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Letters to the Editor for Sept. 17, 2012

Good health care ideas that have gone nowhere

Back in 2008, a number of good ideas were circulating designed to improve our health care system. One of these was to encourage more people to set up Health Maintenance Accounts. The idea is to have people squirrel away money to be used for their own health care down the road.

Another suggestion was to encourage people to purchase their own individual health care insurance. By owning their own policy, they would take it with them from job to job, as well as continue coverage between jobs. Currently, individual policies do not get the same tax break as those provided by employers, so the idea was to give individual policies the same tax break.

Another proposal was to allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines, something that currently is not legal. By broadening the market for health insurance policies, it becomes easier for individuals to find the policy that best fits their situation.

Note that each of these proposals allows each of us more choice in arranging for our health care insurance.

But none of these proposals were enacted into law. Instead, we got Obamacare. Under this plan, the government makes all of our health care decisions for us. We are told what coverage we will have. A government board decides which medical procedures will be used. Our employer must furnish us the government approved health care policy, or else we must purchase it ourselves.

Worse yet, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the next decade, Obamacare will add another trillion dollars to the national debt, as well as permanently extinguishing 800,000 jobs.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans don’t like Obamacare; what’s more, they want it repealed. But the president has decided that it is his signature achievement, and has vowed to veto any Obamacare repeal measure. Senate Democrats do not even allow repeal measures to come up for a vote.

As long as the Democrats control the White House and the Senate, we are stuck with Obamacare, whether we like it or not. Something to think about when you cast your vote in November.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Lots of work went into Community Connection sale

Thank you Ramona and John Creighton for your leadership and many hours of hard work in organizing and performing the garage sale for the Seniors. Also many thanks to the numerous volunteers who so graciously labored in helping to prepare and administer the sale. A special thanks to the inmate crew that moved the Bohn and Leuenberger-Coughlin donations to the sale site.

Major donors of merchandise was the family of Mary and John Bohn and the law firm of Coughlin, Leuenberger. Also thank you to the many contributors who graciously helped make our sale a big success. We also thank the many customers who purchased the merchandise that was donated.

Due to funding shortfalls from our funding sources, supplementing our meal site with local funding becomes a necessity. All funds from the sale are dedicated to the Community Connection of Baker County meal site.

We invited all seniors to come join us at Baker County Community Connection meal site, 2810 Cedar St.

Ed Payton

Baker City

Payton is president of Baker County Seniors Citizens Inc.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 14, 2012

Obama film was revealing and, potentially, scary

Last week, I had the experience of watching “2016.” I had had mixed expectations before I went, thinking there would be a certain amount of Obama- or Democrat-bashing. There was neither. Instead, I saw a portrayal of the ascent of a young politician with limited government experience and no business background to the highest office in the land. The purpose of the documentary was to find out what motivates this young man, Barack Hussein Obama, and I think it succeeded.

If the producers of this film were accurate in their theorizations, I just witnessed the scariest movie of my life! Before the film moves to other venues, you owe it to yourselves to spend a little time in a theater, currently the Eltrym in Baker City, and watch it.

Robert L. Heriza

Baker City

Remembering a great hike, and a better friend

In reading your wonderful article in the Herald (Sept. 7) about your Eagle Cap Wilderness hike, I relived a four-day trip in 1977 — up Main Eagle, down Trail Creek to Minam River, over the pass to the Lakes Basin, Glacier Lake, Frazier Lake, up Polaris Pass, and down East Fork Wallowa to Wallowa Lake — which I took with former Baker County Librarian Ron Walrod and Frey, his big Malamute dog. Frey carried his own food.  

Ron was one of the healthiest and most fit persons I have ever known. He was a vegetarian long before it became common. And every day of the week, he ran seven miles behind his dogsled (on wheels) pulled by his team of huskies and Frey. He introduced me to long-distance running and competing together in 10Ks and half-marathons. In the winter we cross-country skied high into the Elkhorns and camped on snow when the temperature was as low as 5 degrees.

Your trek over Polaris Pass brought back the special memory of our climb out of Frazier Lake, up the steep west side of Polaris Pass, and over to Aneroid Lake.  By the time we reached the top of the pass, after hiking switchback after switchback up 3,000 vertical feet of sharp scree, Ron was suffering silently from huge blisters on both heals and Frey’s paws were bleeding.  

Ron was very tough with a high tolerance for pain. When we reached Anaroid Lake the air temperature was a rare 80 degrees. Nevertheless, I dared do no more than soak my aching feet in the still-frigid water. Ron stripped down and swam for about 20 minutes. 

Ron’s healthy living did not save him from a cancerous brain tumor that surgery was only able to partially remove. The county’s popular librarian died in 1982 at age 33.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 12, 2012

Ranch owners say thanks for all who fought fire

The family of Justus Ranch Inc. would like to thank our neighbors, friends, and the agencies that assisted with the containment of the Sardine Creek fire in such a quick manner on Aug. 19. The fire could have easily spread to destroy thousands more acres of rangeland as well as livestock on neighboring properties. Friends and neighbors assisted each other by checking on the status of livestock in the area, assisting to removing livestock in immediate danger, and by bringing heavy equipment to assist with containing the fire.

We also appreciate the public agencies that assisted the private property owners by working side-by-side to contain this fire. While some property owners realized more loss than others, it is a blessing that no one was injured and there were no livestock lost due to this fire.

Thank you.

Heidi Justus

B. Kent Justus

Baker County

Road closure fight is for the future of our children

Well, that same 5-year-old boy that got me and my two great-grandchildren, ages 12 and 13, tossed into the “Access For All Jail Wagon” during the Miners Jubilee parade got us thrown into it again for the Baker County Fair/Labor Day parade in Halfway Sept. 3. The first time he was apprehended on suspicion he was picking mushrooms without a Forest Service permit. This time he was caught red-handed on the wrong side of a Forest Service road berm on a motorized tricycle.

This is a joke, friends. But the road closures that face us are not.

The Jail Wagon represents the freedom we stand to lose with more road closures. There were seven children in the wagon with me, mine were the oldest. It is the future of these little people we must fight for. They deserve to inherit the freedom I have had to drive around the forest any time I want to,  just enjoying everything I see.

They should not be forced to apply for a permit to drive a specific road, a specified measured distance, in a particular type or model of vehicle, on one particular day, or locked out altogether because the road has been obliterated.

When I first began working for the Forest Service in 1956, Ranger Harold Dahl on the Union District told me and other employees at Lily White: “Our national forests belong to everyone. Our primary purpose is to manage timber and protect the rights of other forest users.”

I don’t believe I know any Forest Service people who agree with Dahl any more.

The present uprising over road closures has led some people to believe that no roads have ever been closed. This is not true.

I have many friends that have been complaining that road closures made in the past have already closed them out of reach of favorite huckleberry patches and in many cases has stopped people from hunting elk.

Mining operations have been targeted for the worst abuse.

This is a case of losing so many roads we have had enough of it.

Carmelita Holland


Letter to the Editor for Sept. 10, 2012

School board recall is a vindictive, divisive waste

A statewide school assessment has designated Baker School District 5J as one of the top districts in Oregon. Brooklyn and Haines schools were among 27 high poverty schools to be designed as models for others to follow. Baker High School, South Baker School and Baker Middle School have been rated above standard. (School information from the Aug. 24 Baker City Herald.)

We should be very proud of our schools and of the administration that has worked so hard to make this possible.

So, why then is there a recall of the school board chairman and another member? It absolutely makes no sense. They have done their jobs well. We should be praising the administration for our quality schools. This recall is vindictive, divisive, a total waste of money and time. Vote no.

Frances Burgess

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 7, 2012

By Jim Martin

The Forest Service is happy now, they have lots of fires. Let’s look at their policy and laws and see why they are so pleased with fire and at the same time uncover the reason they want to shut down the roads and deny the people access to the forests.

“Fuel load” is their term for dead, dying trees, brush and combustible litter that greatly accelerates and intensifies a forest fire. They used to have programs to reduce fuel load, and local wood cutters played a large part. Most programs were cut and severe restrictions were implemented over the years limiting the wood cutters’ ability to remove dead wood. There are way too many restrictions to list but here are a fewthat show their intent.

Some areas, so thick with dead trees and good wood, that are impossible to walk through have been posted “No Woodcutting — Old Growth Forest.” Each year it gets worse, just waiting for a spark.

Wood cutting is prohibited Dec. 1 through April 30. Why? Because our pickups caused erosion?  Yet some logging contracts call for snow to prevent damage to soil and small trees.

Whyw is it illegal to cut dead, down or standing, ponderosa pine? It is a most volatile wood and makes great forest fires. There are tons of it out there.  What good is it to the woodpecker when it all burns?

Look at the restrictions on cutting down snags. Yet they are the first thing cut on the fire line to protect workers and prevent flying burning embers.  Remember, all of these restrictions carry severe penalties and fines.

There are pages of laws restricting anyone wanting to remove dead wood from the forest. Any thinking person can only conclude that the U. S. Forest Service does not want the fuel load reduced on the forest. And that is why they want to close thousands of miles of roads. It prevents the removal of dead wood. Each yearthe fuel load gets deeper and inevitably it will burn. A few big fires each year throughout the West is what they want.

Look at all the dollars they can demand from Congress at their budget hearings. All those hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of forest burned this summer will reap them millions.  That means more and bigger offices, higher wages, more planes and equipment, more people to boss and more bosses. Plus more armed wood cops to force their will on the people.

Why can’t this road closure issue be put on the ballot this fall and let, “We the People” voice our desires, instead of some bureaucratic arm of the federal government?

I agree with Mike Ragsdale, we cannot let them shut down one mile, not even an inch of our roads. Let’s demand that they reopen closed roads so the fuel load can be reduced. Let’s get back to preventing fire, instead of fomenting it.

Also, let’s elect people that will reverse the insane policies of our government.

Jim Martin of Baker City is a retired Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 5, 2012

Politicians persist with their Robin Hood nonsense

It has been routine for years. The politicians tell us they want to tax the rich and give it to the middle class. They wish to portray themselves as modern Robin Hoods.  Robin robbed the rich and gave to the poor.

There is a problem with this. We do not have enough rich people to rob (tax). I recall that in about 1960 when the income tax rate was very high, a very good economist calculated that if the government not only took all of the income taxes of the rich but also took all of their income it would only pay for operating the U.S. government for four days. There were not enough rich people then and there have not been ever since. 

Why do these politicians keep telling us this nonsense? It has been getting them elected for these many years.

Carl Kostol

Baker City

Where did the School Board mailer come from?

I’m confused and angered by the flier I received in the mail from School Board directors Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson. This flier gives the appearance of being an official 5J mailing. Is it? Or is it a personal political mailing? It says: “Meet your 5J School Board members.” Why are only two members listed? Last time I checked, the voters had elected five!

Who paid for this mailing? Who designed and printed it? Was this effort done on District equipment utilizing District staff time? According to the USPS web site, just the postage alone to mail this flier to households in the 97814 ZIP code would cost $934. Nowhere on the flier does it state this important financial information. I’m hoping our taxpayer dollars weren’t used to fund this propaganda attacking their fellow Board member.

Melissa Hamman

Baker City

Personal attacks don’t make for worthwhile debates

A recent letter asked why anyone would vote to recall Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson from the 5J School Board. The authors say that they are good family people, have served the 5J school district in a variety of ways, and have been active in our community.  All of this is true, but misses the larger point.

 While Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson may be good people, it is not a given that they are well suited to govern our school district — it isn’t personal.  Each of them has done things justifying their recall.  While I don’t have the space to list them here, you probably have read about them in this newspaper.

 Unfortunately, defenders of Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson have chosen a strategy of discrediting me rather than defending their actions. This alone should raise a red flag in the minds of taxpayers and parents with students in our schools. But even if I am discredited, the question of Ms. Burroughs and Mr. Henderson’s suitability to govern has been raised by the hundreds and hundreds of your friends and neighbors who signed the first recall petition (which barely fell short) and are signing the current one. It will be harder to discredit all of them.

 It is true that I am young and have no children. I submit that this is actually an asset; our school board needs at least one person who can be objective, view issues without the distorting lens of vested interest, and point out when the emperor has no clothes. I freely acknowledge I still have much to learn, but am not so green as to be blind when people do things that are wrong. When this happens, it is my duty to bring them to the public’s attention. 

 Personal attacks are poor substitutes for a substantive argument. I will do my best to keep things on a high note and urge you to ignore the personality attacks, ignore the static, and find out about the issues for yourself.  Thank you.

Kyle Knight

Baker City

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 31, 2012

Van to Fruitland appreciated

Thank you, St. Luke’s MSTI (Mountain States Tumor Institute), for placing a van in Baker City to transport patients to and from St. Luke’s in Fruitland, Idaho.


Why would anyone vote for recall?

An open letter to Baker City voters:

Thank you, Mr. Heriza, for your letter of Aug. 20 asking voters to consider the problems of a recall School Board election.


Shortsighted candidate won’t get my vote

I listen to NPR a lot and two mornings ago I heard a fellow interviewed. He is running for President of the United States from a third-party backing. I did not hear all the interview but it did not matter. 

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 29, 2012

Headstones are an embarrassment

I have been saddened and embarrassed by the condition of the headstones at Mount Hope Cemetery. After meeting with Mike Kee, the city manager, and the contractor for the care of the cemetery I found that there is no fund for stone repair. 

Convince us, Democrats

No sooner had Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate than the Democratic spin machine cranked up. “Be afraid, ladies,” we’ve been told. “Beware of that Ryan character. He’s a big part of the Republican ‘War on Women!’ ”


Letters to the Editor for Aug. 27, 2012

Save money for students by avoiding school board recall

In a letter to the editor, Kerry McQuisten writes, “At no time did I tell him” — meaning me — “our recall effort against Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson would cost nothing. That’s ridiculous and not at all the point I was attempting to make when he asked about my involvement.”

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 24, 2012

School board recall would be a spank, not a slap

The latest flurry of anti-recall letters to the Herald have been interesting. The letter from Mr. Heriza, although well-written and amusing, was nonetheless raw emotion and lack of practicality.

To illustrate: Mr. Knight tried to intimidate Andrew Bryan by suggesting he had a financial interest in the disposal of the old high school. I don’t know what Mr. Heriza’s definition of intimidate is, but I believe it was Mr. Knight who was censured for exercising his First Amendment right. Mr. Heriza intimates that making such a suggestion is a bad thing. I think that anything like that should be brought to light. It almost sounds that Mr. Heriza would like to just “keep things quiet.” 

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