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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.

A real solution

So now we have dueling prescriptions to cure the financial malaise that afflicts 18 counties in Western and Southern Oregon.

First came the plan offered by three Oregon congressman — Democrats Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio, and Republican Greg Walden.

Although the trio has yet to unveil details, their basic idea is to increase logging on about half of the federal forests in those counties, while protecting the rest, including remaining old growth stands, from cutting.

Revenue from the additional logging would help counties balance their budget.

A coalition of environmental groups last week countered the lawmakers' proposal with a three-pronged approach:

Helping veterans

The event that happened Tuesday at the National Guard Armory in Baker City was at once heart-warming and heart-rending.

We were gratified that so many people — about 60 —turned out to learn how to help soldiers readjust to civilian life.

No group is more deserving of aid.

County's best option

The Oregon Legislature didn't do Baker County any favors last year when it passed a law that, starting Jan. 1, diverts a significant amount of money from fines and fees paid to Baker Justice Court to the state.

That law, HB 2712, could siphon $180,000 from the Court's coffers over the next 18 months.

Lawmakers might reconsider their decision during the session that started this week.

But with a big shortfall in the state budget, and major education and healthcare proposals from Gov. John Kitzhaber to consider during the month-long session, we're not confident that HB 2712 will get ironed out.

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