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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letters to the Editor for April 29, 2015

Work together, not against each other: Yes on 1-63

After much research and soul searching this letter is meant to address two very important issues. In Baker County, I believe, they are related.


Letters to the Editor for April 27, 2015

Much has been said recently in the West about local control of and “taking back” our public lands.

Taking them back from whom? The public lands never “belonged” to the states…they are made up of what was left after the U.S. government made land available for, among other things, homesteading, road-building, selections by the states as each came into the Union, and constructing the railroads that welded our young country together.


Letters to the Editor for April 24, 2015

Nothing to gain by changing: Vote no on Measure 1-63

Please vote no on Measure 1-63.

I favor the present partisan voting system for county commissioners, and cannot see anything to gain by changing it.

It has been my experience to see that whenever somebody is driven to such an extent as the backers of this measure, it turns out they are after a power grab of some kind, revenge, or other.


Letters to the Editor for April 22, 2015

Keep local control by voting no on Measure 1-63

I have read several arguments in favor of  Measure 1-63. I feel I am being asked to vote for some fantastic candidate who represents everyone equally and is able to fix all of our problems with a quick swipe of the pen. In my experience, this person does not exist. If there were one person capable of fixing all the issues affecting our county, I am sure they would wear a cape.


Letters to the Editor for April 20, 2015

Bucking a worm shortage to haul in a smallmouth bass

We had been past Farewell Bend many times on our excursions to Boise, once a month for Costco, Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer and anything the wife and I can’t find here. It looked pretty fishy to me every time we drove past. When I couldn’t stand it any more the wife packed a nice lunch and I gathered up my fishing gear. I was figuring catfish for dinner. I had even bought some surefire, guaranteed, “bloody chicken” dough bait — and grabbed a dozen worms — just in case. 

  The dough bait proved toxic upon opening. The stench cloud enveloped my whole being and squeezing it on to my hook left a finger odor that could kill. After depositing the bag of bait a quarter mile away (my wife had moved a half mile) I threw out my line and stared at my motionless pole for a good hour before reeling in. Fighting the gag reflex, I swapped the nerve gas for a worm. On my next cast I hooked the biggest smallmouth bass of my fishing life, pushing five pounds. After sending a picture to my brother in-law, he decided to visit us.                                                                                                               A couple weeks later Larry and I found ourselves in the midst of a local worm shortage? Any place we thought would have ’em — none, sold out, “sorry!” I couldn’t help but think the Democrats were behind it! Bi-Mart wouldn’t open for another hour and we had searched almost everywhere. Finally we located the last dozen worms in all of Baker City (ha! ha!, take that stupid Democrats). And off we went.

We soon learned that Huntington had hoarded all the worms and they don’t sell gas on Mondays? I didn’t ask but had an inkling that the local barber also owned the only gas pump. Larry and I stared at the end of our poles for most of a day before returning to Baker without fish and, surprisingly, a bit sunburnt — it was only March!

That evening we fished the Powder in town — spinners — caught fish.

Mike Meyer

Baker City

I like to know about candidates; vote no on Measure 63

It looks like we will be voting on a Ballot Measure 63 in May, making voting for a Baker County commissioner nonpartisan. This means they don’t have to let you know what kind of values they possess, or the core beliefs that drive them. This ballot measure is the brainchild of the Democrats. We already know what the Democrat values are from what is going on in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature. Raising the price of gas with a carbon tax that goes to enrich the alcohol producers at our expense, as well as a business having to pay sick leave if they have over five employees. Democrats are sponsoring five different bills that would raise the minimum wage up to $15 dollars an hour. They are also shutting down all mining in Oregon unless you want to pay through the nose for the privilege. Oh, and by the way, they are grabbing your kicker refund too. And on and on.

Last November Baker County rejected the nonpartisan state ballot measure, but that didn’t deter them, oh no. Democrats are trying again to slip this through the back door in Baker County by having you vote for nonpartisan county commissioners. I don’t know about you but I kind of like to know what the candidates running for office believe, we darn sure know what the Democrats believe and where they want to take our state and county. Stand with me and vote no on Measure 63. 

Chuck Chase

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for April 17, 2015

Vote no on Measure 1-63 to preserve local control

The concept of nonpartisan county commissioners is being advanced by those who possess beliefs contrary to the conservative principals of the majority of people in Baker County. The current office holders have been elected by the people to represent them.

 ALL individuals, including non-affiliated with any party, have the opportunity to vote if they want to vote in the general election. 

 Currently under Oregon statute there are three types of county government structure:   

1. General Law – County Courts;

2. General Law – County Commissioner (currently Baker County form);

3. Home Rule counties.

 We, the Baker County Republicans, view the nonpartisan initiative as an attack on the current party system promoting a move toward a single party political system.

Under our current form of government if someone resigns , or is deceased, the replacement process allows for representation from all over the county to participate in the selection of nominees for appointment to the vacant position, which is true local representation.

 Don’t forget this issue was voted down in a similar statewide measure last November with the state initiative, and both Democrats and Republicans agreed this was a bad idea.

Maintain local control and keep core beliefs of candidates part of the selection process.  Vote no on Measure 1-63.

M.A. Longwell

Baker City

Measure 1-63 is just a        straw-man from Democrats

I believe Measure 1-63 is based on nothing more than a straw-man — “one who is set up a cover or front-man for a questionable enterprise.” The idea that only Republicans can vote for County Commission positions is that straw-man. The real story is, the Baker County Democrats did not put forth a single candidate for the Commission. I believe the Democrat party did this on purpose so that they could set up this straw-man. In reality a small percentage of Democrats turned their backs on their (firmly held beliefs?) and changed their party registration so as to try to influence the primary vote. I guess the county Republican voter registration numbers took a nose dive after election day.

Now, we get to the real goal of this charade, 1-63. Nonpartisan positions result in candidates that don’t want the voters to know what their ultimate goals are, once elected. The electorate gets a homogenized group of candidates who have either not figured out wher ethey want to go or how to get there. Or, the candidate who won’t tell you their goals and aims because this is a nonpartisan post and “I will do my best after study and introspection on a case-by-case basis (read: “There is no way I will ever tell the electorate who I am, or what I am.”)

I happen to like knowing a person’s beliefs, past actions, and possible future actions, by knowing their affiliation with like-minded people. The “R,” “D,” “L,” “I” etc. is a good place to start.

At least that’s how it looks from the back of the turnip wagon.

Al Aschenbrenner

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for April 15, 2015

Please use alternatives to glyphosate herbicides

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts out a report every year, “Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.” They warn that glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup cause genetic damage to animal and human cells. It causes abnormal development or death or embryonic cells, oxidative damage to human skin cells, increased risk of reproductive problems, neurological diseases, cancer, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder in concentrations lower than agriculture use. They are especially dangerous to children and may have lifelong effects. In the garden and on the farm they increase the severity of plant disease.

These chemicals wind up in homes at levels 10 times higher and last much longer than outdoors because they are not broken down by sunlight and soil organisms. Common symptoms of poisoning include fatigue, headache, rashes, bronchial constriction, chest pain, nasal congestion, blurred vision, corneal erosion, contact dermatitis, nausea, irritability and hostility and nervous system disorders.

Persons with multiple chemical sensitivities are made ill by herbicide drift as well as monetary damage to adjacent crops. Monsanto, the developer of these chemicals, has paid over $500,000 in fines for false advertising yet still insists they are safe! Herbicides also wash into streams and lakes and leach into groundwater.

If you are still foolish enough to use these poisons, use protective gloves, long sleeves, eye and respiratory protection. A Hazmat suit would not be excessive. Don’t spray on windy or hot or humid days as the chance of drift is likely. Spot spray instead of broadcast.

Some alternatives are: To control weeds use organic mulches, grass clippings, hay, bark, leaves or fabric barriers. Plain vinegar will kill any plant you don’t want. A citrus-based organic herbicide is available from www.millsmix.com. There are also long-handled weed pullers and “flamers” that are effective weed control. Corn gluten will kill broadleaf plants in established lawns.

It’s baffling how folks who have been alerted to the dangers and offered alternatives still insist on using these poisons.

Don’t take my word for it; by all means investigate for yourself.

Please don’t endanger your family, pets, neighbors and the environment.

Yvonne Da Torre

Baker City

Avoid partisan bitterness, vote yes on Measure 1-63

When I married my husband John, I joined a successful Baker County dairy operation that had been in business for 52 years. We continue to successfully farm and ranch in Baker County. We both have deep Baker County roots. Our great-grandparents (and one great-great) are from Baker. Our children are raising their children here. We have coached a variety of sports and helped build sports grounds. We have served on boards, taught Sunday school, led 4-H, and supported fairs, school programs and auctions. We care about Baker County! That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to vote yes on Baker County Measure 1-63.

From 2005-2011, I was on the Baker County Budget Board. During my tenure, I learned that the commissioners’ positions were business-oriented. It did not matter if they were Democrat or Republican. It was more important that they were smart, financially responsible and capable of managing the day to day business of the county. I have spoken with former commissioners, county chairs and county judges. They did not feel when it came to effectively managing the county that their political affiliation made any difference.

People I talk with share my concern that state and national politics have become so bitter nothing is getting done. We don’t want that divide to hurt the business of Baker County.

Like many in my family, I am a lifelong Republican. My love for  Baker County is based on the people who make this community great, not its politics. A nonpartisan commission will give voters who don’t identify with the two-party system a greater voice in our future.

Currently, 28 of the 36 Oregon counties are nonpartisan. Our conservative neighbors in Grant, Union and Wallowa counties voted to have nonpartisan county commissions.  

Local control is local people having a voice. We encourage you to be heard: Vote in the May 19 election. Vote YES on Measure 1-63. Take partisan bitterness out of local government.

For more information visit www.popbakercounty.com., or join us on Facebook at Vote Yes on Measure 1-63. 

Kate Rohner

Chairperson

People Over Politics For Baker County

(Proponents of Measure 1-63)


Letter to the Editor for April 10, 2015

Lack of rural political power dates to 1964

 The authors of our United States Constitution never intended that this country would be a pure democracy. From ancient Greek and Roman history, they knew that a majority can behave just as tyrannically as any autocrat, so the Constitution includes some non-democratic measures. One of these is the makeup of the United States Senate, which creates a balance between small states and large ones.

State legislatures were then set up on the same principle — a lower house dominated by a state’s cities and an upper house dominated by its rural areas. Neither side could ride roughshod over the other; compromise was always necessary. That’s how things stood for 175 years.

In 1964, the Progressive-dominated Warren Supreme Court decided that this would not do. In a fit of hyper democracy, it ruled that both houses of state legislatures must be apportioned by population.

We in Eastern Oregon are living with the consequences of that decision; the Oregon State Legislature is run by urban legislators from the Willamette Valley. We have little influence.

Consider the recently passed low carbon fuel standards. This will significantly increase gasoline prices; with similar rules, California endures the highest gas prices in the country. Our rural legislators patiently explained the highly negative impact this measure will have on the rural parts of Oregon, but the urban legislators were on an ideological binge and it became law anyway, a fine example of the tyranny of the majority.

But this is basically a feel-good measure. It will have virtually no impact on global warming, its stated purpose. About all it accomplishes is that it allows its supporters to tell each other how virtuous they are, how enlightened.

There is virtually nothing we can do about that 1964 decision. The Supreme Court is reluctant to undo its previous stupidities. Earl Warren has spoken; therefore it is so. However, we can learn from this experience. The next time Progressives propose some measure (such as a $15-per-hour minimum wage?) we should give that matter a hard look; see if the supposed good it does isn’t far outweighed by its unintended negative consequences.

Pete Sundin

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for April 8, 2015

County needs to defend itself against Forest Service

Regarding the discussion at a recent Board of Commissioners meeting concerning relationships with the U.S. Forest Service, I think it is important to keep several things in mind. One, the track record of the Forest Service in past years when the county was a cooperating agency is not a good one. Too often the Forest Service has adopted an “it’s my way or the highway” approach and Baker County has suffered as a result.  

Two, our experience has been no different than that of many counties in many states where the Forest Service has attempted to implement its national agenda regardless of the needs and desires of local residents and elected officials.

A county’s status as “cooperating agency” allows the Forest Service to assume it can and will get its way and that local officials, as the name implies, will “cooperate.” The only position the county can and should take if it hopes to have any impact on negotiations at all is to become a coordinating agency. That may be the only tool which will force the Forest Service to actually listen to local concerns.

 The last county commissioner election sent a message. That message, in part, was that voters expect — actually demand — that their elected county commissioners vigorously defend the public’s access to public lands. Chairman Harvey gets it and I would be, as I suspect many others would be, extremely disappointed if his fellow commission members don’t “get it” also.

Jerry Boyd

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for April 1, 2015

Travel management is cooking in every FS project

Press Release — USFS scheduled for reality check!!

For us dealing with the Forest Service for the past 15 years, on a nearly daily basis, this action is well past due. It becomes more apparent every day since the Travel Management Plan was withdrawn two years ago.

Nearly as disappointing —  the press. In Eastern Oregon, I find it hard to believe anyone on the staff of the newspapers can print these misleading Forest Service press releases as breaking news. Intentionally misleading the people in regard to road closures is blatant propaganda coming from the USFS at this time.   

 It is not news the TMP is on hold. (How many roads have been closed during this so-called pause?) Nothing has changed since it was shot down two years ago. Insinuating this is a new development, once again, rightly confirms the lack of confidence we have in the Forest Service being capable of speaking forthright. 

Press release from Mr. Pena, March 19, 2015, “It is my expectation that all three forests (including the Umatilla) will continue to address natural resource concerns and public access need as a part of ongoing project level decisions and forest restoration projects.” What we know from this statement, road closures will occur in these projects providing a back door for closures.

Bartering of roads to escape litigation is common at the table of collaboration. Travel Management is not on the burner but is cooking under the guise of every single project in the Blue Mountain forests. 

The Forest Service has a problem and it’s time to own up. This agency was forced to withdraw a TMP, then was confronted last fall with the problem of 11 counties withdrawing support for the agencies proposed Blue Mountain Forest Plan. Still, yes still they continue down a road of ignoring public sentiment.  Intentionally disregarding the message and presenting the illusion of public engagement. 

A question plagues me, “ why are the forests in such miserable condition?”

Wanda Ballard

Baker City   


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