Don’t devalue sacrifice, but keep airport’s name
Thank you, Baker City Council, for delaying a decision on the name change of our local airport.
The bravery in battle, and the ensuing loss of Mabry J. Anders, touched us all, and I do not devalue in any way his sacrifice.
However, I prefer the name of Heilner Field to remain as is. Those of us that knew the Heilner family recall their donation of land and monetary assistance to develop this historic entity. Let’s keep the honor bestowed earlier.
Superintendent puts personal spin on school proposal
The governor’s plan states that by 2025, Oregon will ensure that: (1) 40 percent of adults will have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher; (2) 40 percent of adults will have earned an associate degree or post-secondary credential; and (3) 20 percent of adults will have earned a high school diploma, modified high school diploma or the equivalent. Which means Salem will “ensure” 80 percent of Baker County residents will have a college degree by 2025, and 100 percent with a high school diploma. This requires an annual compact agreement from each of Oregon’s 197 school districts, 17 community colleges, and 19 education service districts. The compact is a nonbinding agreement with the state regarding our plans to accomplish the 40-40-20, and would carry no financial rewards or penalties.
I personally feel this plan has good intentions, but unrealistic goals. Oregon would have to send about 650,000 Oregonians back to school to reach 40-40-20 by 2025. Be advised the 40-40-20 plan is not funded or set in stone.
Sending eighth-graders to the high school for advanced high school credit is the superintendent’s plan, not the governor’s plan. Exploiting parents by encouraging them to send eighth-graders to the high school is completely spinning the 40-40-20 plan. Wegener saying “it’s part of the governor’s plan to reform education in Oregon” is spinning the truth. Eighth graders’ taking high school credit is not required by law, it is allowed by law. Sending numerous amounts of eighth-graders to the high school for advanced credit is unwise, unsafe, and unrealistic.
Our primary focus in the 40-40-20 should be 100 percent graduation from high school, not graduating high school with a college degree. Setting quotas and pressuring unprepared students to take college credits may be “financially” rewarding to the district, but damaging to the student.
The superintendent’s attitude in relation to these changes is disheartening, recently stating “I have a personal spin, of course, about cause, effect and results.” The community deserves honest information, not a personal agenda. I encourage the community to research the 40-40-20 plan, and not rely on biased information from the school district.
Baker School Board member
Choose another local site to honor Mabry Anders
A proposal may come before the Baker City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to rename Heilner Field (Baker City Municipal Airport) to honor US Army Spc. Mabry J. Anders, who was killed last August while on active duty in Afghanistan.
Baker County has had many soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom, including U.S. Army Cpl. Jessica Ellis in Iraq in 2008, and Medal of Honor winner U.S. Army Sergeant John Noble Holcomb during the Vietnam War. There are many others, as evidenced in the listing of war dead at the Baker County Courthouse and in our local cemeteries.
I wish in no way to diminish the sacrifice of Spc. Anders. But I feel it would be more appropriate for our City Council to designate a currently unnamed street, grove of trees, or other site after Spc. Anders than to override the Heilner name which has deep ties in our community and our local heritage.
Joyce Badgley Hunsaker
Letter writer attacks messenger, not the message
When I was in college, we were taught that when you are in a debate with someone, you should pay attention to your opponent’s points and show that what he is saying is incorrect. Recently I wrote a letter to the editor, discussing some of the inherent difficulties wind-generated electricity has to deal with. One fellow disagreed with me strongly enough to write his own letter. However, he did not use the above debating tactic.
My letter began with the statement, “Electricity from wind farms costs around four times as much as that produced by conventional electrical generators.” Now is this statement true or false? My critic never says.
A second statement was, “…once the towers are in place, their fuel is both free and inexhaustible.” My critic claims that I said, “once … the windmills are churning, the power is free.” He has misquoted me.
Another statement was that the wind is variable; sometimes it does not blow, and when it is blowing, it has both gusts and lulls. Anyone doubt that this statement is true?
My fourth point was that because the wind is inconsistent, a wind farm must be paired with a set of conventional generators. Again, my critic doesn’t say if that statement is true or not.
He does offer the example of acquaintances that depend upon wind and solar power. These “doughty pioneers” use batteries to smooth out their uneven generation of electricity. And this technique does work quite well for individual households. Unfortunately, it’s not an option for wind farms, as there is no practical way to store large amounts of electricity.
And so on.
The tactic my critic does use is ancient: If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. His letter is filled with unflattering comments about me. But how accurate are his statements? He claims, for example, that I own a rundown deli. Now my wife did operate a successful deli for a number of years, but it was sold when we retired in 2006. The building now is home to Canyon Creek Candle Company.
Cell tower could deface area, affect pilot safety
Coyote Peak has a cement foundation on it that is left over from a beacon that was secured upon it. This beacon is long since gone.
It lined up with the main runway No. 30 at the Baker Airport. Depending on how planes leave or approach the landing strip, any structure could affect their safety.
From this high point is one of the best views of Baker Valley that is easily accessed by car. This was/is old Baisley Elkhorn mine property.
Most important, the people of Haines and surrounding area should not have their area defaced by anything, let alone 199 feet of tower.
Soroptimists say thank you to assistance programs
Regarding the article printed Jan. 30, 2013, we would like to say “hats off” to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program offered by the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center and Andy Micka. Those involved, including Baker County Parole and Probation officers, MayDay, and the Compassion Center have helped those struggling with outside influences, salvaging their lives.
As Soroptimist International of Baker County strongly endorses and supports these efforts, we would like to say thank you to the volunteers and supporters and all others involved who are not ever mentioned. You do so much for our little community.
Thank you all.
President, Soroptimist International of Baker County
Honor heroes in a way other than renaming airport
I think renaming Heilner Field is a bad idea. He represents quite a large community of Jewish citizens and merchants from our past. If we remove all the reminders of them (with the exception, of course, of Leo Adler) I fear people will forget their history here, which would be a shame. I dealt with a good number of them and was always treated fairly and warmly. I’m sorry they are no longer a part of our community. I miss them and feel we should never fail to honor their contribution to our city.
I suggest instead, that we name a school or park for our fallen heroes. A school, in particular, would give teachers an opportunity to tell the children about them and what they contributed to our lives. There could be an annual “recognition day” to name several of our servicemen and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Their names are all posted on the memorial in front of the Baker County Courthouse. This could give a real chance to honor our heroes in a meaningful way.
Citizens’ militia could be an invaluable defense
There is an argument against gun control that is largely being ignored and should be put on the table for serious discussion. Most of the current arguments focus on personal defense. The other position is, in the event of an invasion or loss of civil authority, weapons in the hands of a citizens’ militia is invaluable. Civilians could organize under the leadership of local law enforcement or the National Guard and provide for the common defense of the area. The value of this position far outweighs the danger of the occasional nut job shooter.
When the Second Amendment was written, it was musket vs. musket. Technology has taken us to a different level. Let’s not let the government limit us to single-shot or six-shooter technologies.
Renaming airport for Anders doesn’t diminish Heilner
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the regular City Council meeting, a member of the Airport Commission presented a proposal to rename Baker City Municipal Airport, Heilner Field, to Baker City Municipal Airport, Mabry J. Anders Field. The Commission wishes to do this to honor Army Spc. Mabry J. Anders of Baker City, who was killed this past summer in Afghanistan. Mabry’s mother and stepfather, Troy and Genevieve Woydziak, are the fixed base operators at the airport, where Mabry spent a lot of his time working and enjoying flying before joining the Army.
A concern was raised that a name change would diminish the legacy of hard work and dedication put forth by Mr. Heilner in the early formation of the airport. I don’t believe that would be the case. Mr. Heilner’s name is on the road at the junction of South Airport Lane and Heilner Road, which leads in to the hangars of the airport and the business offices of Baker Aircraft. There is a road sign at this junction, proudly displaying “Heilner Road.” The address of Baker Aircraft is 43769 Heilner Road. Literally thousands of pieces of mail go in and out of Baker Aircraft annually, all bearing Heilner Road on the address or the return address. Dozens of periodicals and magazines arrive at Baker Aircraft offices, all bearing the Heilner Road address on them. Parcel delivery and freight companies all bear shipments with Heilner Road as their destination. Letterheads, e-mails, business cards, etc., all give a testimony to the man who was instrumental in the early development of our airport. Oddly enough, there seems to be no outward sign anywhere at the airport designating it as Heilner Field. It may be somewhere, but I haven’t seen it.
Another concern was presented that why honor just Mabry, and not any other fallen heroes of our community. I believe the family of loved ones lost in the military deserve and have the right to have their loved ones remembered in the way they see fit and, if they so desire, will seek that opportunity when they wish to.
I don’t know any of the Heilner family, but from research done, I don’t think Mr. Heilner would object to honoring our Mabry.
Greg and Ellie Woydziak
Editor’s Note: The authors are the stepgrandparents of Mabry J. Anders.
Explaining the middle class job drain
The Baker City Herald did us a great service by printing the first of three, Associated Press articles examining the relentless impact of automation on jobs and our economy (“Technology stems return of lost middle-class jobs,” Feb. 6). Among its findings is the conclusion by economists that “the developed world may face years of high middle-class unemployment, social discord, divisive politics, falling living standards and dashed hopes.”
This is not a new issue. Automation, combined with union busting and off-shoring jobs to nations like China and Mexico, has made major inroads on good-paying jobs for about 35 years now, and the median wage in America has flat-lined since then. Until now, the drain in middle-class purchasing power was at least partly hidden by increases in the number of two-income households and the ability to obtain home-equity loans during the housing boom. But the “jobless recovery” from the Great Recession has made the true impact painfully clear, though not yet fully understood.
A closely related issue is how our nation’s wealth has shifted from the middle class to the top one percent during this period. Improved “productivity” stemming from lower wages and a smaller workforce has meant improved profits, even in a slowly-growing economy. The stock market is doing quite well, thank you, reflecting strong corporate earnings.
This experience puts to rest the myth of the wealthy as “job creators.” Clearly, additional investment will be made in ever-increasing automation.
Of course, it’s not all bad. We face a great opportunity for reducing boring, T.G.I.F. jobs and expanding human creativity. This is not about calling a halt to the progress of technology. But we must also face the increasingly urgent challenge to fairly distribute the benefits of the sharply increased “productivity.”
I urge my fellow readers to dig out the Feb. 6 issue, read the article, do some research, and engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the implications for us and our future generations. Additional information and resources, including links to the three Associated Press articles and a related segment on 60 Minutes depicting accelerating advances in robotics are available at www.progressivevalues.us/resources.html.
Thanks, McEnroes, for helping us out on the highway
My daughter and I just wanted to publicly thank a local man and his son, Clay and Taylor McEnroe from North Powder, for helping us when my truck hit a patch of ice and flew off the road on the evening of Feb. 4 between La Grande and Baker City. They pulled my truck out with theirs, changed my tire, and then followed us to make sure we got back on the highway okay. Talk about angels watching over us!
Mr. McEnroe also called ahead to the local tire store to see if they could take a look underneath to see if the rocks we landed on had damaged anything important. (Unfortunately, by the time we drove the 10 miles or so to Baker City, said tire store had closed). A nice young man at the Chevron station, however, did take a look for me and said it looked okay for us to keep going on to Boise with the spare. Thankfully we hadn’t rolled the truck and were just shook up some but not hurt worse than that. We were able to make it that night to Boise, albeit going 35 mph the entire way. It’s just nice to know there are some awesome, caring people out there. If you know these folks please give them a shout out for being so great! We certainly won’t forget their kindness.
Kiera and Ari Sears
Let’s have a plan to deal with cell tower spread
Recently it has come to our attention that yet another telecommunication cell tower application has been received by the Baker County Planning Commission. This tower, as we understand it, is to be 199 feet tall, a separate tower construction in the vicinity of Coyote Peak, highly visible to anyone in the Baker area.
The recent past has seen the construction of a tall tower on Highway 30 at the edge of town, two towers on Spring Garden Hill and area, an expanding Internet facility on the same hill, a facility on top of the Baker Towers with another application for co-located equipment on that hotel, and several additions to existing facilities around Baker City.
According to the National Business Institute, the sheer number of telecommunication sites is estimated to reach 200,000 in the next five years, this up from about 60,000 today. This is a very disturbing picture and we should be very concerned about this direction and how it affects Baker City and County. It is critical to be have a conscious awareness and make prudent decisions about the continual string of requests for additional towers.
We encourage the County and City planning commissioners to have a plan in place to protect our environment as well as provide services for growing communication needs. We must be proactive in keeping this spreading metal forest and ugly supporting structures from dominating our viewshed.
We have reviewed a “Draft for Wireless Communication Facilities,” chapter 740, that was written by the county commissioners back in April 2010. Almost three years old, this draft contains much of what is needed to address this problem. We are asking the commissioners of 2013 to please revisit this draft and make it a priority for dealing with the spread of wireless communication facilities. Also, goals 3 and 5 in the “Introductory Guide to Land Use Planning for Small Cities and Counties in Oregon” need to be reviewed and enacted.
Other cities and communities have taken a proactive stance, such as Boise, Bend and Eugene. We must do the same here in Baker City and County.
Linda Wunder Wall
Alternative energy isn’t just a bunch of hot air
Well, Baker City’s biggest romance novelist is back at it. I have read many of Pete Sundin’s pot boilers and I must admit I did enjoy reading his fiction. I have seldom enjoyed reading his letters. I wish he would write more books and fewer letters. However, to listen to the politics of Pete Sundin one would think he sold more books than Louis L’Amour and owned a national chain of supermarkets rather than a run down deli.
Unlike the wind, Pete blows hard all the time. His latest epistle dealt with alternative energy. And, like a fiction writer, Pete sometimes makes stuff up. Several people I know in Eastern Oregon live off the grid. This means that they rely on solar and wind for electrical power. But, unlike Pete’s scenario, these folks take their solar and wind and store the energy in batteries. Then at night, when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow these doughty pioneers take the power out of the batteries rather than run generators.
To hear Pete tell it, once the poles are up and the windmills are churning, the power is free. I do wonder how much the windmills cost, but Pete didn’t tell me that. He did tell me that the alternative energy costs way more than the regular kind. I naturally assumed that if windmills are anything like the modern house, it’s going to take many years to pay off the construction costs. Even after the mortgage is paid off, living in the house isn’t free. Personally, I’m glad that some people are testing and developing alternative energy sources. If in fact the world does run out of cheap energy someday, it would be nice to have something ready to fill up our houses with hot air.
Consequences of being wrong on global warming
In response to the letter by Pete Sundin on Friday, Feb. 1, on alternative energy not a panacea to problems. I would like to start by saying I would never try to get Pete to agree with me, we are polar opposites on most of his opinions and getting Pete to agree with me would be like getting the Congress to compromise and get something done. I could talk until I was blue in the face and accomplish nothing, so I won’t try.
This is one time, however, I would like Pete and the people like him that don’t believe in alternative energy, global warming or the consequences of it to at least consider this.
Would you rather err on your side of the argument or mine? The consequences of which are as follows.
If you are wrong and we all follow your argument, then the world in 100 years will have oil shortages, food shortages due to drought and the lack of water, excessive heat and disease, and continuous resource wars leading to more and more killing. In short it will be an ugly world. That is to say only if you are wrong.
Now if my side is wrong and we all follow my argument then the world may be a little warmer, but we will have cleaner air, abundant water supply, less disease, hopefully fewer wars, at least they won’t be resource wars. We will have by then replaced oil and coal as our source for electricity all together. In short a healthier and cleaner planet.
Now I know you have children and no doubt will have great-grandchildren alive 100 years from now. Consider this then, would you rather err on my side or your side of the argument? Do you want those great-grandchildren to say grandfather cared about me, or grandfather didn’t give a damn about me?
Gun control no way to stop gun violence
The concept of gun control to stop gun violence is very simple. It’s like trying to stop a schoolyard bully by all the little weak kids agreeing that they won’t fight back. The concept of Second Amendment gun rights is also very simple. It’s like all the little weak kids having the opportunity to walk to school with their big, football-player brothers.
If the idea of gun control to stop violence really worked, we wouldn’t want to stop there. We could end all crime by getting rid of our police and sheriff departments and we could end all fires by getting rid of our fire departments. We could also end war by getting rid of our military. How can people honestly think this might work? Where would we be today if, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we had just thrown all our weapons into the Pacific Ocean? We fought back then and as individuals and a nation, we need to fight back now. We need to refuse to be victims. The bad guys have firearms and they won’t stop using them just because the rest of us quit. And our self-protection weapons need to be as big and capable as what the bad guys have.
Alternative energy not a panacea to problems
Electricity from wind farms costs around four times as much as that produced by conventional electrical generators. Ever wonder why? After all, once the towers are in place, their fuel is both free and inexhaustible. Why is it so much more expensive?
It’s partly due to the nature of wind itself. Sometimes it blows; sometimes it doesn’t. Say a wind farm has the capacity to power 30,000 homes. But when the air is calm and still, those wind towers are generating absolutely no electricity. So that wind farm must be paired with conventional generators which can provide the missing electricity when the wind isn’t blowing. You see the problem: to provide that 30,000 homes’ worth of electricity, there must be two facilities with that capability, not just one, and that’s costly.
When the wind does blow, it does not do so consistently; there are sudden gusts, and sometimes lulls. So if you were getting all of your electricity from a wind farm, you would suffer a series of frequent power surges and/or brownouts, an intolerable situation and another reason for the pairing of wind farms and conventional power plants. The latter are needed to smooth out the erratic power generation of wind farms. Since the conventional generators must be ready to instantly increase power to alleviate wind lulls, they must be running all the time. This means that they are often burning fuel (and so giving off carbon dioxide) yet not producing any electricity whatsoever.
Still another factor is that the most dependable sites for wind power seldom are close to the metropolitan areas which they serve. So wind farm electricity must be sent long distances, and much is therefore lost through electrical resistance in the wires transmitting it.
The problems discussed above are intrinsic to wind power, and cannot be alleviated through engineering. Great Britain’s wind farms have been giving the English a demonstration of the above problems. Solar panels also use a free, inexhaustible fuel, but since the sun doesn’t shine all the time either, Spain’s solar power facilities have difficulties similar to those of wind power.
Time for Eastern and Western Oregon to separate
Either the gun control bill in Congress will pass or not. As I write this it appears there are enough votes to stop Dianne Feinstein and her army of banners from destroying the Second Amendment. Everything has been said on both sides. By now you should understand that the right believes owning firearms lets us defend ourselves and makes us capable of resisting tyranny and is essential to maintain freedom. The left is just as convinced that if they disarm us everything will be sweetness and light and evil will disappear. No more deaths do to violence or at least a lot fewer.
What pro gun people should understand is that even if this battle is won they will be back. Urban America grows and rural America shrinks as to relative size and make no mistake, banning guns is an urban idea. We see things in mirror images. We are red and blue states and red counties inside blue states. Deep cultural issues divide Eastern and Western Oregon and if you Google “state partitions” you will find that forming new state boundaries isn’t such a quaint idea. Washington recently had a bill in their state legislature to divide Eastern Washington and the idea has been proposed in numerous states, usually citing geographic and cultural differences.
I call on Representative Bentz and state Senator Ferriolli to introduce legislation to get the process started and Congressman Walden to introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Our cultural differences in regards to guns, statewide land use laws, wolves and other issues aren’t just areas of minor differences they are at the core of life. If the same fire and zeal that is being displayed over the Wallowa-Whitman’s travel management plan would translate into a new state movement we could get somewhere. Think about it gun owners, you usually have a firearm with you while riding and firearms are at the very center of freedom. It is time that east and west went their separate ways.
Guns: Good for government but not for we the people?
The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Independence was not won from deer and elk; it was won by shooting the British with the most advanced weaponry available at the time.
The Second Amendment is to ensure that we the people will always be on the same playing field as the government, and subsequently, the government would always fear us rather than vice versa. A citizenry with limited or no firepower is the first ingredient in a dictatorship or even genocide. Can’t happen here, you say? Consider Red China, the Soviet Union, Uganda, Nazi Germany, and Cambodia among others. Millions of disarmed people killed by their governments, all within the last century. I am sure they thought it would not happen to them.
Let’s say our all but already tyrannical government is full of angels and only has our best interest in mind in taking away/limiting our weapons. I take personal responsibility for protecting my family. Counting on police is a rather foolish option given factors like distance, availability and sometimes incompetence, as was the case in New York recently when two police trying to kill one man, at almost conversational distance, wounded nine bystanders. Not the type I want protecting my family.
The Department of Homeland Security wants fully automatic “Personal Defense Weapons” with 30-round magazines that collapse to from 30 inches to 20 inches. Good enough for the feds personal defense but too good for our defense? Is the government that much better than we the people?
The only problem related to guns is that we lack morals and consequences.
We slaughter millions of babies every year then act surprised when some teenager has no respect for human life. We release criminals after short jail times and act surprised when they commit the same crime again. People would think twice if the punishment for their actions were more like this: rape someone, you get hung on Main Street for a week, steal, you lose a pinkie, shoot up a school, get shot starting in the extremities until you die.
Informative letter from judge, D.A. and attorney
What an excellent, informative and straight-to-the point opinion shared with the community by Judge Baxter, D.A. Shirtcliff and defense attorney Moon in their written plea, “Don’t put 8th-graders at BHS.”
Their experience with the law and the many cases they have presided over draws due attention to what it’s all about — real lives.
Ban any guns with detachable magazines
The blood-splattered classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary and the 26 photos of the now-dead children and teachers call us to use our utmost creative intelligence, both mental and spiritual, to solve a seemingly intractable problem.
Intellectually, we’re asked to take a closer look at which weapons of war we allow in our community, while still observing the Second Amendment. Obviously, our modern weapons are many times more lethal than they were when the Bill of Rights was ratified, and today we prohibit civilian possession of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, for example, without violating anyone’s constitutional rights.
NRA President David Keene warns us that detachable ammunition magazines in, say, our Bushmaster AR-15s and our Glock 19s take only seconds to change, thus greatly multiplying their killing potential. The profane tragedy in Connecticut provides a ghastly demonstration. It seems reasonable to conclude that we must now prohibit any guns with detachable magazines of any capacity.
By comparison, “The Guns that Won the West,” the Winchester rifles and Colt revolvers, had fixed magazines. If we limit ourselves to modern guns with fixed magazines holding about six cartridges, we will surely go a long way toward protecting ourselves from mass slaughter. A generous buy-back program could fund the transition.
We can also reduce the number and accessibility of guns in our neighborhoods and insist on adequate storage safety. The late Nancy Lanza had seven guns. Eight guns were recovered from two recent residential burglaries in Baker City. We need to ensure wise and competent gun ownership.
Spiritually, I believe we’re asked to gently heal the obsessive fear and harsh condemnation that blocks reasoned debate, obscures our shared humanity, and spurs us to become what we hate. Texas Governor Rick Perry tells us to pray for guidance. I agree.
In addition to the Second Amendment, our Constitution promises to insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare — which means our well-being: health, happiness, and prosperity. I urge us all to search our hearts and minds to discern the full intent and meaning of all the provisions and protections of our marvelous Constitution.
Fight to protect our Second Amendment rights
During my 91 years as an American, I have watched the slow deterioration of our individual rights and freedoms. God bless our Oregon sheriffs and those in so many states across the U.S. for their guts in refusing to carry out any orders that would infringe upon our Second Amendment rights. I’ve long admired Sheriff Arapaio of Arizona for bucking the federal government, including both our president and Congress who fail to enforce border security, which is a duty of our government stated in the Constitution. Our government “walked” 2,000 guns into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels who used them to kill 300 or more people, including Americans, while our own border patrol guards were only allowed beanbag rounds with which to defend themselves. On top of these failures, Obama now wants to begin stripping Americans of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms while at the same time pushing for the Small Arms Treaty with the U.N. which would give the U.N. the power to police Americans, thereby giving up our national sovereignty. Obama just took his second oath to uphold the Constitution. Words are easy, but how unconstitutional his actions are!
Taking away our gun rights makes as much sense as trying to stop drunk driving deaths by making it harder for sober drivers to buy cars. We need to fight for our Second Amendment rights. That amendment was put in place for good reason — and that reason was not about hunting. That amendment allows Americans to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Do our elected officials demonstrate the epitome of morality, ethics, character, common sense, integrity or self-restraint? Absolutely not. All the more reason to make sure the inalienable rights in our Constitution are preserved.
Ann E. Racey
Don't put 8th-graders at BHS
We are writing you to warn of some of the legal dangers that lurk if eighth-grade students are placed at the high school. Because this is one of the options being proposed with our current overcrowding issue, we are publicly warning about the dangers of this choice.
We understand that the school board has many difficult decisions to make due to our continuing challenging economic circumstances, but we urge you most strongly to think very carefully before placing adolescents between the ages of 13 years to 19 years together in the same school building. Your decision will be in place for many years, long after many of us are no longer in our current positions of service to the community.
Under Oregon law, youth under the age of 18 years cannot consent to sexual relations.
Yet the Legislature recognizes that some youth engage in sexual relations voluntarily. Because of this, the Legislature created a defense if the victims’ lack of consent was due solely to incapacity due to age. The defense only applies if the actor is less than three years older than the victim at the time of the alleged offense.
Under current Oregon law, all citizens 15 years of age or older are subject to Oregon Revised Statute 137.700, which is known as Ballot Measure 11. This statute requires mandatory prison sentences when a person is convicted of specific crimes. Four of these crimes apply when the victim is under 14 years of age. These crimes are Rape in the Second Degree, Sodomy in the Second Degree, Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the Second Degree, and Sexual Abuse in the First Degree.
Why our concern? For many years we have prosecuted, defended, or judged cases in Baker County and have dealt with these types of cases. We are very aware that our concerns probably don’t apply to the vast majority of the students at the high school. However, we have seen some good kids let passions get out of control or use poor judgment regarding relationships.
Many eighth-grade students are 13 years of age for all or most of that school year. To put these immature youth under the age of 14 years with older, more sophisticated youth may be a recipe for a life-altering disaster. The results of these actions, whether done with bad intent or not, will then be catastrophic for all involved. Should a 16, 17, 18, or 19-year-old youth become involved sexually with a 13-year-old eighth-grader and be convicted, the result is a mandatory 75-month sentence in a youth correctional facility or prison. This cost to society does not count the emotional price paid by the victim, community, and others.
When we say become involved sexually, we want people to understand this includes a touch over clothing upon the private parts of another for a sexual purpose.
Anecdotally we have asked many adult women what age boys they were most interested in when they entered high school. The answer is almost universally, “the older boys.” When they are asked if they think their interest in older boys would be different if they were eighth- graders at a high school, the vast majority still felt they would be interested in older boys.
We choose not to paint the picture any further. We are sure you are well aware of the foibles of adolescence. We would rather see parents help their teenagers through these difficult years. Please consider the non-economic price paid by society and, specifically, the youth if these acts should occur. Placing eighth-grade students at the high school increases the risk of such a price being paid by youth making dumb choices.
Judge Greg Baxter presidents over the Baker County Circuit Court.
J. Robert Moon Jr. is a Baker City defense attorney.
Matthew B. Shirtcliff is Baker County district attorney.