Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 05, 2002

CareFirst deal in best interest of workers, firm

As chairman of CareFirst's board, I must respond to The Sun's characterization of CareFirst's executives as looking out for their own interests to the detriment of the company and the community ("In whose interests?" editorial, Aug. 25).

Comparing our management team to others in the news that stand as examples of corporate misbehavior is patently unfair and not justified. The Sun owes our management team an apology.

And in WellPoint Health Networks, the CareFirst board believes it has a partner that shares our philosophy, commitment to corporate citizenship, and understanding of the need for local decision-making on health care issues.

WellPoint also will be a strong fiscal partner, one that can pay a fair price for CareFirst and has access to the capital to enable CareFirst to make needed investments in technology. Mergers succeed or fail on such issues, and the board was looking for a successful merger.

And, in selecting a merger partner, preserving the jobs of CareFirst associates was of particular interest to the board. Despite Trigon Healthcare Inc.'s assurances that a significant number of jobs would be maintained, our financial adviser, Credit Suisse First Boston, advised us that jobs would have to be consolidated for this transaction to work for Trigon.

In focusing on the long-term viability of the company, the board also decided that certain incentives should be offered to reward and retain key executives and top managers. Decisions affecting executive compensation were not then and are not now made by management but by the board.

Any insinuation that CEO William L. Jews or his management team pushed these incentives for their own personal gain is not only patently untrue, but also unfair to a group of individuals who have worked diligently to make CareFirst a company in which all of us can take pride.

Further, any suggestion that Trigon would not have accepted merger incentives mandated by our board as part of the acquisition is also suspect. While Trigon executives voiced concern about the incentives, they did not reject the concept outright. And CareFirst's selection of WellPoint did not hinge on that issue.

Critical strategic and philosophical measures, not executive bonuses, led the board to conclude WellPoint's bid was clearly superior to Trigon's.

Daniel J. Altobello

Baltimore

Freeze isn't enough to balance budget

The new governor will face a budget challenge ("State surplus shrinks by $104 million," Aug. 30).

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend says that she will raise taxes on cigarettes and place a freeze on additional spending to bring the budget back into balance, while Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says that he will reduce spending.

Which approach do you think will actually help?

Most families appreciate that when there is a shortage, one must reduce spending.

If the budget is out of kilter, freezing it will not help; spending must be reduced.

And taxes on tobacco will not fill a shortfall because people change their behavior when taxes rise.

Donald J. Myers

Sparks

What about stipend Townsend receives?

I'm outraged. As a card-carrying Republican, I can't believe Michael S. Steele is being paid $5,000 per month by the Maryland Republican Party ("Md. GOP paying Steele to consult," Aug. 27).

Shouldn't we pay him at least as much as the taxpayers are paying our current lieutenant governor?

These payments "appear legal" (whatever that means) and are made at the expense of the Republican Party.

Tim Hudson

Timonium

Kach has sponsored many key bills

The Sun's article "Five challenge Kach for House seat" (Aug. 23) did not mention several other important bills presented by Del. A. Wade Kach and passed by the Maryland legislature.

One bill requires anybody selling an existing home to disclose any environmental hazards on the property. This bill has helped us in Northern Baltimore County when someone has a house for sale that was built on a landfill.

Other bills that passed and were sponsored by Mr. Kach involved the protection of abused children and a crackdown on Medicaid fraud.

All of these bills were very helpful.

David E. Boyd

White Hall

Educating students on hate, prejudice

After reading the article about the dispute at the University of Maryland, I was very upset ("A cultural battle takes center stage," Aug. 24).

I fully understand why The Laramie Project is required reading. Matthew Shepard was murdered purely because of his homosexuality. He was a victim of a hate crime. All people across America should be aware of the hate that seeps from America's pores.

No matter how old or young, we should be aware of the prejudices of this world. I am 15 years old and have heard more demeaning names and jokes about homosexuals than I care to mention. This isn't a matter of pushing a belief or lifestyle on another person; it is matter of making people aware.

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