Ison House acquisition is about more than just dollars and cents
This letter is in response to editorial published by the Baker City Herald on July 10. As the recently elected president of HBC, it is my responsibility to defend the reputation of this 30-year-old volunteer organization.
The Ison House is not an asset held by Historic Baker City Inc. (HBC). It is an asset of Historic Baker City Charitable Fund, LTD. Article II of the corporation states in part the following: The corporation is a public benefit corporation and is organized for the charitable purpose of supporting the preservation of historic buildings in Baker City, Oregon and promoting and enhancing the National Historic District in Baker City, Oregon; soliciting, receiving, holding, investing and administering contributions made to the corporation to carry out its purpose; entering into contracts with public and private entities to carry out its purpose; engaging in any lawful activity, none of which is for profit. In accordance with the charitable fund’s stated mission, it is clearly directed to enter into contracts with public and private entities to carry out its purpose. Moreover, the fund is to engage in activity, “none of which is for profit.” We cannot think of a more deserving non-profit organization to partner with than one that serves our veterans. As a partner in the project, the VAOI also shares the costs of any future remodeling, maintenance, security, and/or operational expenses. Although the present board was not involved in the initial contract, we take our contractual obligations very seriously — and will honor them.
This story isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about job creation, building social capital, and managerial skills for future historic preservation and restoration projects as part of a long term economic development plan.My Opinion: The armchair quarterbacks on the other side of this debate never play the game. They take no initiative, assume no risk, incur no injuries, hold no liability, and shoulder no responsibility. We are proud of the initiative that was taken to acquire the Ison House by both the previous board, the current board, and by the executive director, Kate Dimon.
President, Historic Baker City Inc.
HBC should strive to maintain its high reputation
I was shocked to read Wednesday’s editorial! Bank of America agreed to sell the Ison House to HBC for $1, VAOI does not have a right to half this property.
This is only one of a list of issues that has, in the past year or more, been dragging down a fantastic organization that has thrived for over 25 years. As a former business owner in downtown Baker City I personally had been involved with Historic Baker City, Inc. (HBC) for over 10 years. In that time we have seen ups and downs within the organization, but through it all HBC has survived.
We are recognized on a state and national level as a “Performing Main Street,” an honor that takes hard work by the HBC program director and the dedicated board of directors. All of Baker City should be proud of this!
I would encourage the current board of directors to pay attention to the importance of maintaining our recognition with the state, and the continuing support to downtown businesses. HBC must maintain a secure source of funding and the board of directors have the responsibility to make sure that happens. The board must also be sure to maintain a good relationship with the city through the city’s liaison on your board and honoring the contract between you. And lastly, by guiding the actions of the downtown director in carrying out your goals and objectives each year.
I want to continue to support HBC, but I also want transparency. If the board of directors is choosing to take a different path, I urge you to let us know what that is immediately.
Documentary examines decline of the middle class
A FRONTLINE video documentary titled “Two American Families” aired July 11 on OPB. It’s a program of vital importance, because it puts a compelling human face on the devastation caused by growing U.S. economic inequality. It offers a unique, visual record of the resultant decline of the American middle class by following the struggles of two typical families over the past 20 years. I urge all of my fellow readers to view it and then take meaningful action. It is available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/two-american-families/
Award-winning journalist Bill Moyers, the producer of the program, says that this is “the defining story of my career, because it’s the defining story of what’s happened in this country in the last 30 years.” The American Dream has been turned on its head. Hard work and dedication no longer hold the promise of a better life for us and for our children.
Off-shoring and automation have eliminated good-paying, family-wage jobs, while output has actually doubled. The profits from this greatly improved productivity have flowed to the top one percent, who pay extremely low taxes, who actively work to shred the social safety net, and who call themselves “job creators.” On his or her own, even the most determined among us cannot fight a headwind like this.
Automation offers us escape from mind-numbing, repetitive human toil and drudgery. But, as a nation, we’ve failed to adopt policies that respond to resultant job elimination, fewer work hours, and stagnating or declining wages. We’re condemning increasing millions of us to economic insecurity and lost hope of a decent retirement.
Please watch FRONTLINE’s powerful “Two American Families.” It’s time for vigorous national dialogue and debate and for all of us to work together and with Congress to replace harmful national policies and reinstate the American Dream.
Historic preservation is vital to keeping Baker City special
“The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”
— Mark Twain
By KATE DIMON
In the late 1840s the country still did not quite have a grip on how the American experiment was going, but the prevailing theme ran through the veins as gold to rock. Gold had become the driving force that populated the West and the trail is littered with those brave souls who risked everything to get to the promised land. Mark Twain could see the human condition and wrote with less than stellar reviews, the truth. That man wrote history to make his struggle personal.
Haines Baptist proves patriotism alive and well
We want to thank Haines Baptist Church for performing “A Patriotic Evening” Sunday, June 30.
It was beautiful and awe-inspiring. We left with smiles and an uplifted heart. We’re thankful for all the talented people in our community.
Patriotism is alive and well! We are a blessed nation.
Do it again!
Bev and Duane Schaer
Wisdom from a 6-year-old
I was at Albertsons, waiting for my daughter, in the van with my 2-year-old and 6-year-old grandsons. Alex, who is 6, just had his tonsils and adenoids and two front teeth pulled. He was not feeling too well. A car was parked next to us with Idaho plates. A man came to the car, looked at me and seemed very upset. Then I think his wife arrived. I was standing outside my van attending to the boys. The man said very loudly, “nigger lover.” I would prefer to say black lover. It got my attention. Alex asked me what that meant. I said he means black person. Alex replied, “Nana, wasn’t that nice? We love all colors of people, right nana?” My answer: “Yes, sweetie, we do.” I’m a proud grandma of one very smart grandson.
Obama’s climate change policies robbing the future
This week, President Obama is unveiling his further plans to combat climate change. This is not necessarily good news, as some of his present efforts leave much to be desired. Taxes paid by ordinary Americans are used to further enrich the president’s already rich, politically connected buddies. Green energy companies have their snouts deeply buried in the government’s feeding trough. But all too often, this is money lost down a rat hole, such as the federally guaranteed loans to the failed energy company Synergy.
The administration is allowing the price of gasoline and diesel fuel to raise significantly, the rationale being that high prices will cause people to cut back their use of motor fuels and buy more fuel efficient rigs. This policy has a huge negative impact on the poor. They cannot afford to buy a $40,000 hybrid, so are stuck with their old clunkers and watch helplessly as fuel costs take an ever-increasing bite out of their budgets. Yet their tax dollars are used by the government to subsidize the purchase of those same hybrid cars by affluent upscale car buyers.
The president justifies his climate change plan, saying, “But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can.” Unfortunately, this president’s largest legacy to the next generation will be to saddle them with a huge, crippling debt. In the first four years of his administration, four trillion dollars ($4,000,000,000,000) has been added to the national debt, an amount larger than all previous presidents combined. Since he has absolutely no plans whatsoever to repay this borrowed money, our children and grandchildren will be paying the interest on that four trillion dollars year after year after year, indefinitely into the future. Already, interest on the national debt is one of the largest single items in the federal budget.
This administration and its congressional allies are thus robbing future generations so they can bribe the present generation into voting for them.
Bicyclists need to be more alert while on the street
Let’s talk about sharing the road. Within three weeks I’ve had three teen to adult bicyclists dart out in front of my car without looking or checking whether a car was in the road and a car on Auburn ran a stop sign and we almost ran into him. Just because the weather is perfect doesn’t give us the right to forget about the rules of the road. Your life means something to me. Please be more alert when on the streets.
Cell towers don’t have to be naked metal
A picture is worth a thousand words. We have been working to bring greater awareness regarding the proliferation of cell towers growing in our environment. A camouflaged cell tower is a solution that is viable and desirable, over a naked metal forest.
“Fake trees” are better than no trees at all, to help lessen the negative visual impact of telecommunications equipment growth. Even our wise and beautiful national symbol must believe this to be true!
Linda Wunder Wall
Don’t punish city employees because of their workload
This letter is in response to Doug Darlington’s June 19 letter suggesting that city employees be punished financially for their “priority” setting. Every department, every employee and every supervisor has to make decisions everyday based on “priority.” There are only so many people, budget dollars or time to accomplish established goals. In fact, the leading article of the same paper discusses one city employee who has three responsibilities: school resource, code enforcement and patrol officer.
So you are advocating that because he makes a “priority” of backing up a fellow officer on a felony stop rather than deal with your neighbor’s weeds, he should lose pay? What about the public works employees who are out dealing with flooding rather than mowing the grass? Don’t forget the firefighters who cannot respond immediately to a burn complaint because they are already on multiple emergency calls with only two people. It is not the employees’ fault. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. Tough decisions we all make every day at home and at work based on “priorities.”
You state that “one of the nation’s biggest downturns was forcing the rest of us to live on less,” but you want to impose a loss in pay as punishment? So it sucks if you lose money, but it is OK to advocate the loss of financial stability for others? Since when is being a public employee something that should be punished? Public employees spend money around town too. Money they are still spending despite furloughs, budget cuts and increased workloads.
Baker City firefighter
City should enforce current laws before banning smoking
I read with interest the city’s notice at the parks about considering a smoking ban at the parks. I would point out to you that there are a number of bans for the parks that are completely ignored.
I am especially concerned about the one of having dogs on leash. We live near the park, and walk our dog there frequently. She has been attacked by a roaming dog, and I have seen people open their cars and let dogs run free. This is NOT a dog park for free roaming dogs.
I would suggest that before banning smoking at the park, you enforce the existing laws.
City should consider trimming pay for lack of performance
Mayor Richard Langrell isn’t alone in believing the city council, having already shown an interest in lowering personnel costs, posted a perplexing failure when it then approved an employee contract that included a pay raise.
City employees have enjoyed several years of hefty pay raises, all while one of the nation’s biggest downturns was forcing the rest of us to live on less. With two more contracts to negotiate, the council has set an unfortunate precedent.
Here’s a way to mitigate the problem, however: Every time a city employee tells someone that a particular issue or complaint can’t be addressed because “it’s not a high priority,” decrease everyone’s compensation by half a percent or so.
If you’ve dealt with the city much, you’ve undoubtedly heard that refrain. Even Councilor Roger Coles recently remarked that he’s been told that about the enforcement of ordinances. I’ve been told that about business issues and residential neighborhood speeding.
This “priority” comment goes hand-in-hand with another often used phrase: “.... a useful tool.” Most recently, an ordinance banning smoking in parts was described as such.
These phrases should give every Baker resident pause. Here’s why: Codes and ordinances that get enforced or ignored on a case-by-case basis allow favoritism.
One person’s mess of a property is overlooked while another’s is deemed a hazard. One person’s pet is considered harmless while another’s is called a nuisance. One person’s business is charged a common license fee while another’s is hammered with special charges and restrictions.
It’s the very definition of the “old boy” system that has poorly served the common Baker resident over the decades.
Loss of compensation to address lacking performance isn’t uncommon. Start shaving dollars off paychecks every time a city employee deems something too low a “priority” to bother with, and things will certainly change. For one thing, we’ll find out who among these people are workers and who are simply placeholders.
If there’s too many rules to enforce, maybe Mike Kee should sniff out some outdated, unnecessary or unwieldy ordinances and recommend their elimination. A forward-thinking city manager would consider that time well spent.
Off-road group hauled 1,120 pounds of trash from woods
Locked & Loaded Off-Road of Baker County would like to thank our generous sponsors who helped make our Elk Creek clean up day a huge success as we picked up and hauled out more than 1,120 pounds of garbage.
Bucks 4x4, license plate covers, hats, can cozys, stickers, T-shirt, pink onesie and a grab handle; Hills Carquest, quick fist mounting systems, 5-quart oil change; Ash Grove, folding chairs, barbecue sets with apron and can cozys; Gentry Auto Group, oil change, hats, cooler, Armor All, Miracle towel, and an X-Box; Jeffery Grende Heating and AC, heating service; B&K Auto Salvage, $200 store credit; Baker City Truck Corral, meal coupons; Baker Valley Auto Parts, tow strap; Grumpy’s Repair, oil change; Oregon Sign, T-shirt, banner and decals.
Baker Sanitary Service donated the dump fee; Key Building donated the trailer to haul trash; and Steve Ritch donated garbage bags.
Obamacare is just a start; we need a real solution
274,000 Oregonians will continue to lack health insurance after the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is implemented in 2016. A study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York School of Public Health released June 6 concluded that 30 million people in the United States will remain uninsured after implementation of Obamacare.
Eighty-one percent of the uninsured will be U.S. citizens and white persons of all ethnicities will make up 74 percent. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured will have incomes between 100 percent and 399 percent of poverty and 27 percent will have below poverty incomes.
There are currently 532,000 uninsured Oregonians. More than half will still lack insurance after Obamacare is implemented. Much of the drop in numbers of uninsured Oregonians is a result of Oregon expanding Medicaid. If Oregon had opted out of expanded Medicaid, many more of our friends, neighbors and family members would be uninsured.
In addition to leaving thousands of Oregonians uninsured, Obamacare does little to control sky-rocketing costs of health insurance.
Oregon needs a health care cost study and, fortunately, has the chance to get one. HB 3260, a study of health care financing options in Oregon, was passed unanimously with bi-partisan support by the Oregon House Health Care Committee and is now in the Ways and Means Committee. It is expected to go soon to the House and Senate for discussion and votes.
HB 3260 authorizes the Oregon Health Authority to commission a study of four options for financing health care for every Oregonian — implementing and expanding the Affordable Care Act, adding a public option in the state insurance exchange, implementing statewide single payer health care and a forth option to be chosen by the legislature.
The current health care funding system is broken and must be repaired or replaced.
If health insurance costs continue to increase at current rates, soon none of us will be able to afford coverage. HB 3260 is the first step in identifying the changes we need.
Good Samaritan makes a tough job easier
Sunday morning, while struggling to change a flat tire on my pickup, a smiling young man, who was obviously dressed for church, stopped and asked if he could help.
His help made a difficult job much easier and more pleasant. I wish to publicly express my heartfelt appreciation to Erin Kerns, who lives his faith by helping others. I would also like to thank his family, who were late to church on my behalf.
Government isn’t the enemy, if we participate in it
Governor John Kitzhaber granted a important and probing interview on OPB Radio’s “Think Out Loud” on May 23. He offered valuable insights into our health care system and into our economic system, which is leaving so many people behind as the rich get richer. It’s a superb example of thoughtful, informed, and bipartisan analysis.
He described how an increasingly grotesque mal-distribution of wealth is robbing us of good-paying jobs in this economic recovery, why we need to expand health care and transform its focus from disease treatment to disease prevention, and he suggested questions we can ask to improve our community’s overall well-being.
I urge my fellow readers to listen in. The 15-minute interview is available online at http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/live-salem-governor-kitzhaber-0523/
Kitzhaber’s positive, collaborative approach stands in powerful contrast to divisive, fearful, anti-government rhetoric from the extreme right wing. Examples include their anti-tax absolutism, anti-scientific ignorance of global warming, the current trumpeting of fake scandals, and the disruption of government at all levels.
According to an Associated Press report on May 24, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida are “tea party champions” whose uncompromising views are challenging traditional Republicans, by using Senate rules and procedures to block legislation whenever possible and opening up major rifts within the GOP. Similarly, in the House, a relatively small number of anti-government extremists have fractured the GOP, as they attempt to bring the government to its knees.
Fortunately, we have been able to turn aside this divisive, extremist thinking in recent local elections. But we should go further. We can benefit greatly by following Governor Kitzhaber’s statesmanlike leadership, joining together to forge meaningful responses to the challenges and opportunities we face.
If we participate, government is not the enemy. We are the government. One of our nation’s mottos is “E Pluribus Unum,” Out of Many, One. United we stand. If we use our creative abilities, no one need be left behind.