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Laws and tragedy

There’s much we don’t yet know — and might never know — about the killing of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.

What seems clear from the limited information that is available, though, is that Martin should be alive today.

With the great advantage of hindsight — and even accounting for that scarcity of facts — we can conclude only that the episode that ended with George Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin in the chest with a handgun need not have started.

Which is not to say Zimmerman committed a crime.

Censure Knight? No way

The dysfunction that has infected the Baker School Board hasn’t devolved to reality TV standards.

But it’s still troubling.

Most particularly because the grievances that prompted the discord are not serious enough to warrant such a reaction.

Taxes and tire studs

It’s about time the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) recognized that winter, and never mind the calendar, doesn’t end on March 20.

Or, more to the point regarding the state’s studded tire removal deadline, on April 1.

Frankly we figured ODOT wouldn’t need to be reminded of this discrepancy, considering the agency’s employees are out there plowing the passes during “spring” storms.

It could be worse

We don’t like to see Baker City forego $57,000.

But when the alternative could take a larger bite from the city’s budget, we at least understand.

The $57,000 in this case is money the city could, in theory, collect from Seven Iron LLC, the company, owned by Billy Cunningham, that has managed the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course for close to a decade.

Keep in public

If the Baker School Board talks about director Kyle Knight during its meeting Thursday, the discussion should be open to the public.

And that’s not just our opinion.

It’s Oregon law.

Tinkering with Travel Plan

If the definition of compromise is a decision that makes everybody angry, then the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s Travel Management Plan (TMP) is worthy of its own dictionary entry.

Many local residents, among them ATV riders and four-wheeling enthusiasts, contend that Wallowa-Whitman Supervisor Monica Schwalbach has decided to ban motor vehicles from too many forest roads — about 3,600 miles from a network of almost 6,700 miles.

But other critics, including the Hells Canyon Preservation Council in La Grande, argue that Schwalbach wasn’t aggressive enough in restricting motor vehicle access to protect riparian areas, reduce the spread of noxious weeds, and curb harassment of elk.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, Schwalbach’s choice seems reasonable.

The Wallowa-Whitman’s road system is, if we can indulge in understatement, ample.

Good goals, city

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


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


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.

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