to handle the admittedly startling fan demand?

A fan who called the ticket office at Camden Yards last week and punched the requisite buttons on his phone was told that all ticket representatives were busy but his call would be taken in turn.

It took 32 minutes for a representative to respond.


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