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Good goals, city


In perusing the Baker City Council’s list of goals we were pleased about what we didn’t read.

Jobs.

It’s not that our elected representatives oppose adding jobs to the city’s economy, of course.

But we’ve become tired over the years of listening to public officials prattle on about creating jobs as though this were a task for which cities are well-suited.


PERS, revealed

BAKER CITY HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD

We have a much better idea now why officials from PERS, Oregon’s retirement system for public employees, were so reluctant to release details about the benefits paid to retirees.

So reluctant they went to court to try to shield information to which Oregonians are clearly entitled under the state’s public records law and which PERS, prior to 2002, routinely divulged.

Fortunately, PERS lost.


Time to get out?


The massacre which a lone U.S. soldier allegedly committed this week in Afghanistan, killing 16 Afghan civilians, has nothing to do with America’s policy in that troubled country.

But the tragedy must cause U.S. officials, from President Obama on down, to consider whether our country is likely to gain anything more from continuing to maintain about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan.


Ruling could put local ag businesses in hot water


Federal Judge John Acosta’s recent ruling has to do with stream temperatures that are too warm, but the judge’s words surely chilled the spines of farmers and ranchers in Eastern Oregon.

Acosta, in a 51-page decision, criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to ensure that Oregon regulatory agencies enforce temperature limits designed to protect threatened salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

Water temperatures that are ideal for, say, crappie or bass, can kill those aforementioned threatened species.

But it gets awfully hot in our part of the state, you might be thinking. What are we supposed to do — pump chilled water into our creeks and rivers?

Well, no.


Rally around compromise


Organizers of the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, the early June event that brings thousands of people to Baker City, want to close a four-block section of Main Street during part of this year’s rally, set for June 8-11.

We think that’s a good idea.

But with one caveat.


Keep the 'public' in law


We vigorously support the idea that responsible adults should be allowed to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun in Oregon.

But we’re equally vehement in believing that the existence of these permits should be a matter of public record.

We’re disappointed, then, that the Legislature recently passed a law (House Bill 4045) which, in effect, thumbs its nose at the notion that Oregonians should be able to keep track of what their elected officials are up to.


Making things worse

We understand that the U.S. Postal Service is hemorrhaging money.

We don’t understand, though, why the agency's cure involves a scalpel rather than a tourniquet.

Postal officials announced last week that they will close four mail processing centers in Oregon. The list includes the center in Pendleton, where most local mail goes (your letters really get around).

The projected annual savings from the Pendleton closure is $522,000. This, for an agency that lost $3.3 billion in the last quarter of 2011.

Obviously the Postal Service has to save money.

But by making mail delivery slower and less reliable — closing processing centers, for instance — the agency is likely to encourage people to switch to online options.

Which happens to be the heart of the Postal Service’s dilemma — first class mail use has dropped by 25 percent since 2006. We’d like to see the agency address that problem rather than make it worse.


Free to be a doofus


The term "judicial activism" can be accurately translated, in many cases, to "a judge's decision that I disagree with."

Occasionally, though, the criticism implicit in the term — that a judge has exceeded his or her legitimate authority so as to make a political or personal point — is truly deserved.

Rarely have we come across a better example than a recent court case in Pennsylvania.

The most disturbing thing about District Judge Mark Martin's ruling and subsequent comments to an alleged victim of harassment is that the judge leads us to question whether the First Amendment is quite as robust a treatise as we believed it to be.


Vaccine victory


Parents in the Baker School District are admirably diligent in making sure their kids are inoculated against infectious diseases.

For proof, just consider what happened in schools earlier this month.

Or, more accurately, what didn't happen.


The power of words


La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney isn't the first official to type himself into a public maelstrom via Facebook.

And we're not risking our reputation for prescience by proclaiming that he won't be the last.

As a legislative matter, the Facebook posts in which Pokorney criticizes states that allow same-sex marriage are irrelevant.


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