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Letters to the editor 7/17

July 17, 2002

Clean house at the SEC



To the editor:

We receive more than 100 pounds of company stock reports and related material each year, little of which provides useful information. The voluminous reports, prospectuses and other printed material are largely propaganda. All the stockholder really wants is a brief report showing (1) market value of holding; (2) net earnings per share; (3) dividends paid; (4) salaries, stock options, bonuses and other perks for officers and directors and other major operating expenses, including donation to charitable organizations and other company-friendly entities.

Incidentally, we believe most director "elections" and compensation of directors are generally obscene. (What is the rationale for 20-member boards of directors when the firm is siphoning off several million dollars in compensation for its CEO and a bevy of administrative officials?

Unfortunately, Congress has failed to take any effective action to protect the interests of the individual stockholder and we believe it is time for legislative intervention. Obviously the Securities and Exchange Commission is not the answer. In fact, this bureaucratic agency is a large part of the problem.

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At best, the commission is a paper tiger; more precisely, it can be categorized as an agency which, in effect, grants firms licenses to steal from stockholders.

If this accusation seems far-fetched to the naive lawmaker, perhaps the Enron debacle will send a wake-up call. Many of us have been well aware of the shortcomings of the commission for years. As long as 20 years ago we wrote the commission to complain that one company's officials were stealing from stockholders by issuing stock options to company officials at par (rather than market) value. (It is common practice to award CEOs and other company officials large bonuses regardless of negative earnings). The commission's (paraphrased) reply:

We have no control over compensation of company officials or granting stock options. We believe some authoritative agency should have a voice in such matters. Incidentally, we do not believe the responsibilities of the CEO of General Electric justify compensation 100 times that of the president of the United States.

On another occasion we complained about another corporation's 10 proposals for compensation of company officials and directors. Once again we were informed the commission has no control over compensation of company officials. (If not, who is protecting the stockholder's interests?)

The record indicates that the commission does little to protect the investor. It is time to clean house and give the commission authority to intervene in the stockholder's interest and to insure that the commission exercise such authority. Failing this, consideration should be given to abolishing this largely counter-productive agency and replacing it with an entity designed to regulate publicly-owned corporations in the best interest of the stockholder and the public.

Paul G.H. Wolber

Anna Jane Wolber

Hagerstown

A fine way to run a railroad



To the editor:

The Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum would like to thank all those who participated in HRM's Annual Heritage Days held June 8-9, 2002.

In addition to members of the public who attended, we would like to extend a special thank you to the following supporters: Antietam Dairy, A. B. Kreidler, Burhans Station, City of Hagerstown Parks & Recreation, City of Hagerstown Engineer, City of Hagerstown Police Dept., CSX, D&D Towing & Repair Co., Dean Burkett-Magician, Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust, First Hose Fire Company, Forty & Eight, Gregory Dubbuna, Hagerstown Suns Mascot, Herald Mail Company, House of Plastics; J&B Hobby Shop, Leiter's Catering, Mainline Hobbies, Martin's Chips, Mom N Popzz Kettle Korn, N&W Train Shed, NBC-25, Pam Hartle-Maryland Operation Lifesaver, Ridge Avenue Neighborhood Association, Roger Keller, WHAG, Sign Here, Spicher's Appliances, The Printing Place, Inc., The Train Room, Volunteers from HRM and NRHS, Washington County Fire & Rescue, Washington County Roads Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Washington County/Hagerstown CVB, Western Maryland Historical Society and WJEJ Radio Station.

We would also like to thank the many businesses that displayed our flyers. If we have missed anyone, please accept our apology and know that your efforts were greatly appreciated.

Joyce S. Stanley

Hagerstown

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