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Letters to the Editor for May 17, 2013

People need to take responsibility for themselves

After reading Monday’s paper, I find myself wondering does anyone take responsibility for themselves or their causes anymore. There have been several cases in point come to the publics attention lately.

1: A few days ago an article in the paper pointed out HBC had received $600 in grants for flowers, and they were requesting donations of money and labor to plant flowers in the downtown flower boxes. If you need more, get it from your members and while you’re at it ask them to purchase and plant the flowers in front of their own business, don’t ask me. It is for their benefit to beautify their storefront.

2: The sidewalk fee is up for renewal, why do we have to offer to pay someone to build or repair their existing sidewalk in order to get them to address the situation, rather than tell them to be responsible for their property. I maintain my property, you do likewise.

3: In Monday’s paper two more cases in point. The local spay/neuter fund, a worthy cause, wants each citizen to pay $4 per year for their cause, have you ever heard of a fundraiser, do a car wash, or bake sale. It is a worthy cause, but mine is paying my utility bills.

4: Also in Monday’s paper Eagle Creek Orchard suffered frost damage to their crop. Well I feel sorry for them, so did I and I depend on my fruit trees to feed me and my wife. I’m not asking my neighbors to pay for it. You’re a business, buy crop insurance, and you ought to know when you own a business it’s a gamble, you’re the one making the profit you’re the one who suffers the loss as well.

Now, last but not least, my wife and I exist on Social Security and $14 a month in food stamps and the government wants to cut the cost of living raises for Social Security. I can’t afford to take a vacation let alone pay for every one else’s problems, and causes. If all of you asking for others to pay for your troubles want another cause, believe me I will gladly accept all cash donations.

Bill Ward

Baker City

5J candidate urges voters to decide on qualifications

I am concerned about the way in which the “non-partisan” Baker 5J School Board election continues to be “politicized.” In all types of elections, I vote for those candidates that I feel are most qualified and experienced for the positions they are running to fill. Though I did not ask for anyone to write letters of endorsement, I am honored that some did so.

I have spent most of my professional life working in education at the local, state and national levels, as a teacher and curriculum and assessment leader. I am quite familiar with the Common Core State Standards that Oregon has adopted. In fact, I have written assessment items aligned to them and have developed “crosswalks” to compare them to other state and national standards (e.g., the National Teachers of Mathematics Standards).  Some of the work of which I am most proud is related to the education of students with significant cognitive disabilities. In addition, I have experience working with large state budgets in Oregon and Washington. I care deeply about K-12 education, especially in Baker City, and am passionate that all students are given adequate opportunity to learn and progress.

My husband Larry and I have invested much in this community. It is the place we call home. We have owned the Pythian Castle, at the corner of First and Washington, for close to 11 years and have worked hard to renovate it, so that another Baker City landmark might be preserved. 

 I urge you to set aside the “perceived” politics of each candidate and who did or did not endorse each of them. I urge you to look at the qualifications and experiences of each candidate and decide what is important to you in making your choice. I urge you to cast a vote in the Baker 5J School Board election, and vote for the candidates of  your choice.

Rosemary Abell

Baker City

The writer is a candidate for Position 4 on the Baker School Board.

Baker School Board election is being manipulated

Our present school board election is still being manipulated by the same people responsible for the campaign recall dedicated school board members that disrupted our community, Kerry McQuisten, Suzan Ellis Jones (also committee chair for Baker County Republicans) and Kyle Knight, who has actively put up yard signs to elect Ogan and McKim. Knight is associated with Western Liberty Network (WLN). This is an organization that is backed by billionaire David Koch, who advocates privatization of our schools.

Knight, who had taken the training from WLN, was given a monetary award by this organization for overcoming adversity while in office after the recall election. If Ogan and McKim are elected I fear they will vote with Knight and be a majority on all school board matters. 

Rosemary Abell and Kevin Cassidy are well qualified and have no hidden agenda beyond promoting and improving our Baker County schools.

Be sure to read U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s letter concerning anonymous campaign cash in the Record Courier May 9, 2013, issue. This is undermining our democracy and is happening here in Baker City.

Ruth Boyd

Baker City

Election not about red vs. blue, but best candidates

Elections can go from political in the best sense (choices between options) to the worst (moving from facts to destructive accusations) and leaving voters confused or in the dark.  Thankfully, the Herald on May 1 printed lengthy candidate statements which helped me determine the choice of candidates discussed in my letter of May 10. I apparently raised the ire of Suzan Ellis Jones, chair of the local GOP, who had “officially” endorsed a different slate of candidates. Due to this political endorsement, I thought readers deserved to know about the new leadership of the GOP (see Herald/Local Briefing, Nov. 16, 2012) and their connection to the tea party and to the recall election. In fact, one of Jones’ 5J slate and many of those writing in favor of it signed the recall petition (which is public information).

In response to Jones’ charges, I will clarify that the tea party in Oregon is not a party but rather a movement with affiliated groups and persons, the majority of which do vote Republican. I never doubted that the local GOP leadership got there for a term of up to 25 months through a process set out in state law. This does not mean, however, that many local Republicans are not distressed about it nor that most local Republicans share their views. Regarding her implied denial that any GOP officer is affiliated with the tea party, check out the discussion of new GOP Treasurer Kyle Knight as “the youngest chapter leader” in a front page Record Courier article on April 22, 2010, headlined “Americans for Prosperity Hold Local Tea Party by Suzan Ellis Jones.”

 About Jones’ destructive accusations that I and a few other citizens are “intent on slinging mud” and  “keeping the school board ‘blue at all costs,’ ” note that neither candidate I recommended is a Democrat although at least one Democrat is running. 

If we want the school board back on track, we must choose levelheaded candidates who will build on the educational and financial success of the district and push it further along in the positive direction it was already going.

Suzanne Moses

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for May 15, 2013

Protect our public schools from conservative campaign 

Are our public schools in danger once again?  I’m concerned that the current 5J School Board election could produce the result that last December’s failed 5J recall could not. 

How else am I to interpret the enthusiastic endorsements of Mike Ogan and Rich McKim by recall leader Kerry McQuisten and recall treasurer Suzan Ellis Jones which appeared in our local papers even before the ballots arrived?  What else explains the integrated ticket of Ogan and McKim, featuring shared campaign literature and companion yard signs?  

McQuisten stated, “We need to elect both, not just one of these candidates, in order to see a substantial change at 5J.”  What does she mean? Could it be she knows that existing board member Kyle Knight,  plus Ogan, and McKim would form a majority of three on the five-member school board? Is that why Knight distributed the Ogan and McKim yard signs in my neighborhood? 

It’s important to understand that the recall and Kyle Knight are associated with and supported by the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and the Western Liberty Network (WLN), which has proclaimed its intention to “take charge” of Baker County.  According to their web site, the Western Liberty Network in January gave to “...Kyle Knight, elected to the Baker City School Board after taking WLN training, an award for overcoming adversity while in office....”  

Americans for Prosperity is funded by arch-conservative billionaire David H. Koch who advocates privatization of our schools.

Last year’s experience offered ample demonstration of the divisive and reckless acts of those seeking to undermine our schools and the best interests of our community in pursuit of their ideological agenda.  

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 their quality and their contribution to a promising future for us all. Let us be sure to protect that heritage.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

5J candidates ask for a positive campaign

We collectively wondered who would become negative first. Mr. Dielman wins the prize. The six candidates all agreed any two of us would be a positive move, and that the bickering must stop. Life seems pleasant among the six of us candidates. 

Recent letters suffered from flaws in critical thinking. They take a fact, such that as we are conservative, add several guesses, false info, and have invented an entire scary story. What if two candidates were seen eating downtown together last week? Would that be more controversy? No. 

Neither McComb, Moses, nor Dielman decided to ask us about any of their fiction. They have resorted to fear, inventing stories to scare people. We’re wondering if someone will play the “gender card” next, saying we’re unqualified because we’re male. (But wouldn’t that be sexist?) 

Perhaps some folks were listening to the quiet heckling from the back of the AAUW forum.

We got our introduction to robust thinking from Mrs. Dielman in the early ’80s. Thankfully it stuck.  

 Sooo, to clarify:

1: We still hope to earn endorsement from others of any political stripe in this non-partisan race. This is about educating kids for a tough world out there. We are about unity of effort for the students. We owe allegiance to the public, and no organization. All six candidates have endorsements. It’s (mostly) positive opinion from citizens supporting their candidate.  

2: Some want people to panic over a “3-2 majority.” The board has one now. Big deal. Again, this is a non-partisan race. The 10 percent on both ends must stop trying to control the 80 percent of us in the middle. 

3: We graduated from, had, and still have kids in the 5J system. We are running for a seat to improve it in challenging times.

Thank you, and keep it positive.

Mike Ogan

Richard McKim

Both writers are candidates for the Baker School Board. Ogan is running for Position 3, McKim for Position 4.

After researching, Ogan and McKim are my choices

I would like to respond to our longstanding liberal, Suzanne Moses, on her Friday letter to the editor. I couldn’t imagine anyone being as bad as she said Mike Ogan and Rich McKim were, and running for the school board. Oh dear! So I did some checking into the background of both Ogan and McKim.

I would like to thank you, Suzanne, you really opened my eyes. I am sure glad I didn’t cast my ballot yet. After vetting all of the people running for the school board, Ogan and McKim are my picks by far. If it wasn’t for you, Suzanne, I would have voted for Rosemary Abell and Kevin Cassidy. Oh the shame of it all, what a mistake that would have been.

Now I am voting for strong, conservative, very principled candidates, with strong financial backgrounds, dedicated to turning a very negative atmosphere into a positive, can-do leadership. No backroom deals with these two boys, no sir, we need to deal with the positives and round-file the negatives.

Even though we cut one school day a week, and laid of 25 teachers, we have increased our per student cost $1,300 per child. Didn’t I hear that the administrators got a raise?

In the past seven years our math performance has steadily dropped by 14 percent. The 5J District has problems that need a strong leadership, this is why I am voting for Mike Ogan and Rich McKim. Check ’em out and vote for leadership and strength.

Chuck Chase

Baker City

Brass quintet put on quite a show for Baker audience

Baker Community Concerts presented a big hit to an appreciative audience Friday night at the high school auditorium. The Presidio Brass, five of the best horn players one could ever hope to hear, presented a dynamic program of classics and jazz on a variety of brass instruments. Kudos to the tubist-pianist who also is the sole arranger responsible for making music written for symphony orchestra, string quartet, opera, jazz, or science fiction movies fit the instrumentation of this small group of five horns.

On another note, the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, May 21-June 9. The good news is that one does not have to go to Fort Worth to attend.

It will be available via:  e-mail ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ), live webcast, Facebook, and Twitter. This is a musical phenomenon to enjoy and appreciate.

Mardelle Ebell

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for May 13, 2013

Ogan has numbers sense

 Mike Ogan is a candidate for Position 3 in the upcoming 5J School Board election.  Mike has been in banking and finance for 25 years . He is a real numbers man. 5J has not enjoyed the presence of such a person on the board in my recent memory. Mike will prove to be an invaluable addition to the 5J Board. I would like to urge everyone interested in a quality school board to vote for Mike Ogan.   

Carl R. Kostol

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for May 10, 2013

Join me in voting for Karen Spencer and Kevin Cassidy

I know Karen Spencer and I know Kevin Cassidy.

Karen is my neighbor, and I’ve known Kevin and his family for several years. I know they’re both intelligent, dedicated, hard-working and committed candidates for 5J School Board. I know they have no hidden agendas and have not formed any pre-election coalitions.

I look forward to seeing them bring their attributes to the board, the students, the staff, and the community. We need them.

Although they have neither one solicited my vote, they have it. Please give them yours.

Karen Woolard

Baker City

Cassidy would bring passion, knowledge to school board

Kevin Cassidy would be a great addition to Baker School District 5J School Board. He is an involved parent, community member and forward thinking individual. 

I have had the pleasure of working with Kevin when I served on the Parent-Teacher-Community Organization (PTCO)  Board at Haines Elementary and as his child’s teacher. Kevin is very inquisitive and stays current in the research regarding best practices in the classroom. 

Currently, there are many changes affecting our profession. Kevin has been in classrooms, visited with teachers and asked the tough questions of administration to make sure we are keeping our vision of providing an equitable and engaging education for students. 

He recognizes hard work and endorses staff dedication. I have witnessed his ability to be a collaborative participant in meetings. Kevin has a gift for listening to others’ ideas and thoughts. He listens for understanding and not rebuttal. 

He is passionate about children and will do his research to bring informed knowledge to the decision-making process. When you are part of a school district that exemplifies greatness, one must do their best to maintain that standard.

With his admirable work ethic, reliable community involvement, and noticeable desire to support a community who cares deeply about the profession of educating children, Kevin is clearly the most-qualified candidate to serve our school board in Position 3.  

Nanette Lehman

Baker City

Oregon Teacher

 of the Year 2013

Don’t forget to vote, but not for Ogan or McKim

Voters in the school board election will decide whether the politics of divide and conquer will prevail or whether the community will choose a school board committed to working for children and away from internal conflict. With this in mind, I myself will be voting for Rosemary Abell and Kevin Cassidy, largely because of their excellent qualifications and demonstrated track records of public service and educational involvement.   

Forgive me for being blunt. I hope voters will vote for anyone but McKim and Ogan, who were endorsed by Kyle Knight supporters Kerry and David McQuisten and Suzan Ellis Jones in letters to the Herald editor/May 3.  Electing anyone endorsed by these individuals is like admitting the fox into the hen house due to their central role (along with Kyle Knight) in bringing you the divisive and wasteful recall election that voters defeated last fall. So I hope you will look to demonstrated skills and qualifications in the candidate statements (Herald/May 3) because you can be sure, a fox will present himself in the best possible light and will even promise to cooperate with chickens.  

Suzan Ellis Jones signed her letter, “Chair, on behalf of the Baker County Republican Central Committee” but many voters may be unaware that all four of the leadership positions of the Baker County Republican Party (Central Committee) were taken over by recall petition circulators allied with the Tea Party last fall — to the dismay of many lifelong Baker Republicans. Whether you view this as bad news or good news, just be aware that “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.” 

Above all, please cast your ballot. Heavy balloting is the best way to keep extreme candidates from forming a new three-to-two majority on your school board, and school kids would surely be the losers.

Suzanne Moses

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for May 8, 2013

Ogan can find solutions

Mike Ogan has been an involved parent in the school district for many years. Currently he has a child enrolled in the Baker School District. 

Mike has served on several school board committees and has attended numerous school board meetings over the past few years. This has given him an insight into some of the most pressing issues our school district is facing, and additional challenges that are on the horizon. He has a realistic view of these issues and a practical approach to finding real solutions.

Mike will not only advocate for the best education of our children, he will represent his constituents by obtaining factual information and making a sound decision based on that information. 

Mike Ogan is a straight forward candidate and by supporting him you will have a voice on the 5J School Board.

Troy Lepley

Baker City

 Vote for Abell, Cassidy

Candidate Richard McKim says with good reason, “The public is sick of their school district making the news.”  

Well, School District 5J Board member Kyle Knight and School District critic Kerry McQuisten are the ones who caused most of that negative news. 

Last year they were the prime persons behind the attempt to recall two school board members. The voters defeated the recall by a wide margin.  

What Knight and McQuisten could not accomplish through a recall, they are now trying to accomplish by endorsing the election of McKim and Mike Ogan as a team. McQuisten has publicly endorsed them, and Knight helped put up their election signs around town.

If you voted against the recall, then the possibility of Knight, McKim, and Ogan forming a majority on the Board should be all the reason you need to fill Position 4 with Rosemary Abell, who has by far the best educational credentials of all four candidates for that position, and to fill Position 3 with the well-qualified Kevin Cassidy, who is Ogan’s sole opponent.

The last thing our excellent schools need is a school district board chaired by Kyle Knight.

Gary Dielman
Baker City

Keep sidewalk program 

I’d like to see the City Council and the public works department continue the sidewalk program for awhile longer, and not just abandon this project so soon. The sidewalks are too valuable a part of our town’s infrastructure to see them deteriorate further. Sidewalks serve the public in general, not just individual property owners.

 We were able to take advantage of the city’s generous discount which helped replace 100 feet of sidewalk in front of our house and we feel it was well worth what we ended up paying, not to mention we gave a few people a temporary job in this difficult economy. I applaud Barbara Johnson for supporting good sidewalks in her lone vote at the council meeting. 

I agree with her that our sidewalks need to gradually improve, not just for the beauty of our town, but also for public safety. Many people, myself included, have fallen down from tripping on cracks or gravely walks. 

If the fund does continue, perhaps the city could give a deeper discount or an easy payment plan or even a lien for those unable to pay all at once. If it isn’t possible for the fund to continue, then maybe the city could devote some of its general funds to the goal of repairing at least the very worst ones over time.

Donna Landon

Baker City

Gun policy is important

You would think that after recent school shootings and the resulting gun battle in Congress that during the recent forum with school board candidates the district’s weapons policy would rate more than a couple of sentences. 

I wasn’t there, but according to the story, someone asked about the weapons policy and Karen Spencer responded “that it was too soon to tell what the state and federal government will dictate, but that the district ‘is doing everything to keep our kids safe.’ ” 

That’s great. It’s good to know that everything is being done, but as a grandfather who might have another grandchild in the 5J district in a few years I would like to hear a few details about that “everything.” 

It is true that the state might change a few rules, it’s a given that as Jefferson said nobody is safe when the Legislature is in session and Portland lefty Ginny Burdick always has an antigun bill or two and one of those leaves it up to local districts on a weapons policy, which means Oregon’s left-leaning cities will prohibit and some Eastern counties will get on with maybe arming teachers, hiring armed guards or other plans. 

So again what is that actual policy going to be? Having just one candidate respond wasn’t very good investigative reporting. Where did the other candidates stand? Why or why not should someone vote for or against them on the most important issue facing schools these days?

Steve Culley

Baker City

Elect Rosemary Abell

Undoubtedly each candidate for School  Board would serve well, if elected, but I ask voters to consider  Rosemary  Abell.

  Abell is an educational  consultant who taught in public school systems and worked for state departments of education.  

Additionally,  she acted as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education, research institutions and school districts.   

 Abell’s qualifications surely influence  my vote, and I hope yours. For wise decision making on the 5J School Board, elect Rosemary Abell for a four-year term.

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

Best bang for tax dollars

I am voting for Mike Ogan and Richard McKim for the following reasons.  

They both have children in the 5J school system and will be very proactive to ensure that 5J students receive the best education possible. 

They both are graduates from the 5J system. 

They both have very strong financial and management credentials. They both have expressed that they want a stronger community involvement in the 5J school district. 

Therefore, for the best bang for your tax dollars and to promote an excellent education in the 5J system, vote for Mike Ogan and Richard McKim.

Jon Sallquist

Baker City 

Letter to the Editor May 6, 2013

City should revisit burn rules

It’s Friday, May 3, a gorgeous day.  

I’m home, thinking about the attention the yard needs. I plan on grabbing my shovel and doing a little flowerbed maintenance.  

The house is stuffy, also a great day to open up the windows and air out the winter doldrums. 

I head outside to get busy and I’m  hit by the smell of burning garbage.  You know that smell is not just a pile of leaves, but someone burning their trash.  

Call the fire department?

 Well, the wind is blowing, so all I can tell is the smoke seems to be coming from the north and since I live on the south side, it could be coming from anywhere.  

I have to go back inside, close up the open windows and forget about working in the yard today.  


When is Baker City going to ban burning within the city limits?  I would love to see the City Council take up this issue again.  

We are but a few cities (last I knew) in the state that still allow people to burn and it’s not just yard debris they are burning.  

And, I think we all know the health risks involved to everyone.

Next time you see a City Councilor,  let them know how you feel about burning inside the City limits. 

Gail Duman

Baker City

Letters to the Editor May 3, 2013

We need to get to work making Baker City beautiful

We’re ready! We’ve all donated our dollars — you have more coming! But enough of articles, pictures and city council discussion of the issue.

Talk is cheap and we’re not getting the job done as the city we love and care for is not moving along.

Some people can and will, while others can’t and won’t, so it’s on our backs to step up and do it all. Since we’ve “all” donated to this task, then I want my money put to work on any and all repairs whether they chip in or not.

Our beautiful city is an eyesore to us and our visitors. Shame!

Shirley Schurman

Baker City

Elect Ogan and McKim to the Baker School Board

This upcoming school board election is incredibly important. With two open seats, our votes will either put members in place who will continue the board’s longstanding problems, or greatly improve 5J for our children.

 After attending this week’s candidate forum, it seemed to us that two very qualified new voices have emerged from pack: Mike Ogan and Rich McKim. We need to elect both, not just one of these candidates, in order to see a substantial change at 5J.

 Both men are independent thinkers. They have young children in our school system, unlike most of the other candidates. The decisions they make will affect their own children, just like they affect our children. Mike Ogan has a particularly strong financial and business background, and has attended five times more board meetings than his competitor. Our school board desperately needs his kind of conservative values and analytical intelligence. Rich McKim has organizational and leadership skills from his years in the military. Like Ogan, he also stated distinct fiscal and organizational goals.

 We’ve also been impressed to see both these candidates reach out to the public at community events instead of just attend obligatory candidate forums. They’re busy talking with parents rather than lobbying the district. They aren’t personal friends or recruits of current dysfunctional board members or 5J administration. We’ve had the opportunity to speak with them both, and believe them to be the most focused on representing and involving the public they would serve. They have the clearest ability to handle serious educational issues. They have the courage and honesty to solve the problems at 5J.

 Ballots will be mailed out this Friday, May 3. Please join us in voting for Ogan and McKim.

David and Kerry McQuisten

Baker City

Cassidy, Abell are my choices for Baker School Board

Two new 5J School District Board members will be elected on May. In a typical special district election in Baker County, only about 30 percent of registered voters exercise their right to vote. I strongly urge you to vote for the candidates of your choice!

My choices are Kevin Cassidy for Position 3 and Rosemary Abell for Position 4. Kevin Cassidy’s candidacy was inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, Duane Cassidy, who loved serving on the 5J School District Board in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Kevin told me that he always knew that he wanted to follow his grandfather’s example, and realized that “now is the time.” Kevin’s voluntary service on many boards and his professional ODOT budgetary and contract negotiation skills provide a rich background in listening to and working with others whose viewpoints vary. Kevin is a quick study and a conscientious worker.

Rosemary Abell has a long career in education, working at all levels from classroom teaching to working in testing and special assessments for cognitively disabled students at the state and federal level. Rosemary has worked as a trainer for Baker County’s the Ford Institute for Community Building Leadership Program. Also, with her husband Larry, she continues the ongoing restoration of the historic Pythian Castle building, which provides a home for additional thriving downtown businesses. Rosemary’s skills provide invaluable resources for the improved education of all Baker 5J students and best use of our existing facilities.

Voting for Kevin Cassidy and Rosemary Abell will help ensure that our board will contain two dedicated, experienced members who are anxious to listen to their constituency and to collaborate with the other board members and staff of the 5J School District.  

Kata Bulinski

Baker City

Republican Committee backs Ogan, McKim for school board

Nothing is more important than the education of our children. Therefore, the Baker County Republican Party is pleased to announce our official endorsement of conservative candidates Mike Ogan and Rich McKim for position numbers 3 and 4 on the Baker 5J School Board.

As Republicans, we embrace and promote conservative values at a grassroots level within our community. Mike Ogan and Rich McKim clearly embody these values. We are convinced their blend of fiscal experience, leadership skills and honest desire to serve the public is sorely needed at 5J. They are dedicated to public transparency, parental involvement, decisions that benefit teachers and students, and financial common sense.

It is time to stem the liberal tide that has flooded our school system, and return to strong, traditional American principles.

We look forward to joining with fellow Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, non-affiliates, and all voters of a conservative mindset to create the best educational environment possible for our children. Please cast your votes for Mike Ogan and Rich McKim.

Submitted by Suzan Ellis Jones, chair, on behalf of the Baker County Republican Central Committee

Abell stands head and shoulders above other 5J candidates

As a resident of Baker County I am well aware of the importance of the upcoming 5J School Board election. Educating the young people of our community is such a critical issue. In reading the information provided by each candidate running for the two open positions, in the May 1 issue of the Baker City Herald, one thing really jumped out at me. There is one candidate who stands head and shoulders above the rest because of her qualifications in the field of education. Our school district would be so enriched by what Rosemary Abell would bring to the table. What a missed opportunity it would be if Rosemary were not elected to the school board! I know that she is going to get my vote! A vote for Rosemary is a step in a very positive direction for our children and our educators. 

Liz Starkey

Baker County

Letters to the Editor for May 1, 2013

Rosemary Abell would greatly benefit Baker School Board

Rosemary Abell did not grow up in Eastern Oregon so she does not have the connections some of the other candidates for 5J school board have. What she does have is an outstanding record of leadership and involvement in education.

Besides her own impressive educational background, she has worked in several positions at the state level, including a science assessment specialist for the Oregon Department of Education.

 On the national level, she has worked as a peer reviewer of state plans addressing both the Approving America’s School Act and No Child Left Behind. Since 2001, she has worked on national, state, and district projects as an educational consultant. I have known Rosemary for several years, but the more I have learned about her involvement and hard work, the more I am amazed that we have a local person with such a record who is willing to serve our community on the local school board.

 Baker 5J would benefit greatly by having Rosemary Abell on our local school board.

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Food and farm guide benefits growers, consumers

As a small farmer in Baker County, I have really benefited from the Eastern Oregon Food & Farm Guide. This guide helps connect consumers to local food producers like me. It helps connect farmers, ranchers and gardeners to the local products and services they need. The guide is a print and online directory and guide to local eating and good living and this year there will even be an interactive PDF for iPad!

Oregon Rural Action publishes the guide each year in June to promote local food production and consumption. This year, with funding support from the Oregon Department of Ag Specialty Crop Grant program, the guide is expanding. Now folks from across Eastern Oregon (not just NE Oregon) will be included.

ORA is hoping to reach at least 100 listings of farmers, ranchers, food processors, bakers, canners, restaurants, wineries, schools, hospitals, community gardens, farmers markets, grocery stores, farm stands, caterers and others who grow, make, sell or serve locally produced food and farm products. Dedicated volunteers and interns are calling, visiting and contacting folks to sign up. Anyone can be listed just by joining ORA at a basic membership of $30 per year. This membership supports the over $3,000 printing cost for the guide and the organization.

Sign up online to be listed in the farm guide at www.tinyurl.com/oraffd2013 or call 541-975-2411. More info is at www.oregonrural.org.

Valerie Tachenko

Baker County

Obamacare: Propping up the paper industry all by itself

Obamacare is now the law of the land, we are reminded. From its inception, it has been remarkably controversial, with some people swearing that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others demand its immediate repeal. But Obamacare has had one positive effect, one which no one else seems to have commented on.

Think it through. In its final form, the legislation setting up Obamacare ran to well over 2,000 pages. But the Department of Health and Human Services probably issues 100 pages of implementing regulations for every page in the legislation. So thousands of copies must be printed and distributed of the thousands and thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations. Now think about how much paper is used to publish all of this. And think about how many trees must be grown to provide the wood pulp to manufacture all that paper! So how much carbon is being removed from the earth’s atmosphere every year from the printing of all that regulation? Tons of the stuff!  Obamacare is obviously helping in the fight against global warming!

This is why we need more Democrats in government, for they are the ones who love to churn out regulations by the ton, arranging all the aspects of our lives in mind-numbing detail, from the greatest to the least. The more regulations our Democrats produce, the more paper is consumed in printing them out, and the more carbon is taken out of the earth’s atmosphere.

We only need to take care that they don’t overdo it, and remove so much carbon that it will trigger another ice age. 

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Proposed smoking ban smells of government overreach

If the phrase “government overreach” means anything to our city councilors, they should decline to take up smoking-in-the-park as an issue. 

I’m not a smoker. But this isn’t about smoking. It’s about the city not being able to keep its nose out of anything.

There’s no financial benefit to the city in taking up the issue. Smoking is on the decline these days, and there are already (unenforced) littering laws on the books to deal with smokers who toss their butts on the ground.

The new councilors probably think it’s a great “feel good” issue to get behind. Someone needs to remind them that, in government, doing nothing is always better than doing something for no good reason.

One of the councilors has opined that simply banning smoking seems too harsh. So the idea of marking off designated smoking areas has been floated. Now, common sense says that these areas will have to have signs and there will have to be butt cans and the dumping of same, and clean up on a regular basis. This “feel good” issue becomes a dead loss to taxpayers.

If not for the make work project of an intern, this issue probably wouldn’t have been brought up. But now it has the dreaded momentum. It’ll probably become an ordinance. Of course, enforcement is another story. Chief Lohner won’t have his officers do anything extra, so it will be left up to citizens to confront other citizens. That conversation will probably go something like this: “Hey, jerk, you can’t light up here! It’s the law!”

The current conversation, by the way, is probably something like this: “Excuse me, sir. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t smoke here. My pregnant wife and kids are picnicking, so if you don’t mind....”

In the end, nothing will have changed except that Baker residents will have become a little less tolerant of each other. And the council will have wasted time and money to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon (the parade for which passed a couple of years ago, in case you weren’t paying attention.)

It has a name: It’s called government overreach.

Doug Darlington

Baker City

Everyone deserves clean and healthy city parks

I am writing in response to the April 26 opinion piece “No need for ban on tobacco.”

Baker County is currently ranked last among all counted counties in the 2013 National County Health Rankings. With nearly one in four Baker County adults smoking, we should be compelled to act. With over one third of 11th-grade boys using smokeless tobacco, we should be compelled to act. With birth mother smoking rates double that of the state and national rates, we should be compelled to act.

Prohibiting smoking indoors is a great first step, but a 2007 report from Stanford University shows comparable air pollution and health risks from outdoor and indoor smoke. Therefore, not only does outdoor smoke exposure pose a health risk to park users, but smoking and using tobacco in public places generates unsightly litter and gives children the impression that smoking and tobacco use is an accepted practice.  

Tobacco free parks are consistent with the mission of the City Parks and Recreation Department to “… enhance its natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations.”  Our parks are full of people who choose to enjoy our natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and small town life. Isn’t it then the right of every community resident to be able recreate and gather in public spaces that are clean and healthy? With a town surrounded by such physical beauty, we should be in support of community values and begin to take the necessary steps to reverse Baker County’s health trajectories. The policies and environmental change, such as the one under consideration by the City Council, will help do this.  

In the next month the city council will hold meetings to discuss tobacco free parks.  Voicing support through attendance, emails, or letters will assure them that the community supports decisions that enhance shared spaces in Baker County and healthy environments for our future generations.  

If you are ready to quit tobacco please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go to www.quitnow.net/oregon/.

Torie Andrews

Tobacco Prevention Education Coordinator

Baker County Health Department

Letters to the Editor for April 26, 2013

I’m supporting Richard McKim for school board

The election for school board position 4 is upon us.  There are several candidates. I believe Richard McKim is the most outstanding candidate and deserves my vote and yours. Richard is highly qualified and comes from a family line of school board members.  Please mark your ballot for Richard McKim.

Virginia Kostol

Baker City

Two votes for Cassidy, McKim for school board

Kevin Cassidy and Richard McKim will get our votes for Baker School District 5J board of directors.

They each have a child in the Baker schools. They are very concerned with the quality of education for our students. They have no hidden agendas. We are very pleased that they will devote their time and energy to improve and enrich the education of our young people.

John and Frances Burgess

Baker City

U.S. action on climate change is essential

On April 10 the idea that “If the U.S. shows leadership (on climate change) other nations will follow” was scoffed at because the majority of the poor world will not be able to act and it is expensive. Apparently since big poor nations can’t act, we should dismiss the issue too. The idea that the United States should not spend money on solving a global issue we created is terribly myopic.

I offer one reason why U.S. leadership can make a difference. Publicly funded American research provides affordable and often life-saving tools the entire world enjoys routinely. In fact, publicly funded research and engineering projects are a hallmark of American prosperity. Examples include the Panama Canal, modern hydroelectric and nuclear electricity, the space program, the Internet, and the human genome project. These assets paid for by the American taxpayer, continue to pay dividends today the world over. Even the extraction of the very oil that causes climate change is subsidized! 

Public funding for renewable energy is an essential investment that already offers exportable technology poorer nations cannot replicate. Technological solutions researched by America will become cheaper and more enticing once the legwork has been done. We are still known as an innovation economy. There are riches to be made and a planet to be saved in this endeavor. In this ever-changing society, I find it odd that the technologies that threaten our long-term prosperity are the same technologies that we hold so dear.

When ecosystems can no longer provide the necessary water and air filtration, food and natural resources we are accustomed to, we will see economic collapse. I urge the reader to trust the science which has long been in. Energy and emission solutions are a responsibility that comes with the privilege to exhaust an entire planet’s worth of cheap energy in 200 years. This is not a political issue, but one of equity. We are right to be concerned about our children and grandchildren. But their economic problems will stem from ecological and environmental deficits, not simply monetary ones.

Eric Layton

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for April 24, 2013

Rebuttal on background checks

I’m writing this because the editor of the Baker City Herald made a grievous mistake in his April 19 column: “Sad, perplexed watching Newtown’s survivors.” After saying he was a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment he goes on to say that the right to keep and bear arms is not sacrosanct. I beg to differ.

A little information first. I’ve been writing to the local papers on the Second Amendment ever since Bill Clinton decided to go duck hunting. You see when a Democrat goes hunting or picks up a firearm you know as a gun owner you are in for it. John Kerry tried to show his love for guns on his wild goose chase and Mr. Obama was recently shown killing clay pigeons at Camp David.

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