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Tolerance: Portland-style

No one is surprised that Portland’s City Council members don’t cotton to Donald Trump’s call for banning Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.

But Portland commissioners didn’t merely chide Trump for picking on Islam.

They have officially accused him, albeit technically not by name, of engaging in “hate speech."


FTC and a grocery debacle

The federal government’s fears of a grocery monopoly in Baker County weren’t so dire after all, or so it seems.

Just about a year ago the Federal Trade Commission, in approving the second-biggest grocery chain merger in U.S. history between Albertsons and Safeway, mandated that the merged company sell more than 100 stores in certain markets lest the gargantuan corporation dominate those markets with potentially deleterious effects on consumers.

 


Helping all workers

In this space in May we expressed our ambivalence about a campaign by Oregon to move workers with developmental disabilities from so-called “sheltered workshops” into more mainstream jobs.

We’re still not convinced that the state’s “Employment First” program is absolutely realistic.

Yet based on what Herald reporter Chris Collins discovered about the situation in Baker County, we’re much more optimistic than we were about the opportunities for local workers to find fulfilling jobs.


Keep the public informed

One of the more frightening things about registered sex offenders — people who have been convicted of sex crimes — is how little we know about where they live.

There are approximately 28,000 registered sex offenders in Oregon (115 of them in Baker County). But the state’s online database of sex offenders has information about fewer than 10 percent of them.

But thanks to a new state law, we hope that lamentably low percentage will rise.


People who make Baker a better place

The problem of unwanted cats and dogs is perhaps best expressed as a mathematical equation.

A couple of unaltered animals can pretty rapidly turn into a couple hundred.

This is both a livability issue — a colony of feral cats is not the most pleasant neighbor — and a humanitarian matter. The fate of unwanted animals — starvation, untreated diseases — troubles even people who don’t consider themselves animal lovers.


Keeping our kids safe

The creepy guy who tries to lure kids into his van has been the antagonist of afterschool specials and the subject of warning posters for decades.

Such monsters exist.

But they are exceedingly rare.

The reality is that children who are sexually abused almost always are the victims of people they know.


PERS tab is growing

Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reminds us of nothing so much as a maxed out credit card.

We can stuff the bills and the late payment warning notices in the back of a drawer, hidden behind discarded AA batteries and owners manuals for kitchen appliances.

But eventually we’ll have to come up with the money.

In the case of PERS, we use the pronoun “we” intentionally. That’s because the PERS bill, in a sense, belongs to every Oregonian.


Saving our public records

Oregon’s Public Records Law is an admirably concise and straightforward piece of legislation.

At least it used to be.

In 1973, when the Legislature passed not only the Public Records Law, but also the Public Meetings Law, the intent was obvious — that the public, which is to say every citizen — is legally entitled to attend meetings of public bodies and to have a look at every record government agencies produce.


Replace Sam-O showers

We applaud Baker City’s recently sharpened focus on improvements to the city’s only swimming pool, the city-owned Sam-O Swim Center.

Earlier this year the city set up a citizen committee — Councilor Sandy Lewis is the Council’s representative — to look at maintenance needs and other possible improvements to Sam-O, and make recommendations to the City Council.


Pot odor poses a dilemma

Few things are as subjective as our reactions to, and our attitudes about, odors. And in general, subjective matters make for poor laws.

Yet as the Baker City Council ponders whether to adopt an ordinance that could require people who grow marijuana to confine the distinctive scent to their property, we don’t want to dismiss as irrelevant the complaints from downwind residents.

Several people told councilors last week that the odor of growing marijuana had forced them to stay indoors.


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