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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 21, 2012


Buying a Fire Med policy makes a lot of sense

Baker City Fire Med is currently accepting enrollments as noted by articles and ads published in the Herald. That is a program which, for a reasonable annual fee, insures affordable ground and/or (depending on which package one subscribes to) air ambulance transportation in time of medical need. Over the past 10 years our family has utilized this service twice. One involved a horseback riding injury to a family member and the second involved a family member being injured in an accident in Union County.  In both cases the patient was transported to a local hospital by ambulance for treatment.

 My family and I are blessed with good medical insurance.  Yet, in both cases, had it not been for Fire-Med membership our out of pocket expense for ambulance services above and beyond what our insurance paid would have been substantial.  Fire-Med prevented what could have been a serious financial burden by accepting what our insurance paid and it billed us not one penny more than that.

 It is important to recognize also that a Baker City Fire-Med subscription covers a geographic region, not just the boundaries of Baker City or Baker County.  A member injured in a nearby county is covered just as if the event occurred here in Baker.  I cannot recommend Fire-Med membership too strongly.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City

Museum helped me track down my family’s history

I have often wondered about my ancestors, especially those who my father told me were indigenous people of the Northwest.  Recently, a friend used a skeletal four generation family tree of mine to help me find who and where I came from. One thing she found is that my great great grandmother’s parents were full-blooded Native Americans from the Northern California Mendocino Valley. With this information I soon found a photograph of Mary Ford (1856-1916) from the website of the Baker Heritage Museum. I also found that my great-great grandmother married and had at least five children with Richard Bruer Markle (1819-1890) and that both Mary and Richard are buried in the Rock Creek Cemetery.

It’s hard to describe how I felt as I sat looking at the photograph of my grandmother’s grandmother sitting wide-eyed in a chair with her white hair pulled back in a bun wearing a high collared long-sleeved black blouse, a butterfly brooch and a long patterned skirt while holding what looked like a thick scrap book. Without the Baker Heritage Museum and their generations of volunteer and paid staff, I would never have had the opportunity to have known what this ancestor of mine looked like, and neither would my niece and nephews, and the children who will come after them.

Although I still have many questions about my living relatives, as well as those who have come and gone before me, I am incredibly appreciative of the people of your community who have made it possible for me to put some of the pieces of my family history together.

Danny Wilson Smith

Son of Ralph Vasco Smith (1930-1984)

Grandson of Ralph’s mother Jessie Williams Smith (1891-1984)

Great-grandson of Jessie’s mother Louleolio “Lulu” Markle Williams (1870-1929)

Great-great-grandson of Lulu’s mother Mary Ford Markle (1856-1916)

Still concerned about        Kyle Knight’s motivations

Your recent editorial, “After the recall,” (Dec. 14) implies that Kyle Knight had a compelling reason and performed a useful service when he forwarded the confidential email about the Srack affair to the media. In fact, one could infer that you think the rest of the Baker School Board might have joined with him, had they held an executive session that Knight asked for.  

So, may I ask what purpose Knight’s email to the media prematurely publicizing a criminal investigation might have served? Why did he send it, and why might the rest of the School Board have concurred? If you or Mr. Knight have an answer, it would be helpful to learn what it is.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but, until I learn otherwise, I’m going to continue to conclude that Knight’s action was part of an ongoing strategy to undermine and belittle the school system on behalf of anti-government ideology promoted by the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and the Western Liberty Network. I see it as part of a pattern of deliberate disruption that includes his premature disclosure of a police investigation of gang activity, his complaints to at least four state agencies, the recall campaign, and the lawsuit.  

In an Oregonian interview on Oct. 16, Knight declared, “When it has to do with the taxpayers’ money, it’s not confidential.”  To me, that clearly demonstrates unreasoned, absolutist thought and action that can only serve to harm the functioning of a well-run, public institution.  

We deserve better. I believe that our government of, by, and for the people has a central role in using the common wealth for the common good. Ours is a good school system that can always be improved, but I find nothing in Mr. Knight’s words or behavior contributing to that improvement. I believe it’s time for open and thorough discussion and review of this subversive political force operating in our community.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

I was lucky to share in Baker County’s generosity

In the past I have read letters of those sharing the generosity of folks in Baker City/Baker County. This last Tuesday, I had the privilege of experiencing this also. While shopping at Bi-Mart, I became very ill. I was sitting on the steps going up to the break room where they had a sofa. I was able to get up the steps with help from my husband as well as assistance from Royce, from the pharmacy. Royce was kind enough to stay with me for a while, and later the assistant manager, Aaron, was there to be with me. These folks and others shared their generosity, caring, and compassion I will not soon forget.

When I thought I could manage getting down the steps, my husband, Aaron, and another Bi-Mart employee (I did not get her name) assisted me down the steps where they had a wheelchair waiting for me. I was wheeled out and was placed in the car.

Yes, Baker County is a great place to live. I pray for a blessed Christmas and holiday season to those who helped me as well as the other Bi-Mart employees.

Patty Shumway

Bridgeport

To stop the killing we must turn away from sin

As a Christian man, my heart is broken for the victims of recent shootings.

We obviously have a problem. Not a gun problem, but a heart problem. Guns don’t kill people. People using (fill in blank) kill people. Guns don’t pull their own triggers.

Jesus, my Lord, tells me the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. He offered me a heart transplant and I took it. Until we turn from sin, murder will be more and more common, whether it be by bombs, guns, knives, rocks or sticks.

I have been changed and I caution all other Christian brothers who love to kill animals or video game opponents.

Jesus, my Lord, said the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come to see that you may have life and have it to the full.

Joe Painter

Keating


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 21, 2012


Buying a Fire Med policy makes a lot of sense

Baker City Fire Med is currently accepting enrollments as noted by articles and ads published in the Herald. That is a program which, for a reasonable annual fee, insures affordable ground and/or (depending on which package one subscribes to) air ambulance transportation in time of medical need. Over the past 10 years our family has utilized this service twice. One involved a horseback riding injury to a family member and the second involved a family member being injured in an accident in Union County.  In both cases the patient was transported to a local hospital by ambulance for treatment.

 My family and I are blessed with good medical insurance.  Yet, in both cases, had it not been for Fire-Med membership our out of pocket expense for ambulance services above and beyond what our insurance paid would have been substantial.  Fire-Med prevented what could have been a serious financial burden by accepting what our insurance paid and it billed us not one penny more than that.

 It is important to recognize also that a Baker City Fire-Med subscription covers a geographic region, not just the boundaries of Baker City or Baker County.  A member injured in a nearby county is covered just as if the event occurred here in Baker.  I cannot recommend Fire-Med membership too strongly.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City

Museum helped me track down my family’s history

I have often wondered about my ancestors, especially those who my father told me were indigenous people of the Northwest.  Recently, a friend used a skeletal four generation family tree of mine to help me find who and where I came from. One thing she found is that my great great grandmother’s parents were full-blooded Native Americans from the Northern California Mendocino Valley. With this information I soon found a photograph of Mary Ford (1856-1916) from the website of the Baker Heritage Museum. I also found that my great-great grandmother married and had at least five children with Richard Bruer Markle (1819-1890) and that both Mary and Richard are buried in the Rock Creek Cemetery.

It’s hard to describe how I felt as I sat looking at the photograph of my grandmother’s grandmother sitting wide-eyed in a chair with her white hair pulled back in a bun wearing a high collared long-sleeved black blouse, a butterfly brooch and a long patterned skirt while holding what looked like a thick scrap book. Without the Baker Heritage Museum and their generations of volunteer and paid staff, I would never have had the opportunity to have known what this ancestor of mine looked like, and neither would my niece and nephews, and the children who will come after them.

Although I still have many questions about my living relatives, as well as those who have come and gone before me, I am incredibly appreciative of the people of your community who have made it possible for me to put some of the pieces of my family history together.

Danny Wilson Smith

Son of Ralph Vasco Smith (1930-1984)

Grandson of Ralph’s mother Jessie Williams Smith (1891-1984)

Great-grandson of Jessie’s mother Louleolio “Lulu” Markle Williams (1870-1929)

Great-great-grandson of Lulu’s mother Mary Ford Markle (1856-1916)

Still concerned about        Kyle Knight’s motivations

Your recent editorial, “After the recall,” (Dec. 14) implies that Kyle Knight had a compelling reason and performed a useful service when he forwarded the confidential email about the Srack affair to the media. In fact, one could infer that you think the rest of the Baker School Board might have joined with him, had they held an executive session that Knight asked for.  

So, may I ask what purpose Knight’s email to the media prematurely publicizing a criminal investigation might have served? Why did he send it, and why might the rest of the School Board have concurred? If you or Mr. Knight have an answer, it would be helpful to learn what it is.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but, until I learn otherwise, I’m going to continue to conclude that Knight’s action was part of an ongoing strategy to undermine and belittle the school system on behalf of anti-government ideology promoted by the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and the Western Liberty Network. I see it as part of a pattern of deliberate disruption that includes his premature disclosure of a police investigation of gang activity, his complaints to at least four state agencies, the recall campaign, and the lawsuit.  

In an Oregonian interview on Oct. 16, Knight declared, “When it has to do with the taxpayers’ money, it’s not confidential.”  To me, that clearly demonstrates unreasoned, absolutist thought and action that can only serve to harm the functioning of a well-run, public institution.  

We deserve better. I believe that our government of, by, and for the people has a central role in using the common wealth for the common good. Ours is a good school system that can always be improved, but I find nothing in Mr. Knight’s words or behavior contributing to that improvement. I believe it’s time for open and thorough discussion and review of this subversive political force operating in our community.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

I was lucky to share in Baker County’s generosity

In the past I have read letters of those sharing the generosity of folks in Baker City/Baker County. This last Tuesday, I had the privilege of experiencing this also. While shopping at Bi-Mart, I became very ill. I was sitting on the steps going up to the break room where they had a sofa. I was able to get up the steps with help from my husband as well as assistance from Royce, from the pharmacy. Royce was kind enough to stay with me for a while, and later the assistant manager, Aaron, was there to be with me. These folks and others shared their generosity, caring, and compassion I will not soon forget.

When I thought I could manage getting down the steps, my husband, Aaron, and another Bi-Mart employee (I did not get her name) assisted me down the steps where they had a wheelchair waiting for me. I was wheeled out and was placed in the car.

Yes, Baker County is a great place to live. I pray for a blessed Christmas and holiday season to those who helped me as well as the other Bi-Mart employees.

Patty Shumway

Bridgeport

To stop the killing we must turn away from sin

As a Christian man, my heart is broken for the victims of recent shootings.

We obviously have a problem. Not a gun problem, but a heart problem. Guns don’t kill people. People using (fill in blank) kill people. Guns don’t pull their own triggers.

Jesus, my Lord, tells me the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. He offered me a heart transplant and I took it. Until we turn from sin, murder will be more and more common, whether it be by bombs, guns, knives, rocks or sticks.

I have been changed and I caution all other Christian brothers who love to kill animals or video game opponents.

Jesus, my Lord, said the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come to see that you may have life and have it to the full.

Joe Painter

Keating


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 19, 2012


What’s great about Baker? Here’s a list to get started

 As I attended the OPB broadcast from Bull Ridge Brew Pub last week, I started thinking about Baker City. One thing came to me: the sense of pride we all have about our town. Sure, there are some things that aren’t great but there are people and things I realize make me proud and should make us all proud. 

Here they are, in no particular order:  

1. Dave Johnson and Baker High football team.  Two state championships in three years. Need I say more? 

2. Our agricultural community. Farmers like Brent Kerns and his family, and the Blatchfords and others, produce a huge amount of the best potatoes anywhere.  

3. Our ranching community, like Rob Thomas and his family with innovative breeding techniques produce some of the best Angus bulls in the country.  

4. Dwight and Barbara Sidway, who took over a dilapidated building in our city center and made it into a regional treasure by dint of hard work and long hours.  

5. Bev Calder who took a small wine shop into the spotlight and then expanded it into La Grande. A tourist stop without tackiness.  

6. Bill Brown and Tyler  Brown and their family who started a unique restaurant and brewery which regularly wins national championships and which is now expanding to a new building.  

7. Mary Stevenson who started with a dream in the middle of the worst recession in the history of the country and has made a beautiful, quiet facility for us to enjoy, and is now expanding.  

8. Anthony Lakes Ski Area.  Best powder in Oregon.  Enough said.  

9. Richard and Kathleen Chaves. Hometown boy makes good and keeps it at home. Look at the Sports Complex, the Crossroads/Carnegie Art Center and, now, the Old Post Office. All done with class.  

10. Brian and Corrine Vegter. They operate under the radar but are integral in many community projects including the Elkhorn Classic bicycle race and the annual turkey trot. Now involved in a bike path along the old Sumpter Valley right of way.  Talented artists.

11. Heidi Dalton. Although only on the job for several months as director of the YMCA she has already transformed the institution and is dynamically leading it into a new facility for the benefit of all of us.  

12. John Wilson and Beef Northwest. Know how many cattle they feed? Don’t ask.  They are supplying a large (and tasty) protein source to the west.  

13. Barbara McNeil – Zephyrs. She chose Baker City over Manhattan. That has to count.  

14. Randy and Mary Jane Guyer. He is head of a large accounting firm and they are both constantly involved in community civic projects, usually as leaders.  

15. Tabor Clarke, who almost singlehandedly over many years developed the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway, giving our town a scenic foot and bicycle pathway along our beautiful river.  

There are, I’m sure, many others that affect you and that I have not mentioned.  Just keep them in mind when someone “disses” our town.

Dave Coughlin is a Baker City attorney.

 Keep America safe; defend the Second Amendment

As we Americans, and our elected officials, struggle to make sense of the increasing violence by armed mass murderers, the issue of revisiting our Second Amendment rights is again at the top of the list as a foundational contributing factor to the senseless slaughter we have recently witnessed. Over the last 20 years we have seen mass killings in public schools, Amish schools, universities, military bases, (where arms were unavailable to the military personnel victims, but stored in the armory), churches, Hindu temples, theaters, nursing homes, beauty salons, political gatherings, shopping malls, parking lots, etc;....... one venue has been noticeably absent from the list. There has never been a mass shooting at a gun show. One needs not to spend much mental energy to figure out why.  The greatest deterrent to an armed criminal, or even an armed mentally ill person seeking to take innocent lives, (as evidenced in the venues where these attacks occur), is the realization his evil actions may be countered by law-abiding armed citizens.

So as you hear the media attacking Second Amendment rights (which began again Monday on NBC Morning Show), remember the only certain deterrent to unlawful deadly force, is lawful deadly force. The Nazis well understood that concept. Murderers and terrorists will always be with us. Guns will always be with us, regardless of legislation. As with illegal drugs, where there is a demand there is a supply,  generated by those who seek to thwart the law.  

Conversely, a gun is not always the preferred weapon, as we saw in the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history, when on 9/11/2001, a few crazed Muslim extremists slaughtered 3,000 innocent people, using box cutters, jet engines, and jet-A fuel. One (sane) legally armed citizen on each of those aircraft, or at Sandy Hook School, could have made a huge difference in the loss of innocent life.

Keep American safe.... defend our Second Amendment right.

Don Williams

Baker City

Local residents did Baker proud on OPB’s ‘Think Out Loud’

One of my favorite Oregon Public Radio programs, “Think Out Loud,” was recorded in Baker City last week. It was a wonderful program. All the speakers were enthusiastic, factual and positive about life in Baker County.

Barbara Sidway, TImothy Bishop, Mark Ferns, Ginger Savage, Rob Thomas, Richard Chaves and several others let the rest of Oregon know how lucky we are to live in Baker County.

Frances Burgess

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 17, 2012


Inmates honored local seniors with dinner, singing

On Dec. 11, the Powder River Correctional Facility (PRCF), hosted its inaugural “Seniors Appreciation Christmas Dinner.” This was to honor and show their appreciation for all the many contributions seniors have made throughout their years in the communities they have lived, or currently live in. The dining area was decorated in the spirit of the holidays and everyone had a grand time that attended.  The meal was a traditional Christmas dinner and was paid for by the inmates themselves and prepared by them also.

 Each table had two assigned inmates who hosted a table.  They were most gracious and attentive to our every need. We were very pleased that they were able to sit down with us at our table and enjoy the dinner also. The conversation was great and lead us in  getting to know each other. The two gentlemen who sat with us have ambitions to fulfill when their sentences are completed. One wants to continue his love for baking and open his own bakery. He made the rolls for the dinner and let us in on two secret ingredients; brown sugar and squash. The other wants to pursue an alcohol and drug councilor career in order to help others. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers, as well as the other inmates  that they will succeed in their plans for the future..

 The Powder River Correctional Facility Christmas Choir sang many Christmas carols which had the audience tapping their feet and singing along. They did an amazing job with only a few days to put their program together and practice.  The evening ended with the poinsettias that adorned the tables being given out as door prizes.

 We want to thank Powder River Correctional Facility, both the inmates and staff, for a wonderful evening and acknowledge the planning and hard work it takes to put this event together. We look forward in attending next year.

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May God bless you.

Don and Glenda Cole

Baker City

When needed, local businesses came through

On Dec. 5,  I had unexpected sewer stoppage that affected my home, a dilemma that needed immediate attention. 

I’m extremely grateful for “local” firms, Dan Mann Plumbing and Twilight Sewer Service,  who responded promptly.  Their coordinated effort is much appreciated.  The key word is “local” — the owners are prompt, knowledgeable, efficient,  and come without delay. 

I recommend these Baker City firms to anyone experiencing home ownership problems, such as I had.

  Kudos to local businesses!   

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

Special section didn’t include a BHS football player

The Baker Bulldog football program, in bringing home the State 4A Championship for the second time in three years, is proof positive of sacrifice, dedication, and lots of hard work by all involved with the team. These boys, most of whom have played football together since the eighth grade, learned the valuable lessons of hard work and sacrifice that will produce reward for their efforts. The coach and staff are to be commended for inculcating these sound principles in their team.

I do question, however, why our grandson, Colby O’Grady, along with one or two other boys were not acknowledged to be a member of the Baker Bulldog football team. Colby has played football with these boys since the eighth grade. He was on the varsity roster in 2012 playing in the opening games with Weiser and Payette. He sustained injuries resulting in knee surgery which will be with him the rest of his life. He still attended his practices and games with the team through seasons end and championship rounds. He kept the football clean and dry during the Scappoose playoff game among other necessary sideline chores. Colby described himself as a R.E.W. (ride-eat-watch) team member at one of the parent/team meetings. He was doing all he could to maintain his contribution to the football team with dignity in a lighthearted way.

Was this an inadvertent mistake or an omission knowingly made by staff? I don’t know, but it would have been rewarding to see Colby’s picture along with his teammates in the publicity releases for 2012 championship. In my opinion he has earned that recognition.

Larry Cole

Haines

Editor’s Note: The football roster listed in the Herald’s commemorative section on Dec. 7 inadvertently omitted Colby’s name.

Thanks for the article that introduced us 

Just over a year ago, you published a front page article about the new exhibits specialist at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, who had recently moved to Baker City from Yosemite National Park. 

When the article continued inside the paper, it included enough personal details about her age and background to catch the eye of a certain young man who had moved to Baker from Nevada just a few months prior to her arrival in town, having accepted a new position here with the Forest Service. 

While it took several more months before life presented the right opportunity for these two people to meet each other, we wanted to say thank you for publishing the article that led to our introdution — we are getting married next week! 

Gypsy McFelter

Matthew Burks

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Dec. 12, 2012


Impressed by watching county road workers

I am proud to be Baker City’s biggest advocate.

It seems as though everyone is caught up in the recall and all of the negativity, but I would like to tell everyone how fortunate we are to have Ken Helgerson and the county employees that widened and repaved Lindley Road.

These guys were amazing! I have never witnessed such efficiency and every time one of us residents passed them as they were working they smiled, waved and said hello. We felt like they enjoyed their work and were happy to be working. Our road used to be filled with potholes and was dangerously narrow, not it is awesome. After they finished the paving, they came back and put gravel on the shoulders and in our driveways around the mailboxes, etc. They did this with a dump truck, backhoe and a man with a shovel. They actually did it by leap-frogging each other and alternating driveways. What really impressed me was when I saw Mr. Helgerson, the boss, on the end of the shovel!

I thought no wonder his crew puts out 100 percent — because the boss works hand in hand with them.

We appreciate their hard work and the great job they did.

Not only do we live in the most beautiful place on earth, but God loves us and Christmas is coming. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Rocky Morris

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 10, 2012


Democrats haven’t always been for higher taxes

 Ever hear of “Beckham’s Law?” Probably not, as it is a Spanish law passed in 2005 which allows high-priced athletes, artists and business executives to reside in Spain and pay a low flat tax of just 24 percent; it got its nickname when English soccer star David Beckham was the first to take advantage of the new law. He was joined by enough world class soccer players so that the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona won the European Champion Clubs’ Cup three times in the next six years.

The success of the Spanish tax law led several economists to do a study seeing if there is a connection between tax rates and soccer success. Using data going back to 1980, they explored the extent to which changes in tax rates explained player mobility and athletic success in 14 European countries. Comparing those countries’ various tax rates with team rankings by the Union of European Football Associations, they found a strong correlation. Spain, England and Italy have relatively low tax rates, and teams from these countries are perennial contenders in international competitions, while Norway, Sweden and Denmark, high tax countries, languish in the cellar.

Since world class athletes can easily change countries, the connection between low tax rates and success in soccer should come as no surprise. But international corporations can also easily change countries, and you can be sure that our corporate tax rate of 35 percent, the second-highest among developed economies, is something which corporations take into account when planning for the future.

Corporations can even more easily change states within this country; high tax states like California and New Jersey have been hemorrhaging companies (and the jobs they provide) for years. Politicians don’t like to admit that the high taxes they enact have a heavy impact on their states’ economic health; they also hope that we voters won’t notice that effect.

The Democrats haven’t always been the party of high taxes. President Kennedy and the Democrats of his generation cut taxes and so ensured economic health for years. Those Democrats knew something which today’s Democrats have unfortunately forgotten.  

Pete Sundin

Baker City

‘Tis the season to give — from the heart

At this time of year, many are considering the various ways available for “end of year” giving. During these difficult times, I would like to encourage you to give within your community/county. Take time to search out those neighbors, acquaintances, organizations, churches and strangers within this area and give freely.... generously blessing them from your heart.

Although I may miss a few, I would suggest: the Compassion Center, Salvation Army, churches, veterans groups, MayDay, the Senior Center, the hospital, various nursing homes, the Lindsey Lou Heart Fund (Bingham family), and many other private and medical needs that have grown within our area this past year. You could even consider paying a family’s heating or electrical bill.

I challenge all readers to commit your time or funds to these needs on a regular basis.... throughout the year ahead. Suffering is not seasonal! Every dollar or moment given from an open hand — with an open heart — can be multiplied to meet the needs of others. Imagine the possibilities!

Sharla Erickson

Baker City

Local businesses go out of their way to help

In November I had a wonderful experience. I was getting ready to call Eastern Oregon Audiology. Phone rang. Tom was asking me if I wanted to bring in my hearing aids for a free check up before my warranty ran out. Yes! I will be in.

This is why I do business in Baker. Our friends are always going the second mile.

Then I must also compliment our fine medical facilities. This also includes the wonderful fireman and EMTs.

Jackie Piatt

Baker City

Local donations help reduce pet euthanization

Approximately 5 to 6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. That is one animal euthanized every eight seconds. One out of every 600 pitbull breeds are adopted out of animal shelters; the rest are euthanized.

Maybe someone’s dog got out just one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed. The result is that homeless animals are too often euthanized, because there are more pets entering shelters than there are people able to provide them with loving care. By spaying or neutering your pet, you will have peace of mind knowing that his or her offspring won’t be put down in a shelter.

The 19th-annual Spay Day USA, or World Spay Day as it is now called, takes place on Feb. 26, 2013. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals is raising funds to participate in World Spay Day locally. In the past we have received enough money through donations and fundraisers to spay/neuter 35 animals. This year we would like to earn enough money to spay/neuter 40 animals. We have already held two fundraisers. We would like to thank Del’s for letting us use their facilities for pictures with Santa, Brian Watts for representing Santa, Judy, his helper, Sandy Osborne for the wonderful pictures, the generous people who took cash and explained the many different print options, and the wonderful animals who so kindly and gently posed for us. New Hope also had a booth at the 4-H Christmas bazaar. We were able to raise $875 between these two events, which is about one-third of our needed funds. From now through January we will have other events for Baker County’s participation in World Spay Day. We invite everyone to participate in this worthwhile project for Baker County’s pets.

Karen Skeen

Baker City

The author is chairperson for the Spay/Neuter Committee for New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, P.O. Box 146, Baker City, OR 97814.

Say thanks this year to those who protect us

With the holiday season quickly approaching us everyone is scrambling to find just the right gifts for our loved ones. This has been a trying year for so many people and we are blessed to live in this community. That alone is gift enough. We urge everyone to rethink your gift-giving, use common sense and, especially, think of those less fortunate.

We would like to encourage you to give to your local food bank, Salvation Army or Red Cross. We are especially encouraging you to give to the Wounded Warrior Project. Your tax-deductible donation will enable this entity to help injured warriors returning from the battlefield, and their families, by providing assistance to them. Even better, make this a monthly donation of whatever you can afford. Our military needs our support more than ever and it’s the least we can do for them as they have so much for us.

You can mail your donation to: Wounded Warrior Project,  P.O. Box 75817, Topeka, KN, 66675. Make a difference this year.

Dan and Renece Forsea

Richland


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 7, 2012


Weigh the facts before voting on school board recall

This is the last weekend for fellow parents and taxpayers in the 5J School District to turn in their recall ballots. On a local election such as this, every single “yes” vote will count. 

Emotions are running high on both sides, and voters have likely read more opinions and seen more ads than they ever cared to. It would be easy to throw up one’s hands in confusion, but I hope each voter will instead take their ballot into a quiet room alone and set all those opinions and emotions aside. 

The clearest vote will be cast after simply weighing the facts in the ballot statements and then reading the statements of justification below them on the ballot. I’ve, of course,  voted “yes” on this very important recall. Tuesday is the deadline.

Kerry McQuisten

Baker City

The author is the chief petitioner in the recall campaign.

School district is doing well; vote ‘no’ on the recall

Having been public school teachers for over 30 years in both Oregon and California, we are very aware of how things operate in the public school system. As we pointed out in a previous letter, this whole recall situation is wrong and based on wrong issues. Mrs. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson both have outstanding credentials as educated professionals to serve in this capacity. Their goal is to provide the best education possible for the students of the 5J school district. Current school ratings plus a balanced financial status indicate that they have been accomplishing this goal.

In addition, we would like to comment on the ongoing debate regarding the legality of Mr. Knight’s press leak. While his supporters proclaim his innocence, Mr. Knight has not made that claim. He maintains that he had every right to release the information about the investigation. He stated that it was his “First Amendment right” to leak the superintendent’s email. In The Oregonian, he said “When it has to do with the taxpayers’ money, it’s not confidential.” Hardly the “I didn’t do it” we hear from the recall backers. Oregon Legislature has deemed that certain information is to be kept confidential. Mr. Knight’s “Freedom of Speech” does not supersede Oregon Revised Statute 192.660 or 332.061 in regards to what school boards discuss in confidential executive session. If Mr. Knight doesn’t like the laws, he is free to lobby Salem to change them. What he is not free to do is to decide which laws he will follow and which he will not.

Vote “no” on this unnecessary and wrongful recall.

Alden Keith Taylor

Nancy Ann Taylor

Haines

Recalls are bad for Baker County; vote ‘no’

I have been curious as to how the two newspapers in Baker City might endorse this upcoming school board election. No word yet. 

In this current recall election, two school board members are being recalled for alleged wrongdoing against another school board member. There has been lots of noise made by a few people with grandiose charges and even a lawsuit.

This does sound familiar. In the 2009 Baker City Council recall effort the Baker City Herald endorsed the “no on recall” position by saying,  “We understand the voter attraction to recall.  It’s direct democracy — voters addressing their grievances against elected officials. Yet by voting “yes” on this recall, voters will actually weaken their electoral muscles even when they are flexing them,”  since replacements are appointees until the next election.

In the same election The Record Courier also endorsed “no on recall.” They wrote,  “Recalls should be reserved for those who have done something illegal, immoral, grossly incompetent or in some way violated the voters trust.” 

I understand this recall effort to be very similar to the failed 2009 effort, with no serious wrongdoing but hurt feelings and lots of noise.

A resounding “no on recall” vote will help send the message that recall elections are bad for Baker County.  Vote “no” on the recall.

Ed Moses

Baker City

Recall time, money better spent on education

As a Baker County taxpayer and voter, I am concerned over Kyle Knight’s attitude toward the disclosure of confidential information. He seems to believe that, when it has to do with taxpayer money, it isn’t confidential. Mr. Knight is surely mistaken on this point. Just because a person is employed by a school district does not mean that they forfeit their legal rights. Personnel investigations, and the resulting disciplinary actions, are subject to definite laws. In fact, public sector employees are often better protected than their private sector counterparts. This is covered under “public employees due process rights.”

I understand that Mr. Knight was twice given the chance to re-affirm his oath and promise to abide by policies regarding the dispensing of confidential information. Twice he refused. Instead, he has chosen to put this community through a recall election. Recalls are by their very nature divisive in small communities and they are also very expensive. How much better it would have been had the time, effort and money been used for the education of 5J students instead of this unnecessary and expensive recall election.

Please join me in voting “no” on this recall.

Nelda Marshall

Haines

Why so important to keep information from public?

I don’t know the subjects of the 5J recall effort, but I’m thankful I don’t have children attending school in the middle of so much corruption. 

Here’s what I’m getting from this. Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson censured Knight on the claim that they somehow were protecting the schools from the illegal acts he committed. The problem is, it’s come to light that he didn’t do anything illegal and all this liability they talk about never existed. They removed an elected official’s access to financial and other information for no reason, which begs the question: Why don’t these two want Knight to have access to information? The logical explanation is that he’d share it with the public. What don’t they want the public to know? What are they so desperate to hide that they’d spend a good ten grand in campaign propaganda over their volunteer positions? Don’t people wonder?

I imagine if they lose this recall, we’ll all find out. If they’re kept in office, no one ever will.

Will Godes

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 5, 2012


Recall wouldn’t improve our thriving school district

Anyone who reads the local paper knows how well the Baker School District is doing over the past few months. This performance is no accident. Parents, teachers, administrators, local businesses, members of the public and the school board have all had a role to play over the years. It’s up to each voter to decide what recalling board members would accomplish. I personally believe better performance is unlikely to be an outcome of a recall. Instead, a crippled board and reduced performance is more likely.

We already have an election in May that allows voters to make direct decisions about makeup of the school board. Unless the three remaining board members can come to unanimous agreement, the vacancies of Mark Henderson and/or Lynn Burroughs will remain open.  Additionally, as current vice chair, I will become presiding officer if Lynn Burroughs is recalled and there will not be three votes for Kyle Knight or Jim Longwell to serve as chair.  The board could be deadlocked on many serious considerations over the next several months.  We are just entering into contract negotiations with the teacher’s association.  We have another serious budget cycle to address, specifically with a poor projection for Oregon’s economy and resulting state funding, as well as the increase in PERS liabilities for retirees and current employees.  We are addressing the question of the achievement compact as related to the state’s response to a federal waiver from the annual yearly progress process.  We have serious business and it shouldn’t be sacrificed to salve personal vendettas, which is really at the heart of the recall. 

Finally, there is the question of the censure of Kyle Knight.  I will not support a reversal of the censure. We need to be able to trust that all board members, for example, can keep confidential negotiations confidential. Voters elected Mr. Knight to productively contribute to board discussions about budgeting, educational policy, instructional strategies and contract negotiation. We hope that retaining Directors Burroughs and Henderson will impress upon Mr. Knight the need for board members to serve only the interests of faculty, staff, students and the community.

Andrew Bryan

Baker City

The author is a member of the Baker 5J School Board.

Knight’s censure was a spiteful act, and a mistake

Why was Kyle Knight censured? A few questions you should ask yourself before voting.

Why weren’t any charges brought against Knight if he did something illegal?

Why wasn’t the district sued if Knight’s actions subjected it to so much liability? Maybe the liability was blown out of proportion.

Did he jeopardize the investigation of theft of school funds by informing the public of this? Evidently not.

Why was it so important that the public not be aware of this crime?

What was the true reason that Kyle Knight was censured, and who suggested censuring him after embarrassing the superintendent by not keeping his confidential secret about a theft of school funds?

Why did Lynne Burroughs have to withdraw a wrongful appointment? Was it because it was made the way “we usually do things” in the good ole boy way? Why was there not a disciplinary action for this willful disregard of ethics?

Knight invoked the wrath of Burroughs and Henderson by not going along with their way of usually doing things. Kyle was new to the board and didn’t know how things had always been done before.

Was the censure really made in the best interest of our kids and our schools?

Was the censure a spiteful act because he didn’t agree with Burroughs and Henderson, and wasn’t afraid to speak up?

I have never met Kyle Knight, but I voted for him to represent me on the school board. I have been satisfied with his representation. I believe this censure had nothing to do with any allegedly wrongful acts by Knight, but was purely a spiteful act to punish him for not bowing down to his elders.

Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson have had the opportunity to correct this wrong deed, but have refused to act. It’s sad that a recall is the only way to correct this spiteful censure. And that’s why I’m voting for the recall of Burroughs and Henderson, and urge you to join me in returning Kyle Knight to his rightful status as a full board member.

Terry Speelman

Baker City

School board is doing great; recall is a disgrace

I spent my career of 34 years as a science teacher at Baker High School. During those years I got to know a lot of school board members of 5J. It has always amazed me how those busy people could take time out of their lives to solve the many problems of 5J. And there is no fiscal reward.

I served on several teacher committees negotiating with the board dealing mostly with teacher salaries. Always I found board members to be friendly, intelligent, and deeply concerned with the education in 5J. I disagreed occasionally, but there was never any rancor from either side. When I left those meetings, it was with the same feelings of respect and admiration toward the board as I had entered the meeting. People who serve on school boards to me are heroes.

I do not know personally either of the two board members up for recall, but the way the schools are doing is evidence that this board is excellent, at least a 3-2 majority is.

In my opinion the problem in this case is Kyle Knight. He claims that his toes were stepped on. No, he stumbled badly.

This recall is a disgrace.

Allan McCullough

Baker City

Kyle Knight has wasted public resources

Noting that the originator of the “no” campaign, Dr. McKim is a longtime taxpayer. So assessing letters to the Baker City Herald I discovered a heavy preponderance of “no” advocates to be longtime taxpayers.

So Kyle Knight proved how easy it is to squander other people’s contributions for a personal matter. Bad precedent. The money could have gone toward enabling young minds to deal more effectively with life. With anger at Knight’s wastefulness I voted “no.”

Betsey McCullough

Baker City

Burroughs, Henderson get credit they don’t deserve

I’m tired of seeing Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson get credit they don’t deserve. They had nothing to do with Haines having a teacher of the year. The teacher did that! What these two school board directors ARE responsible for are bad business decisions. They increased Walt Wegener’s admin office budget by 25 percent. The 5J “technology” budget jumped 125 percent under their watch. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they raised six-figure-salaried Wegener’s pay, but the classified staff haven’t seen a raise in five years. Our kids aren’t seeing our tax dollars put to work — not with Burroughs and Henderson agreeing to a benefits insurance policy with premiums more than double what other districts pay. This is bad management pure and simple.

 A $10,000 recall is a financial bargain if it means getting these two out of office. Vote “yes.”

Shawn Overbay

Baker City

Burroughs, Henderson blame but don’t explain

I read last week’s letters to the editor with dismay. Barbara Johnson is angry that Kyle Knight didn’t accept the blame for trumped up accusations he was never guilty of. Melinda Sherrieb feels it’s fine he was “censored,” a violation of his civil rights, because she didn’t like his comments. Eloise Dielman believes an opinion that opposes hers on this recall is ridiculous. Nice.

The last time I noticed, we live in America where our freedoms are protected by law. And last time I checked, Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are the ones being recalled for their illegal actions, not Knight. If you read the ballot, you’ll see a myriad of legal reasons for their recall. You’ll also see that they can’t address a single one of those reasons head-on, so they continue to deflect, distract and attack.

 The cost to our rights, values and children’s education by keeping these two in office is incalculable. The cost of a recall is small by comparison. Preserve our rights and vote “yes.”

Cindy Frazier

Durkee

Exercise our rights and vote ‘yes’ on 5J recall

It has been suggested recently that the cost of a special election necessitates a “no” vote, specifically regarding the school board recall. I disagree. Recall elections are a part of the democratic process – one of the more direct democratic processes a voter can participate in.

Democracy has never come cheap. Our ancestors fought and died for the privilege to vote our elected officials in, and to vote them out as needed. This is a right that we have and we must exercise it in order to maintain its status as a right. If we allow elected officials who misrepresent those that voted them into office, to continue without reprimand we are not doing our duty as citizens under our democratic system.

Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs have not lived up to the expectations of those who voted them on to the school board. I urge a resounding “yes” vote when your ballot arrives.

Jon Burton

Baker City

Questions unanswered; I’m voting ‘yes’ on recall

The Dielmans’ recent letters, along with those of other Burroughs and Henderson supporters, reveal that they don’t consider hiding public information from voters to be “malfeasance.” They find the opinion of the 1,000 people who signed the recall petitions to be “ridiculous.” How arrogant and frankly, frightening. But then, that line of thinking is what made Henderson and Burroughs the subjects of a recall to begin with.

Since Kyle Knight’s censure and banishment from district information, all the public has seen from 5J is the puppies-and-rainbows news they’ve allowed the media to see. I still have questions! Most of us do.

 To this day I still don’t know how long the theft of our taxpayer dollars continued at 5J. How long did they know before we knew? How much money was taken? How long was the employee kept on administrative leave after she confessed? Did she continue to draw a salary during that leave? Did she get a severance package? Why do dozens of 5J employees believe theft has been an ongoing issue there? Why are the 5J superintendent and finance guy so adamantly against giving Knight access to information and therefore, against the recall? Finally, why was no neutral, outside accountant ever brought in to do an audit?

 We should have known these answers months ago. I’m voting “yes” on the recall.

Jacob Payton

Baker City

Avoid political spin and vote ‘yes’ on recall

It’s interesting to see the recent flurry of “no” on the recall letters, so many of which come from those associated with 5J administration or, like the thousands of dollars the anti-recall camp is spending, from outside our area. None of the letters mention the actions Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are actually being recalled for!

I couldn’t care less that Lynne Burroughs directed a good play at the local theater or that she could have retired years ago. I do care that she has spread a message across town and in her ballot statement that she somehow was forced into implementing an illegal censoring of an elected official.

 I care very much that she’s made all the authors of these support letters believe that Kyle Knight broke the law and she only stepped in to protect the district. Guess what? It’s pretty clear that Kyle Knight broke no law to begin with. It’s also pretty clear that Burroughs did when she censored him, and Mark Henderson backed her play.

 It’s not at all surprising to see the same administrators who received a pay increase writing letters to the editor against the recall. The leader of the teachers’ union also threw his support against the recall. It’s important to note that Mark and Lynne head the labor negations committee — the pieces are falling together.

 If you want to avoid the 5J political spin, just get down to brass tacks and read your ballot. Vote “yes” on the recall!

Irene Mack

Baker City

I voted ‘yes’ on recall with a clean conscience

I’ve read many letters and comments concerning voting on the recall of Burroughs and Henderson, and I have to say, I would certainly be ashamed if I told, or believed, the lies the “no” campaign supporters were telling.  The actions of Burroughs and Henderson should warrant a recall, and with the obvious vote coming up soon, the only vote that makes any sense is a “yes” vote.  I already voted that way, and I can sleep well supporting the right side, with a clean conscience.

Todd Arriola

Baker City

Here’s hoping animal abusers are punished

Having read the article concerning animal abuse, one would not expect to find this degree of lowlife and cowardice in our town. I, like others, became incensed at this kind of behavior.  Having given this some additional thought, I turned it into hope. I hope that those responsible for these crimes against animals are apprehended soon. I hope that the names of those responsible are circulated throughout the community. I hope we know when their court date will be. I hope the courtroom is filled with Baker City citizens. I hope the judge throws the book at these cowards.

And last, I hope the judge sentences these cowards to be with me for 15 minutes.

Norm Doyle

Baker City

I’m voting ‘yes’ on recall to repair the division

Opponents of the recall such as Donna Landon call the 5J recall effort divisive in their letters. I disagree. Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson created the division in the community when they showed no regard for the voting public. I view the recall as a means to repair that division and move on. To cast aspersions at the recall effort seems to me much like attacking a mother for giving a disobedient child a timeout, or protesting a judge for punishing a criminal. It makes no sense. I can’t tell anyone how to vote, but I’m definitely voting “yes” on the recall.

Nancy Clair

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 3, 2012


Sorry to be stuck, but glad it was in Baker City

It’s a serendipitous day when an unforeseen event happens that messes up all of your plans, but the event happens when you are close to a community as delightful as Baker City.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, my husband and I were traveling to spend Thanksgiving with our children at the California Dumont Dunes when our truck blew out injectors. Luckily this truck-crippling disaster happened just eight miles outside of Baker City. Steve and son used a big orange Roadrunner truck to tow us into town and they parked us across the street from Baker Garage. The garage wouldn’t be open for repair work until Monday!

Saturday afternoon and Sunday we wandered around town. We had yummy coffee and rolls at the Zephyr, munched a pork tenderloin at the Chamealeon and had beer and nachos at The Main Event. At every place we stopped the people were friendly.

On Monday morning we found that we had at least three more days to wander around town.

We continued to enjoy the shops and the squirrels in the park. Three things about your community became clear to us. First, the people are warm, friendly and helpful. Secondly, the business owners take pride in their places of business and add touches of their personalities to the décor to make the place charming. Finally, loyalty and pride are evident. Whether it was the voiced disappointment in the Ducks’ loss, the tribute paid to the veterans or decorating the Art Center, this community is Americana at its best.

In closing we would like to invite your readers to our town, Chewelah, Wash. Chewelah is somewhat smaller than Baker City but we have the same welcoming spirit and I’m certain you would feel welcome there.

Thank you.

Bill and Kay Lupton

Chewelah, Wash.

Burroughs, Henderson made the right decisions

I feel compelled to express my feelings about the media frenzy that has been created in response to the actions of the Baker School District 5J Board of Directors. I believe the school board has guided this district through some of the worst economic times in recent history. I understand that success may not be apparent to all citizens, but if one looks at a snapshot of other districts throughout the state, it could be so much worse.

I will vote “no” on my recall ballot. I believe the role of a board member is to implement the policies of the district while making sure rules and laws are followed. The focus should be the educational well-being of our students and staff.

As I have watched the current situation unfold, I see the real issue being that voters made a poor decision when electing Mr. Kyle Knight to the school board. At the time, this mistake was not as obvious as it is today. Mr. Knight has agendas that directly conflict with the well-being and educational goals of the district. His focus has been to justify his actions by pointing fingers at others while not reflecting on his own actions. Mr. Knight broke state confidentiality laws by providing information to newspapers about an ongoing criminal investigation within the district. Ironically, he is now suing the district for $700,000 for violating his rights while he shows no regard for the rights of others. Mr. Knight is forcing a recall that will cost the district $10,000. If Mr. Knight is volunteering his time to serve the district, his way of doing it is becoming very costly.

Mr. Knight lacks the maturity and focus necessary to be an effective member of a board.

Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson have worked hard to support the educational goals of this district. I admit that they have been forced to make some tough choices, but at the end of the day the board’s decisions concerning Mr. Knight were right on target.

Please join me in voting “no” on the recall of Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson.

Tim Smith

Baker High School teacher

Burroughs and Henderson don’t deserve recall

Recall efforts are for serious offenses like malfeasance of office, embezzlement, fraud or other illegal activities. Burroughs and Henderson did nothing wrong. This recall is about Kyle Knight not acting like a responsible board member, failing to follow the rules of district policy, state laws, and the Constitution.

After seeking legal advice from several sources, the 5J Board censored him. He got mad and wanted revenge. He has worked on the recall and is suing the district. He and his supporters have tried to make him out as the victim, while he continued to instigate multiple problems.

Why was Mr. Knight being censured?

During preparations for the 2011-12 district budget Mr. Knight stated to the papers he had found “misappropriation of funds” and stated to other media they had “cut 25 teachers, saving $250,000 and raising average class size to 30:1.” These statements were factually untrue.

In October of 2011 Mr. Knight falsely accused a well-respected teacher who is also a Baker Education Association representative of lying during an open board meeting.

In November 2011 at a regular board meeting he referred to ongoing police investigation of gang activity in Baker City. This information was confidential, and could have compromised the investigation.

In April 2012 Mr. Knight received a confidential email from the superintendent regarding possible misuse of district funds, he forwarded this to the papers during an ongoing police investigation. He did this despite additional training on confidential information. He put the district and board at risk for legal liability because employee information is confidential.

Mr. Knight disregards established rules, doesn’t check facts or ignores the facts, and creates chaos leaving others to deal with the resulting turmoil, then he goes on to create another problem.

How do you get people of quality to run for elected office if we don’t stand up against this kind of abuse? Burroughs and Henderson have tried to protect the district, its staff, students and patrols.

Vote “no” on the effort to recall.

Victoria Valenzuela

Baker City

Support board, vote ‘no’ on unnecessary recall

I am blessed to live in Baker Valley where neighbors are honest and issues are resolved in amicable manners. It is sad and tragic that a group would waste energy, money and emotional stress with a recall of 5J School Board members.

Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are thoughtful, responsible, effective and hard-working volunteers for our school district. They serve us admirably by working as a team, and they deserve to continue to fulfill their terms and dedicate their hours to improving our schools for Baker children.

Two years ago I had hope in Kyle Knight’s leadership thinking he would bring youthful energy and ideas to the Board. Instead, Kyle has brought immaturity and acrimony to a successful school board including the legal risks jeopardized by his poor self-serving behavior.

We need to support our current working Board and vote “no” on the 5J recall.

Ginger Ellingson

Baker City

Recall is a misguided power play: Vote ‘no’

Peggie Longwell, Baker County Chair of anti-government Americans for Prosperity and wife of school board member Jim Longwell, certainly has the constitutional right to criticize, in her letter of Nov. 23, two valuable board members who have recently led the school district to statewide recognition. But her points are trivial and illogical.

Longwell’s criticisms of Burroughs or Henderson are: misquoting the oath of office, confusing the words “censure” and “censor,” and supposedly accusing Knight of subscribing to a foreign doctrine while quoting some political theory I never heard of. She also criticized them for not following their oath when they reprimanded Knight and excluded him from discussions about which he did, could again, and avowed he would continue to disclose confidential information.

With regard to the latter, everyone knows that freedoms are real but are also limited in certain circumstances. No one has the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. No official has lost his freedom of speech by withholding confidential material from the public if its release would be harmful. It is absurd to imply that wrong-headed speech by one errant board member should carry more weight than the education of 1,700 5J school children.

Longwell’s criticisms smack of something hidden and unsavory, since the evidence (school performance, prizes, teacher accolades, fiscal stability, and creative programming) far outweighs her picky little complaints.

Henderson attends and helps out at Haines school functions, even sweeping the floor if need be.

Burroughs drove all over the western U.S. to find just the superintendent that could produce the excellent results we are seeing in 5J today. And some want to recall these public servants? Let’s honor them!

And let’s “expose to the light” that just five people (McQuisten (K), McQuisten (D), Knight, Longwell, and Smith) gathered 91 percent of the signatures on Burroughs’ recall petition. A small fringe element might foolishly seek to fire the exceptional superintendent that Burroughs worked so hard to find. But recall is hardly the right vehicle. That’s what elections are for, and we have a free one coming up in May. Vote “no” on this misguided power play.

Suzanne Moses

Baker City

Knight and his backers could start charter school

 I would like to urge the voters of the Baker 5J School District to vote “no” on the recall. I have many reasons, but I want to discuss one in particular.

Kyle was very disappointed that in July 2011, I would not support his bid to take over as the chair of the 5J School Board. Kyle has established his “Education Fund” to revamp the Baker 5J School District. But Kyle doesn’t need to take over the Baker 5J School District in order to implement his vision; there’s another way.

Oregon has one of the broadest charter school laws in the nation. If Kyle and his backers truly believe that his vision is superior, then let them prove it by opening their own charter school. Show us what you’re really about, and then the parents of Baker 5J will be free to choose which school they want their kids to attend.

Besides, some of Kyle’s ideas, like using his “cadre” of volunteer teachers, are easier to apply in a charter school.

This idea of Kyle starting a charter school wasn’t mine, but I think it really is the best solution for both sides of this debate.

I can tell you one thing: my kids won’t be subject to Kyle’s “revamping” of Baker 5J. We can homeschool if need be.

Mark Henderson

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Nov. 30, 2012

Support schools and vote ‘no’ on 5J recall

Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson deserve our strong support for resisting unjustified attacks by Kyle Knight and editorials in the Baker City Herald. I urge my fellow citizens to turn out in record numbers to register an overwhelming “no” vote on recall.

Three School Board members censured Knight for his premeditated and premature disclosure of confidential personnel information about a criminal investigation. This followed his partial disclosure of a separate police investigation. By acting decisively, the Board helped ward off potential liability for future releases of confidential information.  This potential liability was real, and the censure was preventive, not punitive. Had they not responded, they would have violated their fiduciary duty to protect community interests.  They should be applauded.

The claim that two disclosures of confidential information about circumstances ALREADY under criminal investigation improved “transparency” is beyond absurd.  It can be understood only when seen as part of a concerted, but misguided, assault by a radical, anti-government few on the integrity of our public schools. The disclosures of confidential information, the recall effort, and the related lawsuit are clearly part of a broader set of tactics aiming to discredit and dismantle our public schools, and, as proclaimed by the web site of the Western Liberty Network, to “take charge” of Baker County (www.westernlibertynetwork.org).

Our award-winning schools are among our most valuable assets to attract and retain energetic young families in Baker Valley. The recognition of our model schools and our Oregon Teacher of the Year are testimony to the quality of our schools and their contribution to a promising future for us all.

Another valuable resource is the time and talent of citizens who volunteer to take on civic responsibilities. Their work is challenging enough without having to deal with baseless controversy and conflict.  We owe them a debt of gratitude!

The recall election offers an opportunity for us to stand together and honor the work of School District 5J and its Board. And to firmly reject the reckless acts of those seeking to undermine the District and the best interests of our community, in pursuit of their ideological agenda.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Obama campaign propaganda was effective

We have some very effective propagandists. When B. Obama wanted to claim that he was helping our economy, he had his helpers get to work. They chose six weeks before the last election as a good starting point for their campaign. This would give them the opportunity to catch most of the early voters and all the others.

Obama wanted to claim that the unemployment rate was lower now than when he was elected. The figure they presented was 2 tenths of one percentage point lower than the old figure of 8 percent unemployed, or 7.8 percent. This was not a very awe-inspiring figure. Not to worry. The Obama folks would Goebbels it. What is that?

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s pal, has been considered the greatest propagandist of all time. He claimed that you could make people believe anything if it was presented loudly and repeated long enough. So they began to have Obama come on TV with his message many times every day for the whole six weeks. The election provided the result. Goebbels was right.  

Virginia L. Kostol

Baker City

Diversity on school board should be encouraged

A diverse array of opinions and personalities should not be considered a bad thing on the school board. If any member is attempting to silence another, that member should be removed and replaced. We need a consensus, not a dictatorship. We need both those that have years of experience and those that bring a fresh perspective. Let’s not limit our collective wisdom by squelching dissenting input.

Mary Andersen

Baker City

Why I think frivolous recall attempt will fail

I’m very optimistic that the recall is going to fail. I’m referring to the attempt to recall two School District 5J board members instigated by chief petitioner Kerry Jones McQuisten in support of 5J board member Kyle Knight. Here are some reasons for my optimism.

Most recall elections fail.  

McQuisten’s petition does not include even one valid example of how the education of the children of School District 5J has been harmed by actions of the two school board members. In fact, unbiased appraisals show that our schools are functioning just fine, including one Teacher of the Year award.

Knight has ruined his reputation by suing School District 5J over his hurt feelings. Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Former Baker City manager Steve Brocato sued the City. Last I heard, he was having trouble finding a job. Who’s going to hire someone who files what I consider a frivolous lawsuit against his former employer, or hire someone who sues his own school district over hurt feelings, for crying out loud.

Knight just lost an election to be a Baker City councilor. With four open councilor positions, Knight had a statistically very good chance to be elected. Until he filed his lawsuit against School District 5J. When the votes for city councilors were counted, Knight wasn’t even close to winning a seat on city council.

This recall is about silly playground bickering. Let’s all act like adults. I’m voting “no.”

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Burroughs, Henderson should be recalled

The recall is about a lot of things. But it’s not about Director Knight.

To sum up why Directors Henderson and Burroughs are being recalled, let’s look at some of their biggest blunders to date.

First, they attempt to implement a district weapons policy that clearly violated both federal and state statutes, all at the behest of OSBA. As a board member, Director Burroughs supported a substantial pay increase to administrators in the same year teachers were being laid off, their salaries frozen. Director Burroughs appointed friends and former board members to the budget committee after it was advertised publically for people to apply. That action earned the board a letter from the state that basically said they could not break the law.

They attempted to cover up an investigation into a district employee (who is incarcerated), and after Knight notified the press that an investigation was underway, they censure (and censor) Knight, claiming he gave the paper the employee’s name. It was revealed by a citizen at his censure hearing that the information had leaked from the district office. They attempted to make Director Knight a scapegoat. They have kept a duly elected official out of meetings, belittled him in the press, slandered him with spam mail to voters’ houses, and earned themselves a lawsuit in the process. The irony is that in trying to ostensibly avoid putting the district at risk, they end up making themselves and the district liable. I would call that less than competent. They cannot cite one real law that Director Knight allegedly broke. They also take credit for high test scores and great performance. I would appreciate a board that recognizes their real educators, our teachers. They made the product, not a lame-duck board.

The recall process is a legal provision given to the voters to say to incompetent leaders: Your time is up. Directors Burroughs and Henderson have proven themselves unable to keep the district free of liability and have blatantly failed to use professional judgment in their respective offices. Please vote “yes” to recall Directors Burroughs and Henderson.

Jason Smith

Baker City

Board had no choice but to censure Knight

The ballot statement in favor of the recall is so full of inaccuracies that it would take a second letter just to list them. The facts: Early last spring the district financial officer found evidence of a district employee using her position to illegally access district funds for personal use. He informed the superintendent who then informed the Baker Police Department. The superintendent also informed all board members of the investigation. He asked the members to keep the information confidential until the investigation was finished. He did this both to protect the rights of the accused (entitled by the U.S. Constitution to due process) and to allow law enforcement officials to conduct investigations quietly and effectively. Despite this, Mr. Knight conveyed that information about the investigation (including the name of the employee) to the Baker City Herald and other media outlets. He did this by forwarding several confidential emails between himself and the superintendent to the press. He did this before the investigation was completed.

Since Mr. Knight is a duly elected member of the 5J District board his actions made the district legally liable if the accused was innocent and decided to sue the district for damage to her reputation. Mr. Knight was formally asked in a board meeting to cease these behaviors and he refused. Attorneys informed the district that in order to protect the district from the actions of a rogue member they had two options. They could act to recall Mr. Knight or they could censure him. Board members thought that a recall would be too divisive so they opted to censure him. Mr. Knight’s situation is of his doing. He gave the board no choice. They had to legally distance the district from Mr. Knight to protect the district.

Recent test results confirm that Baker 5J students are among the top in the state. The district is doing an excellent job despite very dire financial constraints. From the beginning, Mr. Knight’s agenda has been one of destructive politics not the continued improvement of the education of our community’s children. Don’t help him. Vote “no” on the recall.

N.R Rusty Munn

Baker City

Teacher of the Year supports board members

Being selected as Oregon Teacher of the Year is such an incredible honor; especially recognizing I work for a district full of excellent employees. The numerous emails, cards, and phone calls from colleagues, community members, and unknown individuals have been overwhelming. I am blessed with tremendous support and encouragement.  Thanks to all of you! 

The recall issue saddens me when we have much to celebrate in our school district. Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson are two individuals who have been in the trenches with teachers and know the obstacles we face each day. Lynn is a retired teacher and Mark volunteers weekly to work with students in the classrooms. I have witnessed firsthand his desire to make sure all students receive the best education by providing assistance to teachers and schools. It is my sincere hope we keep them on our school board.

Nanette Lehman

Second-grade teacher

Haines Elementary


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