We heartily endorse your editorial "Why Build if You Can Renovate?" (May 15). Why indeed? When Beth Israel Congregation decided to move to Owings Mils, we weighed very carefully the cost/benefit of building versus renovation and came down on the side of renovation -- with a twist.
Our new home is a former high-tech corporate headquarters with some 88,000 square feet of space on 10 acres.
When renovations are completed, the building will house a 400-seat sanctuary (expandable to 2,200 seats), an early childhood center, religious school, library and youth facilities. A large social hall will be available for weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and other receptions.
But all of these facilities will take up just half of the space available. Rather than leave the remaining half empty, we will lease it out as office space until we need it.
The result: Our new tenants get prime office space with separate entrances and plenty of parking in Owings Mills, and the congregation gets a long-term "building endowment."
Why build? Renovation means everyone can benefit.
The writer is president, Beth Israel Congregation.
I would like to comment on Gilbert Lewthwaite's May 14 article, "Star Wars: Part II?"
Overall, I applaud his well-balanced account of the U.S. ballistic missile defense program.
Unfortunately, Mr. Lewthwaite inaccurately characterized my testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, implying that I told Congress the cost of deploying a national missile defense system to protect the United States would cost "thousands of gross national products."
This is not the case.
I was responding to a series of questions from Sen. Sam Nunn about the use of Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems, designed to counter short-range theater missiles versus strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
I informed the senator that TMD systems do not have a militarily significant capability against long-range ICBMs, such as those possessed by Russia and China.
The senator asked how much it would cost to use our TMD systems against ICBMs to protect the 50 to 100 largest U.S. population centers.
I responded that the cost would be "thousands of gross national products," and using TMD systems to provide defense of the United States was not technically feasible. TMD systems are designed to protect our troops deployed overseas from shorter-range ballistic missile attacks.
It is important to note the Department of Defense currently has a National Missile Defense Technology Readiness Program funded at roughly $400 million a year.
In three years we would be in a position to begin acquisition of a ground-based, ABM Treaty-compliant national missile defense system if directed.
A single missile site at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota would include 100 ground-based interceptors, ground-based radars, command and control systems and ultimately support from a constellation of space-based sensors.
This system, which would offer effective, affordable protection against ICBMs, could be available by the middle of the next decade.
&Lt.; Gen. Malcolm R. O'Neill
The writer is director of Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
Why is that people who would not otherwise litter toss their cigarette butts just about everywhere? Aren't cigarette butts litter?
William M. Diegel
Kudos to the State Highway Administration.
This past week, I had occasion to travel on I-70 and I-795. The median strip on parts of each was abloom with a bright and cheerful array of variegated wildflowers.
The sight was both beautiful and uplifting, recalling to mind the lines from Wordsworth's poem, "Daffodils."
Margaret H. Hamilton
The NAACP Should Keep Earl Shinhoster
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been around for some 86 years. We have a 64-member board that seems to be out of touch with the grass roots people's problems.
As branch presidents, we find it very difficult to confront companies and major corporations regarding the hiring and promotion of African-Americans when our own organization is not practicing what it preaches. How can we convince companies of the fairness of promoting from within when we fail to exemplify the very same principles?
Earl T. Shinhoster, who did not ask for the move, was brought into the national office as national field secretary. This placed Mr. Shinhoster in the Number 3 position at the national office.
When forces from outside started their campaign to oust Rev. Benjamin Chavis from the executive director's position, the second in command, Louis Meyers, also fled the scene, leaving Mr. Shinhoster as the logical next person to lead the association as executive director.
When the board finally voted to oust Dr. Chavis, Mr. Shinhoster was then named senior interim administrator of the NAACP. He would be in charge of the day-to-day operations at the national office, with Fred Rasheed as his assistant.
Mr. Shinhoster along with Mr. Rasheed worked their rear ends off get the association back on the right track. Subsequently, when Myrlie Evers-Williams became the new chairwoman of the NAACP, she then appointed Mr. Shinhoster as acting executive director of the NAACP.
On May 20, Mrs. Evers-Williams appointed a seven-member panel to conduct the search for an executive director. From all outward appearances, this was done without the board even giving any consideration to Mr. Shinhoster as a possible appointee for this position.
Why search for a person to replace Mr. Shinhoster, when he logically should have been immediately appointed to fill the position? Are we practicing what we're preaching? No!
This leads many of us who are nevertheless committed to this great organization to wonder who's calling the shots for the NAACP. Are we still going to allow those who contribute mega-bucks to the organization dictate our actions or tell us whom we should follow?
If the board follows through with replacing Mr. Shinhoster, the parade of leaders that will have come and gone over the past months will certainly diminish the organization's impact in terms of continuity and direction.
This raises real questions in the minds of NAACP members in small rural communities (who, incidentally, make this organization what it is) -- questions as to whether the NAACP has become a political society for the elite rather than the great defender of freedom, justice and equality that it was originally envisioned to be.
There are those of us who believe that it is not right for the current chairwoman and board to overlook the voices of the grass roots people.
This gives us further cause to worry; does the board clearly hear the cries of the oppressed, our youth, high school drop-outs, gang-bangers, drug addicts and those who have turned to violence and other means of calling negative attention to themselves? Does the board genuinely care?
Who are we advancing, ourselves or the people we represent? Let's do what is right for the advancement of colored people and not for the advancement of self.
Those of us who have supported the NAACP down through the years believe that the national board without a moment of hesitation should give serious consideration to retaining Earl T. Shinhoster as the permanent national executive director.
There is no one that we know of better qualified or more experienced in the work of this nation's oldest, largest, most revered and respected civil rights organization. Although it would be grievous to us if the board allowed Mr. Shinhoster to be overlooked in such a mean-spirited manner, we would most definitely have to re-think our position in terms of loyalty and future support of this civil rights organization.
The writer is president, Chambers County, Ala., NAACP. The letter was also signed by four other county presidents from Georgia and Alabama and the Georgia state president.
In the first cigarette recall in history, Philip Morris tried to present itself as a responsible corporate citizen.
But unlike other manufacturers which would conduct a recall to protect the public health, this one was apparently done to prevent irritating symptoms from leading customers to switch brands.
Unfortunately, it seems the pesticide contaminant caused an unpleasant taste and other objectionable symptoms. Not to worry about the ammonia, arsenic and cyanide which have always been components of cigarette smoke.
The idea of a cigarette recall is a colossal joke that only underscores the fact that cigarettes are utterly unregulated in their manufacture, marketing and promotion to adults and children.
Unlike all other consumer products (like orange juice) which must meet basic safety standards, cigarettes, which are by far the greatest avoidable cause of death in our society, have been exempted because of the tremendous influence of the tobacco industry over our political system.
It is ironic that on June 1 it was reported that House Republicans plan on targeting the federal government's effort to "regulate the sale of cigarettes to minors" as part of their attempt to eviscerate basic health regulations.
Joseph Adams, M.D.
The writer is secretary of Smoke Free Maryland.