Miss America hopefuls

are certainly not 'geeks'

Regarding the Sept. 6 headline, "Beautiful geeks: Miss America's science bent":

This headline was insensitive, to say the least. The pageant has been away from Atlantic City for quite some time. Anyone would admit its return is great for Atlantic City.

So why would The Press use a headline calling the contestants "beautiful geeks"? The word geek denotes nothing commendable. Remember, the negative items have a way of being picked up and sent around the world.

JACK BENNER

Northfield

Pageant preliminaries

are too expensive

I know Boardwalk Hall is expensive to use as a venue and the union fees alone border on extortion, but, with all the money received from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to upgrade the hall, repair the Boardwalk and address the issues the Miss America Organization had when it left Atlantic City, I was wondering why the preliminary night tickets were so expensive.

I went to a preliminary competition and was shocked at the emptiness of the hall. There were tiers of seats empty everywhere and whole sections along the stage were vacant.

As I remember it, the preliminary nights used to be a great way to see the pageant rather cheaply. It was a great night out with the family. The live show was basically what you saw on television, and you didn't have to shell out a ton of money.

I think putting people in the seats is a far better way to promote the event than trying to gouge people. The seats have been priced out of reach of tourists and the local families who have supported the pageant for generations.

Next year, the pageant should give us a break.

MORTIMER SPRENG

Atlantic City

Dunes would destroy

beautiful Margate beach

I don't live on the beach block, and I'm against the Army Corps of Engineers' plan to build dunes in Margate.

The project doesn't provide protection for anyone but the beach block homeowners - and even that protection is insignificant relative to the enormous cost.

Nothing is free, and the fact that this is being pitched as free because federal funds cover most of the first-year cost is dishonest.

I love our beautiful beaches, and the idea of destroying what Mother Nature has provided us to protect rich people's homes for 20 minutes sickens me, especially because most of them don't want it.

Our beaches are beautiful, our bulkheads work well and our damage from Hurricane Sandy came from flooding, not wave action. Don't ruin what we love just so the government can spend money.

MICHAEL McELROY

Margate

Route 30 interchange

a good use of money

Regarding the Sept. 8 editorial, "CRDA funds for parkway/Hands off":

I realize that Casino Reinvestment Development Authority funds have been limited to projects in Atlantic City. Nevertheless, I believe everyone now realizes that if Atlantic City is to succeed, all of southern New Jersey must be transformed into a more accessible and economically robust area.

It only makes sense to use CRDA funding to construct a full Garden State Parkway interchange at Route 30. For those who claim this is a waste of CRDA funds, I would remind them of the millions of dollars that were used to move the Atlantic City bus station. Also, how much did the agency waste to transform and then retransform the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway? At least if funds are used to construct a parkway interchange, it won't be demolished or moved.

JOHN D'AGOSTINO

Mays Landing

Obama's foreign policy

is an embarrassment

The Syrian dramatic comedy shows how a president with no real leadership experience may end up orchestrating one of our country's most embarrassing international charades.

When Syrian rebels asked for help more than 18 months ago, President Barack Obama was silent. When Syria used chemical weapons months ago, he did nothing. Then, President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons again, killing more than 1,400 people. Our response is a warning, giving him weeks to move his weapons.

Obama failed to get the support of Congress, the American people or our allies for an attack.

Obama's foreign policy of making nice has given us friends who do not trust us and rivals and enemies who do not respect or fear us. He has succeeded in reducing the role of the United States in the world.

The Russians have taken advantage of, insulted and undermined Obama at every opportunity. Now former KGB Col. Vladimir Putin says he will have Assad give up his chemical weapons. We are supposed to trust Assad to relinquish weapons he told the world he did not have.

This is happening one year after our ambassador and three other brave Americans were slaughtered in Libya. No one has been apprehended and no real answers have been provided. In fact, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked, "What difference does it make?"

The tragedy is that some see this as a victory for our president. Does that sound like Neville Chamberlain declaring "peace in our time" after negotiating with Adolf Hitler?

Lack of strong leadership then, as now, has tragic consequences. Sadly, many will just say, "What difference does it make?"

JOHN GAMBA

Ocean City

Mainland drug policy

disrespects students

Regarding the Sept. 10 story, "Random drug tests/Mainland's new policy draws student opposition/Officials say priority is finding those who need help":

I am appalled by the new policy allowing random alcohol and drug testing of Mainland Regional High School students. I graduated from Mainland in 2011, and I find it distressing that the administration I respected would stray from the principles it seemed committed to upholding - trust in students, an emphasis on personal responsibility and a mutual respect expected of both students and administration.

During my junior year, Mainland switched to block scheduling and allowed seniors to leave the building for lunch and for any periods during which they did not have class. Students were treated like adults, a policy intended to prepare them for the freedom of life after high school.

Why take a step backward? While the aim of fighting drug and alcohol use is undoubtedly respectable, Mainland seems to be reneging on its promise to respect and trust its students.

Drugfree.org recently reported a study by the University of Pennsylvania that found "students who attend schools where they feel treated with respect are less likely to start smoking cigarettes or marijuana."

Mainland Principal Mark Marrone has said the new policy gives students an excuse for saying no to peer pressure. But students shouldn't feel they need an excuse to say no to drugs. Mainland should back the idea that students should be confident and take pride in their decision against the use of drugs and alcohol.

I hope Mainland gets back to the mission of creating a positive environment driven by respect.

ALANA FARR

Northfield

Forget Verizon deal,

take care of retirees

Recently Verizon Communications announced that it plans to buy out its Verizon Wireless partner Vodaphone for $130 billion.

I am one of 2,700 Verizon retirees who were recently told by Verizon's financially troubled spin-off company, Idearc/SuperMedia, that our earned retiree health care benefits are being unilaterally cancelled.

Verizon also recently transferred 41,000 retirees from its pension plan into a less-secure annuity.

If Verizon has $130 billion to spend on this acquisition, it should first be held accountable to honor its obligations to the dedicated employees who helped build the company into the successful operation it is today. Shame on Verizon and its executives, who have made these greedy decisions at the expense of - and on the backs of - it's retirees.

BILL HARMON

Marmora