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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters arrow Letters to the Editor for April 20, 2011


Letters to the Editor for April 20, 2011

Rewriting history?
To the editor:
Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Remember?
Yeah, me neither.
Kevin Lee
Baker City

A better option for nuclear power?
To the editor:
I have long been an opponent of nuclear power. I have always believed that the threat of an accident is too great and that storing nuclear waste for thousands of years is unrealistic. In addition there are numerous instances of contamination by leaking water or steam.
Now my attitude is evolving. I know now that these problems are specific to the Light Water Reactor.
I’ve been reading about a new reactor: the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. Proponents of the LFTR claim that meltdown is impossible. The LFTR is not cooled by water, eliminating leaks of contaminated water or steam. The spent fuel decays in as little as 300 years.
For more information go to the website:
I am still opposed to the construction of any new light water reactors.
Al Free
Baker City

Schools could avoid layoffs
To the editor:
It’s interesting how things are playing out with the Baker School District. Most casual observers see our school system strapped with financial troubles from either not receiving enough money from the taxpayers, or by the District spending too much. The District wants us to believe the state is not allocating enough money and therefore, the only option is to go to a four-day week and ask local taxpayers to approve a new tax levy. The problem with this, aside from the fact most taxpayers are not in the mood to pay more, is that the four-day week only saves money from taking a day from the cooks, janitors, bus drivers and a few others. 
So, now we’ll have teachers and administrators working a half day on Fridays while our children are home. The District claims it will attempt to negotiate some of the Fridays as furlough days with the unions in order to save more money. However, should any of the negotiations fail or the levy not pass, the District will likely lose approximately 20 employees. The District and School Board want us to believe that if we don’t pass the levy, they will have no choice but to lay off all these employees. 
If the overall attempts were being made in the “best interest of the children,” I’m sure the approach would be different.
In 2008 the School District formed a committee of community members to provide a list of cost-cutting measures. In January 2009, they produced an 18-page Facilities Efficiency Report with recommendations requiring no staff layoffs and requiring restructuring of services. Very few of these recommendations have been implemented. 
While the national average of employee benefits to salary is 20 to 30 percent, the Baker District pays nearly 56 percent. Cutting this to say, 42 percent, would save the District approximately $1.24 million per year. Reducing it to 30 percent would save approximately $2.3 million per year.  It would not require staff layoffs, more money from taxpayers, and most importantly, not affect the education of our children. I guess they prefer to tell us the District has a “revenue shortfall” rather than a spending problem?
Mike Ogan
Baker City

It’s time to cut farm subsidies
To the editor:
Are there world-class hypocrites in our midst?
The Feb. 25 Herald reports that Fred Warner Jr. and the Baker County Commission allocated $6,000 of taxpayers’ money, some of which I paid for in my taxes, to help the Water and Stream Health (WASH) committee “seek a grant to continue progress toward analyzing the water storage needs in the Powder River Basin.” Mr. Warner asked, “is it realistic to think the federal government will pay up to 80 percent of these costs, plus 95 percent of construction?”
How many Baker County residents would benefit from WASH? A handful of farmers and ranchers.
These predominantly, if not 100 percent, Republican farmers and ranchers are part of the biggest welfare class in terms of dollars this country has every seen. These welfare queens enjoy low- and no-interest loans; price supports; government cash grants; state and federal agencies created for no reason other than to serve their business interests; giveaway grazing allotments; the list is long. And it is these Republicans who scream the loudest about cutting the cost of government. What they mean is they want to help cut for the poor and the elderly, for education, they want everybody else’s programs cut, but not their welfare benefits because they’re farmers and ranchers, a privileged class.
The Republican-led House of Representatives, in passing the trillion-dollar budget cuts that would fall hardest on those who are weakest among us, is doing exactly what these hypocrites have asked for. It isn’t the elderly, or single moms, or young people trying to get an education who soak the U.S. Treasury. It is powerful business interests, farmers and ranchers, will their millions of dollars, tax lawyers and their lobby in Washington. We could go an astonishingly long way toward balancing the budget simply by cutting farm subsidies to these welfare queens, and hypocrites, among us.
Max Vollmer
Baker City

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