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PERS tab is growing

Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reminds us of nothing so much as a maxed out credit card.

We can stuff the bills and the late payment warning notices in the back of a drawer, hidden behind discarded AA batteries and owners manuals for kitchen appliances.

But eventually we’ll have to come up with the money.

In the case of PERS, we use the pronoun “we” intentionally. That’s because the PERS bill, in a sense, belongs to every Oregonian.

Saving our public records

Oregon’s Public Records Law is an admirably concise and straightforward piece of legislation.

At least it used to be.

In 1973, when the Legislature passed not only the Public Records Law, but also the Public Meetings Law, the intent was obvious — that the public, which is to say every citizen — is legally entitled to attend meetings of public bodies and to have a look at every record government agencies produce.

Replace Sam-O showers

We applaud Baker City’s recently sharpened focus on improvements to the city’s only swimming pool, the city-owned Sam-O Swim Center.

Earlier this year the city set up a citizen committee — Councilor Sandy Lewis is the Council’s representative — to look at maintenance needs and other possible improvements to Sam-O, and make recommendations to the City Council.

Pot odor poses a dilemma

Few things are as subjective as our reactions to, and our attitudes about, odors. And in general, subjective matters make for poor laws.

Yet as the Baker City Council ponders whether to adopt an ordinance that could require people who grow marijuana to confine the distinctive scent to their property, we don’t want to dismiss as irrelevant the complaints from downwind residents.

Several people told councilors last week that the odor of growing marijuana had forced them to stay indoors.

Obamacare: Much room to improve

Obamacare has accomplished some of its goals, most notably helping millions of Americans get health insurance.

But only a true acolyte of the president’s signature legislative victory would describe the program, after five years, as a resounding success.

ODFW needs customers

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) needs more customers.

Which is to say, the agency needs to entice more people to buy licenses entitling them to go hunting and fishing.

Yet ODFW seems to be focusing instead on making the declining portion of the population that does hunt and fish pay more for the privilege.

We’d rather the agency inject some entrepreneurial initiative into its bureaucracy.

Owyhee debate matters

Parts of the Owyhee country of Malheur County are more than 100 miles from Baker City, but the current debate over how to manage a huge swath of public land in that area has potential ramifications for Northeastern Oregon.

A coalition of environmental groups wants to designate about 2 million acres in Malheur County — that’s the size of Baker County — as federal wilderness.

Another half a million acres would be a “national conservation area.”

Failing a wilderness designation — which requires the approval of Congress — proponents of the Owyhee Canyonlands support unilateral action by President Obama, through the 1906 Antiquities Act, to create a national monument in the Owyhee area.

Saving Bakerís babies

The death of any baby is tragic.

But it seems to us that there is something uniquely terrible about an infant dying not because of a malicious act but because a parent, who perhaps wanted only to cuddle the child to sleep, made a mistake.

We’re writing here about co-sleeping.

Solving 5Jís math problem

The Baker School District has a problem with its math curriculum.

What’s not clear is how big this problem is.

At issue is Engage New York. That’s a math curriculum the district started using last year as it aims to prepare students for the more rigorous state standards known as Common Core.

Inflaming the gun debate

The issue of guns is complicated.

There’s more than one issue, of course, which partially explains the complexity.

We’re skeptical, then, when someone suggests that the matter can be distilled to the conflict between Americans who “favor gun rights” and those who “favor gun control."

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