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.
Bill and Kay Lupton
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
Recalls don’t settle anything; vote ‘no’ on 5J measure
Recalls and lawsuits are normally the last resort in settling disputes and differences, not the first action. They don’t settle a thing. They drive a wedge between us, doing away with our unified hearts and minds to solve problems. Please vote “no” on the recall and instead encourage normal civilized discussion on issues relating to our public schools.
Don’t punish wrong people; vote ‘no’ on 5J recall
No elected official should be recalled for doing his duty. Elected officials swear to uphold the law and we expect them to do so. In the case of Kyle Knight, the Board’s duty led to his censure in order to protect our school district from his careless disregard for the privilege his position afforded him. His actions exposed the board and the district to expensive litigation.
Consider the simple story of how Mr. Knight came to be censured by the leadership of the school board.
Superintendent Wegener sent an email marked confidential to the school board that the D.A. was in the process of investigating potential embezzlement from the school district. Mr. Knight released this proprietary information to local newspapers while the investigation was still underway and due process termination of the employee involved had not yet occurred. This action exposed the district to a serious lawsuit.
The board asked Superintendent Wegener to check with the state on how to deal with the situation. The State Ethics Commission said the board must police itself. The Oregon School Boards Association Lawyers agreed with the Ethics Committee and said it was essential that the board deal with the liability caused by Mr. Knight’s behavior.
The board was advised by legal counsel how to separate itself from Mr. Knight’s actions, to reduce the threat of liability to the district and to give him due process.
To allow Mr. Knight to regain board trust to participate fully within the guidelines of executive session privilege and avoid censure to bar him from these sessions, he was twice invited to retake his oath and promise to refrain from outing confidential information. He refused both times. The board had no choice but to censure him to prevent his further indiscretions with confidential information. This is the only legal action available
It is Mr. Knight’s refusal to respect the position to which he was elected that has brought us to this pass. Make sure your vote does not punish the wrong people and reward the cavalier behavior of an elected official. Vote “no” on recall.
Stop corruption and vote ‘yes’ on school board recall
5J District voters will soon receive their ballots. For 20 years we lived in the district. My husband and our children graduated from Baker High School. We currently have a granddaughter in the 5J school system.
My husband and I attended the March meeting when Kyle Knight was censured. We were horrified by the unprofessional behavior of Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs. Burroughs couldn’t cite one specific statute or BOLI law that Knight had actually broken; she just kept waving a handful of papers in anger and saying that he had. We saw Henderson turn beet red and yell at Knight. They never allowed Knight or the public a turn to speak. The fliers they later mailed were filled with character assassination and lies.
Some people have made this a conservative versus liberal issue. It’s not. It’s about right and wrong. Burroughs and Henderson were wrong in their censure of Knight, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Burroughs single-handedly appointed her friends to the Budget Committee, earning the district a letter from the state. She and Henderson tried to deny Second Amendment rights to concealed weapon permit holders last fall and First Amendment rights to Knight this spring.
Finally, these same bully tactics didn’t stop at the board meetings. After the second petition drive was underway, their supporters showed up on the doorsteps of some of those who had signed previously, and tried intimidating them into not signing again. Local business owners were threatened if they signed the second petition, one being told if they signed again they would never get a job with the district again, another being told the business would be boycotted until they went out of business. We heard from dozens of district employees, who wanted to sign, but all believed if they signed, it would mean their job. Coercion is illegal.
If we can’t control corruption in Baker County, how can we ever hope to stop it at the federal level? I urge a “yes” vote on this recall. Honest government begins at home.
Suzan Ellis Jones
The author is treasurer of the recall committee. Her daughter, Kerry McQuisten, is the chief petitioner.
Knight deserved censure; vote ‘no’ on 5J board recall
It’s interesting how you can read minutes and newspaper articles relating to the same, without getting a real sense of what actually occurred at a school board meeting. Minutes only state what was moved upon and the paper cannot provide every statement or comment made. The dynamics are only visible and felt when you are actually in the room.
So in order for me to make an unbiased judgment it was my responsibility to attend meetings, not hear about it from someone else. Having retired from 30 years as a professional, both in the workforce and in management, I’ve found it matters not the age, but how you conduct yourself and present your perspective. Is it professional? Is it respectful even when you disagree?
Every meeting I’ve attended Mrs. Burroughs, Mr. Longwell, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Bryan have conducted themselves in a professional and respectful manner as they dealt with district business, and interacted with staff. Mr. Knight? Not so consistent, possibly dependent on who and how many are attending the meeting. Is this professional and helping move the board to common goals?
The majority of the board, whether they are agreeing or not, has the best interest of the students, the community and employees at heart, taking a stand for or against motions, not abstaining or just stating present. The majority of the board is willing to respectfully listen, and adjust their stance, if the presentation warrants, without snide, side comments. Mr. Knight? Not so much.
This recall is mainly based on Mr. Knight’s censorship due to inappropriate actions. When you become an “employer” or employee, your freedom of speech is justly modified. There are protocols for making public statements concerning “ongoing investigations” and personnel issues. Not following them puts any public organization at risk. Yes, monetary risk. The trust is also lost when dealing with confidential issues. Do you not do the confidential business at hand? Or do you censor? Mr. Knight’s actions did and do have justifiable consequences.
Keep our good, conscientious volunteers and join me in voting “no” on the recall.
Appreciate our board members and vote ‘no’ on recall
School board members are volunteers, although they must be elected. They are not paid. They serve because of their interest in quality education for the children of our community, but they do so within the guidelines of the state of Oregon laws pertaining to schools and education. They are not friends and may never be friends. They may have serious disagreements among themselves, but they recognize that they must function within the laws of the state governing education, and that no one individual is going to change the ways the Oregon education system functions, nor how the schools are run.
I served on the board for a term a few years back. Most of the time, if there are differences of opinion, they are settled through the process of rational, reasonable discussion among adults, not through a recall petition. What on earth are we trying to do here? Do we want to frighten off these community-minded people who work so hard for nothing? Ridiculous. As far as I am concerned, recalls are a last resort to be used if there is a clear malfeasance of office or actual crime discovered. None here!
I say support the board members we voted for, who volunteered to give up great chunks of time to serve us, the children of our community, and the betterment of our schools. Show them that we appreciate their time and efforts. Vote “no” on the recall election.
Why I’m voting ‘yes’ on the school board recall
Since I detest having someone try to tell me how to vote, I will only record how and why I am voting. I am voting “yes” on the recalls because the present board has made such an awful mess of the board’s business.
The trouble began when Kyle Knight ousted the incumbent chairman of the 5J Board. This apparently offended these two members enough that they began to oppose Kyle. First they tried to ignore him at board meetings, then they began to make fun of him and later to ridicule him. Then they started an extensive campaign against him. They produced many long and dreary letters and sent two long, involved pieces to mail patrons condemning Kyle. One of their loudest complaints was that Kyle had mentioned an employee who might come under investigation. This complaint was without merit since he had mentioned no name. Soon after the culprit was investigated, charged and taken to court. That culprit is still in jail.
The most outrageous action was to censure Kyle and keep most board business secret and unavailable to him. Up until now no one has even heard of, or dreamed of, censuring a board member and keeping board business from him.
Superintendent Wegener appears to have been intimately involved in all phases of this sorry debacle. You cannot recall him. You would have to fire him. A superintendent was fired just a few short years ago and, as I recall, it cost the district about $350,000 to buy up her contract. For some incredible reason the board improved and extended Wegener’s contract just this year!
Board members failed to make the right choices
I’m voting “yes” to recall Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson from the 5J School Board. Why? Because this recall has nothing to do with whether I support Kyle Knight or not. It has nothing to do with whether I approve of his lawsuit. It doesn’t even have anything to do with whether I like or dislike Lynne Burroughs or Mark Henderson. This recall has everything to do with the environment I see being created within the school district, which will trickle down and taint our students’ educations.
Do we really want leaders in place who spend thousands of dollars in out-of-state donations on negative local mailings, sent with the apparent intent of slandering another board member? Do we want leaders in place who are the defendants in a defamation of character lawsuit because of those mailings? Do we want to see continued chaos on the board or do we want peace?
This situation has taught me that given the choice of doing what is right and doing what is not right, these individuals would take the latter course every time. Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson rejected the petitions of over 1,000 verified registered voters twice, refused and snubbed any form of discussion or conversation on these issues. I believe things happen for a reason; these members were given a second chance when the first round of signature fell short on a razor thin margin. The cutthroat response from these members did nothing to address these issues, it only deepened it.
If anyone is responsible for the cost of this election it’s these two individuals. It’s sad that pride and hatred clouds the common sense of these individuals, at the expense of the students and taxpayers. The judgment displayed by these two individuals has been questionable at best, destructive at worst. We need a board governed by laws, not men.
A “yes” vote will do that.
Get back to business, vote ‘no’ on the school board recall
We are writing to express our dismay about Mr. Knight and his followers’ apparent disregard for the consequences of their continued assault on board members Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson.
The $10,000 to $12,000 cost of this recall election could be spent in a much more beneficial way for our students and staff of District 5J and we do not approve of having our tax dollars spent in this manner.
It is pretty clear from the outstanding ratings of our schools and teachers that the school board, administration and staff are doing a good job of providing quality educational opportunities and making sound financial decisions.
It seems to us that even better results could be obtained if those we have elected to guide and direct our school district would spend their time working to achieve the goals of the district rather than carrying out personal issues.
Therefore, we would encourage voters to send a strong message to “get back business” by voting “no” on the recall.
Gary and LaVonne Yeoumans
Focus on education, and vote ‘no’ on board recall
Thank you to all of you who are joining me in voting “no” on the 5J recall. We need to retain these strong leaders who have contributed so much to the success our school district is currently enjoying.
What most people don’t understand is that when the three school board members voted to censure a fourth member, they were acting to protect the school board and the district from potential legal liability, which still exists. Why wasn’t the censured member mature enough to simply accept responsibility for his error in judgment and get back to doing the work for which he was elected? Instead, two of the three board members have been subjected to this recall for acting in the best interest of the district.
People, we are better than this. Let’s vote “no,” put this divisive matter behind us, and put our energies into giving the children of this community the best education we can.
Burroughs, Henderson are committed to our kids
I’ve been a public education employee for over 20 years and as such have sat through dozens of school board meetings. I’ve watched the make-up of boards and school leadership change through the passing of years and have been able to observe how leadership affects schools.
How can you tell if someone is a good board member? The litmus test is the seriousness with which one takes their commitment to serve for the betterment of schools. Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs consistently demonstrate responsible and responsive behavior. They are faithful to the duties and role of a public board, studying with diligence mundane governance topics like board policy, budget updates, school improvement goals, employee changes as well as “hot button” issues that occasionally crop up.
When discussing school business, they keep an open mind as to what’s best for students and families as well as what’s practical in terms of application in classrooms. They listen to and carefully weight opinions expressed before fulfilling their obligation to vote on school matters. Time and again, under Lynne’s leadership, I’ve watched the board modify their original position to reflect in input from the community.
Additionally, Mark and Lynne routinely visit schools to see firsthand how things are working. In my experience, the amount of “face time” in schools these two have logged puts them among the top 10 percent of board members. Bottom line, they not only show up at meetings, they care about the effect board decisions have on students and schools. You will hear many folks talking about “putting kids first,” but these two put feet to their commitment.
In my opinion, Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson exemplify exactly the type of school board member our community wants and needs. You have read and heard how our district is receiving notice for the steady progress and consistent results we are achieving. This has not come about circumstantially; it takes the hard work of employees coupled with clear-sighted leadership at the board level. We have that in Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs. Please join me in voting “no” on the recall.
Burroughs is dedicated to community improvement
I lived in Eastern Oregon for over 30 years and in Baker City from 1994 until I moved away in 2009. I worked in Baker City, volunteered in this wonderful town, and raised my children there.
Lynne Burroughs is part of the reason my two kids, coming from a family with just a mom trying to raise them, succeeded as well as they did. She taught my kids, guided them, and helped to develop a sense of pride, and self-reliance.
The contributions of Lynne and her husband, Phil, cannot be put into words. I cannot imagine a better influence, or any one person who could have opened the world up more for my children.
This is what it really takes to be a completely balanced person in this life: understanding, adventure, fairness, responsibility, intelligence, sacrifice and embracing the good values from a hometown atmosphere. Giving back to community is always going above and beyond.
I became involved with theater in 1997 meeting and working with Lynne and eventually helping to launch Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre in 2003. I grew in ways I never thought I could thanks to the talent, integrity and intelligence that I found in her.
I cannot speak to her adversary in the recall ... I don’t know him. What I can speak to is maturity, wisdom, sacrifice, and compromise.
I have not read anything about him that indicates he has begun to reach or understand that level of life yet. It is beyond my comprehension that anyone should question her dedication to making Baker County a better place.
She could have retired and given up on doing anything good in her community, but she chose to run for the school board and try to make a difference. I wonder how many others would have stuck their necks out to do the same and been able to put up with this unacceptable insanity impacting education in Baker County. If I still lived there, my vote would be 100 percent against this ridiculous and expensive recall. As Shakespeare once wrote, “something wicked this way comes.”
Cindy (Vergari) Murphy
It’s time to get back to Age of Common Sense
In his 1776 pamphlet, Common Sense, Thomas Paine characterized pre-revolutionary America with his infamous phrase, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Those words echo my feelings about the current Board scenario playing out in the local media today. As the son of a father who spent 34 years as a teacher, building administrator and Superintendent, and having invested 31 years in education myself, I am deeply unsettled by the events unfolding in our community. School boards have been an integral part of the American educational landscape for the better of part of a century now. Generally speaking, a school board is an elected democratic body charged with representing the community on public education issues.
I emphasize education issues. It is accountable for and provides oversight of the operation of local schools with powers confined to those delegated to it by the state legislature. Its chief role is to implement state and district education policies. A board is further charged with maintaining a basic organizational structure for local schools, meeting federal and state school mandates, appointing a superintendent, adopting an annual budget, and creating a climate to promote educational excellence. Common sense ostensibly leads me to extrapolate from this, that education is the sole agenda of a school board. Multiple peripheral issues which divide our Board have allowed personal feelings and interests to transcend the interests of our students, educators, and communities. A divisive measure, this recall will not serve the educational interests of our children and this is the Board’s mission. Instead, it is time for our Board to amicably resolve its differences, recommit to its leadership responsibilities and focus on fulfilling its delegated mission. Let us redouble our efforts to achieve our collective education vision.
We owe this to our students, the teaching community and ourselves.
Baker School District
Director of Curriculum,
Vote yes to recall two school board members
We need school board members who are honest, show integrity and good professional judgment, and who understand they serve the public, not the other way around.
We haven’t had such a school board in months. Please vote yes to recall (Lynne) Burroughs and (Mark) Henderson.
Don’t drive helicopter company out of county
Again this year and for several years in the past, Columbia Basin Helicopters (CBH) has supported the 4-H youth of the community by purchasing their animals during the annual fair. CBH is a local company that provides many important services such as agricultural work in support of area farmers and ranchers, firefighting, in addition to the employees who make Baker County their homes. CBH has been located in Baker County for over 20 years and would love to spend another 20 years here.
Yet the County Commissioners and the Baker City Planning Department are determined to force the closure of CBH over some undetermined zoning issue. If the County succeeds in this matter CBH will be forced to close its doors here in the county and relocate to another county that will not mind increasing its business development and tax revenues. Just in 2012 alone, CBH has spent $4,895 in property taxes, $16,000 to the Baker County Fair, $500,000 in payroll and over $1 million to the local economy through their support of local businesses.
A wonderful concert by the Baker City Orchestra
A full house greeted Baker City Orchestra, Thursday evening Nov. 15, at the Veterans’ Community Conference Center. (former Heilner location.)
For those who missed this initial concert, I hope you have opportunity to hear a future program, by these local talented musicians.
How rewarding to see and hear seasoned, mature musicians in company with a blending of young people among them. The ratio of strings, brass and woodwinds was delightful.
These music lovers have practiced diligently since the beginning of 2012, and their dedication shows.
They display enthusiasm, gusto, and confidence in presenting a varied program.
Kudos to Conductor Kelly Brickman for providing leadership and inspiration to the group. Baker audience was given a treat for the season! Thank you.
Restore freedom of speech, vote ‘yes’ on recall
Besides the natural beauty of the city and surrounding mountains, one of the reasons we decided to move from the Portland area and retire in Baker City, were the basic American values we found here. Compared to the valley, it was like stepping back in time. We were disturbed when we saw the erosion of these values in the 5J school district issue. We were upset when we saw the curtailment of freedom of speech by the censoring of an elected official and the subsequent demonization of that official in a couple of mailers. It is for this reason that we support the 5J recall measure and hope that the citizens of Baker City do likewise in the December special election.
Democracy is not cheap. Many have paid the ultimate price to preserve our values. Please do not let the small cost of this election sway your vote.
Jon and Julie Sallquist
Don’t recall two great school board members
Baker School District 5J has the honor of having Oregon Teacher of the Year Nanette Lehman on its staff. Haines has been named an exceptional school. We have an excellent, award-winning district. So why is there a recall for two outstanding board members?
This recall is not needed. It is a total waste of time and money. Vote “no.”
John and Frances Burgess
Burroughs and Henderson should be recalled
As a proponent of good local government, I am compelled to write a plea to the voters of Baker County to please take the time to read the ballot measure to recall 5J School District Directors Burroughs and Henderson. The above-mentioned subjects of the recall effort have done everything they can imagine to malign Kyle Knight, for doing the job that he was elected to perform and they have failed to do themselves.
They have on numerous occasions:
1. Failed to follow their oath of office by violating the First Amendment right of Mr. Knight by ” prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech…”
2. Violation of open meeting laws by holding separate meetings in groups of two with Walt Wegener, effectively preventing anyone whose opinion differed from theirs, from having a say in the way the School Board runs.
3. Confusing a “censure” with a “censor” and usurping the duties of a duly elected public servant.
4. In the censure session Burroughs has quoted the oath of office incorrectly — “to support and promote the district” it doesn’t say that anywhere in the Oath of Office. Henderson indirectly accused Kyle Knight of being a Marxist/Communist by following Cloward & Piven doctrine of overloading the system. Totally inappropriate.
Time for the schoolyard bullies to admit they have been exposed to the light and do the right thing for all of the people in the 5J District, including employees and students.
Please vote “Yes” on the recall measure.
The author is married to Jim Longwell, a member of the Baker School Board.
Adler scholarships aren’t available to all graduates
Most of our small community is aware of the Leo Adler Foundation and all that they support. Indeed, if it were not for the heritage that Leo left us, many of the beauty and arts we enjoy would not be possible. And most of us are also aware that the foundation offers scholarships to graduating seniors of Baker County schools. As the website leoadler.com reads:
“Its purpose is to provide scholarships for continuing education to qualified persons who are graduates of a high school located in Baker County, Oregon and North Powder, Oregon. In addition, the foundation distributes grants to qualified charitable organizations and governmental units providing benefits to the Baker County community.”
But few are aware of a mark against Leo’s name. There is a handful of graduating seniors here in our town that will not be so fortunate as to experience the benevolence of the Leo Adler Foundation. The fact is, a graduating senior from Baker High School heading to EOU may qualify for a scholarship, but a graduate from Harvest Christian Academy heading to the same school will not.
Of course, the foundation is private and can discriminate against whom they wish. Unfortunately in this case, it makes one wonder why there is discrimination. CAT and SAT scores of students at Harvest Christian Academy are on par with the public school system. Their website states: “Harvest Christian Academy is committed both to academic excellence and to raising up confident Christian leaders who will make a lasting impact upon our community.” It sounds like something Leo would have stood behind, an organization that is helping to build our future.
Are Leo’s pockets so shallow that they can’t offer the same support to a small school so involved in our community? Maybe the foundation should ask that one simple question: “What would Leo do?”
Knight wasn’t elected to disrupt school board
Honest differences of opinion are perfectly appropriate in an organization as long as they don’t become the primary focus of the group.
Mr. Knight has obviously decided that conflict and continuing disruptions are his goals as a member of our school board. He has shown an ever-growing disregard for the charge of representing the best interest of our children. Responsible, mature and dedicated members of any team simply don’t behave in a selfish, self-serving manner while continuing to foster personal agendas.
The other members of our school board are honest, dependable and committed volunteers! They don’t deserve the kind of personal attacks this young man continues to foster.
Mr. Knight wasn’t elected to be a disruptive, attention-seeking, and frequently inappropriate representative. He should understand that his job is to be a positive role model for our community, our teachers and most importantly our kids.
These times are challenging enough and our school board has important work to do.
Thanks to all who helped; vote yes on the recall
With the school board recall election set for Dec. 11, I’d like to send a huge thank you out to the over 30 circulators who helped gather signatures, the more than 1,000 5J patrons who signed our petitions, and the hundreds more who’ve told us they’re ready to vote for the recall even though they weren’t in a position to sign the petition.
Ballots will hit mailboxes Nov. 23 and 24. This recall is about the right of local voters to choose whether Mark Henderson and Lynne Burroughs remain in office, and whether they should continue to be allowed to affect the environment in which our children are educated. Please read the statements on the ballot outlining our reasons demanding their recall, and read their statements of justification carefully. You’ll notice their statements deflect 5J patrons away from the issues at hand – they don’t address them.
Burroughs and Henderson have left quite a path of destruction in their wake. They’ve subjected the District to legal liability by wrongfully punishing another elected Board member. They disenfranchised the 1,600 of us who voted for him when they stripped him of the information and duties that we, the voters, intended him to have. They distributed multiple mailings filled with lies to thousands of households, and are now the defendants in a defamation of character suit as a result. They ignored the intent of public meetings law and the desire of the community to have a transparent local government when they started meeting in subcommittees of two to the exclusion of the public and other elected Board members. They, of course, blame Kyle Knight for their actions. And in spite of the recent PR spin launched by the District, 5J school report card scores have actually decreased in the past year. Superintendent Wegener, of course, blames the test.
My children deserve better leadership examples than this. So do yours. It’s time we have school board members who take responsibility, follow the law and focus on education. Please remember to vote YES on the recall.
The author is the chief petitioner in the recall campaign.
Predictions about climate disaster sound sketchy
Last April, 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts chided that agency for going overboard on the issue of catastrophic global warming. They said that its “advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers, is inappropriate. “ They expressed fears that such actions might lead to “damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”
In 2008, Al Gore claimed that those who disagree with him on this subject are “almost like the ones who believe the moon landing was staged on a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat.” However, one of those who co-signed the above strongly worded letter was Harrison Schmidt, both a Harvard geologist and the last man to stand on the surface of our moon and see the round ball of our earth in the lunar sky. Not exactly a flat-earther!
The claim that 98 percent of scientists agree that global warming is human caused and will lead inevitably to catastrophe is as spurious as the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph which claimed to show the climate of our planet was unchanged for the past millennium, spiking upward only in its final decade. The above-mentioned scientists can tell you that over the centuries, the climate of our planet is constantly changing, warming up and then cooling again.
During the 20th century, the average temperature of the earth did raise about 1 degree; that is settled science. The claim that global warming will threaten human existence is science fiction. There have been centuries-long periods in human history when the earth was significantly warmer than it is today. None of the calamities predicted for a warmer earth happened. Indeed, historians call these warm eras “climactic optimums,” when the earth’s climate was most favorable for mankind.
If you’re going to predict what a warmer earth will be like, perhaps you’d best consult with those who know what it was like in the past before going out on a limb.
Justice of the Peace Williams thanks voters
Dear Residents of Baker County:
I wish to thank you for expressing your confidence in me and my abilities, by electing me to serve as your Justice of the Peace. For those who didn’t vote for me, I wish to thank you for participating in this great exercise of democracy, and promise to serve you well. I count it a privilege to be elected to this position and welcome your suggestions on how we, as court staff, can improve the services of the Baker County Justice Court. I also thank Steve Bogart, for running a strong and honorable campaign; something that for some jurisdictions, seems to be a rarity in this election cycle.
During the campaign, I visited with hundreds of you in your homes, and in the shops and workplaces of our Baker County communities. I have heard of the financial struggles of many of you who are unemployed, or own small business are having, and I also heard of your love for our community. You spoke of the importance to be treated with fairness and transparency in the court room. I committed to all of you to keep my promise in running that kind of a court room, and I will do so.
The major social concern I heard from all but a few, was the proposed road closures in our public lands. Again I promised, as a private citizen, I will continue my efforts, in voicing our desire to keep all existing road access to our national lands open to all citizens. The outcome of further USFS and BLM road closures will greatly impact the recreational, mining, and logging opportunities for residents of Baker County, and will in turn have a devastating impact upon tourism and the viability of our business communities. I am confident if we the citizens, and our elected city, county, state and federal representatives all take a determined stand on this issue, we can prevail.
Again, thanks to all of you who supported me in this campaign, by writing letters, posting signs, and speaking to your friends and colleagues regarding my character and abilities, to do the job to which you elected me. Please feel free to bring to me any concerns or suggestions you may have regarding the Justice Court, and I will give them careful consideration.
School board recall a waste of time, talent, money
It is a tragedy. The attempt to recall two Baker 5J School Board members is a gross waste of time, talent and taxpayer money. It is a blight on Baker City. Why would any intelligent, civic-minded person want to be on the school board if this is the kind of treatment they receive?
Lynne Burroughs has given and continues to give so much to this community to make it a better place to live. She knows what it takes to teach in a classroom and the problems our school district faces every day. We need her dedication and expertise on the school board.
Please support Lynne. Vote “no” on the recall.
Discussion a better option than recalling officials
Recall is an expensive, divisive public activity that ultimately discourages interested people from running for public office.
Recall should be for serious misconduct of a public official, such as embezzlement, felonious or criminal acts, etc.
If you, a patron, disagree with an act or position of a public official, call them for discussion, go to meetings and present your position. Disagreement should lead to conversation with both parties talking and listening.
I encourage people to vote “no” on the recall.
The author is a past member, and chairman, of the Baker School Board.
Don’t break up a school board that’s working
I have been a proud member of the Baker School District 5J staff for 35 years. I’ve seen many administrations and school boards come and go. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Right now, as a school district, we have a lot of successes: two model schools, we are financially fit, our administration (including district office staff) is leading us to be better teachers, we are on track to tackle the Common Curriculum State Standards in 2015 and our staff members are strong and involved. In addition, we have the Oregon School Employees Association’s Classified Employee of the Year for 2012-13, Ma’Lena Wirth AND the Oregon Teacher of the Year, Nanette Lehman!
Our school board is supportive. They are making decisions that keep our district running well. There is no need to recall any of our school board members.
If it isn’t broken....
The author is a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Haines Elementary School.
Don’t cheat the kids — vote no on 5J recall
The question facing weary Baker voters now is: Is it the right time and the right use of election law to recall Chairperson Burroughs and Member Henderson from service on the 5J School Board?
Last spring I became concerned that Member Kyle Knight had managed to position himself as a victimized folk hero in the media. So I began attending school board meetings to see for myself.
I found the board was performing the routine functions of any school board — setting policy, making personnel decisions, evaluating staff, budgeting, and protecting the district from liability after consultation with council.
I also found that the efforts of the hard working school board majority were put under unusual scrutiny by the newly elected and inexperienced minority of Knight and Longwell, who mostly abstained or voted no on all but the most routine matters.
The agenda of these newcomers was not readily apparent — but it was clear to me that there was one. There was an implication that children and families were not being well served by the board and its staff. (Note that Burroughs and Henderson are well known community minded directors who give generously of their time and serve entirely without pay.)
So rather than getting lost in the weeds, I hope voters will ask these key questions:
• Is the district performing well? (YES)
• Has the board successfully guided the district in tough times and kept it afloat? (YES)
• Is it the job of the board to protect the district from exposure to liability and did it take steps to do that? (YES)
• Any malfeasance? (NO — no stealing, no corruption, no gross incompetence)
Ideally, we determine who we want to make decisions on our behalf through elections, not by recalling people with whom we disagree. Let’s chalk this mess up to a personality conflict or a personal grudge. Maybe fires were fanned by easy access to headlines or dreams of higher office. But mounting a recall which cheats kids while claiming to help them — that shows who the real victims are. Vote no on recall.
Salt already used on Baker City streets
I refer to your paper’s editorial from Nov. 2. You state your displeasure with Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and their intent to begin limited testing of road salt on an 11-mile stretch of I-5 near the California border as well as a somewhat remote 120-mile stretch of U.S. 95 between Idaho and Nevada. You also correctly point out that road salt (sodium chloride) promotes corrosion of metal parts associated with virtually all motor vehicles which can be very expensive to repair and often leads to rapid depreciation of a vehicle’s worth.
I suggest you look much closer to home when it comes to using corrosive road salt. In fact, you need look no further than Baker City Public Works if you want to discuss the use of rock salt on roads. Baker City Public Works routinely applies corrosive rock salt to most moderately to heavily traveled city street intersections. It is nearly impossible to operate a motor vehicle on Baker City streets without passing through an intersection that has not been treated with corrosive road salt. The city has, in the past, printed maps that show which intersections and roads are treated with salt. These maps could be obtained at no charge from Public Works.
The only reason a city or state uses rock salt as a deicer is it costs less than using more expensive magnesium chloride, which is only about 25 percent as corrosive as rock salt or sodium chloride. Mag chloride is applied in liquid form and is often combined with corrosion inhibitors as well. The government entity that chooses rock salt as a deicer would no doubt argue that rock salt is a more cost-effective deicer. The question should be asked, cost-effective for whom? I would argue corrosive rock salt is certainly not more cost-effective to us, the motoring public, no matter which government body promotes its use.
Urge Walden to back tax hikes on wealthiest
The dust is beginning to settle from a hard-fought election, and I’m writing now to encourage my fellow readers, our state, and our great nation to come together to take vigorous and informed steps toward economic progress. The way I see it, we ALL dodged a bullet last Tuesday, as we turned back the politics of the wealthiest 1 percent, in favor of the rest of us: the 99 percent. But, some hard work lies ahead.
Republicans still have a majority in the House of Representatives (due primarily to skillful redistricting following the 2010 census). And almost all of them, including Greg Walden, have signed Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge. Unless we intervene, it’s already sounding like they will stiff-arm any attempt to raise taxes on the wealthy to promote economic expansion and debt reduction, even while claiming to support compromise. They will ignore the 1950s, when the wealthy paid a top marginal income tax rate of over 90 percent, the economy flourished, and we paid down the war debt. They will stick together and march us off the impending “fiscal cliff.”
There are those who still say that trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy would spur the economy, but tax rates are already at historic lows. The real problem with the economy is that the middle class has lost its buying power over the past 35 years, losing good-paying jobs to off-shoring/out-sourcing, computer automation, and union busting. The profits from this increased “productivity” have gone into the pockets of the top 1 percent, instead of growing the economy through needed investments in jobs for education, our streets and bridges, green energy and much more, while also reducing the national debt.
If enough of us intervene, we have the power to break the logjam in the House. Our calls and e-mails to Representative Walden, urging him to allow significant tax increases for the wealthy — even exceeding President Obama’s modest proposals – could help produce genuine compromise. I ask my fellow readers to learn about the real, positive relationship between higher taxes and economic growth, and then give Walden a call.
Casting votes for fictitious characters is costly
Many thanks to Tami Green and her staff for the hours spent in preparation for each election. Once an election is over, more work has to be done. I have the privilege of working on the Election Board. The Election Board, consisting of 10 members or more, must spend excess time hand-tallying all write-in votes cost — including fictitious characters. You are paying our extra wages for this process.
So the next time you are thinking about writing in a name, legitimate or fictitious, think about what a privilege it is to vote and not waste your taxpayers’ dollars on casting a write-in vote that has no real meaning.
Take aim to shoot down school board recall
I see that chief petitioner Kerry McQuisten has collected enough signatures to place on the ballot a recall election to oust two 5J school board members. By doing so, McQuisten and the 916+ recall petition signers are requiring 5J School District to involuntarily expend about $10,000 of taxpayer money to pay Baker County for the election.
Although allowed under Oregon recall law, such a reaching into every taxpayer’s pocket smacks of “taxation without representation,” a primary reason for the 13 colonies declaring independence from England and the resulting Revolutionary War.
In these economic bad times, 5J School District can’t afford to expend $10,000 that could much, much better be put to use educating our youth.
I hope 5J taxpayers raise their muskets, take aim, and with a NO VOTE shoot down this expensive, unnecessary recall.