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How Much Distress In The Stern Dynasty?

In an attempt to add a new twist to the story of Eddie Stern's trading activities ("Dynasty in distress," Cover Story, Feb. 9), your reporter created a fantasy of a troubled dynasty in the Stern family. Eddie traded thinking his ideas were legal; he is currently successfully managing the family's investments. Manny lost one deal among many but continues to manage and expand the family's real estate portfolio. And in a story about a dynasty, only one sentence was devoted to Leonard's daughter, Andrea, who is a talented photographer about to have a show in a major gallery. All three children are living happy, productive lives and have a wonderful relationship with each other and with their father. Leonard's legacy is not in distress.

My wife and I have been friends of Leonard Stern for 40 years and are close to his wife and children as well. I was his business partner for six years, making over 60 acquisitions in building Harmon Publishing Co. into the largest U.S. publisher of real estate photo magazines.

Ronald Weintraub

New York

I served as a [Rite Aid (RAD)] director with Leonard Stern and can report that he was absolutely instrumental in saving Rite Aid. From the moment a problem was discovered, he literally rolled up his sleeves and worked, at times 24/7, to restore Rite Aid to financial health -- and in the process saved tens of thousands of jobs. The level of commitment, integrity, and sheer brainpower displayed by Leonard was unparalleled and amazes me to this day.

Nancy A. Lieberman

New York

Marcia Vickers detailed in her story just the more well-known facts concerning Leonard Stern. I would suggest she dig more deeply. I am one of the distributors she mentioned. I had a wholesale pet-supply business in San Diego from 1963-70. It was a small family business, but Stern decided he wanted it, and he eventually ended up with it. I filed a federal antitrust case against Hartz in 1970, and it dragged on for over a year.

I finally settled because financially I could not continue the legal battle. Leonard told me he had more attorneys on his staff than I had employees. That might very well have been true! Financially, the relationship with this guy has caused me business problems ever since. Enough said.

Ralph Slocum

San Diego

[You] acknowledge that Emanuel Stern as a developer has "scores of successful projects" but then depict him as imperiling the company's 200-building, 38-million-square-foot real estate portfolio because he wasn't awarded a politically administered request for proposal. More than 40 companies responded to the RFP for Meadowlands Redevelopment. Hartz was one of three finalists. Does that mean that 37 other companies also "blew" the deal?

As a Wall Street lender familiar with Hartz's investments and operations, I can say that it runs one of the best-performing real estate portfolios in the country. Its Meadowlands Redevelopment proposal, which your story suggests was deficient because it did not come from a "sophisticated [real estate investment trust]," was created in partnership with Forest City Ratner, itself partly owned by one of the New York Stock Exchange's largest public and well-performing real estate operating companies. I personally reviewed the Hartz/Forest City proposal and, as one who has seen (or written) hundreds of RFP submissions, I can say it was nothing like "crayon on construction paper," as an anonymous Hartz rival in your story claims.

As a longtime friend and associate of Emanuel and Leonard Stern and their colleagues at Hartz Mountain, I can tell you that the people your story invents via self-interested detractors are strangers to anyone who knows the real people, their achievements, and their integrity.

Marc J. Warren

New York The price of oil in U.S. dollars has much more to do with the value of the dollar than with the underlying supply and demand for oil ("Why is oil so expensive -- again?" News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 9). My theory is that the U.S. government has pumped the world full of dollars to prevent a domestic deflationary meltdown. The result is that domestic inflation/deflation is approximately zero, while import prices, including oil, are sky-high.

Anyone who doubts that the real value of our currency has taken a hit, or is so delusional as to think the stock market is really on a tear, should realize that the Dow Jones industrial average is only at 8400 -- in euros.

Ken Smith

Houston Re "A british solution to America's college tuition problem?" (Social Issues: Education, Feb. 9): I believe tuition hikes are not inherently bad, but they should be appropriated correctly. I work in science and have seen the alarming number of students steering away from the field to pursue other studies. Although these many studies are worthwhile, America was founded on innovation, largely by scientists.

State and local government should determine the value of different degrees and regulate and/or subsidize tuitions based on course of study. We can then more easily send people of all socioeconomic backgrounds for advanced educations and at the same time produce a well-balanced workforce to support coming generations.

Russell Posner

Greenwich, Conn. Dean Foust's "AFLAC: its ducks are not in a row" (The Corporation, Feb. 2) describes Columbus, Ga., as a "rural....small Southern town better known for textile mills and the massive Fort Benning military base....." While proud of our community's partnership with Fort Benning, textiles no longer define our city.

Today, Columbus is headquarters for three publicly traded companies in addition to AFLAC: Synovus Financial (SNV), TSYS (TSS), and Carmike Cinemas (CKEC). We are also proud of our new $86 million RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, home of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, where Mr. Foust could have recently enjoyed a performance by Yo-Yo Ma.

Alan Rothschild

Columbus, Ga. Michael J. Mandel was heading in the right direction when he zoomed past the real reason jobs have not reappeared ("So where are the jobs?" News: Analysis & Commentary, Jan. 26). The foundation of economic theory is that capital is fixed, and labor is mobile. In this century, the exact opposite is true, especially since September 11. Because capital can zip around the world in a nanosecond, all those venture capitalists Mandel is counting on are not giving the homeland any kind of priority. Meanwhile, try getting a job in Europe if you're American, or one in the U.S. if you're Brazilian. It's just not going to happen. That means all the outcomes predicted by current economic theory must be wrong -- and a Nobel prize awaits the theorist of the new reality.

David Wineberg

New York

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