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Wehby for U.S. Senate

Here’s a hypothetical, but hardly implausible, scenario: Let’s say that during the next six years a federal action will threaten to significantly reduce the supply of irrigation water to the farms and ranches that make up the nearly $100 million in annual sales backbone of the local economy.

Would you trust U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, or his Republican challenger, Monica Wehby, to best defend Baker County’s interests under that scenario?

We choose Wehby.

And we encourage voters to send her to Washington, D.C., in Merkley’s place.

Richardson for Oregon governor

John Kitzhaber’s second stint as Oregon governor has not gone well.

Two of the signature projects during his third term, which started in 2011, were debacles.

Kitzhaber advocated for building a new bridge across the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, Washington. The plan died when Washington lawmakers balked, but by then Oregon had spent at least $93 million in federal money.

The feds, not surprisingly, want their money back.

Approve food label measure

Food packages are larded with labels, many of which employ nonspecific adjectives — “wholesome” and the like — rather than plain fact.

Measure 92, which Oregon voters will decide on in the Nov. 4 election, deals with the factual kind of label.

It would require packaged food to include a label if the food contains genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Don’t give illegals driver cards

To support Measure 88, which would allow Oregon to give “driver cards” to people who can’t prove they have the legal right to be in the U.S., you have to believe, among other things, that most illegal immigrants in the state don’t drive.

We’ve not seen any compelling evidence that this is true.

Most generally, people don’t defy U.S. immigration laws unless they have a job here. Most people drive to work. Given that nobody denies that thousands of illegal immigrants are working today in Oregon, it’s beyond dispute that many of those workers, and probably most of them, are already driving, license or not.

Reject pot legalizing Measure 91

Marijuana helps thousands of Oregonians.

About 65,000 state residents (247 of them in Baker County) have a card, issued by a doctor, that allows them to legally use the drug for medicinal purposes. By far the most common reason — 62,100 people — is relief of severe pain. Another 16,300 consume the drug to ease chronic muscle spasms, and 9,000 use it to relieve nausea (those numbers, obviously, exceed 65,000; many people who have a medical marijuana card use the drug to treat multiple symptoms.)

Measure 91 on the Nov. 4 ballot has nothing to do with those Oregonians.

The measure’s purpose is to legalize marijuana for people who don’t need the drug for its therapeutic benefits but who enjoy its intoxicating effects.

We don’t believe that purpose is compelling enough to offset the potentially negative effects of legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

We urge voters to reject Measure 91.

Forest Service comes to its senses on media

Some officials from the U.S. Forest Service seem to believe that photographs in a newspaper, or video segments on a TV program, could sully the pristine nature of America’s wilderness areas.


We are too.

Or, rather, we were perplexed until the Forest Service’s chief, Tom Tidwell, issued a belated but welcome press release Thursday that makes a lot more sense than some of his underlings’ recent statements.

NFL gets too much attention


The National Football League has gotten as much attention recently for its players’ alleged crimes than their touchdowns.

This isn’t altogether a bad trend.

The blizzard of publicity that followed the release of a video showing Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancé in an elevator, knocking her unconscious, cast a bright light on the horrors of domestic violence.


10 years for two murders?

We weren’t shocked when Judge J. Burdette Pratt decided last week that Dillan Dakota Willford Easley, the 15-year-old Baker City boy accused of murdering his foster father and another man near Granite last October, won’t stand trial as an adult.

Easley was 14 when he allegedly shot and killed his foster father, Michael Piete, 43, and Piete’s uncle, Kenneth C. Gilliland. Both men lived in Baker City.

The killings happened at a hunting cabin near Granite, on Oct. 4, 2013.

Football field trip folly

We’re not sure what “pro-social” activities are, or are supposed to be.

What we do know is that juveniles who are on probation for such crimes as burglary and meth possession shouldn’t be getting free trips to college football games, no matter what you call it.

On Sept. 13, four employees from Washington County’s Juvenile Department escorted 12 youth offenders to Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, where they watched the University of Oregon play the University of Wyoming.

Paying to visit public lands

One advantage to living in Baker County, where about half of our 2 million acres are publicly owned, is that we can go to a lot of places without having to pay an admission fee.

But the federal government, which manages most of the county’s public acreage, seems to have an insatiable appetite for our dollars.

A current and troubling example is a bill in Congress we were alerted to by a fine watchdog organization, the Western Slope No Fee Coalition of Colorado.

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