The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 1, 1985 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Salina, Kansas
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Monday, April 1, 1985
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Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Monday, April 1,1985 Page 4 T1 S©B8niiD T 1 1 he Journal Founded In 1871 FRED VANDEGRIFt, President and Publisher HARRIS RAYL, Editor KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAQ, Night Editor Better banking Kansas banking soon will be more in step with the times, thanks to the Legislature's approval of a law that allows corporations to own more than one bank. The multibank holding company measure is on its way to the desk of Gov. John Carlin, who made the issue one of his priorities for this legislative session. The law likely will become effective July 1. What happens then? For one thing, aggressive banks will be able for the first time to grow through acquisition. By buying other Kansas banks they will be able to expand their financial bases. Their growth will mean expanded lending limits and that will make them better able to serve the financial needs of industry. Indeed, Gov. Carlin argued for multibank holding company legislation by saying the issue was one of economic development. How could major industries be recruited to Kansas when the state had an archaic unit banking law on the books that forced those companies to look elsewhere for financing? Agriculture, too, will benefit from multibank holding company legislation. The state's biggest banks know the state's biggest industry well and already are deeply committed to it. Concerns that urban banks will siphon deposits from rural areas while refusing to make loans in those areas ignore the competitive need for banks to serve the areas from which they v/ish to attract customers. The turmoil in the agriculture economy, which has rocked banks as well as fanners, in itself presents a good argument for allowing banks to build financial strength through acquisition. The multibank holding company law includes needed safeguards. Bank companies may not charter new banks to enter a marketplace. They may buy only banks that have been in existence for at least five years. And banking corporations cannot control more than 9 percent of the assets of all the state's financial institutions. With those safeguards in place, a law allowing banks to become more aggressive will serve the state well. Tank troubles The Environmental Protection ,. Agency has discovered another pollution threat: the country's underground storage tanks, which contain • everything from gasoline to waste left.over from electronics manufacturers. The tanks too often leak, allowing nasty chemicals to taint wa- , ,,ter supplies. The agency has begun a survey of the estimated 10 million underground storage tanks in the United States. Officials fear, for example, that about a fourth of the nation's gasoline-station tanks leak. When the survey is completed, the EPA will write national standards for the tanks and monitor them to ensure leaks are quickly repaired. The new rules should be strict. Underground tanks are sneaky. Everyone can see the smokestack that fills the sky with black. But a leaky storage tank can quietly pollute for years unless inspected regularly. California already has tough rules regulating storage tanks. New tanks must have double linings and leak- detection equipment. When it comes time to set national standards, the EPA should follow California's lead. » j Sally's sentimentality refreshing When Sally Field grabbed her statuette with the ferocity of an Olympics winner and held it high as though offering a chalice of her life, I thought of Mother Goose. "' "...I wanted more than anything to have yCjur respect," she said, as intense as a bgrn-again zealot. "The first time I didn't feel it. And this time I feel it. And I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now! ; You like me!" Press cynics and Johnny Carson have ; scoffed at this outburst as apparently unworthy of a professional. ;I found it delightfully human. ;"The Jolly Miller" of Mother Goose long ago expressed a similar sentiment. This way: "And this the burden of his song " Forever used to be — » I care for nobody, no! not I, If nobody cares for me." I hate to add to the Academy Award flood, but I will because Sally brought a fresh realization that some of these tinsel types are human beings after all. In our lofty disdain of the Hollywood image, we overlook this. We tend to lump them all with Morgan Fairchild and John Belushi — vain, overpriced, hollow people, often of modest talent and no self-respect. Then along comes a Sally Field, and the image falls apart. •Who will deny her yearning to be liked? It's as natural in the human condition as breathing. And who would have suspected that a Sally Field would have such a need? As she pointed out, her career has been unorthodox, ranging from Gidget and The Flying Nun to Norma Rae, but she seldom suffered fdr lack of work. She made some indifferent films, and some good ones, and she made the gossip columns. She is part of Hollywood. Therefore, she should be accustomed to having doors opened and to be seated at the tucked-away tables at better restaurants. She is hardly a candidate for Emily Dickinson's: "I'm Nobody! Who are you? Are you — Nobody — too?" •Yet here she was, telling the world that she is a pint-sized Rodney Dangerfield, that she needed the respect of her fellows in movies. ^ That may be sappy sentimentality. I loved her for it, for confessing a most hu- Stuart Awbrey HARRIS NEWS SERVICE Tobacco industry shares smoking-deaths guilt BOSTON — In the past year, two people I was close to died of lung cancer. It goes without saying that these two were both cigarette smokers. They had bought their first Lucky Strike or Camel or Chesterfield as teen-agers in the 1940s. They had smoked thousands of cartons of dozens of brands — two packs a day, three packs a day — until they died. One of them tried to quit 20 times. Another had quit, finally, in the hospital because he wasn't allowed to smoke around his oxygen tank. I don't say this to disqualify myself from writing about smoking, but rather to qualify. As a survivor, I have to ask who is to blame for these two deaths, or for the 350,000 other Americans — friends, uncles, parents — who died of smoking-related diseases last year? The daily newspaper, the medical establishment, even the cigarette packs these smokers opened, carried warnings about the lethal dangers of cigarettes. Some 45,000 studies documented the link between smoking and ill health. Weren't these consumers responsible for what they inhaled? Didn't they kill themselves? What then about the tobacco industry? Year after year, the people who write for the Tobacco Institute go on rebutting the medical research, trying to convince us that cigarettes are not bad. The companies have spent $1.5 billion a year in advertising to entice Americans, especially young Americans, to smoke. Don't they bear any responsibility for manufacturing and marketing such a lethal product? These questions of responsibility — per- Ellen Goodman WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP sonal and corporate — will be argued in the courtroom this spring by dying smokers and/or their survivors who are suing tobacco companies. Juries in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, California, Minnesota and West Virginia will decide whether a person who lit her own cigarettes can turn around and collect payment from the company that made them. They will decide whether a manufacturer who denied any smoking risks can turn around and claim that a customer smoked at his own risk. The spring rash of cases is not a coincidence. It comes out of the current anti- smoking climate and out of recent changes in the liability law. In the last few years, courts have ruled that a product is unreasonably dangerous when the risks outweigh the benefits. Such a product, they have said, has to carry warnings, very explicit warnings. "The courts had looked at DES, at asbestos. Why not go after the most dangerous drug of all? The law was all there, ready to be applied to cigarettes," says Richard Daynard, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law who started the Tobacco Products Liability Project, a group of doctors and lawyers working on the strategy for suing tobacco companies. It is the conviction of these advocates that smokers are not fully to blame for their illnesses. Smoking isn't a free choice, but an addiction. The warnings carried on the cigarette packages vastly understate the dangers of smoking and ignore those of addiction. At the same time, the ads proffer counter-messages of health and happiness. The suit strategy is, Daynard maintains, the latest ammunition of frustrated public- interest groups against the tobacco lobby. "We would prefer to have kept the epidemic from happening," says Daynard. "But this compensates the families. It produces a lot of very detailed publicity on just how bad cigarettes are, and if the cost of litigation could raise the price of cigarettes to $3 or $4 a pack it would reduce consumption in the next group of potential addicts." These cases are not going to be easily won. Smoking is an addiction, but there are millions around who have kicked the habit. Few of us are comfortable regarding the smoker as a helpless victim of the. weed. But the tobacco industry does have a full measure of guilt for the epidemic of smoking diseases, for the $13 billion a year medical bill. In most states, consumers can recover some damages from the manufacturer of a dangerous product even when they were partially to blame for their own injury. At the very least, cigarette makers should share the cost of the damage. Ideally, the threat of suit might even force the tobacco industry to do something truly radical, to stop denying the link between smoking and emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease. The least compensation owed to the survivors is the truth. Stephan silent on sexual harassment settlement man frailty. It gives one more respect for such an actress than does the Oscar itself. I knew Sally Field was one of the best we have ever had. I never realized that she didn't feel it herself. It's worth remembering, not only when we consider the glitter folk of Hollywood but in our dealings with the butcher and baker. Particularly within our own shops, our own families. We can't go around handing out Oscars to everyone we like and respect. But we can let people know now and then how much we appreciate being able to share part of this planet with them for a while. Another show business happy thought stems from CBS which has put behind us the accepted truth that for quality TV drama we must turn to imports. The network's "Anna Karenina" not only was a gem. It also was a signal that commercial TV can give us the sort of absorbing drama that heretofore we expected only from Masterpiece Theater. To be sure, CBS leaned heavily on English-born actors. To be sure, this production is only part of the book Leo Tolstoy wrote. For better Tolstoy and for equally superb drama, we must indeed go to Masterpiece Theater and its version with Nicola Padgett. That "Anna" gave us Tolstoy whole, with the magnificent sweep of his Russia. But it took 10 hours to do it, and that's a different theatrical game from the CBS version. Anna is a thoroughly modern woman, Everywoman in fact, warm, wise, witty, a healer, yet vulnerable and weak. As Jacqueline Bisaet brought her to our homes, she also is a breathtaking beauty. That made her downfall even more poignant. We can do it. Make the good stuff, that is. Perhaps CBS and the other networks just need the encouragement Sally Field now has. They need to know we like them. And we do, when they bring us such a magnificent "An^a Karenina." ByDALEGOTER Kansas Correspondent TOPEKA (HNS) - There is a certain irony in the controversy surrounding the recent out-of-court settlement of the sexual harassment case against Attorney General Robert Stephan. Anybody who has ever met Stephan (and . that probably includes most of the state's population, given Stephan's ambitious weekly travel schedules) knows him as one of the most talkative and animated public figures in Kansas. Yet, as state legislators raise questions about the out-of-court settlement, Stephan remains conspicuously silent. His defenders — among them, Rep. David Louis, R-Shawnee, chairman of the subcommittee handling Stephan's budget — say the attorney general has every right to remain silent. Louis says he has no doubts that Stephan is innocent of the sexual harassment charges filed by the attorney general's former secretary. And there is nothing unusual about the gag rule that was part of the settlement, Louis says. Louis blames partisan politics for the controversy. "It's the opening salvo in the governor's race," he says. Louis contends there is ample precedent for such undisclosed settlements in a number of other government agencies, and that Stephan is being singled out for criticism because he is an unofficial candidate for governor in 1986. Politics is a messy business under the best of circumstances, and this case brings out the worst. Stephan was sued by Marcia Capitol comment Thomson, who sought $750,000 in damages, alleging the attorney general had made numerous sexual advances. The case file in district court reads like an X-rated study in sexual deviance. And Louis contends that circumstance alone is reason to give Stephan the benefit of the doubt. "It's kind of like 'are you still beating your wife,'" Louis said. "It's that kind of allegation, It's one of those kind of situations that could be an embarrassment to a public official." Rep. Henry Helgerson, D-Wichita, is a Democrat on the subcommittee which raised the issue, but Helgerson insists he had no political motives. "My questions were not political," Helgerson says, contending he is only concerned about learning how much public money was spent in defending and settling the case. Helgerson also notes that two Republicans — House Speaker Mike Hayden, Atwood, and subcommittee member Rep. Kenneth King, Leon — also raised questions about the settlement. The remaining unanswered question is the settlement, and Helgerson argues that the use of public funds to defend a case against a public official also implies some obligation to disclose the settlement. "If attorneys' fees are paid by the state, should the amount of settlement be disclosed publicly," he asks. Stephan has been extremely evasive abouf the settlement issue. Citing the fact that the two sides agreed not to comment on the settlement, Stephan has declined to say whether any cash payment was made, if any, or if it is being paid from public money or other sources. The public has two choices in judging this issue. It can give Stephan the benefit of the doubt and concede his innocence. It also can go along with the argument that he has nothing to gain and much to lose by trying to clear his name of unfounded charges in a sensationalized courtroom proceeding. And, it may also speculate that that settlement involved no payment to Thomson, allowing her to drop the issue without retracting the charges. But some observers may see it otherwise. Why, they may ask, would a former judge who now is the top law enforcement officer in the state not have enough faith in the judicial system to take the case to trial? Without knowledge of the size of the settlement, they also may assume the worst, speculating that Stephan paid a significant amount of money because he feared the outcome of a public court proceeding. Even Helgerson agrees there is no easy answer. "It's a difficult decision," he says. "I don't know what I'd do if it was me.'' Quotation This organization (the United Nations) is created to prevent you from going to hell. It isn't created to take you to heaven. —Henry Cabot Lodge Doonesbury 'MORN/N6, Y&,RfrHE.'S Yf IN A BUSINESS BKBW5K?NOT WOL.SIR.IT Z£K£0K£NNER? W&5MOKTALBN- C/UAWN. '-EMM! I ,- DUKB VeCiVB>ITU/& TIME TO IOWT6ETOV&!. HOW MUCH YOlfVE

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