The article "Water official targeted" (March 29) centers not only on alleged improprieties by John Foley, the board chairman of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, but also upon the broad topic of conflict of interest.

Merle Moshiri of Residents for Responsible Desalination was correct to bring these improprieties into question. Regardless of Foley's denials, the appearance of conflict is inescapable. Special-interest money and influence was in play, and favorable decisions for the special interest, in this case Poseidon Resources, were made. Citizens and taxpayers are entitled to their well-founded perceptions.

Too often, elected officials brush off aspersions of wrongdoing by claiming that their actions were not illegal or influenced by gain from special interests because their "principles" or ideology would have dictated their course of action. Maybe, but when you take money or support from special interests and do their bidding, that opens the door to perceptions of conflict.

The same applies to council members making appointments to city boards and commissions from those who contribute to their campaigns. Using the "I did it on principle" defense, let alone the "It's not illegal" defense, is ethically weak and morally repugnant if a direct quid pro quo case is plausibly suggested.

It can be compounded by assertions from the officials in question that they didn't know what they were doing was wrong or that they made "honest mistakes" in their reportings. We have already seen recent examples of such lapses here in Huntington Beach, and we deserve better representation than we have been receiving.

It is time we demand more honesty and ethical behavior from our elected and appointed officials, especially with elections coming up this year. We should resist voting for any candidates that are clearly intent on doing the bidding of their monied special interest backers. We should applaud the efforts of civic watchdogs like Moshiri to keep our local officials honest.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

*

Rohrabacher's character is clean

I highly disfavor Michael Miller's recent political hit-column on the character and reputation of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher ("Rep. defends money to wife," March 29).

As a World War II veteran and longtime resident of Orange County, I am deeply worried about the left-wing direction of our once-proud nation. I feel lucky to have a congressional representative of the character and stature of Rohrabacher in these troubled times.

On a number of occasions, I have phoned his office to vent my concerns. Each time, I have been promptly answered by people who are well-schooled and current in national and world affairs.

After a close look, I am convinced of his ethical correctness and of the frugality of his expenditures. He adheres both to the letter and spirit of the heavy responsibilities of his office.

William B. Anderson

Costa Mesa

*

No need for a mousetrap

Thank you for your article on dealing with mice and rats without the use of poison ("Poisoned rats linked to deaths," March 29).

The following are solutions that I found useful when I lived in the "tree section" of Palos Verdes:

1. Location — I have found mice behind my dishwasher, under the bottom drawer in my kitchen (pull out drawers completely in all rooms), even in the bottom drawer of a built-in bunk bed dresser. The tree rats had eaten holes in the clothes stored in the drawer. You smell them, but often can't find them!

2. Mice and rats can squeeze through the tiniest spaces or come through the attic or roof by jumping from nearby tree branches.

3. I bought inexpensive steel wool and stuffed it around all cables, wires, pipes, etc. leading into the house. Steel wool hurts their teeth.

4. Wrap all fruit trees' trunks with aluminum trunk wraps (they look like metal cylinders). You see these all over Hawaii. Mice and tree rats can't climb the slippery aluminum/metal cylinders to get to the fruit or branches. This prevents tree-climbing mice and rats from having access to your attic or roof.

I found these non-toxic measures worked really well!

Poisons or sticky paper traps are dangerous around children, pets and wildlife. An added disadvantage is that the poisoned mice/rats usually crawl into an inaccessible area to die. You are left with the sickening odor of dead animals for weeks as they decay!

Again, thanks for addressing a common problem facing many residents.

Janice Overman

Seal Beach