ISSUE | FERGUSON, MO.

Open problems

An Inquirer editorial naively suggested that the evidence in the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting should have been presented in open court ("Violence not the answer," Nov. 26). What would have been the fate of the black witnesses who backed Officer Darren Wilson's version of the encounter with Michael Brown? Had their identities been exposed, do you think that they would have dared to testify given the lynch-mob atmosphere generated by agitators?

|Arthur Rabin, Havertown

ISSUE | PIPELINE

Beyond Keystone

Charles Lane's attempt to weave hemp, polyester, and glass fiber into an argument that liberals are somehow acting contrary to their principles is a joke. ("Overplaying pipeline issue," Nov. 28). Keystone XL is hardly the only fossil-fuel industry project that liberals - who believe in science and understand the implications for increased climate disruption of easing the path for high-carbon fuels to market - are working night and day to prevent. We rightly oppose all such pipelines and export facilities, both oil and natural gas. We should be investing in renewables, not fossil fuels.

|Joe Magid, Wynnewood

ISSUE | THE PINELANDS

Process chopped

The report on the Burlington County freeholders' reappointment of Sean Earlen left out an important point ("Freeholders reappoint Pinelands commissioner," Dec. 2). While there was no doubt that the Republican-controlled board would appoint Earlen, the minority members and the public did not have the opportunity to vet the nominee.

Freeholders Aimee Belgard and Joanne Schwartz moved to table the nomination for 30 days so that they could evaluate the nominee, whose name was put forward only that day. That motion was defeated along party lines.

By ruling out any additional vetting, GOP board members exhibited disdain for the public. Their swift and stealthy reappointment was unfair to their constituents and to Earlen himself.

|Steve Stern, Mount Laurel

ISSUE | RECYCLING

Elusive promise of composting trash to cash

Philadelphia is considering food waste composting, but for several reasons, the scheme likely will not pan out practically or economically ("Next recycling step: Composting," Nov. 27). Municipalities have been singularly unsuccessful in these efforts since the early 20th century. Close to home, Wilmington has overseen two failures in just the last two decades.

Among the possible problems: separate collection of organic trash will increase the city's costs, and truck traffic and odors will undoubtedly require an enclosed and possibly distant (and costly) composting facility. Both the collected garbage and the composted product have low bulk densities, which means lots of trucks, drivers, trips, and gas for hauling. Finally, the effort would generate tons of compost with little to no value as a fertilizer or soil conditioner.

With all the difficulties facing such a scheme, any success - perhaps enhancing the green reputation of the city? - likely would require a substantial and continuing subsidy. It makes better sense to put these precious tax dollars into the city's critical and immediate needs, such as funding for education.

|Lee Christensen, Broomall

ISSUE | TRAFFIC SAFETY

By the numbers, more lines must be painted

Philadelphia's practice of limiting double lines separating traffic lanes to just two properties (rather than a whole block) presents a safety risk. This practice is employed in a discriminatory fashion in only certain neighborhoods as well. In Logan, it is a rule of thumb - even along major streets where school and SEPTA buses travel.

The result has been a dramatic increase in sideswiping of parked cars, particularly at night. Often, the damage is minor enough that insurance companies prefer not to get involved. Residents are forced to pay. More neighborhoods should be given block-long traffic striping, including designating bus stops, turning lanes, and the like.

|Aaron Libson, Philadelphia

ISSUE | FAMILY AND POLITICS

Teens' feelings just collateral damage to some

Sadly, former Republican congressional aide Elizabeth Lauten's careless and mean words directed at the Obama children remind me that the disdain and contempt some feel for President Obama has now spilled over ("GOP aide resigns after criticizing 1st daughters," Dec. 2).

Among black citizens, we have long known that there was much more behind disagreements with the Obama administration than mere policy matters. If it were policy matters alone, critics would be able to disagree without being so ugly in their disagreement. Some are determined to poke and jab and affront this black president until he turns as black as Malcolm X or W.E.B. Du Bois or that guy in Ferguson, Montgomery, Newark, Atlanta, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles. Well, it isn't going to happen.

Too many are determined to torpedo and sink this U.S.S. President, even though they are all passengers on the same ship. Lauten's words were not a misstep; her words were aimed with an angry dart and meant to wound. It confounds and saddens me at the same time that the banner of our times is being hoisted by the likes of Lauten, with a substantial audience cheering her on.

|Bill Brooks, Newark