Editor: Your call for Health Secretary Adele Wilzack's resignation is timely and correct.
If the misappropriations that have come to light are sufficient justification for her to fire high-ranking staff members, then surely she should realize the gravity of her lack of attention to the management of a vital agency, particularly in these times of fiscal constraints and unmet needs.
However, let's not sugarcoat her motivation. Her resignation will not be a favor to the governor (who should accept the resignation he routinely requested of her two months ago). It will be a favor to the state's taxpayers.
It will also offer some assurance that, notwithstanding transportation and stadium overruns, the governor is concerned about the proper use of state funds.
Or is this just part of the cost of ''do it now''?
John Q. Kinlein.
Editor: This letter is in response to Richard O'Mara's Dec. 18 "Fear of Food" piece.
Mr. O'Mara is obviously unacquainted with chickens that are not the victims of modern factory farming. Chickens thato are allowed to live a natural life, with sunshine, freedom, companions and space to roam do not exhibit cannibalistic traits and are far from stupid. It is only the horrible conditions of life on a factory farm which bring out neurotic behavior. Even humans have been known to become cannibals when subjected to terrible stress.
I have had a rooster for a pet for almost four years. He has the run of the house, the opportunity to be outside when the weather is good and the companionship of a dog, cat and humans. He is about as smart as the dog and, in some ways, smarter. He knows his name, comes when called, is toilet trained and even tries to play the guitar and piano when he sees people playing. He has great territorial sense and, when left outside, will not even go near the road but stays on the property, even though it is not fenced.
When I learn of the details of life for a chicken on a factory farm, I am overcome with sadness. It is unspeakably cruel for humans to torture these gentle, helpless creatures. Mr. O'Mara further compounds this cruelty by unfairly characterizing chickens as stupid. In my opinion, he is the stupid one, writing about a subject of which he knows nothing.
Great Neck, N.Y.
Editor: Whether the mayor's redistricting plan for the city is self-serving or not, it will almost certainly do nothing to energize the City Council with any new blood or bring it closer to the people it is supposed to represent. Mere tinkering with the existing gerrymander practically guarantees the mayor a more pliant council and an apathetic citizenry at the very time when the city desperately needs precisely the opposite: broader civic participation, greater political debate and ferment and more real grass-roots consensus-building.
One can only hope that once Mayor Schmoke is re-elected, he will perhaps feel secure enough politically to propose some really meaningful electoral reforms, to include more compact single-member councilmanic districts represented by individuals who truly answer to and live in the neighborhoods they serve.
If the city is to move beyond its current malaise, the city's legislature is as good a place as any to start. Shouldn't democracy, after all, start from the bottom up and flourish as much locally as it does elsewhere?
No Oil Wars
Editor: Must we fight wars for oil?
Most of us, and our children, will be alive when the oil-age comes to an end, when known reserves of oil are mostly gone in 30-40 years. Instead of fighting wars for the dwindling reserves, can we develop solar power and other renewable energy sources to replace the oil we burn so rapidly? Each year about 25 barrels of oil are consumed per person in the United States, the highest consumption rate in the world. Even so, if we covered an area equal to our roof tops with solar panels, we could collect far more than this amount of solar energy. Put another way, an area on the order of 150 miles square, a small dot on the globe, could collect more solar power than the entire worldwide consumption of oil power.
To manufacture and install solar collectors -- and devise ways for storing and distributing this power -- will cost billions of dollars. But so will war. The sooner we shift our goals away from oil, and war, the sooner we will develop solar power, wind-power and other sources of renewable energy that do not pollute our air, accelerate the greenhouse effect or contaminate our ground water and oceans.
Solar power is abundantly available to every nation on earth. It is renewable sources of energy, not oil, that will empower the new world order.
Richard A. Cone.
The writer is a professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University.
Editor: I find it disgusting that the Palestinians have chosen t side with Saddam Hussein.