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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.

County commitment

The roster of lawmakers and private groups suggesting ways to help rural counties across the West, including Baker County in some cases, is getting sort of crowded.

We're not especially impressed with any of these strategies.

The basic fiscal problem is similar among the counties.

More profit, less pollution

The record-high price for gold seems to be having an effect on Baker County.

Within the past few weeks, a Nevada firm has expressed interest in reprocessing dredge tailings in Sumpter Valley.

Booming business

The statistics from Oregon State University are, in a sense, the happy corollary to the angry muttered chorus of customers surveying the meat case at the grocery store.

Beef prices have been high, by historic standards, for a couple years now.

This can make checking out a rather stressful experience.

But from a macroeconomic standpoint, the situation is more promising.

The rocks return

The rocks, or some of them anyway, will return.

Now what to do with them.

This, at least, is the lesser of the two dilemmas.

The greater challenge was to bring samples of gold ore and other precious metals and minerals back to Baker County, from whence they came (geographically speaking, if not always geologically).

That task has been achieved.

Conspicuous criminals

Turns out Baker City wasn't the ideal place to work a counterfeit bill scam.

Not enough anonymity, apparently.

We were pleased — and not a little bit amused — to piece together the tale of how a couple of suspicious store clerks and a clever police officer tracked a fake $20 bill to its suspected source.

Enforcing forest travel

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest hasn't unveiled its long-awaited (and, for some people, long-feared) travel management plan, but already we've had a glimpse at how the new limits on motor vehicle use might be enforced.

This glimpse was provided by the man who is largely responsible for that pending plan.

That's Dale Bosworth. He was chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2001-07. In 2004 he cited "unmanaged recreation" as one of the four biggest threats to national forests. As a result, all forests are required to write travel plans that govern where motor vehicles can go (the plans don't affect snowmobiles).

Earlier this week The Oregonian published an op-ed written by Bosworth, who retired in 2007 after a 41-year career with the Forest Service.

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