Nonpartisan county race preserves local control
As chief petitioners we believe it is essential that all voters understand the effects of both the current and nonpartisan election process, and that representative government requires participation by the most voters possible.
Concerns have been raised about the loss of local control if county commissioners vacate the position. This has happened twice recently in Baker County involving a single commissioner.
The current process for a single vacancy involves receiving three suggested candidates from the county political party of the vacated seat; the remaining two county commissioners make the appointment in a public hearing.
This differs little from the nonpartisan process where the two remaining county commissioners receive applications from potential candidates, take testimony and statements from those candidates and the public in open hearings, and then they make their decision in a public hearing. The political parties and the PCPs may submit applications or testimony in this process.
The fact that the vacancy can be filled by any Baker County resident means the choice can be made based on ability and not on political party affiliation. If the voters think it was the wrong choice they can correct it at the next election.
The appointment by the governor of one or more vacant commissioner seats for nonpartisan elections only occurs when there is not a quorum seated (less than two commissioners) and the governor shall only replace the minimum number of commissioners needed to reach a quorum. The two, seated, commissioners will then make their appointment as described in the preceding paragraph. This minimizes the loss of local control.
How often does the governor appoint county commissioners? In Oregon the majority of counties choose their commissioners with a nonpartisan process (20 of 36) and there seems to be only one appointment by the governor in the last 20 years. What is of greater concern to us is the fact that a small number of voters will decide the next election. Based on the 2010 primary election results the next two county commissioners will be selected by only 12.4 percent of Baker County voters. Is that the representative democracy we want?
Baker County Committee for Nonpartisan Elections
Where’s common sense in BLM’s sage grouse plan?
As an active participant in protecting a precious commodity, our beautiful Baker Valley and the forests, rivers, and high desert around us, I wish to ask why the BLM is proposing a plan for protecting sage grouse habitat in Oregon, which directly harms our ranchers, communities and the sage grouse eco-system they support.
It appears those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t live or work here, but whose goals are the elimination of all public grazing practices. I am confident these special interest groups have other hidden agendas that further their own interests. The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in a larger scheme of keeping legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fishermen and others off public lands, including our beloved forests. The BLM sets short comment periods, thus making it difficult to comment or respond.
Is the sage grouse plan helping pave the way for the Boardman to Hemingway line, proposed by Idaho Power Company, to be placed in front of the Interpretive Center in plain view of one of Oregon’s most scenic highways? Former Governor Tom McCall, who I knew, set in place a “utility corridor” from Boardman to Idaho, which affects no one and is the common sense route for this transmission line.
As for the cattle industry, these stewards of the land support our schools and communities through tax revenue and employment. Yet, according to the BLM, their preferred plan would result in job loss across five counties.
In 1990, the spotted owl was listed as an endangered species, and logging was stopped by court order on all federal lands. Baker County came to a standstill. Middle-income jobs were lost, stores closed, schools closed and people moved away. Now we find the spotted owl’s predator was another owl species, not logging. We cannot let this craziness happen again. A listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act will damage Oregon, especially Eastern Oregon. This should not happen. Where is the common sense in all of this?
What will happen if the forests are closed?
How do I start this letter? Good question, but here goes ... Yesterday at the local library I was informed by an employee of the U.S. Forest Service that our president of these United States intends to close all forest lands in the whole of this country in the next two years. Now that’s quite a statement, making me wonder how many thousands of Americans and companies will be suddenly out of work. I wonder what then will houses be built out of — plastic two-by-fours? steel framework? rubber roofs? Wouldn’t that mean no more paper bags, no more cardboard boxes, no more paper products, no more woodstoves? Fireplaces? Or no more campsites? Locked out of hunting, hiking, trail rides on horseback to high mountain lakes. Gee, that sounds like a good idea! The American public should take that right in stride. I’m getting mad already.
So how do we heat our homes and small businesses with gas or electric. Few of the middle and low class could ever afford it, and hopefully no one will stand still and let this come to be.
Do we have anything to say about bad rumors or are we just supposed to stand by and let it happen? People, you’d better get together and ask some hard questions to our state and U.S. Forest Services; sounds to me that they won’t have a job either, so who’ll put out the fires. All good questions, but where are the answers? I’d be writing serious letters to our governor and high-ranking government officials and demand a sensible reply, or better yet call and raise some questions about who is running America and Oregon.
We can’t let this go unchecked. If we do it’s only the beginning of total government rule and we’ll truly lose what freedoms we have left. And of course if they take our guns, too, I don’t have to tell you what that means, do I?
Think real hard about all this. Do something, please.
Merkley does the Potomac two-step
Senator Merkley’s town hall meeting the other day made one wonder how our country has survived so long with leaders like him in charge. All but a very few questions asked by his constituents were not answered, mostly by analogies of what he thought we wanted to hear.
I patiently listened to the senator do a Potomac two-step around issues of concern to this part of Oregon. At least 15 minutes was devoted to that nasty carbon footprint we have been leaving, and “global warming” or “climate change.” By telling us how important it is to cut back on emissions, no matter what the cost to the consumer. By trying to make a case to curb coal-fired electric generation plants, and get in tune with the president and the EPA, curbing carbon emissions with voodoo science.
I do so love facts, don’t you, senator? I get so confused with the half-truths and the people of this world that spin the facts to fit their own pocketbook or their green agenda.
Fact No. 1: The Icelandic eruption put more carbon dioxide in the air than man has removed with the Clean Air Act, gasohol, wind turbines, solar power and the shutting down of coal-fired plants. That isn’t including what Mount St. Helens or the almost weekly eruptions of the Asian fire chain has contributed to the carbon dioxide levels.
Fact No. 2: The three largest volcanic eruptions put more carbon dioxide into the air than man has since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Fact. No. 3: Trees, including in our Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, absorb carbon dioxide and give off life supporting oxygen. But when a forest burns that tree gives back all of the carbon dioxide it has absorbed in its lifetime.
We have come a long way in cleaning up our air and water, including the smog covering our industrial belt. Nobody wants to go back to the way it was. It kind of makes one wonder what their climate change agenda is. It couldn’t be about control of the people and their lives. What do you think, senator?
We must stand up for our rights to access public land
What defines freedom? Is it an individual’s call to support the “greater good” or is it their ability to live as a sovereign being in the world?
You are going to be told over the next few months that “we are doing this for the greater good” or “we are only following orders.” This my friends is the how bad policy starts, and even worse things begin for the people of our region.
BLM’s sage grouse proposal devoid of common sense
Why is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposing a plan for protecting sage grouse habitat in Oregon that directly harms ranchers, the communities and sage-grouse ecosystems they support? It would be a plan that terminates grazing on 118,000 acres of public grazing land and imposes unnecessary regulations on approximately 600,000 acres of land that BLM has labeled “areas of critical environmental concern.” Moreover, this plan doesn’t take predator controls into consideration. Grouse predators are currently estimated at many times their historic level. Yet BLM has no authority over predator controls, therefore requiring ranchers to make major management changes while a major threat to the species goes unattended. All of this “planning” seems devoid of common sense.
In addition, successful cattle ranching operations support rural school and communities through increased tax revenue and employment opportunities. Yet according to BLM, implementing their preferred plan could result in a loss of jobs in five Oregon counties. Here in Baker County, a community supported by a strong ranching industry, our schools and businesses cannot afford losing such support.
As a fourth-generation rancher in Baker City, I have a vested interest in protecting the land that I and several animals, including sage grouse, live and work on. Much of my efforts directly benefit sage grouse by preserving, protecting and managing their habitat. In fact, multiple studies have shown that sage grouse are attracted to allotments grazed by cattle. BLM’s proposed plan to improve sage-grouse habitat by eliminating and restricting grazing is counter-intuitive and will fail.
There’s still time to be heard by submitting comments regarding this plan to BLM – Greater Sage-Grouse DEIS, 1220 SW Third Ave., Portland, OR 97204, or by email to
Comments and suggestions will be accepted through Feb. 20. Please support our ranchers, community and sage grouse with sensible alternatives to this plan.
President, Baker County Livestock Association
Conservative ideas have proven their worth
Progressives like to brag that they are the party of ideas, but some excellent conservative ideas do exist.
In 1990, New York City was just one more crime-ridden big city like Chicago and Detroit where it wasn’t safe to go out at night by yourself. Desperate, New Yorkers elected a Republican as their mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Drawing on conservative crime-fighting theories, the new mayor declared that the city police would no longer ignore petty crime, and the police began data-crunching, deploying officers to where they would be put to good use. Crime rates soon began plummeting, and continued to do so throughout the eight years of Giuliani’s administration. His successor, Republican William Bloomberg, added stop-and-frisk, and crime and crime rates continued to decline for the next 12 years.
In 1990, New York City had 2,262 murders; in 2012, there were 414, an 83 percent drop. During the same period, rape was down 55 percent, robbery was down 79 percent and burglary was down 83 percent. Progressive critics of these new police procedures claimed racism; indeed, they angrily screamed “racism” right in Mayor Giuliani’s face. Those critics ignored the fact that the great majority of crime victims were minorities. In 2012 alone, 1,848 people, mostly minorities, are alive who would have been murder victims had the 1990 murder rate continued unchanged! Meanwhile, Chicago and Detroit are still unsafe.
Welfare reform was passed by a Republican Congress in 1996, and signed into law by President Clinton. Welfare benefits were henceforth time-limited, and work requirements were implemented. Progressive critics of the new law claimed that millions of people would become homeless, huddling on heating grates to keep warm. Instead, millions of people got jobs and off welfare, and have the satisfaction of providing for their own needs instead of being on the government dole.
Obamacare is being implemented with snafus, increased health insurance costs and broken promises. Medicare will be bankrupt in a decade. More and more cities are going bankrupt. Progressive politicians, however, claim nothing is basically wrong here, and refuse to make any changes in their pet programs. How about trying some more conservative ideas?
Remembering great BHS athletes
The recent passing of Donn Smithpeter brought to mind many recollections of our high school days. He was a longtime friend and schoolmate. Only a few weeks before he died I asked his sister, Deni, to inquire as to our age when Donn gave me his Baker Democrat Herald paper route. Donn said he could not recall, but it was when we were either 10 or 11, as he went to work at the family grocery store on Main Street during the last years of World War II. Delivering papers was much easier than competing with the likes of Jim Pifher or Bobb McKittrick hawking papers at businesses on Main Street.
Baker High was not noted for having highly competitive track teams in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but 1949 turned out to be an exception. There were five members of the boys track team that qualified to go to the Oregon state meet in Corvallis. As Carlyle Staab recalled, they traveled in a car with the track coach. Budgets were tight. Carlyle was the team sprinter and hurdler. Donn was the 440 runner. Don Thompson was the pole vaulter and high jumper. Gerald Church threw the javelin. Harold Parrot ran distance races. Of the five, Carlyle was on the baseball team as pitcher and shortstop, Gerry was also pitcher and fielder, Don was center on the basketball team. Not much time to practice track.
At the state meet Baker High was represented by coach Al Grove (also the football coach, manager John Heriza and the six participants. At the end of the state tournament Baker High was third in team points. Donn with his smooth stride was either third or fourth in the 440-yard dash. Gerald won the javelin. Don won both the high jump and the pole vault. Carlyle placed fifth in the 100-yard dash, third in the 220-yard dash, third in the low hurdles. Harold placed either third or fourth in the mile; and the 880-yard relay team was fifth. The fourth member of the relay team is still a mystery.
Gerry went on to be Oregon State’s (then College, now University) javeline thrower with a throw at the NCAA championships that put him in first place until the final day. Carlyle became a starting guard on the OSC freshman basketball team and shortstop on the baseball team before signing a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers his sophomore year. Don was a member of the OSC track team during his years there and went on to be an aviator. Donn became a civil engineer from OSC and had a long career in the nuclear power business. John Heriza taught school for his career. Al Grove moved back to the Willamette Valley to coach. Harold is probably still running somewhere, ala Forrest Gump. The folow up on the mystery athlete is still unresolved.
Baker High School Class of 1952
Editor’s note: The author is the uncle of Herald publisher Kari Borgen’s husband, Kerry.
Sage grouse a pawn used to close public land
Those of you who use public lands in Eastern Oregon are faced with another dilemma. The Greater Sage Grouse could potentially close large tracts of BLM land. Once again it appears that those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t even live and work in the area, but whose goals are the elimination of all public land grazing practices, and probably have other hidden agendas that will further their elitist plans. The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in the much larger scheme of keeping the legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fisherman and other public land users off public lands.
As usual, the BLM caters to the interest groups, ignores concerns of legitimate public land users, sets short comment periods and makes it difficult for those living in the area to comment or respond, but caters to the whims of the deep-pocket elitist groups.
I was also thinking of a future plan with no grazing or access on public lands, tall grass and brush, and a wildfire. That’s not happened before, has it! What then will be the plight of the “endangered sage grouse?” Pre-cooked?
Remember, comment period deadline is Feb. 20. If you want standing in any further BLM sage grouse actions, you must submit a written or email comment. Comments can be mailed to BLM-Greater Sage Grouse EIS, attn: Joan Suther, RE: BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment for Oregon, 1220 S.W. Third Ave., Portland, OR 97204; or email to:
Drivers: Please slow down on 17th Street
I live on 17th Street. The traffic on the corner of Campbell and 17th is real bad. I’d like to know why people feel that have to drive 35 or 40 mph on this street, when they pass cars going the same speed! Once in a great while a cop will catch someone, but not very often.
People walk and run on this road. Someone will get hir or hurt. It’s downright scary. So please slow down. Our speed limit is 25 mph; there are signs. I know there are people who live here too that want you to slow down.
Watching a Good Samaritan at work in Baker City
As I sat down at my desk this morning (Jan. 31), I looked out my window and saw the Community Connection bus stop in front of the Presbyterian Church and driver Bob White jumps out and runs over to a lady walking on the ice-packed sidewalk. He then helps escort her to the front door of the church. I got goosebumps as I realized that he was going out of his way to assist this woman. He saw someone who was walking on icy walkways and ran to help. I holler at my co-worker Kelly, “come here and look at this.” We “ooooh” and “awww” as we watch this Good Samaritan and we think, what a great way to start our Friday morning to see something that fills your heart to know that there are such caring people here in Baker City!
County meeting with Forest Service without notice
You, born a free man or woman in America, are being told it is for your own good to not be allowed to travel into your mountains. You are told that once the USFS gets its way with road closures, aka “travel management,” that you may be fined $5,000 or be subject to two years in prison for doing nothing more than what your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents have done for generations, that is travel freely into your mountains. Again, penalized for living your life and following your own order of life of pursuing your life, liberty, and happiness.
The USFS and elected officials have “rules” to follow. In case of the USFS, they work under “planning rules” of which they are picking and choosing from as to meet out their desired condition of “may meet with objectors” using the 2012 planning rule, for a plan that is being developed under the 1982 planning rule that states the USFS “must meet with appellants.” And of which our current forest supervisor has admitted mixing of those planning processes would be inappropriate for them to do, and yet, they are doing it right now.
Our elected officials are currently meeting with WWNF staff in a quorum fashion, meaning a majority of the elected commission body is present (2 out of 3), and discussing the Forest Plan Revision, which constitutes a “public meeting,” however they have failed to give public notice of any such meetings, even though the WWNF staff has been told the public wants notice of those meetings. Which gives just another example of officials breaking the rules/laws to meet out their own agendas.
You will be not allowed to travel down roads the USFS deems unnecessary, or that your elected officials negotiate away in collaborative groups, but when they find it uncomfortable to have you at a meeting, or more convenient to mix rules to meet out their desired outcome, bending and breaking the rules is completely acceptable, will you be afforded the same latitudes when you’re caught not obeying?
John D. George
Linthicum would bring fresh viewpoint to Congress
A breath of fresh air blew into Baker City Saturday, Jan. 24 in the form of a new Republican candidate for U.S. Congress. Dennis Linthicum, with his wife, spent nearly two hours with a small group of us at the Little Bagel Shop discussing his ideas and ideals and answering our questions. His platform is from a strong, long-term constitutional conservative viewpoint, something sadly missing from our nation’s legislator mix. Those in particular who would like to see the western states become more prosperous will be interested in learning more about Dennis.
One of Dennis’ objectives, on which he will need a lot of help, is to essentially turn the federal managed forests, the national forests, into state forests with no federal involvement. Consider what that would do for the management of our forests and for the state’s economy! At the present time more than 50 percent of the western states is controlled by the federal government. Thus it controls our natural resources, including minerals and mineral exploration, access for enjoyment, forest products, access to wildlife, etc., all of which could be better managed and enjoyed by those who live in the vicinity. But his interests and potential influence is far broader than just resources.
The following quote from Dennis pretty well indicates his position on the things that matter most to those of us who live in Oregon: “Favoritism has become the status quo in politics, but it is nevertheless unjust and unfair. Government restricts our freedoms every day, and gives us few choices about our lives through bureaucracies, corporate welfare and needless regulations. In both our business and personal spheres, we are seeing our choices shrink and options fade, and we know that it’s time to bring common sense and liberty back to Oregon.”
How could one disagree?
Dennis’ website is Dennis2014.com, his email is
and his phone number is 541-892-6512. He would welcome your questions and comments.
Even as a company that has roots dating back over 125 years, we believe in the philosophy of adapting to changing times to promote our growth and development. Since my family first purchased property in Eastern Oregon in the 1870s, our business has grown to four locations, including our main location in North Powder. And, for more than 30 years, Beef Northwest has made use of general aviation aircraft and I can say with full certainty that without this critical business tool, we would not be able to serve our many customers across the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Spaying and neutering pets saves animals’ lives
According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. That means one homeless pet is euthanized about every 12 seconds. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s cat or dog got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good, permanent homes failed. The result is that homeless animals have to be euthanized. Spaying and neutering saves lives.
Spay/neuter awareness month takes place in February, and World Spay Day takes place on Feb. 25. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, the Alpine Veterinary Hospital, Baker Animal Clinic, the Baker Animal Hospital, Baker City and Baker County along with humane organizations, rescue groups, veterinary clinics and individuals across the U.S. and around the world are organizing reduced cost spay/neuter clinics, and are bringing awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering. To volunteer or to spay/neuter your pet at reduced cost, call me at 541-523-6863 or visit www.newhopeforanimals.org. Together, we can ensure every pet enjoys a long, happy and healthy live in a loving home.
New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals spay and neuter chairman
We need to get rid of the perch in Phillips Reservoir
Continuing to allow perch to remain in Phillips Reservoir is costing Baker County over $1.5 million a year in revenue. If you would like this to be corrected, let the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife know your feelings.
You may hear the same old stories:
1. We are netting perch yearly in Phillips Reservoir.
2. We can’t use Rotenone, it will kill all the fish, including the bull trout, if any. Ask them how many bull trout they have netted out of Phillips the past four years. By the way, if no bull trout are found in Phillips, do the perch eat them? I would wager to say over a million perch are inhabiting Phillips.
3. A third argument they have is what about the environmentalists? OK, they have used Rotenone in other places in Oregon (i.e., in Malheur County and in Western Oregon) with positive results.
4. Oh, by the way, they will probably say Rotenone is too expensive. Rotenone would be used one year and would not need to be used again for probably 10 years. My response to that is what about the $1.5 million Baker County is losing each year?
Now is the time to get with it. Wouldn’t it be great if the fishing for trout in Phillips was as good as it was in the 70s before someone illegally introduced perch in Phillips? Fellow sportsmen, if we continue to have such a shortage of water or climate change, it would be the perfect time to Rotenone Phillips Reservoir. I understand that is not a poison and the flow of Rotenone can be controlled so it will not go downstream from the dam. Timing is essential to cut the cost of Rotenone and cut the loss of revenue occurring yearly in Baker County.
Good fishing for trout would result in the return of the fishermen.
Oregonians should re-elect Sen. Jeff Merkley
Your editorial on the Republican Senate candidates forum (“The GOP challenge,” Jan. 27) offered only muted approval, saying, “We’ve yet to interview the candidates so we’re not prepared to recommend voters choose one of the quintet over (U.S. Senator Jeff) Merkley.” Perhaps the Herald’s editorial board found, as did I, that the five candidates offered embarrassingly little in the way of positive policy ideas to support rural America and the middle class (similar to the policy-free Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night).
Instead of even mentioning such central issues as stark economic inequality, structural unemployment and underemployment, and dangers of devastating global climate change, the candidates took refuge in such ideological issues as abortion and phasing out Social Security, and even found a “socialist, communist agenda” lurking behind the new Common Core school testing standards. And they uniformly called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), even though it is already benefiting millions of Americans.
I was particularly disappointed to hear front-runner Jason Conger declare that “Borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund is a breach of trust.” This is the same zombie untruth that left President Bush out on a limb in 2005. Conger and his fellow candidates should know by now that the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund actually invests in United States Treasury bonds backed by “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.”
As a result, I have no hesitancy in vigorously supporting the re-election of our outstanding Senator Jeff Merkley. Merkley has an exceptional understanding of the issues facing our nation, and he has the leadership ability to bring “We The People” together to solve those issues. I heartily recommend the speech that Merkley gave to the Netroots Nation conference last June (Google: “Merkley Netroots”).
We face the choice between a country ruled by a wealthy few, leaving most of us out in the cold, or a country ruled by We the People that benefits everyone. I urge the Herald and my fellow readers to energetically support the re-election of Senator Jeff Merkley.