Of those confounding questions that requires an...


January 28, 1995

IT IS ONE of those confounding questions that requires an answer as firm as quicksand: How big is Maryland's state bureaucracy?

Just the classified employees number 45,000. If you add in unclassified employees, the number is 59,000. If you count temporary employees, the total is 60,000.

That's what the state personnel department uses: 60,199 exactly, as of last June 30. But this doesn't count workers at the University of Maryland and the Mass Transit Administration or contract employees.

But if you add UM staffers, the total rises to 75,000. Mass transit? Try 78,000. Contract employees? You're up to 100,000.

The total authorized employment level for the state, then, rounds off at 102,800. . . except . . .

Those contract employees aren't all full-time. The personnel department figures they only equate to 3,680 full-time positions. Suddenly, 102,800 shrinks to 85,000. And as of last June 30, 5,614 of these state jobs were vacant. That drops the number of actual, on-the-job state workers to 79,200.

But then, this number includes local health professionals (3,216) that some might not consider state workers. It also includes state offices under the constitution that are underwritten by local governments (local election boards, deputy sheriffs -- a total of 287). It also includes 215 people who work in local register of wills offices.

Now we're down to 75,400.

So take your pick: 45,000? 60,000? 75,000? 102,000? Or anywhere in between. One thing's for certain: Maryland's state government is BIG business.

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THIS advertisement appeared recently in the Far Eastern Economic Review:

"Financial necessity forces me to offer British Lordship for Quick Sale at a price of 18,800 pounds or nearest offer. Excellent lineage, well-respected Title with no debts attached. Many documents included in the sale, most of which are dated 1688 to 1888. Allows you to legally use 'Lord' in your name, and can be held by an individual of any race. The purchaser of this Title will be the 8th Lord, and the Title is fully inheritable."

Let's see the Home Shopping Network try to top that one.

* * *

READ WHAT you will into the following message, from a sign posted on the front gate of a house on Northern Parkway, just west of Falls Road:




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SEEN behind a Baltimore fish market: a carton labeled "North Atlantic Salmon. Product of Chile."

, Time for a geography lesson.

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