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Limit Oregon’s vaccination exemptions

The “debate” over vaccinations is misnamed.

That vaccines are overwhelmingly effective and safe has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt by decades of unimpeached scientific studies.

But even if for some peculiar reason you aren’t convinced by the published research of the world’s eminent immunologists, you need only consider how vaccines have changed America for the better.


Get tough with public records law

Oregon’s public records law is failing.

If you’re a member of the public, anyway.

The law is working pretty well for government officials.


Let us vote on cougars


The perennial, and so far futile, effort to add geographic flexibility to managing cougars in Oregon has returned to the state Legislature.

This year’s proposal is pretty much identical to the one that failed to gain traction in the Capitol in 2013.

Actually there are multiple proposals — Senate bills 126 and 453, and House Bills 2050 and 2181. The basic idea in each case, though, is the same: To give voters in each of Oregon’s 36 counties the chance to allow hunters to use tracking dogs to hunt cougars.


Kitzhaber as victim? No way


John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s first four-term governor — albeit barely — will go, but not quietly.

Or with a great deal of dignity.

Kitzhaber announced last Friday that he will resign at 10 a.m. this Wednesday.

Secretary of State Kate Brown will replace him as governor.

Kitzhaber’s resignation letter is brief, covering just the essentials.

But the written statement he read early Friday afternoon is not.


No rush on pot sales ban


The Baker City Council wisely delayed any decision Tuesday on Police Chief Wyn Lohner’s proposed ordinance banning commercial sales of marijuana in town.

There’s no hurry.

The city’s moratorium banning medical marijuana dispensaries — the only kind allowed right now under Oregon law — is in effect until May 1.


Use every tool with the feds


Bill Harvey, the new chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners, speaks with passion about protecting Baker County from the onerous and sometimes just plain silly decisions federal agencies make regarding the 1 million acres of the county that are public land.

(That’s about half the county’s area, by the way.)

We agree with Harvey about the importance of this topic, and we like his enthusiasm.

Ultimately, though, we want Harvey and fellow commissioners Mark Bennett and Tim L. Kerns to employ the strategy that gives the county the loudest possible voice, as it were, in exerting its influence over how federal agencies manage that massive chunk of ground that’s so vital to our economy and our way of life.


Future for mining? Why not?


We came away from the first Eastern Oregon Mining Summit with newfound optimism about the future of the industry on which Baker County was founded.

The Jan. 27 event in Baker City invigorated us mainly because several speakers said the reason large-scale gold mining has pretty much disappeared in Oregon is the widespread perception, among mining companies and investors, that the state’s laws and permitting process discourage mining.

But that’s not the case, speakers said.


Future of our farms


The news came in like an early frost or a summer hailstorm with stones the size of grapes.

The announcement that Baker Valley’s eight potato growers will have to find a new buyer soon if they are to plant about 3,000 acres in spuds reminds us that agriculture, Baker County’s most valuable industry, faces threats other than untimely weather, a risk that might well be increasing due to climate change.

In this case a corporation, Heinz, decided to change.

But farmers and ranchers are also potentially vulnerable to decisions by government agencies.


Botching block grants


We understand why Haines City Recorder Valerie Russell was surprised to learn that the Baker County town, in the span of a single year, had become rather affluent.

Haines had not, in fact, done anything of the sort.

We’d rather report otherwise, but the reality is that Haines, population 416, along with much of the rest of Baker County and indeed rural Oregon, has been slow to recover from the Great Recession.


No need to restrict snowmobiles


We were pleased to hear from Dan Ermovick, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s recreation planner, that a new Forest Service snowmobile policy won’t have any immediate effect on snowmobilers on the Wallowa-Whitman.

We’ll be happier still if it turns out there’s no significant long-term effect, either.

There shouldn’t be one.


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