The specter of the sage grouse has haunted Baker County’s ranching industry for more than a decade, as federal protection for the bird could restrict grazing on public lands. The latest development, though, might be cause for optimism rather than worry.
Yes, the federal government is proposing to list as threatened sage grouse populations. But those are in Nevada and California.
We find this encouraging because it shows that federal officials aren’t necessarily bent on imposing one-size-fits-all strategies for protecting the species.
Baker City CPA Bruce Nichols asked the City Council Tuesday to consider having an existing nonprofit, City Golf Club, manage the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course.
Councilors should discuss Nichols’ idea.
And any other plausible solution that comes to them in the wake of Seven Iron Inc.’s decision to not renew its management contract.
A viable golf course helps the local economy.
Equally important, the city needs annual lease payments from a course manager to pay off the debt it piled up several years ago as a result of building the back nine holes (despite voters rejecting a tax levy) and from annual operating losses at the course.
This also might be the right time to revive an old idea — selling the 15 acres the city owns adjacent to the course.
Baker City’s new contracts with its three labor unions are reasonable deals that reflect the economy and the city’s budget situation.
These three-year pacts with the police, fire and public works unions are quite different from the five-year contracts they replace.
And rightfully so.
The previous contracts included annual pay raises ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent. That seemed appropriate when the contracts were ratified in 2008. But when the economy went into a tailspin later that year, and many city residents in the private sector had their pay frozen or lost their jobs, those raises seemed awfully generous.
Five years later the economy has improved, but only marginally.
The city had no choice but to slow the growth of employee salaries and benefits, which account for about 70 percent of the budget. These new contracts do that, with annual raises ranging from 1 percent to 1.5 percent. The city also has switched to higher-deductible, lower-premium health insurance plans.
Unlike many cities, Baker City hasn’t had to lay off workers. These new labor contracts should help the city remain on the right side of the ledger.
We thought Oregon’s offensive against woodstoves reached the apex of its lunacy back in 2009, when the Legislature passed a law that prohibits people from selling a home that contains a stove that isn’t certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We were wrong.
Now, it seems, not even that coveted EPA certification, which was supposedly so vital four years ago, no longer is sufficient.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined officials from six others states in filing a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming the agency has failed to adequately limit air pollution produced by new woodstoves.
Joe Bell is a winner.
That his journey ended long before he reached his destination does not change this essential truth.
He did what he set out to do when he walked away from La Grande, many months and more than a thousand miles ago.
Bell, who lived in La Grande, embarked on a walk across America to tell people about his 15-year-old son, Jadin, who took his own life last winter after being bullied at school. Jadin was targeted, according to family and friends, at least in part because he was openly gay.
Joe Bell was struck and killed by a semi-truck on a Colorado highway Wednesday night.
His pilgrimage has ended.
His message, though, will continue.
And though this must of course be meager solace to Joe’s family and friends, it is a significant reality.
It’s obvious, from the reactions of the people Joe met along the way or who only knew him through media accounts, that he achieved his goal of explaining, in the most personal way imaginable, how destructive bullies can be.
No one who ever heard Joe’s story could ever feel the same about bullying. These people, we’re sure, will continue to advocate for tolerance, and in so doing they will keep alive the cause to which Joe had dedicated his life.
City Councilor Roger Coles used the term “knee jerk reaction” Tuesday evening when councilors discussed imposing restrictions, or even an outright ban, on pit bulls.
In one sense the term is appropriate in this case.
A decision is sometimes deemed to be “knee jerk” when it’s prompted by a single event.
Trouble is, the term also, in many instances, connotes a decision which is based on emotion rather than on fact — “in the heat of the moment,” to use another cliché.
We don’t believe the City Council is acting in knee jerk fashion as regards pit bulls (and to be clear, Coles didn’t say he believed his colleagues had done so; he just said he hopes that doesn’t happen.)
Congress is arguing about Obamacare.
And as a result the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is closed.
We are too.
Just how important is it to squash Obamacare before its more far-reaching provisions have been in place long enough for Americans to judge the law’s pros and cons?
According to some Republicans in Congress, it’s important enough to force another federal government “shutdown,” a term we had hoped would be confined forevermore to the Clinton administration.
To be sure, there’s ample reason to be skeptical of Obamacare.
The health care reform law that is the signature legislative achievement of the Obama presidency might turn into a fiscal, indeed societal, mess.
But then it might not.
We don’t know right now.
What we’re pretty sure about, though, is that a government shutdown will cost the GOP significant political capital — perhaps enough to give the Democrats a resounding win in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Which isn’t to say that a shutdown would be disastrous.
It wouldn’t be.
But closing national parks and the like annoy people, and reinforce the notion a lot of Americans have that Congress ought to convene not at the Capitol but in a sandbox.
Republicans ought to show a little patience.
If Obamacare, as some in the GOP insist, is doomed to fail, then its shortcomings will become evident soon enough.
If that’s the case, there’s little doubt that a large majority of Americans would back any Republican-led campaign to either significantly change Obamacare or to withhold federal money for the program.
At that point the scenario is not whether the heartless GOP will shut down the government to stop an unproven law, but whether Obama and the Democrats would defend a failed law.
Now that the Oregon Legislature is convening every year, rather than every other year, you’d think there wouldn’t be any pressing need to cram a bunch of bills into the special session Gov. John Kitzhaber has called for Sept. 30.
That session, which the governor had mulled pretty much since the regular session ended in July, is supposed to deal with one main topic, the so-called “grand bargain.”
That proposal, which is a compromise if not necessarily a bargain, includes cost cuts to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) in addition to what the Legislature did this spring, as well as $244 million in new taxes and a $43 million tax cut for some family businesses and exporters.
We don’t share environmentalists’ concern about a bill pending in Congress that would allow logging to increase on some public forests in Western Oregon.
But we think they ought to be able to buy advertising space in Portland International Airport to plead their case.
The issue involves a campaign by several groups, including Oregon Wild and The Sierra Club, that dislike a proposal sponsored by three Oregon congressman — Democrats Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader and Republican Greg Walden — that would boost logging on about 1.5 million acres.
The groups’ campaign includes color ads with a photo of a clearcut forest and the slogan: “Welcome to Oregon: Home of the Clearcut."