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Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10, 2012

Proposed forest rule threatens local economy

I am opposing the Forest Service proposed rule on “Categorical Exclusion for Restoration Activities.” This road and trail category (defined at 36 CFR 212.1) is to be used for areas where non-system roads and trails are located and is a backdoor approach to closing more forest roads.

This rule is designed to target our RS 2477 roads. Many of these old roads are not being maintained because they do not need it. They are healed over and do not contribute to erosion. Yes, they are being used — by every kind of animal. They have a cultural value to us, and most of them are established on ancient Indian trails which also have a cultural value.

I believe it is in our best interest to leave them alone.

In the explanation it covers “removing water control devices such as dikes, ditches, culverts and pipes; restore lands and habitat to pre-disturbance conditions (besides), restore lands occupied by roads and trails to natural conditions.” And “remove debris, sediment” following “natural or human-caused events.”

Again, we have water-related devices or controls in our local forest which support our agricultural lands that are over a century old. They have never caused any environmental damages and they have seldom needed more than a minimum of maintenance.

Since they use natural ways of operating they meet the standard to restore to a natural state covered by this rule. This will be a tremendous economic loss to Baker County.

This rule is written with no knowledge of our local terrain or local needs.

This rule threatens us with an enormous negative economical impact on a number of local industries, including fishermen, hunters, prospectors, woodcutters and most importantly here in our dry region, water for irrigation.

It is extremely important to respond immediately. The comment period ends Aug. 13.

Submit comments online at www.regulations.gov or write to “Restoration CE Comments,” P.O. Box 4208, Logan, UT, 84323.

Identify comments by writing “Categorical Exclusions for Restoration Activities” on the front page. Be sure to sign your name and address.

Carmelita Holland



Letters to the Editor for Aug. 8, 2012

Chick-fil-A owner’s comments personal, not political

In the Aug. 3 editorial, “Chicken chain’s flap,” you are correct in stating that business owners have First Amendment rights to free speech as American citizens. However, the first sentence in the last paragraph is incorrect which states, “The First Amendment pretty clearly stands in the way of any city trying to legally restrict businesses from opening based on the political views of their owners.” This statement is misleading. 

 The views expressed by Mr. Cathy of Chick-fil-A were not political.  They were a statement of his personal convictions that have helped the Chick-fil-A business to be successful, and he has the right to express them publicly.  As you note, politicians have turned Cathy’s comments into a political flap, and it has been perpetuated by the press. We are disappointed that the Baker City Herald joined in this bias by insinuating that Cathy’s remarks were political.

 Equally disappointing was the political cartoon included in the Aug. 3 paper which depicts that homosexuals are treated differently by Chick-fil-A.  The company has issued a statement telling its customers that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that Chick-fil-A’s tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” 

John and Susie Busch

Baker City

Thanks to locals for taking care of my backpack

Just wanted to say thank you to the person(s) who turned in my backpack (on July 23) after it inadvertently fell out of the car when we stopped for lunch while on our way from Boise to Bend. Thank you to the Subway employees for holding onto it. Thank you to Grammy K for picking it up and keeping it safe until we came back through on the 28th. It was a disappointment not to have my wallet and cameras while on vacation, but great (and comforting) to know that Baker City has such quality people!

Shaun Hammersmark


Chick-fil-A doesn’t discriminate against anyone

Although your Aug. 3 editorial about the Chick-fil-A flap notes the right of the owners to express their support for traditional marriage, the cartoon on the editorial page suggests that Chick-fil-A actively discriminates against homosexuals in the service they offer (comparing it to the pre-civil rights era when blacks were relegated to “Negro” drinking fountains, restrooms, etc.). This is, I believe, a gross mischaracterization of Chick-fil-A which borders on slander.

Chick-fil-A’s website has this statement regarding service to customers: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” In addition, I’ve heard no reports that they practice any kind of illegal or unethical discrimination in their hiring practices.

Personally, I applaud the owners of Chick-fil-A for their courage in defending their “politically incorrect” view of marriage. The homosexualist agenda advocates “tolerance” for all…unless one’s views diverge from theirs. That makes the homosexualists the bigots, not Chick-fil-A’s owners. 

Jay Boyd

Baker City

Pro-pot position is rooted in writer’s selfishness

The editor’s “drifting towards a yes vote on pot measure” is misguided. His argument that he can consider voting for it because it will have no direct impact on him is indicative of much of what is wrong in our society.  His perspective can only be labeled as “it’s all about me.” If it doesn’t affect me then I can support it.  Have you ever stopped to think that it really isn’t, or shouldn’t be, all about you?  What about the adverse effects (and they are well documented) on the user of marijuana? Legalize it and you simply make it easier for more people to abuse their bodies and minds. But who cares? Right...it’s not about them, it’s about the impact on you.

 Consider also the negative effects on society.  As a cop I worked in a number of big cities and the impacts on crime due to the use of any narcotic or drug, including marijuana, are many and always negative. So legalizing it will theoretically drive the cost down? Questionable, but even at lower cost there is a criminal element that will steal to obtain the funds needed to buy their weed. If you want to make your decision based on facts rather than assumptions you might ask the Baker City Police Chief or Baker County Sheriff whether marijuana use in our county is related to other criminal activity.

 I never put words in a criminal’s mouth but I cannot count the number of heroin, meth and coke users I have interviewed that told me they started with weed, liked the buzz, and felt a stronger drug would just give them a better trip.  Finally, your assumption that the cartels will stop growing marijuana in our national forests if Oregon legalizes pot can only be described as a fantasy.  Look online for Mexican drug cartel distribution maps and you will see that weed grown here doesn’t all stay here. So unless every state were to legalize pot the cartel grows are not going away anytime soon.

 Your original inclination to oppose legalizing weed was the right one. I hope you revert back to it.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 6, 2012

Reagan tax cuts made things worse, not better

Jobs and economic growth are not triggered by wealthy investors, but by broadly distributed middle-class prosperity and consumer demand. That’s why “supply-side” economic theory, in which tax cuts for the wealthy are supposed to stimulate the economy, has been thoroughly discredited and is worse than useless. And that’s why it was discouraging to read in the Herald that Reagan’s tax cuts during his first term were “so influential in reviving a sluggish economy” (your lengthy essay of July 27). (“Supply-side” is also known as “trickle-down” or voodoo economics.  Google “Reaganomics” to learn more.)

Actually, economic growth during the Reagan years was stimulated by a major increase in government spending, a result right in line with the highly regarded Keynesian prescription for recovery from a normal recession. According to Wikipedia, increases in payroll taxes negated Reagan’s tax cuts for the middle class, but spending during Reagan’s two terms averaged 22.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), well above the 20.6 percent GDP average from 1971 to 2009. But in the end, Reaganomics failed him. Reagan’s spending increases and tax cuts tripled the national debt, a result Reagan described as the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency. (Not learning from history, the Bush tax cuts doubled the national debt, and it’s still climbing.)

It’s even more important to understand that the current recession is not a normal one. The economy continues to expand slowly, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and millions are suffering. Why? The middle class has been largely drained of its purchasing power by the increasing effects of automation, off-shoring jobs, and union-busting. Meanwhile, a few very wealthy Americans have siphoned off much of the profits, are paying historically low tax rates, and are investing millions of dollars in this election to increase their political clout and further impoverish the rest of us.  

A well-informed national debate is desperately needed to deal with this major, new structural problem. It’s important that the drumbeat of false and misleading information be minimized. I urge you and my fellow readers to fact-check information before passing it along and then help create innovative, evidence-based solutions.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Nice to read about the school district’s achievements

The report on our schools in the July 30 Baker City Herald was very welcome to all of us — parents and community members who are not parents of students now in school here. Learning that the percentages – test scores in reading and math, building assessments are far above the state percentages tells us more than opinions without any credible data that have been expressed previously.

 Thank you Supt. Wegener and Chairman Burroughs for compiling this data-filled report, and to the Herald for publishing it.

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

The real meaning of ‘once in a blue moon’

Sounds to me that almost everyone uses the term “once in a blue moon” like they know what it means. Well, as usual that is all talk, with little “knowledge,” meaning understanding gained by actual experience, not from hearsay from folk that know even less than you think you know.

Once in a blue moon is when there is a full moon twice in the same month, as is the case in August of 2012, once on Aug. 2 and again on Aug. 31. Now you know what a blue moon is.

Jim Smeraglio

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 3, 2012

Power line would go through our back yard

It was with dismay that I read the B.C. Herald’s July 27 editorial “Best route for the power line.” I estimate that at least 99 percent of Baker County’s residents are on the grid and that they take it for granted. However, their power comes here transmitted on high tension lines going through someone’s back yard – though I doubt that many worry about where, as long as they have reliable power and it does not affect their viewshed.

Some of us, though, live with no access to the grid and thus derive no benefits from any transmission line anywhere. Instead, at high cost we supply our own limited power from photovoltaic systems or generators. We accept the cost and inconvenience gladly (no air conditioner, no clothes dryer, etc.,) but we do object to the new suggested route going through our back yard in the historical district of Sparta – which incidentally is in elk overlay. It also appears that the route would require quite a swath to be cut through the national forest. 

Please reconsider your endorsement.

Kirsten Badger


Save energy, avoid need to build power line

I have a novel idea. How about the beneficiaries bearing the cost? I live in Sparta, most of us get our electricity from photovoltaics, we accept the consequences of our choice and we live with limited electricity. We did this in part as we wished to live in an unspoiled environment with as few reminders as possible of the urban world, an unobstructed view of the Wallowas, for example. Now it would seem that many in the Baker City area don’t like the prospect of a 500kv utility line running through their area, I thought perhaps parallel to Pocahontas or Hwy 30 might be a good route. After all, the vast majority of you are connected to the utility grid, shouldn’t you pay the cost?

But then redistribution is a popular theme and moving it to eastern Baker County is redistributing the cost! Let’s face it, profligate energy consumption is detrimental to the environment that we all desire in Baker County. Use less electricity and demand that Idaho Power find another way to balance its load.

Ray Badger



Letters to the Editor for Aug. 1, 2012

Greg Walden needs to represent all of his district

It’s time the people in Greg Walden’s district see who he really represents. The House of Representatives is getting ready to vote on tax-cut extensions. 

But the only tax extension Walden will vote for is for the continuation of the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest Americans. Republican Rep. Walden is in “lock-step” with his party and is not concerned with the majority of people he supposedly represents in Congress. 

It’s time for Rep. Walden to realize that as intelligent, hardworking Oregonians we demand more from him than platitudes, handshakes and Republican talking points. We need a representative who will actually listen to us (the voters) and then vote according to our wishes; not someone who votes the party line every time! 

It’s time for Walden to understand that he’s supposed to represent all of us in his district not just the rich who provide money for his re-election campaigns. If the continuation of the tax cut for those making less than $250,000 a year isn’t a priority for Walden, and continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich is, then it’s simply time for us to get rid of Mr. Walden as a representative and vote in office someone who will represent all the people in this district. 

I urge my fellow Oregonians, in Walden’s district, to phone, email or write to him and let him know that if he doesn’t represent all the people in his district he will be replaced. I’m tired of the Republican “lock-step” attitude and the effect it has had on Congress and our country. We can do better! Let’s get rid of a man who doesn’t represent us and find someone who will.

Steve and Michelle DeFord


Thanks for sharing your special part of Oregon

The week of July 22, eight of us drove out from Portland to spend the week cycling Baker County and the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. We’ve been to Baker County many times but usually only for a day or so.

Spending almost a week in Baker County was fantastic! We rode through, and stayed and ate at Baker City, Sumpter, Halfway and Haines. We cycled on NF 73, HWY 203 and Anthony Lakes Hwy. Wow! We loved every minute of it! 

The roads were smooth and the views were spectacular. And the people? Oh yeah ... the people! Everyone was so friendly. 

Cars and trucks always passed us with plenty of room. We could not believe how many drivers and ranchers would wave to us as we cycled through. We felt very welcome. You all live in a special part of Oregon; thanks for sharing it with us!

Keith Ketterling



Letters to the Editor for July 27, 2012

Great service from Grumpy’s

We wanted to drop a note to the Herald regarding Grumpy’s Repair.  J.R. and Ian provided excellent customer service to us when we limped our RV into the shop last week. It was discovered both fuel filters were blocked, which caused the fuel pump to give up the ghost. J.R. and Ian also discovered we were in need of a fuel pressure regulator, which previous owners of our RV had completely removed. That particular part had to be located, which ended up being in Portland. The regulator was shipped overnight, so Ian could install it the next day.  The hospitality, friendliness, and timely updates on our situation were awesome, and more than we ever could have expected. We contacted family members to let them know we were stranded, and when they found out where we were, they told us not to worry, that we were in good hands at Grumpy’s. We would recommend Grumpy’s to anyone who might need work done on their RV or Truck. They are very hard workers, and still provide the personal touch.  Keep up the great work, guys!

Rob and Diana Hoefer

Aberdeen, Wash.

Making the bandstand dream come true

What a wonderful Miners Jubilee weekend we just enjoyed! From beginning to end, it became increasingly clear that Baker City can exemplify the very best in what is right with America. When this community pulls together, anything is not only possible, it is achievable. And in a big way!

 Thank you to everyone who put forth special effort to support our Baker City Bandstand in the Park project by attending the living history fundraiser performance of “Fanny.” The old gal is back in the trunk now, but her pioneering spirit lives on in each of you.

 When the Geiser and Pollman families donated land over a hundred years ago for a public park in Baker City, they envisioned a place that would become the heart of the community.  We believe our planned bandstand pavilion is not only in harmony with that original vision, but will continue to enrich the lives of Baker County residents, travelers, performers, and sightseers for decades to come.  It’s our turn to make history.

 The BHS graduating class of 1952 held its 60th reunion over Miners Jubilee. They bought a Baker City Bandstand brick to help get us a little closer to our goal of construction.  They’ve issued a challenge to all graduating classes of Baker High School to do the same. 

 Check us out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BAKERCITYBANDSTAND) for order forms.  Or call 541-519-5653 for more information. Together, we can make this community dream come true.

Joyce Badgley Hunsaker (“Fanny”)

Baker City

Bandstand Committee                  Board Member


Letters to the Editor for July 23, 2012

Obama can’t run on his record

 When running for president, then-senator Obama was faced with a dilemma. He couldn’t run on his record of achievements, as he didn’t have any. Nor could he run on his agenda, for it came from the uttermost depths of the leftmost wing of the Democratic Party. So he pretended to be a moderate, used inspirational-sounding but essentially meaningless rhetoric (“hope and change”) and successfully gambled that Bush fatigue and the historic opportunity of electing our first black president would cause voters to overlook his singular lack of qualifications.

Now he is running for re-election, and faces the same dilemma. He still can’t run on his agenda, for that includes the imposition of cap and trade on our economy, eliminating the use of coal in generating electricity, and driving the price of gasoline “to European levels.”

Neither can he run on his record of achievements, for these include a huge stimulus which he promised would significantly reduce unemployment but didn’t, annual trillion dollar deficits which have cost the Federal Government its coveted AAA bond rating, Obamacare, which a majority of Americans want repealed, “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which the government allowed American guns to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, which then used those same guns to murder Mexican citizens and one U. S. border guard, crony capitalism, in which corporations with good political connections get plums, such as the federal guaranteed loans granted to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, an outfit which promptly went bankrupt; there’s lots more, but you get the idea.

So President Obama continues his pretense of being a moderate, uses meaningless rhetoric, such as “the private sector is all right,” and gambles that his use of class warfare will cause voters to overlook that his, like Jimmy Carter’s, is a failed presidency.

It took two terms in office for independents and moderate Democrats to develop Bush fatigue, but it’s taken only one term for President Obama to induce Obama fatigue in these same voters.  

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Single payer system will save health care in America

Even with the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, Oregonians need to demand health care financing that does not put us in the poor house!

Anyone paying health insurance premiums knows our health care financing system is broken.  After the ACA is fully implemented in 2019, 26 million Americans will still lack coverage. Those who cannot afford insurance often seek health care at emergency rooms with all of us footing the bill.

Insurance and pharmaceutical corporations keep their profits flowing by spending millions to hoodwink us into believing that public financing means government takeover and decreased health care quality.

Both Medicare and the Veterans Administration prove otherwise. What we need now, if we are to avoid breaking the bank, is improved Medicare for everyone regardless of age.

Only two percent of Medicare’s dollars go to administration/overhead. Private insurance spends as much as 16.7 percent. Under a single payer system, overall administrative costs would fall from 33 percent of current health care spending to less than 5 percent, saving hundreds of billions of dollars.

Studies by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office and Congressional Budget Office report that implementing a national single payer system would yield administrative cost-savings enough to guarantee coverage for every American without increasing overall health care spending.

Because Congress has not yet enacted affordable health insurance legislation, Health Care for All-Oregon is campaigning for affordable, comprehensive, publicly funded, high quality systems of health care serving everyone in Oregon and the United States.

Oregon Rural Action is one of 50 HCAO member organizations statewide.  ORA is organizing health care action in Baker, Wallowa, Union, Malheur and Umatilla counties. To find out how you can help hold health care costs in check, contact the Oregon Rural Action Health Care Action Team (541-663-1358) or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Bill Whitaker

La Grande


Letters to the Editor for July 18, 2012

What’s Romney trying to hide?

Romney’s surrogates are bristling at the suggestion that Romney committed a felony in signing SEC documents after 1999, but they studiously ignore the alternative. Given Romney’s cautious nature in many things, it’s not likely he would have lied when he signed Bain related SEC disclosures or when he testified under oath that he was actively involved in Bain companies and attended board meetings in Massachusetts when challenged on his residency and eligibility to run for governor.

Since simply positive factual statements cannot be simultaneously true and untrue, logic dictates he is lying in his campaign statements which are not under oath or under any legal penalty. Whether his SEC filings, sworn testimony and financial disclosures to the FEC conflict with one another or with his tax filings is a matter that will only be settled when he is forced to make public his tax returns for the last 12 years as Obama has already done. The fact that he adamantly opposes such a release of his tax returns confirms in my mind that besides any embarrassing details about foreign investments and overseas tax shelters there must be something very fishy at the core of the matter which would strike a fatal blow to his credibility and legitimacy if elected.

John Harmer

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for July 13, 2012

Don’t close roads — downsize the Forest Service instead

I am a Baker County resident and love our forests. I along with many of my friends are in the forest and mountains sometimes several times a week. I’ve watched the Forest Service close many of the roads we used to enjoy. The Forest Service wants to keep a few people happy, environmentalists, that threaten to sue for everything. About half of the forest is already wilderness area. Let them take their walks and enjoy that part of the forest. Compromise has already been made. For the rest of us, which I believe is the majority, don’t close anything.

The loggers can no longer log, half the forest is wilderness and many of the roads already closed. I think that a good solution to the whole problem is get rid of 80 percent of the U.S. Forest Service and put the extra money into things that are really needed such as schools and other projects.

Bob McKean

Baker City

Regardless of contest results, Baker City is a winner

As we await the results of this year’s Best of the Road contest, I already know that Baker City is the winner. Timothy Bishop orchestrated a  spectacular show of our beautiful town for the judges and attendant Travel Channel/CBS TV crew. With only a one-day official visit, he managed to showcase our ranching heritage, our arts community, and other towns in Baker County, as well as the Baker City Historic District, heart of Baker County. Please join me in thanking Timothy for job well done!

 I’m proud to have been a small part of this community effort in service on the planning committee. Every citizen should share that pride. It doesn’t matter who is announced as the winner on Tuesday. We are all winners here and should congratulate each other on our beautiful small town!

Barbara Sidway

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for July 11, 2012

Free market? I wish there were such a thing

Free-market exponent Pete Sundin wrote a letter to the editor praising free choice, something I can agree with, if there really were such a thing.

How short Mr. Sundin’s memory is.  He has seemingly forgotten that unregulated free choice in worldwide financial markets led to the recession the U.S. and Europe are facing today.  Mr. Sundin isn’t the only one with a short memory.

I just learned today about the LIBOR scandal that promises to eclipse the derivatives scandal of 2008.  LIBOR stands for “London Inter-bank Offered Rate.”  That’s the average rate set by banks that determines what interest is charged to buy and sell money between banks.  In the culture of big finance, LIBOR trickles down to also affect the little guy’s interest payments on credit card, car loan, and mortgage.

Barclays, a 300-year-old British bank, has admitted to rigging LIBOR to its advantage, and disadvantage of others.  (Read about it in The Economist here: http://www.economist.com/node/21558281, or just Google “LIBOR scandal.”)  Barclays has agreed to pay U.S. and British regulators almost a half billion dollars in penalties.  Several other big-name banks are being investigated for similar activity.

Once again we learn that the game of free-market high finance is not conducted on a level playing field. Not only do financial institutions pay its traders obscenely high salaries and bonuses, but they also cheat.

The Economist refers to the LIBOR scandal as the “rotten heart of finance.”

Now, back to Mr. Sundin’s letter to the editor about free choice.  There is no free choice for the little guy, when the big guys don’t play by the rules.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Locals help make Cycling Classic roll smoothly

The Baker City Cycling Classic couldn’t have happened this year without the support of our local community, and they came out more committed to the race than ever before.

Baker Loves Bikes would like to thank all our volunteers, the Baker High School students, their parents and their coaches for their dedication. The City of Baker City for the help making the courses clean and safe. Our police and fire departments for ensuring the safety of those racing and spectators.

Many local businesses supported the race financially or with volunteers for us. This help allowed us to put over $2500 into the BHS programs that worked with us and with continued support like this we will be able to increase our donations as we move forward.

The field at this years BCCC was up by 30 percent from last year and with the rider feedback we’ve been receiving already, we’re sure to have an even larger field next year. This event brings bike racers from all over the country to Baker County and the money they pay to be here goes directly into programs at Baker High School,which makes it unique. More money from this event stays right here in Baker, than just about any other event in the county, and it’s all from sources outside our area.

We also received help from the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center and in return they received a large donation of food for the food bank for the third year in a row. For the first time we worked with the fifth-grade classes to create the beautiful and colorful posters for the BCCC. Many of the posters could be seen around downtown Baker, but some graced the walls of bike shops around the Pacific Northwest, as far away as California.

As we move forward to our 12th year of racing in Baker City we become the second longest consecutively run bike race in the state of Oregon, and that is thanks in large part to the support of Baker County and YOU. Thank you all so much we couldn’t do it without you, and the riders all thank you too.

Brian Vegter

Baker City

Vegter is the race promoter for the Baker City Cycling Classic, and vice president of Baker Loves Bikes.

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