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Election 2008: Our endorsements

Baker City Council (Vote for 4): Aletha Bonebrake, Clair Button, Jeremy Gilpin, Milo Pope.

Baker County Board of Commissioners: Tim Kerns, Republican

U.S. President: John McCain, Republican

U.S. Senator: Gordon Smith, Republican

U.S. Representative, 2nd District: Greg Walden, Republican

Oregon House District 60: Cliff Bentz, Republican

Oregon Senate District 30: Ted Ferrioli, Republican

No on Measure 58

The opening two sentences of Measure 58 read like the introduction to a rousing political speech.

“English is the language of opportunity in America. Learning English opens doors to better jobs and opportunities.”

It’s pretty hard to argue with those statements.

Unfortunately, Measure 58 rapidly devolves from there.

Although we think Measure 58’s apparent goal is laudable — to help Oregon public school students who aren’t native English speakers become fluent as soon as possible — the way in which the measure seeks to achieve that goal is terribly misguided.

Yes on Measure 60

A solid majority of Oregon’s public school teachers, we feel confident in asserting, are dedicated people who do a good job.

But teachers, even the successful ones, are not clones.

Some teachers are just plain better at their job than others.

This hardly makes teaching unique among professions, of course.

Not every lawyer, after all, can deliver an eloquent closing argument.

But as we know, the silver-tongued attorneys command bigger fees than their colleagues who tend to get tongue-tied in front of jury or judge.

We think teachers ought to be treated the same way.

The best teachers should earn more money, and have more job security, than the merely adequate teachers.

That’s the basic idea behind Measure 60, and we urge voters to support the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Unfortunately, Measure 60 has been tarnished by the reputation of one of its chief petitioners, Bill Sizemore.

Re-elect, Ferrioli, Bentz

Although neither of Baker County’s representatives in the Oregon Legislature has an opponent in the Nov. 4 election, we urge voters to remember to cast their ballots for Sen. Ted Ferrioli and Rep. Cliff Bentz.

Both are strong advocates for issues vital to Baker County, including preserving water rights for farmers and ranchers, promoting renewable energy, and managing public forests both to produce timber and to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Both Bentz and Ferrioli also are Republicans who supply at least a little balance in the Legislature, in which Democrats hold majorities in both houses.

We count on Ferrioli and Bentz to remind their colleagues about what’s important on this side of the state.

Yes on Measure 61, no on Measure 57

When it comes to dealing with people who sell meth, heroin, cocaine or ecstasy, what we care about most is making sure those people can’t continue to commit crimes.

Same with people who break into houses to steal someone’s possessions.

Or their actual identity.

Merely hoping that such people will forego the criminal life is a nice sentiment, and a worthwhile goal to pursue.

But hoping isn’t a sure enough solution for us.

That’s why we urge Oregonians to vote yes on Measure 61, and no on Measure 57.

Those are the two anti-crime measures competing for votes in the Nov. 4 election.

Re-elect Tim Kerns

Tim Kerns has earned another four years as a Baker County commissioner.

Kerns and his colleagues, chairman Fred Warner Jr. and commissioner Carl Stiff, have in general done a good job overseeing county operations the past few years and we don’t believe there’s a compelling reason to tinker with that formula.

Kerns’ greatest asset is his advocacy for issues vital to Baker County’s economy.

In particular, Kerns’ expertise in his own profession — farming — is valuable in a county where agriculture is the biggest sector of the economy.

Kerns, a Republican who has served as a county commissioner since 2001, also will strive to ensure that the Forest Service’s pending decision on closing roads to motorized vehicles will take into account that retaining a certain level of access benefits retail businesses that rely on recreationists.

We share Kerns’ concern about the threat of catastrophic wildfires in the county — especially on the east face of the Elkhorns, which shelter the headwaters of streams that supply much of the irrigation water that Baker Valley farmers and ranchers depend on.

Kerns contends, and we agree, that the Forest Service should strive to protect those streams just as the agency did with its forest thinning and other work in Baker City’s watershed during the past several years.

John McCain for U.S. president

We don’t subscribe to the notion, which we hear from certain quarters, that America’s very survival might well rest on the result of this presidential election.

But the condition of our economy for the next couple years sure does.

And that matters a lot to all of us.

After comparing the two candidates’ prescriptions for our ailing financial system, we’re convinced that Americans would fare better under a John McCain administration than under one led by Barack Obama.

That’s why we urge voters to cast their ballots for McCain.

The most significant difference between McCain’s and Obama’s economic platforms involves their tax plans.

McCain thinks all Americans should turn over a smaller percentage of their income to the federal government.

Obama thinks people who make less than $250,000 per year should pay a smaller percentage, but people who earn more than that should pay a larger percentage — about 3 percent more of their income, from 36 percent to 39 percent.

Re-elect Sen. Smith

Oregonians have a good deal going with their two U.S. senators, and we’d like to see it continue.

Which is why we urge voters to give Republican Gordon Smith six more years in Washington, D.C.

Smith, along with his Democratic colleague, Ron Wyden, exemplifies the sort of thoughtful politician whom Oregonians have long preferred.

Most politicians proclaim, of course, that their allegiance rests with their constituents rather than with their political party. But Smith’s record proves  beyond any question that he’s no blind partisan.

The senator has spearheaded legislation that toughens penalties for hate crimes. He supported bills that require higher gas mileage for new vehicles and that offer incentives for companies to build renewable energy plants.

Those aren’t central planks in the Republican Party’s platform.

But then neither are Smith’s concerns about the Iraq war.

Our endorsements for City Council

Voters can change the roster of the Baker City Council a little or a lot in the Nov. 4 election.

We recommend the latter.

Nine candidates are vying for four vacancies on the seven-member City Council.

Three of the four members of the Baker City Herald’s editorial board had half-hour interviews with eight of those candidates during the past few weeks (Bill Todd declined our invitation).

Editorial board members who attended those interviews are: Kari Borgen, the newspaper’s publisher; Jayson Jacoby, the editor; and Chris Collins, the police and schools reporter. The board’s other member, reporter Mike Ferguson, did not attend candidate interviews because he writes news stories about the City Council and so, in the interest of preserving his objectivity, he was not involved in the board’s decision about endorsing candidates.

We urge residents to give their votes to this quartet: Aletha Bonebrake, Clair Button, Jeremy Gilpin and Milo Pope.

Voters will quickly notice, we suspect, that we are not endorsing any of the three incumbents: Sam Bass, Gail Duman and Terry Schumacher.

Economy of the future

The future of Baker County’s economy is already here.

We just need to start tapping it.

The term you hear most often is alternative energy, but why don’t we just delete the “alternative?”

Energy is energy.

Your light bulbs don’t burn brighter if the electricity was generated by burning coal rather than flowing water or gusting wind.

Semantics aside, energy sources such as wind and biomass bring so many potential benefits, and pose few if any pitfalls, that there’s no legitimate reason why local officials and residents should not pursue them vigorously.

The planned hydroelectric plant at Mason Dam is a good start, and the iron is quite hot now for more — the $700 billion financial bailout includes $17 billion in tax credits for renewable energy.

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