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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials

Bennett’s experience gives him the edge


Mark Bennett is the incumbent in his campaign against his fellow Republican challengers Gene Stackle and Dick Fleming for Position 2 on the Baker County Board of Commissioners.

But incumbency isn’t Bennett’s major advantage, and it’s not the main reason we urge registered Republicans to vote for him in the May 20 primary.

What distinguishes Bennett is his experience in helping to run Baker County, and the knowledge he’s gained during more than 20 years as a county employee.

Bennett’s career includes stints in two jobs that give him a depth of expertise about issues that matter to county residents, a depth that few candidates for his position have boasted.

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Hire more, spend less?


In most businesses and government agencies, employees’ salaries and benefits are the biggest part of the budget, so it follows logically that the more workers employed the greater the cost.

Not necessarily.

If an organization has so few workers that those on the payroll have to work a lot of extra hours, the attempt to run a lean operation can backfire and lead to corpulent overtime bills.

In some cases an outfit might save money by hiring a new employee and severely curtailing overtime.

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We can influence the feds


The federal government, it turns out, isn’t quite the inflexible monolith it’s often purported to be.

Last week the U.S. Forest Service decided to give the public an extra 60 days to comment on the draft version of new forest management plans for the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests.

This was a welcome concession.

Although mandatory seems to us the more appropriate adjective, considering the various documents the Forest Service released to the public in March exceed 1,000 pages.

And this is not light reading, in the figurative or the literal sense.

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Elect Fred Warner to another term


The Baker County voters who will decide between incumbent Fred Warner Jr. and challenger Bill Harvey for the position of Baker County Commission chairman have a tough choice.

Harvey is a strong candidate.

We’re impressed by his passion for Baker County and by the amount of time he has devoted to his campaign. Harvey has traveled throughout the county over the past couple months. He has attended a bunch of public meetings. He has talked to many dozens of residents.

And Harvey brings more to the ballot than enthusiasm.

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All this over some cattle?


We’re not convinced that the federal government’s roundup last week of a Nevada rancher’s cattle, an operation carried out with guns and helicopters, is the best way to resolve this two-decades-old dispute. 

Although hundreds of people who support rancher Cliven Bundy and his family showed up to protest the cattle roundup, we don’t believe the situation, which has more to do with cattle, public land grazing policy and an endangered species of tortoise than it does with protecting the public, warranted such aggressive tactics.

Bundy’s situation isn’t a case study in private property rights. The land where his 900 cattle have been grazing belongs to the public and is managed by the BLM.

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Options for voters


Election season is upon us, and ballots for the May 20 primary will be mailed April 30.

Fortunately, voters will have multiple opportunities not only to hear from the candidates but also to pose questions themselves.

Two candidate forums are scheduled.

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Keeping a road open to vehicles


A Wallowa-Whitman National Forest official’s recent statement that the forest intends to keep the North Powder River Road open to motor vehicles, even if Congress designates new wilderness in that part of the Elkhorn Mountains, was welcome.

That’s a popular route into the Elkhorns and it should remain accessible by motor vehicles.

But the Wallowa-Whitman’s stance is not the definitive word on the matter.

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Celebrate clarity on the ballot


Nowhere is clarity in writing more important than on a voter’s ballot.

And so we’re pleased with the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision last week regarding the wording of a ballot measure that Oregonians likely will vote on in November.

The measure has to do with the state’s plan to give four-year driver’s licenses to people who can’t prove their living legally in the U.S.

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Extend studded tire season


Nature, as usual, thumbed its frost-nipped nose at calendars, including the Oregon Department of Transportation’s.

On Tuesday, the first day studded tires were illegal on the state’s highways, a snowstorm slickened highways in Central and Southeastern Oregon.

Baker County, fortunately, was spared this storm.

But as anyone knows who has lived here for more than a few years, it’s hardly uncommon for heavy snow to fall in April (and, let’s be honest, in May or, occasionally, in June).

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Don’t punish all renters


We don’t like that Baker City had to hire a collection agency to try to recover about $25,000 in unpaid water/sewer bills during the most recent fiscal year.

But we like even less the prospect of forcing many residents — most of whom pay their utility bills on time — to pay higher rents because a relatively handful of renters are irresponsible.

We’re concerned, though, that the latter scenario would result if the City Council goes along with the proposal City Manager Mike Kee unveiled earlier this month.

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