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.
The financial storm bearing down on a few Oregon counties has so far raised scarcely a breeze in Baker County.
But although the tempest threatening Curry, Josephine and some other counties with insolvency remains distant, the heavy weather could come to Eastern Oregon as well.
We were pleased to watch last week as the hot breath of Americans, angry over the possible hobbling of the free-ranging Internet, prevailed over the chill wind of censorship.
A pair of bills, one in the U.S. Senate and one in the House of Representatives, seem destined for failure.
Oregon’s Legislature won’t have time to dawdle during the session that starts Feb. 1.
Voters decided two years ago that state lawmakers should convene every year, rather than every other year as was the tradition.
However, the measure that voters endorsed also limits legislative sessions during even-numbered years to 35 days.
(The limit for odd-numbered years is 160 days.)
We sympathize with Baker City councilors as they grapple with a
pending $2.5 million tab to further cleanse the city’s drinking water,
which is already admirably pure.
But we urge councilors to be judicious in expressing their concerns
about the federal rule designed to protect people from cryptosporidium
and other microscopic parasites that can make people sick and, in rare
cases, kill them.
We’re not suggesting councilors muzzle themselves.
In fact we encourage them to interrogate government officials about
the rules. We’re particularly interested in the possibility, as City
Manager Mike Kee told councilors last week, that the current rules
could change before the city’s October 2016 deadline to deal with
That said, councilors would do their constituents a disservice if,
as Councilor Clair Button warned last week, the city incurs a fine or
other penalty because it misses a key deadline.
We don’t think that’s likely. The city has plenty of time before it
totally commits to buying equipment that will subject our drinking
water to a disinfecting dose of ultraviolet light.
The federal government has shown a curious inconsistency in its concern for wildlife over the past quarter century or so.
Early in that period, the plight of the spotted owl was deemed so dire that, by way of a federal judge’s ruling and the subsequent policies of several federal agencies, it was decided that only a drastic curtailment of logging on public lands could fix the problem.
The Baker School District seems to have learned a lesson about having classes on legal holidays.
We understand why the school board decided, last April, to make Monday, Jan. 2 a regular school day even though, as a result of New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday, Jan. 1 was the legal holiday.
This is the district’s first school year with a four-day week. Having classes on one legal holiday gives the district a little more flexibility in meeting its required number of school days.
What officials perhaps didn’t fully account for, though, is the ubiquity of technology.
The Bureau of Land Management’s strategy for managing 428,000 acres in the region, most of them in Baker County, was conceived during the Reagan Administration.
BLM figures it’s time for a fresh outlook. This is appropriate, considering events that have transpired in the past quarter century which directly affect how BLM deals with the vast swathes of public ground for which it’s responsible.
Protecting sage grouse habitat, and a heightened interest in how livestock grazing and motor vehicles affect flora and fauna, are but a few examples.
We reacted to the public service announcement aired on a local radio station with a sensation approaching horror.
Just 33 percent of Baker County “has access to healthy food,” the announcer informs listeners.
The spot concludes with what’s obviously supposed to sound like the voice of a pitiful child who says, in a plaintive tone, “Mom, I’m hungry.”
It is indeed a troubling notion, that two-thirds of us in Baker County — about 10,800 people — can’t get healthy food.
But then we consulted the source of that statistic.
And so we bid farewell to 2011.
It was an eventful year — earthquakes, tsunami, debt ceiling debate
— but we expect 2011 might seem placid compared with the inevitable
spectacle of the presidential campaign.
The economy failed to rouse itself as we had hoped.
But there were positive trends, too. It was a good year, generally
speaking, for the agriculture industry, a mainstay of Baker County’s