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Silence on the lambs

Wolves have killed 24 lambs and one calf this month in Baker County.

Livestock raising is the biggest industry in Baker County.

The country is mired in a recession.

The Oregon Legislature’s response to this unsettling equation?


Forests should fuel future, not foul air

President Obama and the Democrats who control Congress think America should spew less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into its skies while getting more of its energy from renewable sources.

We agree on both counts.

Littering the law books

We think people who discard cigarette butts or cigars any place other than an ash tray or trash can are thoughtless cretins.

But they’re not criminals.

At least not to the extent that an Oregon lawmaker believes they are.

An arranged deal, but still a good one

We recognize that Baker City Manager Steve Brocato’s proposal to hire a private contractor to run the planning department is, in essence, a pre-arranged deal.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal.

It’s hardly a secret that the privatization idea is designed to accommodate Don Chance.

Chance, whom Brocato hired as planning director in 2007, wants to spend more time at his home in Richland, Wash.

Leave control local

Would you prefer Oregon’s Legislature and other state officials, or Baker County’s three commissioners, decide where a destination resort can be built in the county?

We’ll take the commissioners.

At least we had a say in choosing all three of them.

We get to vote on just two of the state’s 90 legislators.

Law by the numbers

We have problems with puppy mills, chief among them that we don’t know what exactly a puppy mill is.

We’re not convinced Oregon’s Legislature knows, either.

But that lack of knowledge has not prevented legislators from considering a bill that would limit the number of unspayed or unneutered dogs people can own in Oregon.

Don’t close geology office

Mining precious metals hasn’t been a big business in Baker County for more than half a century.

But that’s no reason for the state geology department to close its office in Baker City.

We understand that the state government is short on money.

As much as $4.4 billion short for the two-year period that starts July 1, in fact.

An electric silence

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski tooled around in at least two electric cars this week.

The governor’s test drives attracted quite a lot of media attention, although perhaps not as much as when Kulongoski eschewed vehicles altogether and hiked to his office last year.

Yet based on the accounts we have read it seems no one bothered to ask the governor if he knew how the electricity that propelled them had been generated.

This seems to us a significant omission considering Kulongoski’s opinion on what constitutes renewable energy.

Boost for biomass

It turns out that fallen limbs are good for something besides tripping careless hikers.

Powering your car, for instance.

In the publicly owned forests in Northeastern Oregon the ground is littered with tens of thousands of tons of limbs, twigs and other woody debris that could be made into ethanol.

Except some members of Congress, in a move that qualifies as egregiously illogical even by that body’s standards, seems to prefer we left the stuff lying around to waylay walkers.

Or, worse still, to fuel a summer wildfire rather than your sedan.

City misuses meetings law

Baker City officials and the City Council violated at the least the spirit of Oregon’s public meetings law on March 10 when they discussed, during an executive session closed to the public, City Manager Steve Brocato’s proposal to privatize the city’s planning department.

As its name implies, the public meetings law is supposed to ensure that city councils and other public bodies conduct their business during meetings open to the public.

The law does, however, allow public entities to discuss certain topics during executive sessions. The public is not allowed to attend such sessions. The news media can sit in, but most reporters agree not to report on the sessions (although the law does not prohibit reporters from doing so).

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