A cleaner bay is worth more costly chickenCheap chicken...


November 30, 1997

A cleaner bay is worth more costly chicken

Cheap chicken has certainly helped my family's budget. With whole chickens at 89 cents a pound, thighs as low as 49 cents a pound, a couple of bucks provides meat for a meal.

Too good to be true? It looks that way.

The waste from those cheap chickens has evidently overfertilized some Chesapeake tributaries to the point where Pfiesteria (and who knows what other nasty bugs) threatens to turn them into no-touch zones.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's prompt and measured response to the threat, including measures to control nutrient runoff from farms, has alarmed chicken prince James Perdue. In The Sun on Nov. 7, he suggests his company may "have to move" if Maryland chicken raising costs get too high. This, despite the fact that he "likes it in this neck of the woods."

We like this neck of the woods too, particularly the Chesapeake Bay, a marvelous jewel in Maryland's crown. We sail on it, fish and crab in it, wade and swim in it and watch the sun set over it.

But where will he move if we Marylanders insist on continuing the bay clean-up? Even North Carolina, which previously ignored the human health threat posed by Pfiesteria, is now following our lead in investigating its watermen's complaints. I doubt they're anxious to add a few thousand tons of chicken waste to the hog waste on which their Pfiesteria thrives presently. In the long run, regional or national standards for farm nutrient management will level the playing field and disable the economic blackmail card that Mr. Perdue now flashes. Until those standards exist, we must resist his blackmail. If we submit, the Chesapeake and other parts of our beautiful state may be damaged beyond repair.

I'm willing to pay more for my chicken thighs if it means a cleaner Chesapeake. If James Perdue perceives more in this neck of the woods than just a well-situated chicken marketing center, he'll do his part of the cleanup and stick the blackmail card back up his sleeve.

Al McKegg

West Friendship

A congenial picture of Charles Ecker

Columnist Michael Olesker's Nov. 16 sermon, "Ecker looks for issues among the leaves," paints a nice picture of our county executive that I hope illustrates for Maryland voters the kind of man we have come to know here in Howard.

He has demonstrated his ability to see a problem in its many parts and set to the task of getting things in order, regardless of political expediency or popular opinion. This is the way a competent administrator works.

Patience, logic, spine and a thick skin are necessary for the job, much as it is in raking up a yard full of wet November leaves. Chuck Ecker is is someone you might meet at the diner on his day off who would extend his hand and let his coffee go cold as he takes time to hear your complaint, weighing it against the practical matters of governance.

The process of choosing our leadership requires a variety of views, and no matter who gets elected, not everybody will be pleased. It may be best to look over the field pretty good before deciding on which fashion of campaign offers you the most for the effort of casting a ballot. We are all stuck with the most popular choice.

John J. Snyder

Columbia I viewed with dismay and disbelief the TV airing of the Howard County Council legislative session at which the massage parlor law as enacted.

We saw council members Darrel E. Drown and Charles C. Feaga cavalierly attempting to gloss over the warrantless search provisions of the bill, which are clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

They talked of the illegal sexual activities taking place at these establishments, not to mention money-laundering. The police, who are apparently incapable of working within the framework of the Constitution, need some help, it seems, in bringing these illegalities to an end. As if that were not bad enough, we heard council members Mary C. Lorsung and Dennis R. Schrader express their grave concerns about the constitutionality of the bill. They both admitted that they did not understand the amendments to it. So what did they do? They voted for it anyway. Mr. Schrader, as he voted, stated that he hoped that those responsible for the bill's text had "done their homework." Obviously, he had not.

The scene of our council taking up this issue was an eerie mix of George Orwell and Monty Python -- a Big Brother government attempting to justify its actions with ridiculous reasoning. The four council members who voted for this bill should be ashamed of themselves. Suspending the Constitution can not be taken lightly. The voters of the county should hold them all accountable on Election Day.

I challenge the council to correct its grievous mistake and repeal this law. The members owe it to the citizenry to pass laws that are needed, are constitutional and are carefully considered. The rush to enact this law as ill-advised. It demonstrated an appalling lack of sound judgment. These are not the qualities of leadership.

Michael H. Ries


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