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Traveling travesty

Lean times, these past few years.

But not for everyone.

Oregon state government, for instance, in what seems to us a contradiction of its incessant claims of financial trouble, barely trimmed its spending in areas that could hardly be described as essential.

Unless, of course, you consider it essential that the state pay for employees to attend meetings and conferences in places such as Salishan, Sunriver and, in one case, Gibraltar.


City's challenge

The case of Baker City’s newest cell phone tower raises an interesting conundrum for City Hall.

But the episode also gives the city a chance to possibly mend fences with some residents, and avoid controversies.

Last winter T-Mobile applied for a conditional-use permit to install a 50-foot tower and a 220-square-foot building on Spring Garden Hill.


Thanks, Mr. Silvers

The only trouble with a bequeathed gift is that you can’t personally thank the giver.

A pity, because we’d like to shake Anthony Silvers’ hand and tell him how much we appreciate what he’s done for Baker City.


BLM had to do it

It points to a disappointing trend, but the BLM’s decision to close the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center three days per week this winter makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is keeping the Center open on days when just a couple dozen visitors show up.

During the past eight Januarys, for instance, the daily average has been 19 visitors.

But no matter how many people paid admission, the BLM had to make sure the Center was staffed and the snow plowed from the access road.

Center Director Sarah LeCompte estimates the BLM will save $20,000 to $30,000 by closing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Feb. 12.

Not a king’s ransom, to be sure. But the savings could be important considering BLM is expecting 5-percent cuts in the Center’s budget each of the next three years.

Fortunately, the BLM will open the Center, regardless of the day, for large tour groups that pre-arrange a visit. That will help local tourism officials who are trying to attract just such groups.

Ideally, as the economy improves, visitor numbers will increase enough to justify resuming the Center’s normal, 7-days-per-week schedule.


Who needs a trial?

Imagine that a U.S. citizen is arrested as a suspected terrorist, on U.S. soil, and then placed in military custody for as long as officials deem necessary.

Oh, and this citizen doesn’t get a trial, so the mere suspicion of complicity in promoting terrorism is sufficient grounds for an open-ended detention.

It sounds like the plot of a novel.

In fact it’s part of a bill that the U.S. Senate passed by a 93-7 vote on Dec. 1.

Greatest deliberative body in history, right?


Tell us more, guv

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, won’t allow any inmates to be executed on his watch. Kitzhaber, elected last November to his third term (and second stint), recently described Oregon’s death penalty system as “broken,” “inequitable” and “compromised.”

Those terms imply certain things about Oregon’s recent experience with capital punishment that, if true, would indeed be cause for citizens to worry.

“Inequitable” suggests that Oregon is executing minorities or some other specific group of death row inmates at a disproportionate rate.

“Broken” and “compromised” indicate that the state has perhaps had to free condemned inmates who were exonerated by DNA or some other indisputable evidence of innocence.

Yet none of these things is true.


Super job, people

Baker City Editorial Board

Some super committee, huh?

Rarely has an entity been so inaptly named as the 12-member bipartisan panel tasked with trimming at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.


Pity poor Big Tobacco

Oh, those poor tobacco companies.

The gall of the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration, to mandate that cigarette packs include color photographs showing diseased lungs and other effects of smoking.


Fortunately for beleaguered Big Tobacco, it has at least one federal judge on its side.


Reminder needed

The Penn State University child sex abuse story is awful.

Jerry Sandusky, a former longtime assistant to legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, is accused of abusing eight pre-teen boys over 15 years.

Because crimes allegedly continued even after several Penn State officials — Paterno among them — were notified about concerns regarding Sandusky’s activities, the situation has highlighted differences in state and federal laws known collectively as “mandatory reporting” statutes.


City's tough, but right, choice

The Baker City Council had a tough choice to make last week regarding parking on Resort Street.

We agree with the four councilors — the slimmest majority possible on the seven-member Council — who opted for parallel parking on both sides of Resort between Auburn Avenue and Campbell Street.

The new parking set up, which will take effect in either 2012 or 2013 when the street is rebuilt, represents a change from the current situation.

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