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Home arrow Opinion arrow Letters

Letter to the Editor for Jan. 16, 2015


Harvey in charge, it’s a bright new day for Baker County

Good morning. It is a good morning for Baker County. Now is the beginning of a new day! After 12 years of the status quo we can now anticipate some economic progress and freedom in Baker County. That is our goal. 

Our county is rich in resources, natural and human, but poor  in opportunity. One of our greatest problems has been that the federal agencies, which we have hired to manage and protect the natural resources on our public lands, now appear to believe they own those lands and resources. Their management technique is largely that of precluding our access and use. As a result each year large areas of forest burn for lack of  constructive use and on-the-ground management. Then salvage lumber from the remaining dead trees is precluded, all wasted resources and money. Would intelligent forest management permit this?

Mineral resources are also held hostage by the federal agencies. The agencies have delayed the mining of some claims for very long periods asserting the time is required to make sure that no environmental restraints are violated. Some mining applications have been delayed for years instead of a few months as envisioned by the laws that govern the process.  A vigorous, and safe, mining industry would add very greatly to the local economy.  Then why can’t it be?

Local controls are robbing our prosperity also. The process required for permission to build a new house is tedious and expensive. Each step of the way requires study or inspection each of which has a time delay and dollar fee attached. The cost of approved access in some cases precludes building.  Both the extra time and money required by excessive local control discourages construction of, particularly rural, new homes.

The above is but a tiny tip of a gigantic iceberg that has brought our economic and social progress to a grinding halt. We now have a leader, Bill Harvey, who understands basic economics and our rights under the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions. Let us all give Commissioner Harvey our enthusiastic support and enjoy the benefits of the new day. 

Jasper Coombes

Haines


Letter to the Editor for Jan. 14, 2015


Why is our country being run by Idaho Power?

A few years back, there was a sign when you entered Idaho reading, “Idaho is too Great to Litter.” It should have read, “Idaho is too Illiterate to be Great.” The sign disappeared because, as discovered, Idaho wasn’t so great after all. Idaho’s problem is politics by potato. Fine if you live there, but I live in Oregon and Idaho has no right dictating our standard of living. Now (again) it’s Idaho Power telling us we are about to be compromised by their unwanted and unneeded high voltage power line.

Last week there was an open house on the issue. I went to voice my concern that we were never given a vote whether we wanted their power line. Making this look like a democratic process we are now being asked where we want the power line to run: We are being force-fed poison with a choice of flavor. What’s an open house if our opinions are allowed, but ignored? Even if, say, John Steinbeck showed up with a novel about this social injustice, his book would have been trash-canned as soon as he turned away. However, this is an impossible scenario because Steinbeck is, of course, dead. Instead the room was filled with government agency personnel, like seventh graders standing in front of their science projects, an amusing scene until you add up the tax dollars merrily burnt. No one was there explaining how our lives have been already disrupted for five years fighting it. Where’s the study showing it disturbing our health, our livelihoods, and Baker Valley’s Kodachrome panorama? Where was the display table representing the people who don’t want the power line? Each agency has bought into this sham, that this is a done deal. Where did they get that information? But that’s a rhetorical question because Idaho Power’s table was there also. It was surrounded by staff who looked worried their mothers would find them and discover what they really did for a living. I sadly reflected that we used to live in a democracy where different voices are represented, valued and given weight; not a country run by Idaho Power.

Whit Deschner

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Jan. 12, 2015


Here’s the recipe for locking up public lands

A recipe for locking up public lands to motorized use.

Ingredients – 1 regional forester, 3 forest supervisors, environmental groups and state agencies (ODFW preferred), Seasonings — flouting rules and ignoring the public.

• You take one forest supervisor that is within retirement age and willing to sell out entire communities to get his high 3 for retirement, add in two others that will blend smoothly with a regional forester picked ripe from the vine to force motorized use restrictions on the public. Blend in a yearly bonus of somewhere around $5,000 to turn a deaf ear to local residents’ calls for keeping their mountains open.

• In a separate bowl collect a ratio of “interested groups” 4 to 1, anti-motorized use to pro-motorized use to cover the supervisors and regional forester.

• Spread the “interest group” topping over the blended forest supervisor/regional forester mix and cover heavily as to disguise any sense of pre-conceived agenda.

• Apply a generous seasoning of flouting rules on how public engagement should occur, smothered with a heavy application of ignoring the public on their concerns.

Place in a “consensus” oven set at, till hell freezes over, and wait to see when the forest supervisors and regional foresters actually act upon locals concerns.

Meal will be done when the supervisors and regional forester are soft to the touch, poking with an email or phone call to test tenderness, and are ready act upon local residents concerns. 

Until they reach that point you should place the meal back into the oven and increase the heat till such time as the forest supervisors and regional forester act accordingly or are done, whichever comes first.

John D. George

Bates


Letters to the Editor for Jan. 9, 2015


Thank you, police officers,  for protecting us

Isn’t it wonderful, a pure delight, to live in Baker City — the safest city in Oregon, according to the Baker City Herald article.  

We can and should thank our Baker City Police Department, Baker County Sheriff Department and the Oregon State Police for this environmental luxury enjoyed by very few communities in the U.S. 

These dedicated individuals often work evenings missing the school functions of their children, family functions and holidays. 

I don’t know of a teacher, mechanic, lawyer, hairdresser, doctor, clerk or builder that is exposed daily to the potential danger at their jobs that a policeman experiences. 

They do not respond in kind to verbal abuse they sometimes receive nor do they choose this profession to get rich.   They are many of the finest our community has to offer.  

The detrimental actions by some towards police across the nation is heartbreaking and very disturbing.  I shudder to think of a scenario where there are not dedicated law enforcement personnel to call in times of needing help. 

Baker City is the safest in Oregon. It did not happen by accident. Thank you Baker City Police, Baker County Sheriff and Oregon State Police. 

Susan Earl Castles

Jane Earl Barrett

Pamela Busey

Daughters of a state policeman

America must deal with income inequality

Your terrific guest editorial on income inequality (Jan. 5) urges We the People to wake up, join together, and reverse the massive redistribution of wealth that is now starving the middle class. National, unified action is needed to install wage guarantees like an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), paid for by increased taxation of the wealthy.  And we must take the lead. The editorial points out that most politicians avoid this issue for fear of offending their big campaign donors.

But those fears are actually groundless. The wealthy need not sacrifice. We all do well, when we all do well. Creating more and healthier customers expands the economic pie, meaning there’s more for everyone.

Think of the prosperity of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when income taxes on the very wealthy were much higher — an effective overall rate of around 50 percent, compared to today’s rock-bottom 15 percent.  So much was accomplished under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, from free tuition at the best public universities to construction of the interstate highway system.

Today’s economic conditions are certainly different, but they still offer great promise. Computers, robotic automation, and off-shoring will continue to absorb good-paying jobs. But, remarkably, they also offer a much richer and less tedious life to us, if we create a system of job sharing supported by a greatly expanded EITC.  

Yes, we’re talking about a major change in the political rules, but, as the editorial warns, if we don’t act, things will continue to get worse. Joblessness and the struggle to make ends meet on stagnant or declining wages will increase, while the rich get richer, and “the pitchforks will eventually come out.” 

It’s time to wake up to this new, unsustainable reality and work together for a simple change in rules to benefit everyone.  We can start by watching the movie “Inequality for All” (on Netflix or library DVD) and studying the InequalityForAll.com and Inequality.org web sites. Then, we can begin the conversation around our kitchen tables and in our community, expanding it into a national drumbeat demanding that the politicians bring about prosperity and justice for all.

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Jan. 7, 2015


‘Needle little help’ for Earth’s climate

My son in LA sent me a link (http://chipperbound.tumblr.com/) to a former co-worker’s series of postcards built around used Christmas trees waiting at the curb for the garbageman. Beside the trees are cardboard signs with messages like, “Lost my job. Need help.” And my favorite “Needle little help.” 

Given the global warming crisis threatening mankind’s existence, maybe it’s time to quit cutting down all those trees. On the other hand, they’d probably be replaced by artificial trees made of plastic, which comes from, guess where, oil and coal. 

Oil and coal need to stay in the ground not spewed in our atmosphere as if it were a garbage dump. That’s the message of the world’s scientists and Naomi Klein’s new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate Change.” 

If your readers don’t read the book, I suggest this New York Times book review by Rob Nixon: (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/books/review/naomi-klein-this-changes-everything-review.html?_r=0). His summarizing final sentence: “The result (of Klein’s book) is the most momentous and contentious environmental book since (Rachel Carson’s 1962 exposé about DDT) ‘Silent Spring.’ ”

Gary Dielman

Baker City

A football fan caught in radio limbo

Being an avid NFL (National Football League) fan. . . addict, I found myself in a nightmarish limbo upon moving to Baker City. First off I was denied the Dish Network due to the historic nature of my new home, a dish on the outside of the Baker tower was out of the question. We settled on cable, the only cable provider in the area?

My wife and I had  finally moved into the 21st century,  discarding our 1985 (200-pound) television and purchasing a brand new, 48-inch, state-of-the-art, HD (high definition) flat screen — all the bells and whistles — for our new world, therefore it should come as no surprise that we were semi-shocked when the “cable guy” informed us that HD was not available via cable in this area?

Well, OK — certainly not the end of the world — until... I discovered that the NFL network was not included in my, rather spendy, package –Yikes!

I did what any rabid football fan would do, I searched the radio waves for my Thursday night NFL football fix.. and.. Yes! I found it.. “There is a football god”.. or so I thought.

On Saturday, Dec. 20 there was a special Saturday edition of Thursday night football. I flipped on the radio and listened intently, as any true NFL fanatic would. 

It proved to be a very entertaining matchup, the Philadelphia Eagles (fighting for their playoff lives) against the Washington Redskins (nothing to play for but pride). It was back and forth the whole game, heading towards an exciting finish, anybody’s game.                              

So there I was, leaning in, listening intently to the announcers “Sanchez back to throw, scrambling” when my radio suddenly went dead.. and then.. “We welcome you to this week’s broadcast of La Grande High School girls basketball”?? And just like that — my National Football League game was gone!! , instantly replaced by La Grande girls basketball?

It was at this exact moment that I finally figured out,  “Michael, you’re not in Portland any more.”  

Mike Meyer

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Dec. 24, 2014


America must return to economic fairness

Our Constitution says that a central purpose and function of our government is to “promote the general Welfare.” To me, that means setting rules that enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of economic activity — to use the common wealth for the common good. By that measure, our government is currently failing us, and that means we need to change the rules of the game.

Our great country has, over the past 35 years, become a well-oiled machine, bestowing great wealth on a very few while relegating the rest of us to increasing economic distress and poverty. This massive redistribution of wealth followed a period of rising wages and widespread prosperity after WWII, with a promise of even further upward mobility, characterized by free college tuition and other major investments in our infrastructure.

That promising American Dream has vanished. Our economic structure has shifted fundamentally, with the introduction of computer automation, off-shoring, and union-busting. Good-paying jobs were and are being lost and wages stagnating, as we compete for the jobs that are left, while the wealthy rake in the profits. (This is well-documented by the movie “Inequality for All,” featuring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, available on DVD at the Baker County Library and streaming on Netflix.)

Meanwhile, we’ve been stymied by anti-government sentiment, personified by Ronald Reagan and a discredited “supply-side,” trickle-down theory that led to tax cut after tax cut, cascading budget deficits, and deregulation of the reckless big banks. 

We’ve let this happen. We’ve let the top one percent keep all the benefits of improved productivity, and we’ve let Big Money intimidate almost all national politicians into a virtual conspiracy of silence about raising taxes on the wealthy and boosting family incomes. 

We must throw off our lethargy and our cynicism, lay aside the anti-government drumbeat that divides us, and we must change the rules. We must cooperate in reversing the massive redistribution of wealth. We must join together to demand the fairness and equity upon which our country was founded. 

Marshall McComb

Baker City


Letter to the Editor for Dec. 19, 2014


School board member trying to defends a bad decision

The letters in the paper reveal a lot about the people that write them. McKim’s starts with a disclaimer that this is his opinion and not that of the school board. He is 20 percent of the board. In his world of “what is” the fact is, a very small percentage (way less than 1 percent) attend most public meetings. No one was at the meeting when naming the gym was voted on. If it had been advertised maybe four or five people might have shown up to comment. Dielman’s 96 percent “no” by his unscientific survey negative to the gym name says something.

In his second point, it is a fact that most citizens aren’t involved in the workings of the school district. They expect the board to make the decisions, which include the right decisions. Just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t make it right. Rules can be bent; principles cannot.

The school board in the days of consolidation, the building of a new high school, names like Dr. Flora Biswell, Henry Levinger, Tom Hunt, Peggy Satterberg and Dr. James Evans, felt the necessity of putting a person’s name on the gym. This high school represents the starting place for state champions, Super Bowl winners, a national hall of fame high school coach, scholars and civil rights champions. Every class has some outstanding people. To disregard the 100-plus years of history for a decision in 2014 by a small group of “good ’ol boys,” and as a stated, invalidates concerns if you don’t get out of your recliner and attend the board meetings. Sounds like he thinks that the nearly 100 percent of 5J citizens not attending constitutes affirmation of this decision.

The school board is familiar with Mr. Peacock, yet are they familiar with names like Allison, Evans, Leipzig, Hammond, Doherty and their contributions to the use of the gym and the history associated with their efforts?

Your advice was to not make assumptions, gather information and don’t be poorly prepared to make your point. You are trying to defend a bad call. What’s the purpose, and who benefits from a name change?

Joe McEnroe

Baker City

Baker High School Class of 1954


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 17, 2014


Enhanced interrogation? It really works

Years ago, as a young pilot who might be shot down over enemy territory, I was required to attend the Survival and Escape and Evasion school at Stead AFB in Nevada.  The 72 hours of enhanced interrogation techniques I underwent, although simulated, made me a believer in the efficacy of the process. It works.

 Perhaps Senator Feinstein should have the privilege of attending that school, now at Fairchild AFB in Washington. Or, better yet, we could just waterboard her.

 May the United States of America have a merry Christmas.  And may 2015 be a prosperous year in which intelligence is a concept practiced in our nation’s Capitol.

Robert Heriza

Baker City

Enjoying our local treasure: the river

For those citizens of Baker City who don’t already know, I want to draw your attention to one of your greatest treasures – the river.

My wife and I moved here about mid September. It wasn’t long til I had my line in the water most every day. It was like winning the lottery. A beautiful river full of magnificent rainbow trout, not two blocks from my front door! Did I mention the paved pathway, stretching alongside for two miles? It is truly a retiree’s dream.

After seeing me fishing, on a daily basis, quite a few curious locals mustered up the courage to admit “I thought the river was closed for fishing?” I would be more than happy to keep the Baker stretch of the Powder all to myself but being that Christmas is around the corner I feel it is my duty to share.

Your river is open year round (although I admit that it is pretty much closed when completely froze stiff). You may use bait and keep ’em April 26 to Oct. 31 (I kept a couple hook-swallowing beauties for breakfast); the rest of the year is catch and release using artificial flies and lures (no bait). 

Since it is flowing smoothly, for the moment, I have decided that my Christmas present to this treasure (yours and mine) will be to forego my daily fishing tomorrow and instead take a big garbage bag and pick up the incredible amount of trash (mysteriously escaping the many, well-placed receptacles) that lines the bank of this incredible resource. I only wish my arms were long enough to reach to the other side.

Mike Meyer

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 12, 2014


Government epitomizes the word ‘bloat’

My Webster’s dictionary defines “bloat” as “to make turgid or swollen; to fill to capacity or overflowing.” It seems that one of the best examples of bloat then is government at all levels in these United States of America.

According to the Bob Livinston letter of October 2014 the American welfare state now costs $1 trillion a year which exceeds the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world. Our welfare empire includes 200 or more federal and state programs. They include 23 low-income health programs, 27 low-income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social service programs, 13 food and nutrition programs and 24 programs for low-income child care.

U.S. Department of Agriculture information shows that there has been a doubling, from 10 percent to 20 percent, of American households on food stamps in the last 10 years. Now nearly 47 million individuals get food stamps. And the number rose at the rate of over 722,000 per month form 2012 to 2013.  

The Eagle Forum of September 2014 indicates that taxpayer money is spent on 78 types of handouts to solve social problems which amounts to $19,000 to each American defined as poor, through 12 food programs, 12 social services, 12 educational assistance, 11 housing assistance programs, 9 vocational training, three energy and utility assistance, and three child care programs. These data do not include costs of the several agencies that administer these programs. 

Washington, D.C., is said to be the city least affected by our sagging economy. It is full of mansions and boasts of the highest average income of any city in these United States. Where does all this wealth come from? From our pockets! The city exists on the income of politicians and lobbyists, neither of which produce anything! The city literally sucks the blood (wealth) out of this country and has near complete control of the rate and extent of that process. 

The above is but a very small example of government’s reckless, largely unconstitutional, consumption of our limited resources. Isn’t it time we insist that our elected officials behave as statesmen rather than mere politicians? 

Jasper Coombes

Haines

Baker needs another grocer, a new traffic signal

For years I have hoped for these two improvements to be made in Baker City for the good of the people:

1.  A first class grocery store is badly needed on the west side of town.

2. A traffic signal is needed at 10th and D streets since D has become a major, cross-town thoroughfare. It is frequently difficult to cross 10th street on D, and it can be a long wait to turn onto 10th from D street.

City officials, listen up!

Mardelle Ebell

Baker City


Letters to the Editor for Dec. 10, 2014

Mr. Peacock exemplifies Bulldog pride

While the word peacock may not appear to coincide with a bulldog image at first glance, as a Baker High graduate, I know the two go hand in hand. Jerry Peacock, a Baker High administrator, not only worked as principal when I went to high school, but also as the vice principal when my parents went to high school. Mr. Peacock took the time to learn every name of every student, often times before they were even in high school. He also worked countless hours encouraging students to succeed. I cannot think of a more appropriate way to express the gratitude for his sincerity and dedication to Baker High School than to name the court after him.

I offer my condolences to those individuals who do not know Mr. Peacock because they are missing out on knowing an incredible person and educator! I would also encourage those individuals to become more involved in events at Baker High School to see the lasting impact he has had on the student body.

I recently read of the concern of embarrassing commentaries from visiting teams addressed in a previous letter to the editor.  I would be surprised if that is the case, but if it is, perhaps those sneering teams should chat with a Baker High athlete about class, a trait Mr. Peacock stressed to instill in his students. If there is anyone who knows about class and bulldog pride, it’s Mr. Peacock. 

Thanks Mr. Peacock! 

Meranda Christensen

Baker City

Just seven people decided to name BHS court 

A BHS student recently wrote a letter to the editor in support of naming “the new high school court” in honor of former BHS Principal Jerry Peacock, whom she greatly admires. 

The student admits, though, “I don’t know the rights or processes of the (5J) board, but to me the decision seems right.”

As best I’ve been able to piece it together, here’s the process the student admittedly does not know about.

Last spring Vice Principal Ben Merrill and Athletic Director Brad Dunton, at the time both employees of Principal Jerry Peacock, suggested to the five members of the School District 5J Board of Directors, that the gym be named for BHS Principal Jerry Peacock. The school board members, outside of any public meeting, decided that was a wonderful idea. 

Without attempting to get any other opinions, a motion to that effect was placed on the agenda of the May 20, 2014, school board meeting, where it was passed unanimously without any discussion of the motion’s merits.  

So, just seven people were involved in changing a sixty-three-year-old tradition of calling the facility “BHS Gymnasium” and “Bulldog Gymnasium.”

Here are some of the persons not consulted by the 5J Board members: BHS teachers; BHS coaches; BHS students; Baker School District 5J taxpayers; Baker School District 5J voters; and the approximately 7,000 of us who attended BHS over the past 63 years since the gym was constructed. 

The School Board members tell me I’m the only one complaining. Yet 56 out of 58 persons who’ve contacted me by email, phone, and in person say they are opposed to renaming the gym. Some say that, if asked, they would have nominated someone else for the honor. But the majority do not want the gym and court renamed at all.

Gary Dielman

Baker City


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